|SAC Bases: Biggs
Air Force Base
now Biggs Army Airfield started life in 1915 as an encampment at Fort Bliss,
Texas for the 82nd Field Artillery. The next year aircraft of the 1st Aero
Squadron used the field as a stopping point between San Antonio, Texas and
Columbus, New Mexico, in response to Pancho Villa's raid on the small town. The
field was referred to as "Fort Bliss Aviation Field". In 1919, the field was
used for "Border Air Patrol".
On January 5, 1925 the field was officially named
"Biggs Field" after Lieutenant James B. "Buster" Biggs. Lt. Biggs was an El
Paso native killed in a plane crash October 27, 1918 at Beltran, France. Between
the two World Wars, Biggs served as a refueling stop for transient aircraft, but
during World War Two it became a hub of training activity for B-17, B-24 and
B-29 crews. The base came under the command of the 2nd Air Force and was
headquarters for the 20th Bombardment Command. In 1945 a detachment of B-29s
from the 16th Bombardment Operational Training Wing arrived at the base.
With the end of WW II the 16th BOTW was deactivated and
Biggs became home of the 19th Tactical Air Command, with the 20th Fighter Group
and the 471st Air service group taking up residence. These last two units left
Biggs for Shaw Field, South Carolina in 1948. On February 1, Biggs Field became
Biggs Air Force Base. The 47th Bomb Wing and the 544th Air Service group moved
from Lake Charles, Louisiana in October of that year. The 47th only stayed
until December, 1949, when it left for Barksdale AFB.
Biggs AFB became a Strategic Air Command asset when the
97th Bomb Wing moved to the base from Smokey Hill AFB, Kansas, in May 1948. In
1950, the 1st Strategic Support Squadron was assigned to Biggs, and on June 10,
1952 the 95th Bomb Wing was activated. To administer the groups the 810th Air
Division was also activated in June, 1952. During this time, the various units
operated B-29s, B-50s, B-36s, B-47s, B-52s, C-97s, C-124s, KC-97s and KC-135s to
name a few.
From 1939 until 1966 one unit was based at Biggs,
changing designations several times. That unit was at various times the 1st Tow
Target Squadron, 6th TTS and finally the 4758th Defense System Evaluation
Squadron. In its lifetime, the 4758th starting with a lone B-10 in 1939
operated at various times: A-26s (which the USAF redesignated B-26s), C-47s,
T-6s, F-80s, B-29s, B-45s, B-57s and F-100s.
The 1st SSS was deactivated in 1959, the 97th BW
moved to Eaker AFB that same year and in 1966 the 95th BW was deactivated and
the 4758th DSES moved to Holloman AF, NM. With that last action Biggs AFB
closed and the airfield reverted to the U.S. Army where it once again became
Biggs Army Airfield. USAF aircraft and units are only visitors now, but the
U.S. Army maintains a small fleet of former USSR equipment: various helicopters
including some Mi-24s and at least one An-2. Biggs is also host to the annual
Amigo Airshow, which is usually held in October.