The 380th Bombardment Wing (Medium) was activated at
Plattsburgh Air Force Base, Plattsburgh, NY on July 11, 1955. At the same
time, the 528th, 529th and 530th Bombardment Squadrons were also
B-47 Stratojet and KC-97 tankers
During July and August, the personnel assigned to the Wing
arrived at Plattsburgh. In December 1955, the first B-47 was assigned to
the Wing but instead of being flown to Plattsburgh AFB, was delivered to
Pinecastle AFB, Florida, at Det 1, 380th BMW because of the delays in
completing the facilities at Plattsburgh. For the next several
months, training continued while additional B-47s were assigned to the
Wing. By the end of January 1956, 16 B-47s were assigned and
increased to 30 by the end of April. The first B-47E arrived on March 21,
1956. The aircraft was
christened "City of Plattsburgh" the next day. In September 1956, the
380th Air Refueling Squadron, flying the KC-97s, was transferred to
Plattsburgh AFB from Sheppard AFB, TX. The Wing was declared combat ready
on Oct.1, 1956.
In April 1957, the 380th deployed to Brize Norton, UK
for a three months period. During this deployment, Wing's B-47 inaugurated
the "Three Capitals" air race. The occasion was the Paris Air Show held at
Le Bourget Field in Paris, France. On May 28, 1957, three B-47s from the
380th BW took off from Brize Norton and flew over Le Bourget to start the
race. The object of the race was to fly from Paris to Madrid to Rome and
back to Paris, and the prize was the General Electric Trophy. A B-47E from
the 529th BS won the 2,346 statute miles race in 4 hours 12 minutes and 7
seconds, with an average speed of 558 miles per hour. The wing redeployed to PAFB in
During 1961 and 1962, the physical appearance of the
area surrounding Plattsburgh AFB underwent changes as construction began
on 12 "Atlas F" missile sites. The sites were built within a 50 miles
radius of the base and were completed in 1963. The squadron
was equipped with 13 missiles, allowing each silo to have its Atlas
missile with one left for spare. When one missile in a silo was scheduled
for maintenance, the spare missile kept at PAFB was sent to replace it.
All sites were in New York state except for two located on the
other side of Lake Champlain in Vermont. The 556th Strategic Missile
Squadron, formerly assigned to Dow AFB, Maine, was transferred to
Plattsburgh AFB on October 1,1961 and became completely operational on
Dec. 20, 1962. This was the last Atlas squadron to be accepted and the
only Intercontinental Ballistic Missile base east of the Mississippi
River. The 556th's last operational day was April 30, 1965 with the
Squadron's inactivation on June 25, 1965.
Post Attack Command and Control
Between July 20, 1962 and December 24, 1964, the 380th
also flew EB-47 assigned to the 4365th Post Attack Command and Control
World's Best B-47, KC-135
On Sept.15, 1964, the 380th Bombardment Wing was
redesignated the 380th Strategic Aerospace Wing (Heavy) September 1965 saw one of the Wing's B-47s, "Pride of the
Adirondacks" departing Plattsburgh AFB for
SAC's 14th Bombing and Navigation competition at Fairchild AFB,
Washington. Six days later, that same aircraft returned to Plattsburgh
being hailed as the "World's Best B-47" after having won top honors among
all SAC B-47 units in 3 of 4 competition areas for the B-47s. On Sept. 18, the Wing received its
KC-135A. The aircraft was christened the same day, "Spirit of the North
B-47 Phase out
Within three weeks of that triumph, the first B-47 departed for
storage at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. as part of an accelerated phase-out of
the type. On Dec.14, separated by 15-minute intervals, the last three
B-47s to leave the base took off, thus closing the era of this medium
bomber in the North Country. "Pride of the Adirondacks" was preserved and put on
display at the entrance of the base on Feb.8, 1966, the 10th anniversary from the
date the first B-47 was received at Plattsburgh AFB.
B-52 Stratofortress & More Tankers
To replace the B-47s, the Wing was assigned the B-52G "Stratofortress" bomber and the first B-52G to arrive was christened
"Champlain Lady." Transferred from Loring AFB, Maine, the giant B-52s assigned to the 528th BS took
positions on the base flight line next to the KC-135s of the 380th ARS.
After the arrival of the new type, another new unit was assigned
to the Wing on Jan.25, 1967, the 310th Air Refueling squadron. During the
first week of April 1967, the 380th SAW flew its first 'Bar None' exercise
since the coming to Plattsburgh of the B-52 and received an 'Outstanding'
rating. The 'Bar None' exercise was a mean for testing the wing's
capability to perform its Emergency War Order mission. On Jan.21, 1968.
The Wing's involvement in the Vietnam War was one of
temporary duty assignments. Tanker and bomber crews of the 380th were
temporarily assigned to the Pacific theater in support of B-52 "Arc Light"
missions and KC-135 "Young Tiger" operations. The KC-135 crews and
aircraft supported Southeast Asia operations from October 1966 until 1973.
The B-52 crews served from 1968 until 1970.
The Air Force's newest strategic aircraft, the
FB-111A, arrived in October 1970. The phase out of the B-52s assigned
began when the first aircraft was transferred to Fairchild AFB, Wash.
The last B-52G left Plattsburgh AFB on Jan.5, 1971.
The 529th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) was
reactivated on January 1, 1971. Construction requirements for the new
FB-111A were completed in 1969. On
August 1, 1971, Det.1 of the 4007th CCTS was activated to instruct the
combat crews in the sophisticated systems that equipped the FB-111A. On
June 6, 1972, the SAC Inspector General declared the wing totally prepared
to implement its Emergency War Order mission. As part of a program to
improve survivability against an increased sea-launched ballistic missile
threat, SAC assigned on a temporary duty basis part of its bombers and
tankers fleet to satellite bases in the early 1970s. During 1973, FB-111A
from the 380th BW were on alert at Kincheloe AFB, Michigan and Grissom
AFB, Indiana. In December, 1971, Detachment 18, 44th Aerospace
rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARRS) was activated on the base to support
the FB-111 program by maintaining rescue and fire control alert. Det. 18
was assigned two HH-43 "Huskie"
Redesignated a Bomb Wing, More Tankers
Again redesignated the 380th Bombardment Wing (Medium),
the wing was declared
operational with the FB-111A. As part of a SAC-wide move to give munitions
maintenance squadrons the same numerical designation as the wing to which
it is assigned, the 40th MMS was inactivated and the 380th MMS activated
on October 1, 1972. The first mission of a wing's FB-111A equipped with
the SRAM took place on April 20, 1973. Soon 10 KC-135 tankers
were relocated to
Plattsburgh AFB from Westover AFB, Mass.,
On July 26, 1973, the first of twenty KC-135Q models
to arrive at Plattsburgh from McCoy AFB landed at the base. On September 1, 1973, the last KC-135Q 58-0049 from the 306th
Bomb Wing at McCoy AFB flew to Plattsburgh AFB. The major differences
between the KC-135Q and other KC-135s were primarily related to the fuel
system and rendezvous and communications systems.
Search & Rescue Mission
September to June 1973 saw the
arrival of the HH-1H "Huey" assigned to Det. 18. The H-models were
responsible for search and rescue within a radius of approx. 100 miles.
With the addition of 975 pounds capacity internal auxiliary fuel tanks,
the Huey could fly 100 miles to the rescue area, hover for one hour and
return to the base. This gave the HH-1H, a 360-degree search area of
nearly 10,000 square miles which could easily be increased since the
aircraft could land nearly anywhere to take on fuel from trucks.
1980 Winter Olympics
1980 began with a new challenge for the Wing after
being named the official military support installation for the 1980 Winter
Olympics at Lake Placid, NY. The 380th coordinated helicopter rescue
mission conducted by Detachment 18. The Detachment assisted the civilian
community in the North Country area through its participation in the
Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic program. The MAST program was
created by the Department of Defense and allowed the use of military
helicopters to respond to medical emergencies in area where support cannot
be rendered by civilian agencies. The primary mission of Det.18 was Combat
1982, the first reunion of the surviving members of the 380th Bombardment
Group which formed the 380th Bombardment Group Association was held. The
second reunion took place at Plattsburgh AFB in September 1983 and on this
occasion, dedication of the Plattsburgh Military Museum was one of the
highlights of the reunion.
Consolidation & More Honors
The 380th BG was
inactivated and consolidated with the 380th BW by order of the Secretary
of the Air Force on Jan.31, 1984. As the year progressed, the 380th once
again proved itself worthy of its motto, "Best of the Best", as it
achieved an unprecedented fifth Fairchild Trophy at the annual SAC Bombing
and Navigation Competition. In addition to winning the Fairchild, which
established a record of five trophies for one unit, the Wing captured its
second Saunders Trophy for the best air refueling unit and the "Best
FB-111 Crew Award". The Omaha Trophy for the best overall SAC wing for the
1984' s calendar year was awarded to the Wing on July 11. In 1985, the
380th BW received the pinnacle award for SAC Wings.
In 1985, the 380th BW
had more assigned aircraft than any other SAC wing. Plattsburgh AFB was
the home of two FB-111A squadrons, the 528th and 529th; two KC-135As
squadrons, the 310th and 380th; and the 4007th CCTS responsible for
training all SAC FB-111A pilots and navigators.
Mighty Warrior 88, Desert Storm
During the summer of 1988, a full complement of the 380th BW deployed for
the first time since World War II. Over 300 men and women deployed to a
forward operating base in support of "Mighty Warrior 88", a SAC wide
exercise held to better enable the various SAC wings to carry out their
respective missions under austere conditions. In September 1990, crews
from both Air Refueling Squadrons combined with personnel from other units
to form the 1703rd Air Refueling Wing (Provisional) in Saudi Arabia,
supporting Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During that year,
Plattsburgh became the host for the Tanker Task Force previously at Pease
AFB, and assumed the responsibility for planning and providing air
refueling for all TAC unit movements, TTF ferry missions, Military Airlift
Command (MAC) missions, European Tanker Task Force (ETTF) deployers and
redeployers, and other missions directed by Headquarters SAC and 8th Air
380th Air Refueling Wing
The 380th BW retiring half of it's FB-111A force
by December 31, 1990. On
July 10, 1991, the last four operational aircraft left for their final flight to preservation in museums.
380th BMW was redesignated the 380th Air Refueling Wing a few days earlier
on July 1, 1991. The new mission was to provide worldwide air
refueling with its KC-135A/Q and serves as host to the Tanker Task Force
operation. The 380th ARW Tanker Task Force was responsible for supporting
most of the transoceanic operations on the East Coast.
During 1992, the wing converted from the
KC-135A/Q to the R/T model.
On July 18, 1957, the Wing suffered its first
peacetime major accident. A KC-97G from the 380th ARS with a crew of eight
exploded and crashed into Lake Champlain when 2 of the 4 engines failed 3
minutes after take-off from Plattsburgh AFB at 9:28 p.m.
On Jan.15, 1962,
a B-47E assigned to the 529th BS on a routine training flight making bomb
runs over Fort Drum crashed on the southeast slope of Wright's Peak ( a
mountain top 60 miles south of Plattsburgh AFB). The wreckage was
discovered on the 21st by a group of US Army pilot from Fort Devens, Mass.
Later that same year, on Oct.22, 1962, the Wing responded to the Cuban
Missile Crisis by deploying eight of its B-47s to a dispersal base. These
aircraft and personnel stayed at the dispersal base until Nov.25, 1962
with the remaining aircraft and personnel on alert at Plattsburgh
Tragedy struck again the 380th Strategic Aerospace Wing when B-52G
58-0188, crashed near Thule Air Base in Greenland. The aircraft was flown
by a crew from the 528th BS and was carrying four hydrogen bombs when it
crashed into an ice covered bay at the western tip of Greenland.
On June 24, 1993, the Base Realignment and Closure
Commission voted to close Plattsburgh AFB. The base was officially closed on Sept.30, 1995.
The Plattsburgh Air
base Redevelopment Corporation (PARC) was created to fill the gap in the
economy of the region and attract new businesses on the former base.
Inactivated Sept 30, 1995
Units Assigned to Plattsburgh AFB
01 Jan 1955/11 July 1955 - 4020th Air Base Sq &
4020th USAF Hospital
11 July 1955 -
380th BW & supporting units
01 June 1956 - 01 Jun 1965 820th Air Division (later: Strat
01 June 1956 - 15 Sept 1964 820th ABG / CSG
15 July 1959 - 25 June 1961 308th Bomb Wing
01 Jan 1961 - 01 Jan 1963 4108th AREFW
01 Jan 1963 - 15 Sept 1964 497th AREFW
380th Bomb Wing Components
26th ARS - 7 Aug 1957 - 31 July 1959
310th ARS 25 Jan 1967 -
380th ARS 16 Aug 1956-April 1961: 15 Sept 1964-
528th BS - 11 July 1955 - 14 Dec. 1965 and 6 Jan 1971-
529th BS - 11 July 1955 - 25 June 1966
530th BS - 11 July 1955 - 25 June 1966
531st BS - 1 May 1959 -1 Jan 1962
556th SMS - 15 Sept 1964- 25 June 1965
1st Crew Training - 31 Dec 1971 -
5364th Support (Post Attack Command Control ) - 20 July 1962 - 24 Dec.