Andersen Air Force Base is home to Pacific Air Forces’ 13th Air Force and the 36th Air Base Wing, Air Mobility Command’s 634th Air Mobility Support Squadron and several other tenant organizations.
Andersen traces its roots back to a tent on Pati Point in 1944 during the early days of World War II when four men of the 854th Airfield Construction Battalion "Spearheaders" stood at a drafting table, drawing lines on a blueprint. Those lines would define the runways, taxiways and parking aprons that would later become Andersen Air Force Base.
The area on Guam on which the Spearheaders drew the lines was known as a forest area – an almost impenetrable stand of trees and brush that covered the northern end of Guam. By February 1945, a runway complex was operational at what was then known as North Field. By June the finishing touches were almost complete and North Field aircraft began daily bombing missions over Japan.
The field was redesignated North Guam Air Force Base in 1947 – the same year the Air Force became a separate service. Two years later, the base was renamed in honor of Brig. Gen. Roy Andersen
. Andersen had been chief of staff at Harmon Field, Guam, when his aircraft disappeared en route to Hawaii in February 1945.
When fighting erupted in Korea, Guam became a focal point for aircraft and material flying west. In 1951, Andersen began supporting rotational bomber deployments from stateside bases, first with B-29s, and eventually hosting B-36, B-47 and, in 1964, B-52 units.
For the next six years, Strategic Air Command trained and practiced its wartime skills – which would be tested time and time again as the conflict in Southeast Asia escalated. Andersen would play a major part in the Vietnam conflict, when 27 B-52 bombers were launched from its runway June 18, 1965. The aircraft initiated Operation Arc Light, bombing missions over North and South Vietnam to strike Viet Cong base operations and enemy troop concentrations and supply lines. Arc Light missions continued for eight years.
In 1972 Andersen was the site of the most massive build up of airpower in history. More than 15,000 people and more than 150 B-52s lined all available flightline space. During Operation Linebacker II in December 1972, bombers stationed at Andersen flew 729 sorties in 11 days, resulting in renewed peace talks in Paris.
The post-Vietnam period brought a return to routine operations at Andersen, with the base remaining a vital overseas platform for carrying Strategic Air Command’s global-deterrence mission. In October 1988, the host 43rd Bombardment Wing traded its nuclear-deterrent role for a conventional mission. One year later, the bomb wing began redeploying to stateside bases, and Andersen transitioned from SAC to Pacific Air Forces with the activation of the 633rd Air Base Wing. The 43rd BW was officially inactivated Sept. 30, 1990. As part of an Air Force-wide initiated to preserve the heritage of the Air Force’s most-decorated units, the 633rd ABW inactivated Sept. 30, 1994, and was redesignated the 36th Air Base Wing.
Since the airfield became operational as North Field in 1945, it has continually played vital roles in maintaining U.S. presence in the Pacific. Aircraft flying in and out of Andersen participated in both world wars, the conflict on the Korean peninsula, the Vietnam conflict, and Operations Desert Shield and Storm.
Andersen forces also played a key role in Operation New Life, the evacuation of thousands after the fall of Saigon in 1975. During New Life, Andersen received more than 40,000 refugees and processed another 109,000 for onward transportation to the United States mainland. Andersen also played a key role in Operation Baby Lift, an element of New Life in which the U.S. evacuated 1,500 orphans from Vietnam and Thailand in April 1975.
In recent years, Andersen played a vital role in Operation Fiery Vigil, the evacuation of the Philippines following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991, and Joint Task Force Pacific Haven, the evacuation of more than 6,000 Kurdish people from Northern Iraq in September 1996.
Today, with huge fuel and munitions storage facilities and dual two-mile-long runways, Andersen is an important forward-based logistics-support center for exercise and contingency forces deploying throughout the Southwest Pacific and Indian Ocean area. 36th Air Base Wing
As the host unit at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, the 36th Air Base Wing has an expansive mission that relies on the Team Andersen concept to provide the highest quality peacetime and wartime support to project global power and reach from our vital location in the Pacific. The wing’s goals are based on its vision – Pacific center for power projection, regional cooperation and multinational training.
The wing is composed of the 36th Support Group, the 36th Logistics Group, the 36th Medical Group and the 36th Operations Support Squadron.
Although the history of the 36th Air Base Wing did not begin until the late 1940s, the wing does have a link with a like-numbered group that distinguished itself before and during World War II. The 36th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), a predecessor of the present-day wing, was activated at Langley Field, Va., on Feb. 1, 1940. The group’s original assigned flying units, the 22nd, 23rd and 32nd Pursuit Squadrons, were initially equipped with P-36 "Mohawk" aircraft.
The group was assigned to the Caribbean Defense Command, Losey Field, Puerto Rico, on Jan. 15, 1941. After arriving, the group received Bell P-39 "Aircobras" and Curtiss P-40 "Warhawks," the newest pursuit planes in the Army inventory. The group was redesignated the 36th Fighter Group in May 1942 and reassigned to Charleston, S.C., in the summer of 1943. While at Charleston, the group received Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" aircraft. The 36th left the United States for assignment to 9th Air Force near Kingsworth, England, in March 1944. In early May, the group became operational and flew its first combat mission in the European Theater of Operations. The group participated in 17 missions that month, including dive-bombing, area cover, strafing and escort of medium and heavy bombers.
VE-Day – May 8, 1945 – was more than a year after the 36th flew its first combat mission from England. During this period, the three flying units flew more than 1,000 missions and 6,947 sorties. The unit then moved to Normandy, France, to occupy the first of a series of temporary bases in France, Belgium and Germany. The group’s efficiency and endurance earned it the nickname, "The Fightin’ 36th."
In February 1946, the 36th was transferred back to the United States. After several reorganizations and reassignments, the group moved to the Caribbean in October 1946. On Oct. 15, the 36th reorganized at Howard Field, Panama Canal Zone. The group later received 24 Lockheed F-80B "Shooting Star" jet fighters to replace the P-47 "Thunderbolts."
In June 1948 the group moved to Europe. The 36th Fighter Wing activated July 2, 1948, and the 36th Fighter Group was assigned to the wing, with the group forming the nucleus of the wing. The wing was assigned to Furstenfeldbruck Air Base, West Germany. The wing’s arrival marked the first time U.S. jet fighter units were stationed in Europe. While at Furstenfeldbruck, the wing formed the "Skyblazers," the first Air Force aerobatics team using jet aircraft. The wing was redesignated a fighter-bomber wing in January 1950. In September of that year, 85 F-84 "Thunderjet" fighters were assigned.
The wing officially arrived at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, in November 1952. In August 1953, the North American F-86 "Sabre" was introduced to the wing, replacing the F-84s. In August 1954, the wing was redesignated a as the 36th Fighter-Day Wing. In 1956, the wing received the North American F-100 "Super Sabre," marking the first time a wing in U.S. Air Force Europe flew supersonic jets. On July 9, 1958, the wing was redesignated the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing. In November 1959, the wing was assigned to 17th Air Force. In May 1961, the wing received the Republic F-105 "Thunderchief" and continued to fly the jet fighter until it received the McDonnell F-4D "Phantom II" aircraft in 1966.
In 1977, the 36th transitioned to the McDonnell-Douglas F-15A and B model "Eagle." Arrival of the first F-15 on April 27 made the 36th the best-equipped air-superiority unit outside the continental United States. It converted to the F-15C and D model aircraft from October 1980 through December 1981. In the late ‘80s, the Army’s 5th Battalion (Patriot), 7th Air Defense Artillery missile system beddown and integration into the wing took place. In 1989, the wing assumed responsibilities for supporting and planning all Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty compliance inspections by Soviet inspection teams at Florennes Air Base, Belgium.
The wing’s combat readiness was tested between December and March 1991 during a deployment to Southwest Asia as part of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Proven Force. While flying combat air patrols during the war, the F-15s of the 36th were a strong deterrent to the air forces of Iraq. During Operation Desert Storm, the 36th was credited with downing 17 enemy aircraft in air-combat engagements. On Oct. 1, 1991, the 36th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated the 36th Fighter Wing, and in July 1994, the 36th Fighter Wing was inactivated.
The 36th Air Base Wing was activated at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on Sept. 30, 1994. Under the most recent designation, the wing lived up to its mission several times. In September 1996, the wing provided around-the-clock forward-deployment support to Air Combat Command B-52s during their operation Desert Strike missions over Iraq, and began hosting more than 6,600 Kurdish evacuees during the 8-month humanitarian assistance mission, Joint Task Force Pacific Haven.
The wing’s honors include seven campaign streamers, six foreign decorations and 19 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards.