History of Wurtsmith

Refueling Pic 2 - Copy

Wurtsmith Air Force Base has been an integral part of the United States Air Force from the 1920’s to June 3rd 1993. The base came to be because of chance. If a banker had not taken Lt. Whitehead on a fishing trip there would not have been an Air Force Base in Oscoda Michigan. Over the tenure of the base it was home to an aerial gunnery range, a fighter-interceptor training base and later home to the 379th Bomb Wing as a member of the Strategic Air Command.


                                             Arial picture of Wurtsmith Air Force Base

Over the 50 years of operation Wurtsmith Air Force Base had many different missions. The gunnery range was tasked with training pilots from Selfridge air base in the challenging maneuvers required to land a DeHavilland biplane on the frozen lake Van Etten for the young Army Air Corps. In the later years of World War II Wurtsmith Air Force Base was used as a fighter-interceptor training base and housed the 332d fighter group, which was part of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. In 1955 Wurtsmith Air Force Base became an official permanent post in the United States Air Force, which meant that many new services were implemented on base. On August 1st 1958 the 4026th Strategic Wing was formed at Wurtsmith Air Force Base. Its mission was to maintain half of the fleet on a 15 minute alert, meaning the plane could be in the air in 15 minutes, to reduce vulnerability to a Soviet preemptive missile strike. On May 9th 1961 the first B-52 landed in Wurtsmith Air Force Base signifying the re-designation to a Strategic Air Command Base. While the 379th Bomb Wing was stationed at Wurtsmith Air Force Base they were part of the Ready Alert Nuclear Strike Force. This meant that there was always at least three B-52s armed with nuclear bombs, ready to take off at a moment’s notice. These planes would regularly fly missions from Wurtsmith Air Force Base during the cold war.


                                                                        B-52s on ready alert

The 379th Bomb Wing moved to Wurtsmith Air Force Base in June of 1961. Assuming the equipment, personnel and aircraft of the 4026th Strategic wing as it was disbanded. The 379th Bomb Wing immediately continued the 4026th Strategic Wing operations and training.  During the Pacific conflicts personnel and the KC-135 Stratotankers were deployed to forward bases in the Pacific to support land operations. However, the B-52H aircraft maintained nuclear alert at Wurtsmith Air Force Base. In 1977 the 379th Bomb Wing replaced the B-52H fleet to B-52G aircraft.

KC-135 refueling B-52 mid flight

During the Gulf War B-52s from Wurtsmith Air Force Base were flown out of Prince Abdullah AB in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. These mission were into Iraq. These planes arrived at dawn on the first day of the Gulf War. One crew flew 29 mission out of Jeddah, setting the record for most missions flew by a bomber crew in theater. The 379th flew with a “Triangle K” tail flash to continue the tradition from their World War II counterparts. The 379th Bomb Wing was disbanded on June 30th 1993.

Time Capsule

Source: http://ss.sites.mtu.edu/mhugl/

For further reading,please visit:

© WAM 2018