Strategic Air Command
SAC Bases:  Abilene / Dyess Air Force Base
Location: Abilene, Texas
Home of: 7th Bomb Wing  96th Bomb Wing, 341st Bomb / Missile Wing  
Status:  Active - Home of 7th Bomb Wing.  Flies B-1B
Links:  Dyess AFB, Unofficial Dyess AFB
Dyess AFB, located a few miles south of Abilene, Texas, is home to the 7th Bomb Wing, which consists of four groups. Two squadrons, the 9th and 28th Bomb Squadrons, fly the B-1B. In addition, the 28th Bomb Squadron is the Air Force schoolhouse for all B-1B aircrew members.
       The base is located in the southwest corner of Abilene, TX and is about 200 miles west of Dallas. The base employs more than 5,000 people, making it the single largest employer in the area.
       The base is named after Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess, a native of Albany, Texas. Dyess AFB has nearly 200 facilities on base, plus 988 units of family housing, and encompasses 6,117 acres of land. The base has a total economic impact of nearly $310 million yearly on the local community. 
     The base has an Air Park with many famous warplanes on display.

      Dyess began as two distinctly different military posts.  Camp Barkeley was one of the many "tent camps" hastily erected throughout the United States.  It was used to train Army infantry recruits.  Adjacent to it was Tye Army Field, which trained Army Air Corps cadets learned to fly trainers and P-47 Thunderbolt fighters.  Both installations were closed at the end of WW II, and the army sold Tye Army Air Field to the city of Abilene for $1. Fifteen hundred acres of it were used by the Texas National Guard as a training facility.
      Following the outbreak of the Korean crisis, civic leaders besieged Washington, DC and Pentagon officials with their request for a military installation.   Armed with 1,500 acres and determination, they raised $893,000 to purchase an additional 3,500 acres to provide a home for the military base they hoped would be in Abilene. The local community was interested in providing for the Air Force an exemplary relationship between the community and an Air Force base.

SAC Base
       After initial ground-breaking ceremonies on Sept. 24, 1953, construction of the base progressed rapidly.  Known as Abilene Air Force Base, the Strategic Air Command base was dedicated by the city fathers at the end of Abilene's Diamond Jubilee April 15, 1956. On Dec. 6 that same year, the base was renamed Dyess AFB in honor of Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess.
     The 341st Bombardment Wing, Medium was activated on September 1, 1955 at Abilene (later, Dyess) AFB, Texas. It's B-47s were being phased out so the wing was ordered to phase down for inactivation, which occurred on June 25, 1961.   It was redesignated the 341st Strategic Missile Wing and activated ICBM at Malmstrom AFB, Montana on July 15, 1961. The 341st became the USAF's first Minuteman ICBM Wing .
    The 96th Bomb Wing was transferred to Dyess AFB, Texas on September 8, 1957.  It flew B-47E and KC-97s.  The wing gained Atlas F missiles in July, 1961, manned by the 578th Strategic Missile Squadron.  The first of the Atlas went on alert in April, 1961.  The unit was redesignated the 96th Strategic Aerospace Wing on April 1, 1962.  The Atlas was phased out in March 1965.
n 1963, it's three squadrons of B-47s were replaced by one squadron of B-52s.  The 96th received B-52Cs from the 99th Bomb Wing, then new B-52Ds and B-52Es from Boeing.

B-52 on display at Dyess Air Park

       On Feb. 8, 1961, Dyess Air Force Base became home to the Tactical Air Command's 64th Troop Carrier Wing (Medium) flying the C-130 Hercules Abilene and the entire Big Country community celebrated President Reagan's announcement on Dec. 21, 1983, that Dyess AFB would receive the Air Force's first operational B-1B's. The arrival ceremony June 29,1985, for the Star of Abilene included more than 50,000 people, most from our host neighbor Abilene, Texas.
     On Oct. 1, 1993, the 7th Wing moved to Dyess AFB, Texas, flying both the B-1B Lancer and the C-130 Hercules. This unique structure of bombing and airlift under one wing remained intact until April 1, 1997, when the Air Force transferred all C-130s to Air Mobility Command. That same day, the 317th Airlift Group stood up at Dyess, encompassing all Dyess C-130 assets and the 7th Wing became the 7th Bomb Wing. Dyess has the only B-1B schoolhouse in the Air Force, in addition to operational missions.
Recent History     
     1998 was truly a year of firsts for the 45-year-old base.  The B-1B Lancer's participation in the Operation Desert Thunder exercise in November was the first ever for the Dyess bomber. Then, barely a month later during Operation Desert Fox, the B-1 debuted in combat.  Operation Desert Fox was the four-day bombing of Iraq by American-led military forces in December.  "A defining moment for 1998 was preparing the B-1 for conventional warfare," said Dyess Commander Brig. Gen. Mike McMahan. "It was proven that the training paid off for the crews, support personnel and maintenance."  Originally a nuclear warplane, the B-1 is now outfitted with conventional weapons. The bomber flew in support of 10 global power sorties in 1998.  The plane's speed and long-range capabilities, combined with carrying capacity (it can hold almost twice the number of conventional bombs as the B-52) have made it the aircraft to watch.

          Dyess also was recently recognized as one of the air bases that meets preliminary criteria for housing an anti-missile system.  The Airborne Laser is a Boeing 747 equipped with a laser beam in the nose. When flying above cloud cover, the aircraft's beam could destroy intermediate-range or cruise missiles in the boost phase of flight. The warhead is not destroyed in the process, only the booster that propels the missile.  Destruction so early in flight would cause the warhead to fall back on the country that launched it, Hans Mark, chief technical adviser to the secretary of defense told the Austin American-Statesman.  Bringing the system to Dyess would add a coveted futuristic third mission to complement the B-1 Bomber and the C-130 airlift mission. Such a move would help secure Dyess from base closure lists, said Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee Frank Puckett.  "The Military Affairs Committee made ABL its top priority a year ago and this news was seen as the fruits of the committee's labor," Puckett said. "If ABL does become the next additional mission for Dyess, it will be the biggest change in the base since the B-1 Bomber arrived in 1985."  The new mission could mean 500 to 1,000 new active duty personnel, $100 million in construction, seven or eight new 747 aircraft and a large group of scientists, engineers and contractors who would work on the project. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Phil Gramm, and U.S. Rep. Charles Stenholm are staunch supporters of bringing the anti-missile system here.
    Today, nearly half of the nation's 93-plane B-1 fleet is assigned to the base, where all B-1 pilots are trained. Dyess' mission also includes operations and training for the C-130.
      In March 1999, the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess was named a lead wing of an Aerospace Expeditionary Force.  Being part of the expeditionary force will bring an additional 71 positions to the B-1 unit and seven to the 317th Airlift Group.The Aerospace Expeditionary Force is made up of a predetermined set of forces; aircraft, personnel and equipment, from which tailored force packages can be rapidly deployed. Each AEF will operate a cross-section of Air Force weapon systems consisting of 10,000-15,000 people and more than 150 aircraft from a variety of separate active duty, reserve and National Guard units. As a lead wing, Dyess commanders will provide leadership of those assets at the tactical level.
       Dyess heads into the new millennium as the city's largest single employer with some 5,000 personnel manning 24 squadrons. The base population tops 11,000 when dependents are factored in.

Third B-1 Squadron
  The 13th Bomb Squadron will develop in two years as a training squadron with 282 people and funding to fly two aircraft. By 2004, the third B-1 squadron will become combat-ready with six planes funded and 432 military positions.  Upwards of $15 million in on-base construction will precede the start-up.  Scheduled for completion in 1999, a new engine repair center will allow Dyess to repair and maintain a large percentage of the Air Force's B-1 Bomber engines.
       By the end of 1999, Dyess will have a new look about it, with the completion of several construction projects. They include: a Marine Corps Reserve Center, an Engine Regional Repair Center, additional 13th Bomb Squadron facilities, Munitions and AGE facilities, and housing privatization.
Left: B-1Bs at Dyess