Dover AFB History
Brig. Gen. Kennard. R. Wiggins, Jr. (DE ANG Ret.)


The history of Dover Air Force Base begins in1939, when in response to the Nazi invasion of Poland,
the Civilian Aviation Administration, CAA, offered State and local governments on both coasts
financial help to build municipal airports. As hostilities began to erupt in Europe and Asia, Congress
passed Public Law Number 812 in 1940. This law encouraged the construction of airports by local
governments with the aid of federal funds. Under the oversight of the Civil Aeronautics Authority
(CAA) a predecessor to the Federal Aviation Administration, the authority would provide funds,
engineering design and construction.  The local government would provide the land and after initial
construction would be responsible for maintenance. The CAA offered to build one airfield in each of
Delaware's three counties.

The State of Delaware and the legislature declined the opportunity, passing the offer along to the
counties.  New Castle and Sussex Counties accepted the proposal, but Kent County declined. It was
passed along to the City of Dover, the State Capital for consideration and they agreed to accept the
challenge on November 8, 1940 at a special meeting of acting mayor Keith and the city council. The
city purchased  three farms of 587 acres to the Southeast of town from several local landholders for
$35,000, in what has been hailed many times since as ``the best investment the city ever made.''
The landholders included Garrett DeWitt Paradee whose family was among the first colonists in the
area.  The area was first settled in the 1670s. Dover was established as the county seat of Kent County
by William Penn in 1683.  Dover Air Force Base lies within the city corporate limits.

A design by Army engineers envisaged three hard surface runways approximately 500 feet wide by
4000 feet long with a 100 foot wide paved center in a star pattern to take advantage of optimum
winds.  It also included a hangar foundation, but evidently not the hangar itself at this stage.  The
design was bid for construction in February, and by March 1941 construction was underway. The
initial cost was pegged at $563,000 and borne by the CAA.  Dover Municipal Airfield was hindered by
the usual red tape and construction delays as work progressed during the following summer and fall.  
Because of Dover’s strategic location near the coast to defend against sea attack, it was envisaged that
it would be used by medium bombers and the runways were constructed accordingly to handle that
weight and load.

World War II

On December 7, 1941, everything changed after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Ten days later,
the War Department exercised its emergency powers to lease Dover Municipal Airfield for the
duration of the war.  It was assigned to First Air Force under the Eastern Defense Command.  The
incomplete field was known variously as Dover Airdrome, Dover Sub-Base, (A subset of Camp
Springs Army Air Field) and Dover Army Air Base (DAAB). According to Col. Clarence D. Barnhill,
commanding officer of the 112th Observation Squadron, the first aircraft to land at Dover was an O-
52 from Maryland, on December 8, 1941.  The Army Corps of Engineers worked feverishly to complete
the base and it was opened for business a few days before Christmas in 1941, just a few weeks after
hostilities initiated. The first building constructed on Dover Air Force Base was a hangar spanning
150 feet wide, 160 feet deep and 42 feet high. It possessed a sliding door opening to 28 feet. It was called
Hangar 295. Anticipating a sea attack, the buildings and facilities were semi-dispersed as a defense
measure.  This dispersement created its own set of problems however.  Men working on the flight line
had to travel 2.4 miles between mess, work and their barracks.

The federal government also purchased additional adjoining land for expansion of the base. Dover
Army Air Field was to serve three distinct missions during the war.  It would be a base for anti-
submarine operations, fighter pilot training, and aerial rocket testing and development.

Wartime Mission, Submarine Defense

The immediate military threat to the homeland was the aggressive campaign off the East Coast by
German U-Boats sinking merchant ships.  The first organization to arrive at Dover Army Air Base
was the 112th Observation Squadron, 37th Division, Ohio National Guard.  Their commanding
officer was Major Lester H. Barnhill, who was assigned on 20 December 1941. A Lieutenant Baine, the
procurement officer, negotiated housing for the men of the unit with the State Highway Department
for their garage, as well as the armory, to be used for temporary quarters. They began flying anti-
submarine patrols with the O-47 Owl observation aircraft a few days after Christmas.  The North
American O-47 was an observation fixed-wing aircraft monoplane. It had a low-wing configuration,
retractable landing gear and a three-blade propeller. (See appendix,
Aircraft Assigned to Dover Air
Force Base).

They were followed a few days later by the federalized 103rd Regiment, Corps of Engineers,
Pennsylvania National Guard whose mission was to build roads, barracks, mess hall, hangars and a
commissary. The Engineers slept in the field house of the school. The early photographs of the base
can attest to primitive facilities built in a hurry to meet urgent wartime needs.  The tarpaper shacks at
Dover were little different than a hastily improvised overseas air patch in the combat zone. Heated by
pot belly stoves, the early occupants had no running water or electricity.  They ate from their mess
kits, and bathed at civilian facilities.  That winter, the heaviest rains in twelve years turned the facility
into a quagmire. The property is very near the wetlands and marsh along the Delaware Bay and in
heavy rains there was little to distinguish the field from those marshes to the east. Emblematic of the
marshy land and sub-tropical summer climate, a unit crest for the 125th AAF Base Unit designed by
one of the GIs later in the war depicted an armed mosquito with a flying helmet

Being the first military presence to arrive, the Guard units were a novelty to the civilian community.  
The citizens of Dover were in a high state of patriotism as a result of Pearl Harbor and opened their
homes to the GIs on base. The soldiers marched in parades and participated in the sale of war bonds.

There was no USO, but the community townspeople obtained a vacant building.  They almost
immediately established a Soldier Recreation Committee on December 31, 1941 and a center was
opened on Loockerman Street by Saturday evening, January 3, 1942. At first, furnishings were scant,
but in time, a piano, a jukebox, Victrola, desks and a radio were added.  These were later
supplemented by a pool table, ping pong, games, puzzles and a modest library. The men of the 112th
Observation Squadron donated their day-room furniture when they were transferred. Patrons
donated 50 cents a month to sustain the operation.

The recreation center formally affiliated with the USO in October 1942. In January 1943 the center
moved to the Cook Building on South State Street offering larger quarters and more space.

In 1942 a Christmas fund was raised for the soldiers in the community.  The proceeds purchased a
regulation boxing ring and equipment.  In addition, each soldier at Dover Field received a box
containing a necktie and a handkerchief. The following year, every soldier had his picture taken, and
framed for his family and friends. Citizens also decorated the mess halls and dayrooms with holiday
ornaments. In 1944 the citizens threw a Christmas Party with gifts for the patients in the hospital and
provided Christmas Trees.

The Delaware Red Cross Camp and Hospital Council provided furnishings for the day rooms, the
officer’s club, and NCO club. Volunteer women sewed curtains for the windows. An officers lounge
was created at the Richardson Hotel so that officers could entertain visiting wives and sweethearts, or
to simply spend idle time away from the field.
There was a bowling alley in town, and dances were held at the Murphy School.

Religious services were held by local clergy until an on-base chapel was established. Local churches
provided hymnals for services held on base.  A community kitchen was provided by the Peoples
Church congregation for soldiers and dependents who had no cooking facilities in their quarters,
particularly on Sundays when the restaurants were closed. The Dover community embraced their
soldiers and airmen as if they were their own sons and daughters.

In April 1942, the Ohio National Guard was supplanted by the 80th Bombardment Squadron flying
DB-7B “Havocs”. The Douglas A-20/DB-7 Havoc was a family of American attack, light bomber and
night fighter aircraft of World War II, serving with several Allied air forces, principally those of the
Soviet Union, United Kingdom, and United States. The USAAF assigned the DB-7 the designation "A-
20" and gave it the popular name "Havoc". The 80th was joined by the 78th and 79th Bomb
Squadrons under the 45th Bombardment Group commanded by Colonel McHenry. Six DB-7B
bombers of the 80th Bombardment Squadron, 45th Bombardment Group were involved in various
accidents in May and June 1942.  
(See appendix, Aircraft Assigned to Dover Air Force Base).

In July 1942 the 39th Bombardment Squadron arrived, flying B-25 Mitchell Medium bombers assigned
to the 45th Bombardment Group performing in the anti-submarine patrol mission.  They provided
aerial escort to merchant convoys and performed search and patrol for submarines.  The B-25 had a
longer range, higher speed and a larger payload of weapons than the previous craft. A further five B-
25 accidents occurred between September and November 1942.  The 39th was redesignated as the 3rd
Antisubmarine Squadron, and the 80th was redesignated as the 9th Antisubmarine Squadron on
November 29, 1942 and assigned to the Army Air Forces Antisubmarine Command. They were re-
deployed to Fort Dix New Jersey on February 28, 1943. The 3rd Anti-Submarine Squadron was cited
for battle participation in the anti-sub campaign while stationed at Dover Army Air Base.

The bombers were frequently grounded during the winter of 1942-1943. It was difficult to conduct
flying operations due to the heavy rain and frequent fog, and especially so in the midst of
construction activities on the boggy soil. Drainage and sewerage were especially vexing.  The conflict
between construction and operations became untenable, and in March of 1943, operations ceased

The installation at Dover was officially named Dover Army Air Base on April 8, 1943.
It was a sub-base of Camp Springs AAF, Maryland, from June 6, 1943 to April 15, 1944. The facility
was renamed Dover Army Airbase on April 8, 1943.

Fighter Training

After Pearl Harbor there was a pressing need for complete new units as the Air Force rapidly grew in
strength. After completion of individual training, pilots were given eight to twelve weeks of training
as a team using the same aircraft they would use in combat. This program inspired the
implementation of Operational Training Units (OTUs) in the USAAF.

The first American OTUs began in early 1942, but were immediately plagued with problems. The
demands of the combat units had to be met at the expense of the training programs and shortages of
personnel, aircraft, equipment, and supplies slowed and reduced the effectiveness of the training.
Many of the training fields throughout the county were inadequate or under construction. Dover
Army Air Base was closed to flying operations from February to August 1943 while the existing
runways were lengthened to 7,000 feet, and 29,000 square yards of paved apron was being
constructed. It had really been a “Dog patch” airstrip until then, and the new expansion paved the
way for a more prominent role in the war effort.  Dozens of new buildings were constructed by
civilian contractors, many of whom are still in business today, such as McHugh Electric, George&
Lynch, Rupert Construction and Henkels & McCoy to name just a few.

The first OTU at Dover was the 365th Fighter Group including the 386th, 387th and 388th Fighter
Squadrons. Their stay at Dover was brief, only three months as an operational warm up for their
overseas assignment.  The 365th was posted to a combat tour in England in December 1943 with 9th
Air Force and was de-activated after the War was over in September 1945.

Through the OTU system the USAAF had created all of new combat units required by the end of
1943, but a constant flow of new pilots was needed to replace those captured, killed in action, or
rotated back to United States. Most of the training bases in the United States discontinued OTU
training and switched their training emphasis to Replacement Training Units (RTUs).

In the RTU system, replacement pilots where sent to RTUs or Combat Crew Training Stations
(CCTSs) where they were given 12 weeks of training similar to the OTU program. Less time was
needed for squadron and group integration, since the pilots were not yet part of a combat unit. Once
all training was completed, pilots were drawn from the RTUs to serve in overseas units.

The 120 flying hour / 12 week program of training was split between two locations. The P-47
transition training was given at Blackstone Virginia for the new RTU pilots. The balance of the
training, or advanced training was finished at Dover. Pilots were not immediately placed in advanced
training upon arrival at Dover. They were first given a preflight examination that included radio
range, link trainer, cockpit "feel", landing gear operation, parking, and taxing. After successful
completion of the examination, pilots were started in Advanced Fighter Training.

The 312th Army Air Corps Base Unit (BU) began combat training operations at the Base on the
August 1, 1943, teaching pilots the complexities of the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter, under the command
of Captain Alanson H. Wilson.

For most of the war, Dover was mostly a P-47 fighter training base. Built in greater quantities than
any other US fighter, the P-47 also known as the “Jug”, was the heaviest single-engine WWII fighter
to go into production. The Thunderbolt performed 546,000 combat sorties between March of 1943 and
August 1945 and is considered the real forerunner of today's multi-role fighters. Seven squadrons in
all from the 83rd Fighter Group and the 365th Fighter Groups were involved in preparing these pilots
for European combat. Initially the organization was responsible for operational training, while it
later continued as a replacement training unit.

The 1004th Guard Squadron stood up along with the 312th to be the base security section. They were
followed on June 25 by the 915th (colored) Guard Squadron and on July 12 by the 1354th (colored)
Guard Squadron.  Both colored squadrons shipped out in August and November respectively. These
units were the pioneers of air base defense, being the first Air Corps personnel to be trained and
equipped specifically for air base defense. These units were indeed manned by colored troops, some
5,000 of them Air Corps-wide. They were trained as infantry, but artillery and armor were also
sometimes attached.

The 365th Fighter Group included the 386th, 387th and 388th Fighter Squadrons. Their stay at Dover
was brief, only three months as an operational warm-up for their overseas assignment.  The 365th
was posted to a combat tour in England in December 1943 with 9th Air Force and was de-activated
after the War was over in September 1945.

The 83rd Fighter Group included the 448th, 532nd, 533rd, and 534th Fighter Squadrons. It was a
training unit designed to train individual pilots in a stream of replacements for other combat crews,
lost or transferred from the combat zone. It was attached to the Philadelphia Fighter Wing from
November 22, 1943 to April 10, 1944, when it was disbanded and redesignated as the 125th Base Unit,
from April 10, 1944 – September 15, 1944.  Another redesignation came on September 15, 1944 when it
was re-named the 125th AAF Base Unit, before disbanding altogether on March 31, 1946.

The training emphasis was on the team of pilot, crew chief, and aircraft as the fundamental weapons
system. This was the professional relationship that was the core of the training mission.  The training
and testing cadre at Dover AFB included many returning combat veterans.  A typical example was
Capt. Liecester Bishop, who had enlisted in the RCAF in 1940, and later the Eagle Squadron of the
AAF with missions over France, the Low Countries and Germany, earning him a DFC and Air Medal.
A news release on August 19, 1944 summarized the combat experience of the instructors. Fourteen of
the staff accounted for 110 decorations, and 200 months of overseas combat service experience.  They
collectively had 21 enemy planes to their credit, two purple hearts, a dozen DFCs, 14 air medals and 69
other clusters. And their average age was 25.

The result of this training was manifest when a Dover student pilot, Lt. Michael Brezas, later
compiled an outstanding combat record. The 21-year old ace was credited with twelve aerial victories
against enemy aircraft in the Mediterranean Theater.

To aid in flying training, the 13th Tow Target Squadron was established. In April 1944, the 13th TTS
had 101 personnel operating 18 twin engined airplanes, 2 four-engined aircraft.  The targets towed
were for aerial gunnery practice.  The fighter pilots also practiced skip bombing, dive bombing,
strafing and air to ground support operations. Competition in these skills was demonstrated by
instructor cadre at a series of gunnery and bombing competition matches (or Rodeos) held at various
First Air Force bases including one at Dover in July, 1944, won by Lt Raymond B. Howe.  

A daily tally of gunnery scores was kept among the trainees throughout their training.  The best
daily score was publicized in the daily base bulletin.

Dover Army Air Base was renamed Dover Army Air Field on February 2, 1944.  On April 15, 1944 its
status was reclassified from Sub-base of Camp Springs, Maryland, to Control Base. On April 30
Blackstone Army Air Base Virginia was assigned to Dover as  a Sub-base where fighter training was
conducted. (Blackstone was re-assigned to Richmond Virginia on November 30, 1944.)  Further
construction related to the then-secret rocket testing mission was completed in August 1944 as a
million dollar expansion of 47,000 square feet of concrete apron was added, a new hangar at the
northwest end of the field near the transient hangar.  It included new shop buildings, a propeller
shop, and a parachute rigging facility with a 35 foot tower. Other improvements included an 85 bed
hospital, and expanded Post Exchange, and a more comfortable base theater.

The Journal-Every Evening of Wilmington celebrating the base’s fourth anniversary stated, “Now the
field, whose runways are among the longest on the Eastern Seaboard, is one of the key fighter bases
of the First Air Force.”

Additional acreage was acquired, bringing the footprint of the base to over 4000 acres total. This
included a training range for gunnery northeast of Dover east of Route 9 to Delaware Bay from
approximately Woodland Beach to Little Creek/Port Mahon. The range had a precision firing section
and a night explosive section. It included a salvaged airplane as a strafing target, a vertical target for
skip bombing, and a dive bombing target visible from 8000 feet. There was a clear buffer area around
the range mostly consisting of open swamp land. There was an observation/control tower and a mess
hall at the range.

The range also occasionally served the nearby New Jersey bases at Millville, and the Wildwood and
Atlantic City Naval Air Stations as well.  There were land targets at Big Stone Beach and in the water
on both sides of Delaware Bay. Millville was a P-47 training base and Wildwood was a training base
for naval aircraft. Naval Air station (NAS) Wildwood was commissioned on April 1, 1943. The site
served as an active dive-bomber squadron training facility from 1943 to 1945.  Aircraft stationed at
NAS Wildwood included TBM Avengers, Douglas Dauntlesses, Vought Corsairs and Curtis
Helldivers. Wildwood had a sub-base at Georgetown Delaware, only 35 air miles away. In 1942, NAS
Atlantic City was to train various carrier air groups consisting of fighter, bomber and torpedo
squadrons and their crews for combat. In August 1943, NAS Atlantic City changed its mission to
strictly fighter training consisting of low and high altitude gunnery tactics, field carrier landing
practice, carrier qualifications, bombing, formation tactics, fighter direction, night operations and an
associated ground school curriculum.

As late in the war as 1944, the burgeoning air field was still “scrounging” for needed equipment,
facilities and materiel.  There was a shortage of everything from file cabinets to trash cans.  Due to
wartime manpower shortages some 145 German Prisoners of War were employed at Dover Army Air
Field beginning in October 1944 under strict rules of employment designed to respect the Geneva
accords and national security. POWs were employed in the mess and in housekeeping duties. KP duty
was unpopular and morale improved when the POWs relieved the GIs of that duty. Fraternization
with prisoners was officially forbidden. The prisoners were lightly guarded at the direction of the base
commander.  Local civilian “girls” were hired to do maintenance on base, freeing slots occupied by
enlisted men.

Wartime shortages of materiel spurred recycling efforts and conservation efforts for water, coal,
petroleum products, paper and lighting.  Soldiers were encouraged to consolidate telephone calls and
eliminate unnecessary calls, and to rewrite and edit wire messages for brevity.  They were urged to
not accept any more food at the mess than necessary. The most critical shortage of all turned out to be
aircraft mechanics.  Late in the war, most had been ordered to the combat zones with few left behind
for the training mission.  Those in the pipeline were destined for overseas.  The only source was
returning veterans and they were few.  Every effort was made to use the “indifferent mechanics” who
had gravitated to other specialties.  Commanders were ordered to send all airplane mechanic MOS
qualified to the squadrons from their desk jobs or their other military duties.

Despite these efforts, the maintenance efficiency  rate  for aircraft dropped from approximately 75% to
56% early in 1945. They somehow had to do more with less if they wanted to keep the airplanes
flying. Replacing an ailing Colonel Dixon, a youthful (34) Colonel Harold J. Rau took command of
Dover on February 5 after 27 months overseas leading the 20th Fighter Group.  Colonel Rau’s wife
Alice, was serving as a WAC in France while he was posted to Dover. He infused the organization
with new energy.  He tied productivity to a more liberal pass and day-off policy.  If the men met his
productivity goals they would be rewarded.  A marked improvement in aircraft mission ready rates
ensued, and morale lifted. His philosophy was “a day’s work from each man, but no slave-driving.”  
By March, the rate had lifted back to 75%.

As the war progressed, the command emphasis at burgeoning Dover Army Air Field shifted from the
necessities of construction and training to appearance, discipline, punctuality, military customs and
courtesies and the safety issues that follow with a large organization of varied personnel.  A report
dated September 1, 1944 stated that the 125th Base Unit had incurred only two fatalities and one
injury in 7,320,000 miles flown, in five major accidents.

The soldier’s life, outside his primary job, was dominated by training. A training schedule from
November 1943 reveals a week of daily physical exercise, military courtesy, personal hygiene, drill,
first aid, march, military sanitation, nomenclature and care of equipment, tent pitching, care of
personal equipment and clothing, and the organization and function of arms.  If that didn’t keep you
busy enough, there were also work details to pick up litter, perform kitchen patrol, and
administration duties. Not to mention parades and ceremonies as required.

The barracks for most of the men were wooden structures “open bay” with racks of bunks arrayed
side by side in rows.   Housekeeping was stressed. Brass was to be polished, pipes painted,
windowsills dusted, stones raked, cars parked properly, lawns policed of litter, supplies stored neatly.
The men were permitted to remove their neckties on base, but officers had to wear them for social
occasions at the Club. The blouse was required in the club after retreat.  Flying clothing, or
equipment or field jackets were not permitted at the Officer’s Club nor sweaters as an outer garment.
Officer “battle jackets” were forbidden in the Continental USA, and flying boots were forbidden away
from the flightline.  Wear of “dog tags” was mandatory.

Official duty hours were from 0800-1700 with a one hour lunch between 1130 and 1330. Soldiers were
excused from duty one day per week.  Additional days were charged as leave.

Field days were conducted and there was intramural sport with baseball games, basketball, boxing
matches, and more. The baseball team compiled a 22-1 record in the Lower Delaware League in 1944;
however they lost the championship to the Fort Miles Artillery team in the season playoff.  Special
Services organized trips to the Delaware beaches. Colonel Dixon, base commander, maintained morale
through the establishment of an enlisted men’s council. A weekly complaint hour was also
established where the commander heard the gripes of the GIs. The AWOL rate, considered the best
yardstick of discipline and morale, was at an all time low.

A base newspaper, “The Dover Blast” kept the GIs informed and entertained with sports results,
menus, activity schedules, profiles, cartoons, jokes and gossip tidbits.

There were facilities for the soldiers that included the officer’s and NCO clubs.  The base orchestra
would perform for dances and dinner buffets at the club. Stag game nights were held and movies were
shown in the base theater, along with live performances by entertainers. Other diversions included
USO sponsored rolling skating parties, glee club, classes, dance contests for the jitterbug and waltz,
bridge, and theatrical productions. An especially popular show was the “Barnacle Belles”, a musical
comedy revue presented by WAVES from the Fourth Naval District, Philadelphia at the base theater.
A Valentine’s Day Dance was held in 1945 with about 150 WAFS from New Castle AAF in attendance.
In gratitude to the citizens of Delaware, a Base Open House was held on August 1, 1944 for the first
time.  Invitations were sent to Governor Walter Bacon and the mayors of Wilmington, Albert James,
and Dover, Wallace Woodford.  A parade and review was conducted along with flyovers from P-47s
and B-26s.  There were displays of aircraft and equipment, military demonstrations, as well as a
ceremony to award a Distinguished Flying Cross to 1st Lt. Martin Newstreet. An overflow crowd
attended the event.  For many Delawareans it was their first peek inside the mysterious gates of
Delaware’s largest military enterprise.

Other outreach programs included an entertaining soldiers show named “Daffy Delights”  which was
performed in the social hall of the Dover school for the civilian populace.  Dover Field was also a
training site for Civil Air Patrol Cadet Corps youth ages 15-18 in the summer of 1944.  The ten day
training program for 65 boys the first step for their aviation careers for many. Dover soldiers marched
in War Bond Rallies downtown to support the war effort.  Leadership at Dover Field provided
speakers at some 18 events in support of Bond sales ranging from Kiwanis, to Rotary, and the
Chamber of Commerce. The men at Dover also contributed freely to the annual Red Cross drive.

In the summer of 1944 the field became a key base for First Air Force and remained so until the
cessation of hostilities. The First Fighter Command Branch was responsible for training pilots for
combat. At Dover, hundreds of Thunderbolt pilots received their final phase of training before
posting overseas for combat duty. It was a hazardous enterprise. About 180 P-47’s were involved in
accidents around Dover ranging from propeller benders to fatal destruction from August 1943 to
April 1946.

Major Homer B. Heacock had been appointed as the first commanding officer of Dover Air Field in
August 1942.  He was succeeded the following August by Lieutenant Colonel Albert A. Price who
served until March 1944. Major Francis C. Doring relieved Price as commander.  Doring had been a
member of the famous “Flying Tigers” under General Chennault before coming to Dover.  Lieutenant
Colonel Edwin M. Dixon was Doring’s successor, presiding over the further expansion of the facility
to, “one of the best training centers on the East Coast.”  The last wartime commander was Colonel
Harold J. Rau, a former commander of the 20th Fighter Group in Europe.  Rau served until February
1946 when he was replaced by the Deputy Commanding Officer, Colonel Kenneth R. Powell.

On August 21, 1944 a Red Cross canteen was opened in the Operations building.  Over 75 volunteers
from the City of Dover and other nearby towns gave their services so that transient aircrews and
duty personnel could get a bite to eat and a coffee.  Free offerings included doughnuts, buns, cookies,
sandwiches, coffee, milk and juices.  The Post Exchange was nearly two miles away from the flightline
and inaccessible to the men there.

Rocket Testing

In addition to fighter pilot training, the base became a site for the development of air launched
rockets, manned by a special unit of the Air Technical Service Command. The weapons construction
and experimentation played a decisive role in the final phase of the Second World War.
The Army Air Force realized that rockets could be a very significant weapon in the air war. The
preliminary results of the testing and development program demonstrated that the air-launched
rocket could be an effective weapon against ground targets, especially those that were difficult for
conventional bombers to reach. The ability of the rocket equipped fighter to move low over a target
and release a rocket more directly at a target meant that a fighter aircraft could be a more versatile
weapon than during the earlier periods of the war.

A series of meetings were held during the late fall of 1943 on the need to advance the Air Force
involvement in rocket development. By early 1944, the Army Air Force was ready to create a special
unit for the continued development of air-launched rockets. The Ordnance Department asked the
Army Air Force Commanding General to create the unit at Dover Air Force Base on 25 January 1944.
On 5 February 1944, the Assistant Chief of Air Staff wrote a memorandum to the Chief of Air Staff
also recommending the creation of the unit at the Dover Air Force Base to coordinate the Army Air
Force program. On 1 April 1944, the Commanding General of the Army Air Force ordered the
establishment of an accelerated rocket development program with the creation of the base unit and
experimental rocket station at Dover Air Force Base. The unit was formerly activated on 24 April 1944
as the 732nd Army Air Force Base Unit within the jurisdiction of the Army Material Command. The
unit designation was changed to the 4146th on 31 August 1944. The Base Unit was to "study,
evaluate, develop, fabricate, install and test all likely means of launching and aiming rocket propelled
projectiles from aircraft as a means of improving the offensive or defensive fire power of Army Air
forces aircraft."

Among those items that the Base Unit was to study were the use of the 4.5" launcher presently in
production, use and the possibility of developing launchers for rockets up to 16" in diameter. The unit
was also to develop rocket launchers for bombers and launchers for rockets that had flexible
installation ability so that they could fire rockets forward and rearward. In addition, the Base Unit
was to work on developing improved safety features such as blast deflectors and on increasing the
number of rockets that could be fired from a single or multiple launching tubes. The Base Unit was
also directed to examine and test foreign rocket devices including those developed by the U.S. Navy
and the British, Russian, German, and Japanese Air Forces. Additional missions included the study
and testing of retro or vertical bombs, German and Russian rocket bombs, and controlled rocket

The facilities constructed for the 4146th Base Unit at Dover Air Force Base consisted of an
experimental station with a hangar (Hangar 1301), power plant, and shop area; an administrative
building; the barracks area with housing and a mess hall; a hardstand and ammunition magazine
area; and a range area.

The range was located near the Delaware River about ten miles from the base in the Bombay Hook
area. The work in air-launched rockets conducted by the 4146th Base Unit was the beginning of a
new type of air combat experience for American pilots and for combat pilots around the world. The
rocket, while it did not end World War II faster or save lives, was part of a technological shift in
combat which would be felt during the wars and combat actions of the Cold War era. Inexpensive
and efficient rockets made it easier for smaller combat aircraft such as the early jets of the Korean Era
to move against ground targets that would not have been accessible to traditional bombers. Also, the
use of air-launched rockets in aerial combat meant that aircraft could stand off from each other during
the engagement and fire at each other using electronic means to lock onto the target instead of using
up-close visual sightings.

Caretaker Status Postwar

After VE day on July 1st 1945, Dover Army Airfield became a pre-separation processing center under
the 125th Base Unit until its inactivation in September. Even before the end of the war, Dover AFB
was the first sales center established in Delaware for the sale of surplus aircraft. The Reconstruction
Finance Corporation offered 25 Army training planes for sale at prices ranging from $875-$2400 in
August, 1945.

Recruitment was added to the base's mission on September 30, 1945. The 618th Air Service Squadron
was established to redeploy returning veterans disbanding in November 1945.  
SMSgt Robert C. Trahan (USAF Ret) recalled Dover in 1945. “The only things at the base were the
main gate and low, flat buildings.  There was no base housing.  I lived with my wife in a farm house
in Wyoming Delaware”.

The arrival in January 1946 of the P-80 jet fighter caused quite a stir.  The base newspaper, “The
Blast” featured the new jet as the wave of the future, and predicted future air travel would rely upon
jet engines.  The P-80 was sent to Dover AFB for aerial rocket testing.

On September 1, 1946 Dover Army Air Field went on inactive status and its personnel were
reassigned to other commands. It remained under Army custody in “mothballs” with a skeleton staff
for housekeeping duties, like many other wartime stateside facilities of the time. A joint-use service
agreement between All-American Airlines was signed in 1947, but the attempt at civil airline service
failed. Dover Army Airfield was renamed Dover Air Force Base (DAFB) on January 13, 1948 with the
creation of the Air Force as a separate component service.

In December 1948 the Army transferred the base to the Continental Air Command (CONAC). This
command utilized the Douglas C-47 until February 18, 1949, when it transferred to the Ninth Air
Force. The base was host to National Guard units for summer training during this period of relative

Korean War

This quietude was broken on June 25, 1950 when North Korean forces invaded the South and started
the Korean War. The 336th Fighter Interceptor Squadron “Rocketeers” was posted to the recently re-
named Dover Air Force base for a brief period on August 13, 1950. Assigned to the 4th Fighter Group,
they trained at Dover until November when they were deployed to air combat in Korea flying
Sabrejets. The 336th was a lineal descendant of the famous Royal Air Force “Eagle Squadron” during
World War II.
The field reactivated in 1951 and was assigned under the Air Defense Command. Dover’s proximity to
major industrial cities, as well as the nation’s capitol made it an ideal location for the air defense
mission. The federalized 148th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard
was assigned to Dover flying F-51 Mustangs.  During their tenure at Dover they would transition to
republic F-84C Thunderjets, and then F-94 B and F-94C Starfire interceptor aircraft.  The Lockheed F-
94 Starfire was the United States Air Force's first operational jet-powered all-weather interceptor
aircraft. It was a development by Lockheed of the twin-seat T-33 Shooting Star trainer aircraft. In July
of 1951 a twin-engine Grumman SA-16 (later HU-16A) Albatross flying boat was assigned to Dover
AFB for air rescue duties.

A year later the 80th Air Base Squadron activated, maintained and provided support services for the
squadron and three other tenant units, including the 1737th Ferrying Squadron, Detachment 1909-6
Airways and Communications Services, and Detachment 4, 9th Weather Group.  The 1737th delivered
aircraft including single-engine fighters to North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries.  In 1952 it
pioneered “Operation High Flight” flying fighter aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean for delivery to Air
Force units abroad and to our NATO allies.  It ferried over 2000 aircraft each year including 260 in
one record-breaking month.  It also developed a “High Flight” program returning aircraft from
Europe to the Untied States.  The 1737th Ferrying Squadron was an element of the Continental
Division, Military Air Transport Service, headquarters at Kelly Air Force Base Texas,

In November, 1952 the 46th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 4709th Air Defense Wing relieved the
demobilized Pennsylvania Air Guard 148th FIS, in the interceptor role at Dover AFB, also flying F-94
“Starfires”. Their job was to “stay aware and counter any attack by the Russian Bear.”   They
maintained four F-94s of their twenty assigned aircraft on twenty four hour alert “cocked and loaded”
for an airborne launch within five minutes. The 46th would remain until July 1, 1958. In November
one C-45G and two AT-11 aircraft were assigned to Dover.

On May 27, 1953 an order condemning 634 acres of land owned by the City of Dover was signed and
ownership of the Base was passed to the United States Air Force.  A payment of $35,000 was proffered
to the City of Dover based on the city estimate of investment and improvements for the land before

The Korean Crisis spurred another round of furious activity and expansion.  The former collection of
wartime-expedient frame and tarpaper buildings put great limitations on the mission and had to be
replaced by functional facilities. By October 1953, $22 million had been spent on facilities that would
later total some $65 million among nine separate contractors. The expansion included dozens of
structures including dormitories, mess halls, officer quarters, warehouses, as well as a post office, fire
department, NCO and Officers Club, school, chapel, hospital, theater, gymnasium, laboratory and
other necessary buildings.  Dover AFB was now a self contained, and self supporting city. Dover AFB
retained the Fighter Interceptor Wing as part of the East Coast Defense System, but now added a new
mission that would dwarf previous uses.

A Permanent Mission

The foundation for a permanent mission was laid when, recognizing Dover's strategic location, the
Military Air Transport Service, (MATS), assumed control and began, with an appropriation from
Congress, to transform the Base into the East Coast embarkation point and foreign clearing base, on
1 April 1952. Dover was selected as a port of aerieal embarkation because of its proximity to the
anticipated theater of operations in Europe and Africa as well as its proximity to East Coast sea ports.
Further a new MATS operation was required because the previous facility at Westover Massachusetts
was being converted to a SAC base. These were the reasons offered during a 1952 Congressional
hearing by the Air Force. The new mission included airlifting critical cargoes and high-priority
personnel to the Far East in support of the United Nations police action in Korea as well as support of
overseas bases in the North Atlantic, United Kingdom, and Europe. In a little more than a year, four
support units of MATS Atlantic Division set up on the base and became the nucleus that formed the
1607th Air Transport Wing (ATW).

There had been airlift functions as early as 1944 when Douglas C-47 Skytrain, Lockheed C-60
Lodestar, and Beech C-45 Expediter aircraft had been assigned to the 4146th and the 125th Air Base
Units as support for the rocket testing program. But airlift would now take precedence as the primary
mission of Dover Air Force Base.

The 1st Air Transport Squadron and the 21st Air Transport Squadron were reconstituted, in
September 1953 and activated on 18 November 1953 at Dover ADB, DE, as part of the 1607th Air Base
Group.  They were re-designated as “medium” and formed the nucleus of the new Group. The
“Medium” designation referred to their mission aircraft, the Douglass C-54G Skymaster which it flew
until 1955. The first C-54G to arrive #45566 was assigned on December 3, 1953.  Rounding out the
1607th Air Base Wing was the 1607th Air Base Group, the 1607th Air Base Squadron, the 1607th
Maintenance and Supply Squadron, and the 1607th Medical Group.

The 1607 ATW activated on 1 January 1954 and took over host unit responsibility for Dover from the
80th Air Base Squadron, which had been de-activated in August 1953.. The Base added population to
eventually total some 9000 airmen and officers, as well as 500 civilian employees covering some 2000
acres. The Secretary of the Air Force designated Dover Air Force Base as a permanent Air Force
installation on December 22, 1953.

Three more squadrons of airlifters were added in early 1954. On February 16, 1954 the 39th Air
Transport Squadron and the 45th ATS were assigned to the 1607 ATW, becoming operational in
March.  The 39th was re-designated “Medium” flying the Douglas C-54G Skymaster aircraft mostly to
Rhein-Main Germany.

By the end of 1954, there were five flying squadrons operating out of Dover; the 1st, 21st, 39th, 45th
and 40th Air Transport Squadrons. Three more were assigned in 1955; the 15th, 20th and 31st  Air
Transport Squadrons, although the 21st and the 45th were inactivated on July 1, 1955.

Lt. Col. Harry Heist (USAF Ret) arrived at Dover in the early 1950’s and offers the following
description.  “During 1956, 57 and 58 there was a huge building boom on the base. The hospital was
constructed with 154 beds; nose docks were built for both the C-124s and C-133s along with the first
phase of base housing. An on-base school and a nine-hole golf course would follow.

Later on, in the early 1960s, my family and I would move to 822A Hickam Place in a cedar sided ranch
style duplex near where the Shoppette is now located. Lebanon Road, which now terminates in base
housing, went all the way to Lebanon through a tidal swamp and over a rickety bridge. High water
often meant a front end alignment if you were unfortunate to drop into a submerged pothole.

The Base Exchange was located where Finance now is and it had an exceptional annex with
everything from bicycles to an extensive line of fishing and hunting equipment. It was a pleasure
shopping there. That annex is now the Class 6 store. The Commissary was more of a small
warehouse than a grocery store and was located to the west of the Skills Center. The NCO Club was
located at the current site of the Burger King and would move to its new location in 1958 where the
Landings is today. The Officers Club was demolished in 1999 to make room for the new Eagle Creek
club house. The Officers Club, during the1950s and 60s, was rated as the best in MATS, offering some
of the greatest names in show business: Les Brown, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Stan Kenton
and Lionel Hampton. Each squadron designated an entertainment officer who worked with the club’s
secretary to promote the club’s activities. The squadrons sponsored monthly stage shows. Yours
truly was in the chorus line of the 15th Squadron’s performance of “Damn Yankees.” The show was
so popular that we took it on the road to McGuire Air Force Base for two performances.”

Another veteran, MSgt Harry Hettinger, (USAF Ret.) an engine mechanic noted that in the 1950’s,
“The main gate was where the Landings now stands,  The barracks today are a lot nicer than back
then, they have a porch for airmen to go outside.  Back then it was three to a room in old World War
II wooden constructions. Each barrack had one central latrine.”

Base Schools

The Air Force began expanding what had been a relatively small Dover Air Force Base into a much
larger transport center, with a resulting increase in personnel and their families and, for the Caesar
Rodney school district, a sharp increase in base students. In 1958 the base set up several metal
buildings as classrooms, which were staffed by Caesar Rodney teachers. By 1960 the number of
students served in these facilities had grown to 852, nearly the size of the entire district only ten years
earlier. As a result, the district entered into negotiations with the Federal government for the
construction of permanent buildings, as well as the money to operate them. The first of those was
Dover Air Force Base School, which opened in 1961 and served students in grades one through
twelve. That project was followed by the addition of six classrooms for the opening of school in 1962
and the construction of Dover Air Force Base Elementary School (the current Welch Elementary
School)  for the beginning of school in 1964. A year later a second, although smaller, elementary
school was opened on base and the two schools were creatively named Dover Air Force Base
Elementary School No. 1 and Dover Air Force Base Elementary School No. 2, with their names
subsequently changed to their current Major George S. Welch and General Henry H. Arnold
Elementary Schools respectively. A formal dedication ceremony was held for the General Arnold
Elementary School on 22 January 1970.

Arrival of Heavy Airlift (C-124)

Dover AFB had been largely re-defined in the years immediately after the Korean War.  It might easily
have become one more excess base slated for custodial status until it closed for good.  But due to the
need for a strategic base of operation on the East coast for airlift it enjoyed a renaissance.  Dover AFB
grew by leaps and bounds as the increasingly important strategic aerial port of embarkation for
critical material for the Atlantic Alliance. A new and a much expanded facility with a full complement
of medium and heavy airlift aircraft in five squadrons augmented by a separate air defense unit limned
the Base in the mid-1950s.

Delaware residents and travelers along route one past Dover AFB in the 1950’s and 1960’s were
familiar with two aircraft types that were the dominant giants of their day. The C-124 Globemaster II
and the later C-133 Cargomaster were icons of Dover AFB painted with colorful day-glow orange
nose a tail flashes.  The locals were both proud and in awe at these behemoths of the sky.

The 40th Air Transport Squadron was added to the rolls on March 8, 1954. It and the 45th ATS were
re-designated “Heavy” indicating they would take the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II as their mission
aircraft. Reassigned to the 1607th Air Transport Group, on 1 January 1954, the 1st Airlift Squadron
was redesignated 1st Air Transport Squadron, Heavy, on 8 September 1954. That same year, the unit
added the C-124 to its aircraft inventory.

On May 1, 1954 the first C-124 Globemaster II aircraft was assigned to DAFB. The Douglas C-124
Globemaster II, nicknamed "Old Shakey", was a heavy-lift cargo aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft
Company in Long Beach, California. First deliveries of the 448 production aircraft began in May 1950
and continued until 1955. The C-124 was the primary heavy-lift transport for United States Air Force
Military Air Transport Service (MATS) during the 1950s and early 1960s until the C-141 Starlifter
entered service.

Significant C-124 Airlift Missions

18 April 1962 A C-124 Globemaster departed Dover carrying Colonel John Glenn’s space capsule,
Friendship VII to South America. All three of the wing’s flying squadrons alternated escort duty
during the worldwide tour; culminating at Seattle World’s Fair on 6 August 1962. From the mid-
1950s to the mid-Sixties, to offer another incomplete list, Dover Air Force Base participated in Project
Ice Cube to construct a Defense Early Warning Network in Northern Canada; the airlift to help
combat a polio outbreak in Argentina; Operation Good Hope to Jordan;

Fighter Mission

The reconstituted and redesignated 98th Fighter Interceptor Squadron was activated at Dover AFB on
March 8, 1956 as a component of the Air Defense Command and was assigned to the 4709th Air
Defense Wing, Eastern Air Defense Force. Through a change in command, they were assigned to the
New York Air Defense Sector.  The 98th possessed F-89 Scorpion Fighters. In March 1959, they
converted to the supersonic MacDonnell F-101B Voodoo Interceptors. The 98th would remain until
September 30, 1963 when they were relieved by the 95th Fighter Squadron “Boneheads” armed with
General Dynamic F-106 Delta Darts.

Some 55 F-106s were assigned to the 95th FIS at two different locations: Andrews AFB MD from 17
July 1959 to 01 July 1963, and Dover AFB DE 01 July 1963 (including Detachment 1 at Atlantic City)
until inactivation on 31 Jan 1973.

The first F-106 Delta Dart arrived on August 3, 1963 at Dover AFB as part of the fleet of the newly
assigned 95th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, “Boneheads”.  The all weather Convair F-106 interceptor
first flew in 1956. It could counter bomber attacks to 70,000 feet at a maximum speed of 1525 mph
(Mach 2.3) with a range of 1500 miles. The Dart carried four Falcon missiles and a Genie nuclear

Retired fighter pilot Ken Vernon recalls being on 24 hour alert: “two pilots were kept on five-minute
alert – sleeping in flight suits and boots at all times”.  He trained over the ocean with nuclear
weapons and radar guided infrared missiles practicing intercepts and identification and shooting at
simulated targets.

The “Boneheads” manned the 24-hour alert interceptor mission defending the Washington DC area
and were assigned to the New York Air Defense Sector, (1963-1966) the 21st Air Division (1966-1969)
and the 20th Air Division (1969-1973) respectively.   They deployed to Osan Air Base, South Korea (15
November 1969-1 May 1970). The organization stood down on January 31, 1973, and was transferred
to Tyndall Air Force Base where it converted to a training mission utilizing T-33s. The F-106 aircraft
were reassigned to the 177th Fighter Interceptor Group Atlantic City, New Jersey Air National
Guard. Thus ended the last combat fighter mission unit at Dover AFB, which subsequently became
exclusively an airlift base of operations.


The first C-133A (s/n 54-0143) arrived at Dover on August 28, 1957 and was officially accepted by
Military Air Transport Service commander Lt. General Joseph Smith. The new Cargomasters flown
by the 39th Air Transport Squadron made the unit the first C-133A Squadron in the Air Force. The
39th ATS was activated on 28 August 1957. On 8 Sep 57, it was redesignated 39th Air Transport Sq,
heavy, and finally as the 39th Military Airlift Squadron on 8 Jan 66.

Transitioning to the C-133 in 1960, the 1st Airlift squadron was again reassigned, this time to the
1607th Air Transport Wing, on 18 January 1963; and again on 8 January 1966, to the 436th Military
Airlift Wing, at which point it was redesignated as the 1st Military Airlift Squadron. Prior to its
inactivation on 30 June 1971, the 1st had been tasked with conducting worldwide airlift beginning
November 1953, including transport of personnel and equipment to and from Southeast Asia, from

The Douglas C-133 Cargomaster was a large cargo aircraft built between 1956 and 1961 by the
Douglas Aircraft Company. The C-133 was the USAF's only production turboprop-powered strategic
airlifter, entering service shortly after Lockheed's better known C-130 Hercules. Only fifty aircraft (32
C-133A and 18 C-133B) were constructed and put into service with the USAF.  A two section rear
door served as a loading ramp, however the final three production models featured clamshell doors
allowing the aircraft to load and carry a Titan missile in its twelve foot high cargo bay.  It provided
airlift services in a wide range of applications, being replaced by the C-5 Galaxy in the early 1970s.

In short order on December 16, 1958 a C-133 Cargomaster aircraft at Dover AFB airlifted the heaviest
load in the history of aviation, when it carried 117,900 pounds of cargo to an altitude of 10,000 feet,
breaking the former world record held by a Soviet TU-104 in 1957.

Significant C-133 Airlift Missions

22 September 1959 The 39th Air Transport Squadron landed at Mildenhall, England, with 87,600
pounds of cargo, the heaviest load ever airlifted to an overseas location by a C-133.

25 June 1960 First C-133 Mercy mission flown when an Army specialist, with a serious eye injury,
was evacuated from Thule, Greenland, to the DAFB Hospital.

31 October 1962 Aircraft from Dover made their first paratroop drop at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky.

1 January 1964 Dover AFB assumed responsibility for all C-133 pilot and flight engineer training

5 July 1964 Four C-133 aircraft departed Dover, marking the first time a scheduled round-the-world
mission was ever attempted from DAFB using this model aircraft.

17-24 April 1967 A Dover-based C-133 set a record by completing a round trip to Saigon in less than
eight days, accumulating 81 flying hours.

On April 16, 1971, the wing received its first C-5 Galaxy aircraft, and began the phase out of the
propeller-driven C-133 Cargomaster aircraft.


17 December 1958 Four DAFB officers awarded State of Delaware's Conspicuous Service Cross by
Governor J. Caleb Boggs for the rescue of a pilot from a F-86 Sabrejet crash.

17 September 1964 Mr. Walter Baisden, a refueling specialist, voluntarily exhibited great courage at
extreme personal risk by driving a burning truck containing highly explosive gasoline beyond the
range of parked aircraft. This action averted extensive damage or total loss of the C-124’s and the
ramp. On 8 March 1965, he received the Air Force Medal of Valor.

December 1972 The first hijacking attempt of a wing’s C-5 aircraft was successfully thwarted by an
alert crew of the 9th Military Airlift Squadron in Taiwan. The crew’s diligent and courageous actions
saved the aircraft from possible damage. There were no injuries reported.

Rotary Wing:

A single HH-43 “Huskie” was assigned to Dover from 1959 to 1962. The "Huskie" was used primarily
for crash rescue and aircraft fire-fighting. It was in use with the U.S. Navy when delivery of the H-
43As to the USAF Tactical Air Command began in November 1958. Delivery of the -B series began in
June 1959. In mid-1962, the USAF changed the H-43 designation to HH-43 to reflect the aircraft's
rescue role. The final USAF version was the HH-43F with engine modifications for improved
performance. Some HH-43-Fs were used in Southeast Asia as "aerial fire trucks" and for rescuing
downed airmen in North and South Vietnam. The H-43 Huskie set an altitude record of 10.000 m and
numerous rate of climb records. During the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Huskie flew more rescue
missions than all other aircraft combined - with the best safety record of any U.S. military aircraft.
Unique aspects of the HH-43 are its wood constructed rotors. By warping the blades causes the
aircraft to climb or descend. Operation of large tabs on the trailing edge of each blade causes the


The first of 22 KC-97 Air Refueling aircraft arrived at Dover AFB on May 31, 1960 led by Col. Gilmer
E. Walker Jr.  Assigned to the 11th Air Refueling Squadron, the unit consists of approximately 630
personnel. The unit supported Strategic Air Command B-52s and B-47s outside normal air traffic
lanes in the Atlantic and the Southeastern United States. The 11th ARS remained at Dover until June
25, 1965 when it was posted to Altus AFB, Oklahoma.  Lt. Col. Harry Heist (USAF Ret) writes: In
1960, the Strategic Air Command would locate a KC-97 air refueling squadron here along with its
klaxons (horns) located throughout the base including those inside the base theatre. You would
jump three feet out of your seat when the things went off. Needless to say the airlift guys were not
sorry to see SAC go in 1965.”

Famous Visitors:

December 1944 – Eminent literary and film critic, poet, author, and Columbia professor Mark Van
24 February 1945 Count Basie and his orchestra in conjunction with a Coca Cola, “Parade of  
Spotlight Bands” broadcast on national radio.
June 8, 1954  President Dwight Eisenhower landed at Dover Air Force Base to make a speech at
Washington College in Chestertown, Md.
22 June 1960 Senator John F. Kennedy (D-MA) landed at Dover AFB and visited Delaware Democratic
delegates and newsmen at the Dover Hotel.
29 June 1960 Mr. Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians aircraft made an unscheduled landing at
Dover. They were enroute to an engagement at the White House.
25 July 1963 Aircraft piloted by the “Ninety Nines,” members of the international organization of
women fliers, landed at Dover AFB.
1 April 1964 Mr. Rod Serling, narrator-writer of TV’s “Twilight Zone,” jumped from a Dover C-124
operated by the 20th Air Transport Squadron during a paratroop training exercise at Ft. Bragg. NC.
31 October 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mrs. Johnson arrived at Dover en route to a
speaking engagement in the City of Dover. President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mrs. Johnson arrived
at Dover AFE enroute to a campaign speech engagement in the City of Dover. About 5,000 base
military and civilian personnel and dependents were at the terminal to greet them and another 10,000
awaited his arrival in downtown Dover.
5 September 1974 U.S. Congressman Pierre S. DuPont IV toured DAFB.
6-7 May 1982 Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle (Retired) along with Mrs. Doolittle, visited the base.
3 October 1983 Author Herman Wouk (“Winds of War”) visited for research material on 1973 Israeli
War and C-5 support.
6 April 1996 DAFB held a ceremony to honor 33 Americans (including Commerce Secretary Ron
Brown) who died in an airplane crash in Croatia. President Bill Clinton, and other dignitaries
attended the event.

27 June 1996 DAFB held a memorial ceremony for victims of the Khobar Towers terrorist attack in
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. General Ronald Fogelman, U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff attended the service.
Four wing personnel received Purple Hearts for injuries sustained in this attack.

9 May 1997 Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, John L. Levitow, spoke to Airman Leadership
class graduates at DAFB.

18 April 1998 Retired Colonel Gail Halverson relived his role as the “Candy Bomber” when he
dropped candy with attached parachutes from a C-54 over DAFB. This event kicked off the base’s
celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Berlin airlift.

4 October 2001 Miss America 2002, Ms. Katie Harmon visited DAFB.

29 October 2009  President Barack Obama made a late night visit to Dover Air Force Base to honor
fallen soldiers.     

The Jet Age, C-141 Starlifter

The first C-141 Starlifter, named the “First State Starlifter,” was delivered to Dover AFB on 18 August
1965 with arrival ceremonies attended by many state and local dignitaries.

Flying above the weather at 17,000 to 25,000 feet with no vibration and better radar and equipment,
the C-141 was “a different world” after flying older transports, according to Lt. Col . Art Azamar, a
master navigator who flew all the major transport planes: the C-54, C-124, C-133, C141, and the C-
5A. “I thought I was in heaven after bouncing around for ten years”.

18-19 September 1965 A DAFB C-141 made its first long-distance overseas flight when it flew on a
mission to Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

11 December 1965 The “First State” C-141 Starlifter aircraft completed the longest non-stop flight ever
logged by a DAFB aircraft. The C-141 flew from Yokota, Japan, to Dover AFB in 13 hours and 10

The Wing Reserve Associate Unit program was implemented at Dover in 1968.  The program was
initiated by General Howell M. Estes Jr., commander of Military Airlift Command.  It permitted
reservists to retain their unit identity and train with an active MAC wing carrying out the same
operational and maintenance missions as equals with their active component counterparts.

The 912th MAG (Associate), previously assigned to the 514th Military Airlift Wing at McGuire AFB,
N.J., moved from Willow Grove Naval Station to Dover AFB in September 1968. Equipped with C-141
Starlifter aircraft, the 912th became the third associate group in the Air Force Reserve to fly the C-141.
Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm became the focal point of airlift support in 1990, when the
wing's two flying squadrons, the 326th and 709th Airlift Squadrons were recalled to active duty. Also
supporting the conflict, were 232 maintenance personnel. In February 1992, the wing was
redesignated the 512th Airlift Wing as part of an Air Force wide reorganization.

Brig. Gen. Fred Vetter, (USAF Ret.) recalls arriving in 1969 as the wing commander with the mission
to prepare the base for the arrival of the C-5A.   With nearly $96 million for runway repairs, enlarging
the ramp and other improvements, Vetter went to work directing a makeover of the base, which still
included, “one solid square mile of one story tar paper buildings from the main gate to the hospital,
including barracks with no hot water. “

17-22 June 1971 The wing accomplished what no other MAC wing had ever done- flying 259
consecutive C-141 departures without a delay.

28 April 1973 Dover’s C-141 Starlifter and aircrew made a historic flight to the People’s Republic of
China. This Presidential-directed special airlift mission supported the newly established U.S. liaison
office in Peking.

2 July 1973 The transfer of aircraft between Dover’s C-141 and Charleston’s C-5’s began.

436th Airlift Wing

December 27, 1965 was a significant date in the history of the 436th Airlift Wing, on that date, the
436th Troop Carrier Wing was redesignated as the 436th Military Airlift Wing and activated in
conjunction with the creation of the Military Airlift Command. The 436th, by the way, has its own
proud history, going back to the famed 436th Troop Carrier Group, TCG, which participated in just
about every major European campaign of World War II, from Normandy to Operation Market
Garden to Bastogne to Operation Varsity.

On 8 January 1966, the 436th MAW replaced the 1607th Air Transport Wing as the MAC host wing
at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. Shortly after its arrival at Dover, the newly created 436th MAW
began a transition into the jet age, replacing its propeller-driven C-124 Globemaster II aircraft with
the jet-powered C-141 Starlifter.

Vietnam Airlift

During this transition, the 436th MAW received helped the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam,
during Operation EAGLE THRUST. Beginning on 28 December 1967, EAGLE THRUST called for the
transport of more than 10,000 infantry troops and 5,000 tons of cargo from Fort Campbell, Kentucky
directly to Bien Hoa Air Base, Vietnam. During the Vietnam war, Dover aircrews participated in,
among others, Operation Blue Light in January 1966 and Operation Eagle Thrust in 1967, an
incredibly ambitious military airlift into a combat zone for which Dover personnel received their first
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

In 1968, the 912th Military Airlift Group, Associate, along with the 326th Military Airlift, the 912th
Support, and the 912th Material Squadrons, were activated at Dover, giving the Base a total of four
active and one reserve military airlift squadrons. In 1973, the 512th Military Airlift Wing, A, which is
now the 512th Airlift Wing, A, was activated as a replacement to the 912th and its subordinates; the
512th AW remains a key part of Dover's mission. From 1971 to 1973, the transition was undertaken to
make Dover home to the first all C-5 equipped wing in the Air Force.

Women at DAFB

Dover AFB’s first Women in the Air Force (WAF) squadron was activated as part of the 436th Air
Base Group on September 1, 1970. 2Lt Virginia Alden was appointed Officer in Charge of the 436th
WAF Sqdn.  On September7, 1973 1Lt Lois E. Rankin was assigned as commander.  Just five years
later in 1975 the squadron was inactivated, and assigned personnel were integrated with almost every
organization on Dover AFB.

The wing’s first female C-5 pilot, 1Lt Gayle I. Westbrook, 3d Military Airlift Squadron, flew her first
operational mission on Independence Day 1985. On April 24, 1987 Westbrook became the first female
pilot in 21 AF to be certified as an aircraft commander.

28 March 1988 An all-female C-5 crew flew a European channel mission as part of the U.S. Air Force
Women’s History Month celebration.

31 January 1986 The first ever all African-American aircrew flew a mission to Europe in
commemoration of Black History Month.
12 February 1993 Dover Avenue renamed Tuskegee Avenue in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen.
19 November 1999 Major General John D. Hopper, Jr., 21 AF commander, dedicated a C-5 aircraft as
the “Spirit of the Tuskeegee Airmen.”

16-21 February 1971 The wing successfully passed the MAC Operational Readiness Inspection, one of
only two MAC wings to do so on their first try.

The C-5 Fat Albert

16 April 1971 DAFB received their first C-5 aircraft manufactured by the Lockheed Corporation.
On April 16, 1971, the wing received its first C-5 Galaxy aircraft and began the phase out of the
propeller-driven C-133 Cargomaster aircraft which had been part of the wing's inventory since 1957.
Two years later, on August 23, 1973, the wing traded the last of its C-141 aircraft to Charleston Air
Force Base, S.C., for C-5s. This move made the 436th MAW the only all C-5 equipped wing in the
active Air Force, and allowed the wing to handle heavy, outsized cargo loads, which the C-141 could

Significant C-5 Missions:

31 May 1972 A Dover C-5 Galaxy made its first flight to Kwang Ju AB, Korea.
December 1972 The first hijacking attempt of a wing’s C-5 aircraft was successfully thwarted by an
alert crew of the 9th Military Airlift Squadron in Taiwan. The crew’s diligent and courageous actions
saved the aircraft from possible damage. There were no injuries reported.

In July 1973, the 512th MAW reactivated as an associate unit at Dover AFB, Del., where the wing flew
the C-5A Galaxy aircraft and absorbed the personnel of the 912th Military Airlift Group (Associate)
stationed at Dover AFB.

15 August 1975 DAFB’s C-5 aircraft flew its first round-the-world mission since their arrival in 1971.
Among other most notable missions in which Dover crews have participated are Operation Nickel
Grass, during which Dover's C-5s flew 71 missions, more than 2,000 hours, delivering more than
5,000 tons of cargo. That operation is considered by many to have been the first real test of the C-5
aircraft. Dover crews also successfully dropped and test-fired a Minuteman I ICBM in 1974, and
delivered a 40-ton superconducting magnet to Moscow in 1977 as part of a joint energy research
program. The mission to Moscow earned the crew the Mackay Trophy for the most meritorious flight
of the year. Missions to Zaire and, in the cause of joint verification, another to the Soviet Union also
earned Mackay Trophies for Dover captains and crews.

The 436 Military Airlift Wing quickly received a chance to test the worldwide airlift capability of their
C-5s during Operation NICKLE GRASS. On October 13, 1973, the country of Israel called out for help
when forces from neighboring Egypt and Syria attacked starting the Yom Kippur War. The 436th
MAW responded with a 32-day airlift that delivered 22,305 tons of munitions and military equipment
to Israel, which helped to quickly bring an end to the conflict. Aircrews successfully conducted the
airlift without any in-flight refueling capability and the operation is considered by some to be the first
operational test of the C-5 galaxy.

20 February 1976 An all-time high, 100 percent, home station departure reliability was achieved for
the first time. The next day, the wing achieved 30 straight days of on-time departures for the first
since the full contingent of C-5 aircraft was assigned at DAFB.

5 January 1977 A “Zero Discrepancy Flight” was achieved for the first time for a C-5 aircraft. C-5 tail
number 69-0026 departed Dover AFB in a “Black Letter Initial” signifying no discrepancies.

15 February 1977 Fifty-six consecutive on-time C-5 missions were launched. This was an all-time high
record for no delay launches.

1 April 1978 The wing received the 1977 Mackay Trophy awarded for the most meritorious flight of
the year. This mission consisted of airlifting a superconducting magnet to Moscow. Equipped with
one of the world's largest transport aircraft, the 436th MAW continued to provide critical airlift
support throughout the world and set records for carrying heavy loads and out-sized cargo. Some of
the flights included; the airdrop and test firing of a Minuteman I, Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, the
delivery of a 40-ton super conducting magnet to Moscow, for which the crew received the 1977
Mackay Trophy. The wing won its second consecutive Mackay Trophy in 1978, for conducting the
first C-5 airlift mission into Africa in support of efforts against rebel forces in Zaire.

On Dec. 9 1978, members of the 436th MAW assisted in the evacuation of 140 Americans from Iran to
Dover AFB, Delaware. In March 1989, wing C-5s delivered special equipment used to clean up the
Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound Alaska.

15 January 1981 The first wing modified C-5A aircraft was delivered.

In October 1983, the wing supported URGENT FURY, the Grenada rescue operation by flying 24
missions, and in August 1989, the wing flew 16 missions in support of Operation JUST CAUSE, the
invasion of Panama.

6 November 1983 The wing’s C-5 aircraft executed the 100th consecutive on-time logistical departure--
the first time since the aircraft was introduced to the Air Force inventory.

29 August 1986 The wing received its first C-5B aircraft, tail number 85001.

23 February 1988 Wing, base, and local officials attended the naming ceremony for the first C-5B
aircraft, “The First State.”

29 March 1989 Wing C-5 aircrews flew seven missions to Alaska to aid in clean-up efforts for the
catastrophic oil spill by the Exxon Valdez at Prince William Sound.

On June 7, 1989, while attending the Airlift Rodeo, a 436th MAW C-5 set a world record when it
airdropped 190,346 pounds and 73 paratroopers.

Humanitarian Missions

Since its inception, the 436th has consistently provided humanitarian airlift in times of disaster and
military airlift when United States' forces were needed around the globe. Examples include: the
airlifting of approximately 8,700 passengers and 7,800 tons of cargo, during 294 missions, to Somalia
in 1992 for Operation RESTORE HOPE, and the airlift of humanitarian supplies to Rwanda for
Operation SUPPORT HOPE in April 1994. In the support of world peace, the 436th AW participated
in Operation RESTORE/UPHOLD Democracy, the invasion of Haiti, in September 1994 and supported
Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR, the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords in war-torn Bosnia-
Herzegovina, in December 1995. On Nov. 9, 1997, the wing began airlifting patriot missile batteries
and elements of the 347th Air Expeditionary Wing to Southwest Asia to force Iraqi compliance with
applicable United Nations Security Council Resolutions during Operation PHOENIX SCORPION.
throughout 1998. Lastly, the 436th AW supported Operation ALLIED FORCE, the bombing
campaign designed to end Serb aggression in Kosovo, which began on March 24, 1999.

Dover crews helped evacuate Americans from Iran in 1978, and supported the Marine operation in
Lebanon in 1983-84. Dover's C-5s flew 27 missions in the invasion on Grenada also in 1983, and
assisted with the clean-up after the Valdez oil spill in 1989. Eighteen missions were flown by Dover
crews in Operation Just Cause in Panama, and in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the
Persian Gulf War, Dover's C-5s logged more than 30,000 flying hours. Since then, Dover crews have
flown in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia; in Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in
Operations Desert Thunder and Desert Fox in 1998; and in Operation Allied Force against the military
structure of Slobodan Milosevic.

Among other humanitarian missions have been the airlift to Central America following Hurricane
Mitch; Joint Task Force Shining Hope to aid Kosovar refugees; airlifts to Turkey following the
earthquakes of 1999; the 436 AW also responded to the earthquake that same year in Taiwan; and
Operation Atlas Response in Mozambique after the devastating flooding there.

Desert Shield/Desert Storm

On Aug. 2, 1990, Iraqi forces, under the command of Saddam Hussein, invaded neighboring Kuwait
in an attempt to seize the tiny country's vast oil reserves. Five days later, the United Nations
responded and launched Operation DESERT SHIELD, a military build-up in the Persian Gulf Region
to curtail further Iraqi aggression. Because of the 436th MAW's heavy airlift capability, the wing
became a major player in this critical operation. During DESERT SHIELD, the wing flew
approximately 17,000 flying hours and airlifted a total of 131,275 tons of cargo. Dover AFB became a
major airlift hub and intermediate repair facility for C-5 aircraft participating in the operation.

On Jan. 17, 1991, Saddam Hussein failed to comply with the United Nations demand to withdraw
from Kuwait and DESERT SHIELD transformed into Operation DESERT STORM. Again, the 436th
MAW provided key airlift by flying over 13,650 hours in support of the war fighting effort, until the
liberation of Kuwait on Feb. 28, 1991. Dover personnel processed and hauled over 139,000 tons of
cargo to support Operations DESERT STORM, DESERT EXPRESS and PROVIDE COMFORT, which
shortly followed the end of the Gulf War. Later, the 436th MAW airlifted 580 tons of fire-fighting
equipment to help extinguish the numerous oil field fires set by Iraqi forces as they retreated back into
Iraq. Following the Gulf War, the Air Force reorganized and the Air Mobility Command replaced
MAC as the manager of America's airlift fleet. In conjunction with the reorganization, AMC leaders
redesignated the 436th MAW as the 436th Airlift Wing on Dec. 1, 1991.

7- 27 September 1990 Headquarters MAC directed DAFB to stop all C-5 isochronal inspections so the
wing could meet mission requirements brought on by Operation DESERT SHIELD.

October 1990 The wing launched a total of 359 C-5 sorties for the month. This number surpassed the
sortie total during the entire Israeli relief effort in 1973.

14 March 1993 436th Medical Group initiated project Pets Uplifting People (PUPS), whereby trained
dogs visited patients during their hospital stay.

22 April 1993 DAFB activated an electronic marquee at the north gate. This message center relayed
important information to the base populace at a moment’s notice.

1 October 1994 DAFB's 436th Airlift Control Squadron inactivated. Most of the squadron's personnel
were transferred to McGuire AFB, New Jersey.

23 October 1994 The first week of 3-ship, C-5 formation training began at Pope AFB, NC. The 436th
Airlift Wing aircrews airdropped 60 thousand pounds of cargo during the test.

December 1994 Team Dover won the AMC Commander-in-Chief's Installation Excellence Annual

17 January 1995 Wing aircraft participated in brigade airdrop testing at Pope AFB. During this testing
the C-5's flew for the first time in 6-ship formation.

March 1995 Six Dover AFB C-5 aircraft assisted in the transportation of equipment for President Bill
Clinton's visit to Haiti.

11-16 June 1995 Headquarters AMC conducted a Quality Air Force Assessment on the 436 AW and
achieved the highest score ever recorded.

7 July 1995 DAFB played an important role in the month long C-17 Reliability, Maintainability, and
Availability Evaluation.

August 1995 The wing's C-5 fleet temporarily evacuated the base as Hurricane Felix approached the
Dover area.

November 1995 Environmental and defense ministers from Eastern European countries toured DAFB
to observe the base's environmental restoration programs.

30 May 1996 DAFB hosted a “Launching a Dream” aerospace education program. School buses
resembling space shuttles transported students from local schools to a modified C-5 aircraft
functioning as a science experiment laboratory.

19 July 1996 A severe lightning storm hit DAFB causing the loss of all telephone communications.
Maintenace personnel restored all systems in less than a week and minimal communication systems
were online within 23 hours.

26 April 1996 The Department of Defense opened a groundwater remediation field laboratory on
DAFB. The base became the first installation to host such a facility of its kind.

10 April 1997 A wing aircraft delivered the “Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile” as part of a good will tour
to the continent of Europe. The Oscar Meyer company paid for the transport.

7 August 1997 Wing officials renamed Dover Street to Purple Heart Avenue in honor of all combat
wounded veterans.

22 August 1997 A 9th Airlift Squadron aircrew delivered a National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) Satellite from Andrews AFB, Maryland, to Kagoshima, Japan. This satellite
measured precipitation in the tropical rainforest. The satellite’s specifically manufactured container
weighed over 49,000 pounds.

24 January 1998 The base opened a new consolidated club named, “The Landings,” in building 479.
29 May 1998 DAFB’s new main gate opened, completing one of the primary Delaware State Route 1
construction phases.

1 June 1998 The TRICARE healthcare system officially started on DAFB.

23 June 1998 Crewmembers from the 3d and 9th Airlift Squadrons achieved a world record by
airdropping a 42,000 pound load from a C-5 aircraft. This event occurred over the Yuma proving
grounds in Arizona.

5 May 1998 Colonel Felix M. Grieder, 436 AW commander, suspended the issuance of the anthrax
vaccination on DAFB until documented safety assurance could be established. Members of the 436
Medical Group began re-administering the vaccine a week later.

19 June 1998 DAFB officials dedicated the Airman Leadership school, Building 206, to former
instructor Staff Sergeant Julio Alonzo, who died in a swimming accident in September 1978.
13 August 1998 Wing officials dedicated a dormitory, building 430, in honor of Air Force Cross
recipient William H. Pitsenbarger.

16 September 1998 A C-5 Galaxy aircraft was renamed Chevrons of Dover. Tail number 85-5003 set a
record for the heaviest military aircraft to get airborne with a total weight of more than 900,000

13 October 1998 Air Mobility Command, in conjunction with several wing officials, attended a
memorialization ceremony C-5 aircraft, tail number -0447, held at the AMC Museum. The aircraft was
named “Operation NICKEL GRASS.”

28 November 1999 Major General William J. Dendinger, Chief of the Air Force Chaplain service,
rededicated Chapel 2 as the “Carpenter Memorial Chapel” in honor of the late Major General Charles
Carpenter, a Delaware resident and former Chief of AF Chaplains.

15 November 1999 The 436th Communications Squadron unveiled its new base website. This site
provided base personnel and public customers access to commonly requested information and facts
about the base.

7 January 2000 Four sections of the Berlin Wall passed through the 436th Aerial Port en route to the
USAF Museum located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

1 February 2000 DAFB implemented the use of Border Collies in an effort to minimize the danger of
birds near the flightline.

1 May 2000 The 436th Medical Group began a customer service initiative by assigning military
members and their dependents to a Primary Care Manager (PCM).

4 May 2000 The “I Love You” computer virus struck DAFB and shut down the base’s electronic mail
server. Members of the 436th Communications Squadron spent more than 306 man-hours to bring
the system back on-line.

26 May 2000 The newly formed Airmen Against Drunk Driving began on DAFB.

27 July 2000 The Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce received the Abilene trophy. This award
honored the City of Dover’s contributions in providing outstanding community support for DAFB.

18 August 2000 Wing officials dedicated the Chief’s Suite, located in the Eagle’s Rest Lodging facility,
to Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Robert Gaylor.

27 March 2001 The 436th Airlift Wing won the Lieutenant General Malcolm B. Armstrong trophy as
the best airlift wing in 21st Air Force.

20 May 2001 Staff Sergeant Mickel Howell and his military working dog “Daro,” 436th Security
Forces Squadron, won the annual Top Dog competition. This event singled out the best dog/handler
in the Department of Defense.

21 September 2001 The Air Force Chief of Staff approved the prohibition of uniform wear when
traveling on offical orders within the continental United States.

27 October 2001 DAFB’s Allen Frear elementary school donated over $1,534.00 in pennies and small
change to the United Service Organization (USO) of Dover.

3 January 2002 DAFB Airmen departed the base in support of detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay
Naval Station, Cuba.

7 January 2002 Members of the 436th Security Forces Squadron deployed to Salt Lake City, Utah to
assist with security during the Winter Olympic games.

10 July 2002 A wing C-5 aircraft departed for Kabul, Afghanistan, transporting 13,115 pounds of
school supplies collected by 58 U.S. schools for the Chances for Children charity organization.

12 September 2002 Air Portugal flight 1315, carrying 235 passengers enroute from Lisbon, Portugal,
to John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York, received an F-16 fighter aircraft escort to DAFB
after failure by the airline crew to observe newly established airspace restrictions.

3 January 2004 A DAFB special operations, low-level (SOLL) aircrew retrieved a C-5 aircraft downed
by hostile fire. In April of this year, Dover stopped performing these SOLL missions.

8 October 2004 A small amount of World War I chemical projectiles were discovered in and around

3 April 2006 A C-5 aircraft crashed shortly after take-off just south of DAFB. Seven members of a 512
AW crew sustained mild injuries. All 17 personnel onboard the aircraft survived.

12 May 2006 Air Mobility Command, state, and federal officials placed DAFB on the Enironmental
Protection Agency’s Superfund National priorities list. This list contained the names of the top
agnecies in the environmental awareness field.

15 October 2006 All DAFB aircraft changed from the yellow tail flash to a blue stripe with an Eagle’s
head. This design used the wing’s stars, colors, and logos. The liberty bell and colonial blue
background in a diamond shape represented both wings and the state of Delaware.

C-17 Globemaster III

A DAFB aircrew flew the first training mission in the  C-17A Globemaster III aircraft on November
16, 2006 . The first C-17 Globemaster III aircraft named “Spirit of the Constitution” arrived at DAFB.
on July 2, 2007.  The base has 13 of these aircraft. The C-17s are assigned to the 436th AW and the
512th AW provides a flying squadron and maintenance squadron to augment this mission. The C-17
is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or
directly to forward bases in the deployment area. The inherent flexibility and performance of the C-17
force improves the ability of the total airlift system to fulfill the worldwide air mobility requirements
of the United States.

And, of course, there is Operation Enduring Freedom, our common cause in which our military men
and women bear so much of the burden, the risk and the sacrifice. Our prayers and thanks are with
them every day, including the 200 men and women from the 512 Air Reserve Wing who have been
activated. I would also note that the 436th Airlift Wing received its 13th Air Force Outstanding Unity
Award in October.

The New Millennium

The 21st Century brought many new opportunities for members of the 436th and 512th Airlift Wings,
along with civilians comprised the Dover Team to serve our Nation. After September 11, the men and
women assigned to both the 436th and 512th Airlift Wings played and integral role in Operations
ENDURING and IRAQI FREEDOM, on top of conducting normal day-to day operations.

From September 2001 through December 2003, Dover C-5s were tasked with more than 850 airlift
missions in support of OEF and OIF and despite the increased workload, Dover's maintenance crews
accomplished quite a feat in July 2002, when it surpassed the 75 percent mission capable goal for the
first time in six years! Dover aircrews flew the first C-5 expeditionary airlift missions into Kandahar,
Afghanistan as well as landed C-5s into Baghdad International Airport -- the first time since before
the Gulf War. Personnel worked around-the-clock preparing, loading and transporting over 450,000
tons of equipment and more than 142,000 personnel in support of the Global War on Terrorism. In
January 2002, Airmen from the 436th and 512th Airlift Wings departed Dover in support of detainee
operations at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba.

On a somber note, Dover's Port Mortuary received and processed the remains of the victims of the
September 11 attack on the Pentagon, those killed in support of OEF and OIF, as well as the seven
astronauts who perished in the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy.

Although support of the war effort remained the largest component of Team Dover's mission focus,
other important missions and milestones took place early in the 21st Century. Members of Team
Dover continued to deploy to all areas of the globe in support of Air Expeditionary Force
humanitarian and higher headquarters requirements to include assistance with security at the Winter
Olympics; the transport of personnel and equipment from the Fairfax County, Va., Urban Search and
Rescue Team to Bam, Iran, following an earthquake that killed 30,000; and airlift support for the
victims of the tsunami in Indonesia, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; the earthquake in Pakistan.

The future holds many changes for the Dover Team to include the bed down of 13 C-17 Globemaster
III aircraft and the loss of 16 C-5s. But as its rich heritage has shown, and with a reputation for
tackling any challenge, the 436th Airlift Wing will be ready and able to lend powerful support to any
situation that may lie ahead.

Dover Air Force Base continues to shine in the eyes of military and local community leaders and the
general public. This fact was best exemplified when Dover Air Force Base won the 2008 Commander-
in-Chief Installation Excellence. This award was given annually by high ranking senior Air Force
officials to the best base in the entire Air Force. This event also marked the first time that this award
was captured by any Air Mobility Command installation

15 April 2008 DAFB won the AF Commander-in-Chief’s Installation Excellence Award. The base
received a trophy and a $1,000,000 prize fund to enhance local quality-of-life initiatives. DAFB became
the first AMC installation to win this award at the USAF level.

Air Mobility Command Museum

The Air Mobility Command Museum is a part of the National Museum of the United States Air
Force's field museum system. Air Mobility Command is a major command of the United States Air
Force. Its mission is to deliver maximum war-fighting and humanitarian effects for America through
rapid and precise global air mobility.

The roots of its establishment date to 1986, but the seed was planted in 1978 when “Shoo Shoo Baby”
arrived on base from the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB.  “Shoo Shoo Baby” was a
“basket case” B-17 bomber.  It began as an Air Force Reserve restoration project to restore the craft to
wartime flying condition, an idea conceived by Technical Sergeant Mike Leister. Arriving via a C-5 in
17 major pieces the bomber would be restored at Dover by the 512th Antique Aircraft Restoration
Group, an organization of volunteers and community members.  The airplane had been interned in
Sweden after battle damage during a mission to Poland.  After the war it was modified as a passenger
transport, and as a photo mapping craft, flying for the Swedes, Denmark, and France respectively. It
was dismantled in 1972 by Air Force Museum officials and brought to the United States where it
stood in storage until being flown to Dover in July 1978.  It took over ten years of extraordinary
restoration efforts totaling more than 40,000 volunteer hours before it was finally airworthy.  Shoo
Shoo Baby made its first flight in over 27 years in August of 1988, and its last flight to the Air Force
Museum in Ohio in October 1988.

In 1986, then Wing Commander, and later MAC Commander, General Walter Kross, expressed
interest in starting an air museum at Dover.  He tapped Mike Leister as the museum director, and Jim
Leach as the museum curator, as his first team to launch the idea, starting with a C-47, “the Turf and
Sport Special” in the corner of a soon-to-be condemned hangar.  They restored the C-47 and began
working on several projects at once in various stages of repair. By 1999 they had moved into their
present location in the appropriately historical Hangar 1301.

During WWII, the 4146th Base Unit was involved in secret rocket development at what was then
known as Dover Army Airfield. The building complex where these military secret operations took
place was Hangar 1301. From the 1950s to the 1970s, various fighter squadrons called the hangar
home. In the 1990s after restoration and placement on the National Register of Historic Places,
Hangar 1301 was given new life as the home of the Air Mobility Command Museum.

Today, the museum has more than 20,000 square feet of interior exhibit space, a theater, museum
store, library, image archive, artifact storage area, and administration offices. It features a
commemorative park, and above all a superb collection of military aircraft, specializing in transport
aircraft. It is a growing collection that at this writing contains some 27 aircraft.


The Dover AFB port mortuary is the largest in the Department of Defense and plays a vital role as a
place of honor where the remains of DOD personnel killed overseas are received.

In 1955, the Aerial Port Mortuary responsibilities were transferred to Dover, and many Americans
have become familiar with the Base for its prominence and exceptional service in fulfilling that duty.
To offer an incomplete list, the Port Mortuary has received the remains of casualties of the war in
Vietnam, a number of plane and helicopter crashes involving military personnel, the mass suicide in
Guyana, the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, the Challenger explosion, the USS Stark, Pan
Am103, the USS Iowa, the Khobar Towers bombing, the 1998 bombing in Kenya, and victims of the
September 11 attack on the Pentagon.

During the Vietnam conflict 1966-1973, 21,693 war dead were processed at the Dover mortuary.
Grenada Invasion 1983, 14 deceased
Panama Invasion 1989, 23 deceased
Desert Shield/Desert Storm 1990-91, 310 deceased
Somalia, 1993, 23 deceased
USS Cole, Yemen 2000, 17 deceased
6 May 1980 The remains of eight servicemen, who were killed in the abortive attempt to rescue the
American hostages held in Iran, arrived at Dover AFB on a C-141 from Zurich, Switzerland.
29 April 1986 The remains of the seven astronauts killed in the “Challenger” mishap were processed
through the Port Mortuary at DAFB.
28 May 1997 Wing officials renamed the Dover Air Force Base port mortuary, Building 121, the
Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs. This memorialization was in honor of Mr. Carson’s
40 year tenure as mortuary director. His term spanned conflicts such as the Vietnam War, the Guyana
incident and the Beirut terrorist attack.

Dover Air Force Base, Delaware Facts

Dover AFB is located in the center of the Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) peninsula.
The base is located two miles south of the city of Dover -- the capital of Delaware. Dover AFB covers
more than 3,900 acres, has two runways, and 1,700 buildings. Capital assets and aircraft related
equipment add $5.8 billion to the value of America's defense resources assigned here. The base
supports 18 tenant units both on and off-base. It has an economic impact of more than $470 million
on the local economy and ranks as Delaware's third largest industry.

There are more than 4,200 military, and 1,200 civilians and 2,500 reservists who work at Dover AFB.
They are actively involved in a variety of off-base activities, and a strong base-community program
provides a forum and spirit for military and civilian cooperation at all levels. A mutually-beneficial
relationship  has always existed between base personnel and the citizens of the peninsula.
Dover AFB is home to the 436th Airlift Wing, known as the "Eagle Wing" and the 512th Airlift Wing,
an Air Force  Reserve associate referred to as the "Liberty Wing." The Dover Team’s mission is to
provide strategic global airlift capability. In order to accomplish our mission, Dover AFB also houses
the world’s largest aerial port, which moves more cargo than Federal Express and UPS combined.

Would you like to know more?
We recommend the following books available at local Delaware bookstores and from Arcadia

Dover Air Force Base
Dover Air Force Base is the largest aerial port in the United States and home to gigantic jet air
transports that are lifelines for our modern military. It started as a municipal airport and has grown
and expanded nearly continuously since opening a week after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. Its
saga is the story of the evolution of the U.S. Air Force from World War II to the present. The pictures
in Images of Aviation: Dover Air Force Base represent the thousands of people who called Dover AFB
their home, the hundreds of aircraft that have been assigned there, and the dozens of various
missions assigned to the facility over the past seven decades. Over 200 vintage photographs from the
archives of the
Air Mobility Museum and other sources provide a sampling of the way it was at
Dover Air Force Base through the years.

(See appendix, Aircraft Assigned to Dover Air Force Base).


“Airlift! The Story of the Military Airlift Command”, Marcella Thum and Gladys Thum, 1986 Dodd
Mead and Co., New York NY

“Air Mobility, The Evolution of Global Reach,” Keith Hutcheson, 1999, Point One Inc., Vienna VA

“Anything, Anywhere, Anytime: An Illustrated History of the Military Airlift Command, 1941-1991”,
Military Airlift Command Office of History, 1991, Scott AFB IL

“Air Force Combat Units of World War II”, Maurer Maurer, 1983, Office of Air Force history,
Washington DC

“B-17G, Shoo Shoo Baby, the Restoration Story”, Pamphlet

“The Chronological History of the C-5 Galaxy”, Dr. John W. Leland and Ms. Kathryn A. Wilcoxson,
Office of Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB IL 2003

“Claims to Fame, The B-17 Flying Fortress, Steven Birdsall and Roger A. Freeman, Arms and armor
Press, London, 1994 (“Queen of the Skies” - Shoo Shoo Baby )

“Delaware Aviation History”, by George J. Frebert, 1998, Dover Litho, Dover DE

“Delaware’s Role in World War II”, William H. Conner, and Leon DeValinger Jr. 1955, Public
Archives Commission, Dover DE

“The District, A History of the Philadelphia District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1866-1971, Frank
E. Snyder, and Brian H. Guss

“Dover AFB History”, USAF Fact Sheet

“Dover Army Airfield, 1940-1944, volumes 1-4” manuscript documents, Historical Data, Headquarters
Dover Army Air Field, Declassified, AMC Museum Library

“Eight Decades of American Military Airlift”, Daniel L. Haulman, 2000 from Golden Legacy,
Boundless Future, Essays on the USAF and the Rise of Aerospace Power, Air Force History and
Museums Program

“The Flying History of the 1607th Air Transport Wing (H)” by Harry Heist, AMC Museum.

“Flying Squadrons, A graphic history of the U.S.Army Air Forces”, S. Paul Johnston, Duell, Sloan
and Pearce, New York, 1942

“History of the 436th Airlift Wing, the “Eagle Wing” and Dover AFB”, John T. Murphy,
436th Airlift Wing Historian

“The 60th Anniversary of the Dover Air Force Base” Transcript of Speech by Senator Biden, in U.S.
Senate Chambers December 11, 2001

“The History of Dover Air Force Base and The Heritage of the 436th Airlift Wing” Thomas P. Lauria,
SSgt USAF, 436th Wing Historian, ca.2000

“The Official Guide to the Army Air Forces, A Directory, Almanac, and Chronicle of Achievement”,
Simon and Schuster, New York 1944

Would you like to know more?
We recommend the following books available at local Delaware bookstores and from Arcadia

Dover Air Force Base
Dover Air Force Base is the largest aerial port in the United States and home to gigantic jet air
transports that are lifelines for our modern military. It started as a municipal airport and has grown
and expanded nearly continuously since opening a week after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. Its
saga is the story of the evolution of the U.S. Air Force from World War II to the present. The pictures
in Images of Aviation: Dover Air Force Base represent the thousands of people who called Dover AFB
their home, the hundreds of aircraft that have been assigned there, and the dozens of various
missions assigned to the facility over the past seven decades. Over 200 vintage photographs from the
archives of the
Air Mobility Museum and other sources provide a sampling of the way it was at
Dover Air Force Base through the years.
Delaware Military History