Austin Army Aviation Support Facility
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
Bergstrom ARS / AFB
A multi-use facility, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport hosts general aviation, the State Aircraft Pooling Board, and the Texas Army National Guard.
There are ten units supported by the 449th Aviation Support Battalion's Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) with the required strength of 480 personnel. A total of 33 aircraft are permanently stationed to serve peacetime missions of the supported units. The $25 million Fixed Wing Support Facility project is to build permanent type construction to permit all personnel to perform the necessary tasks that improve the units' readiness posture. The AASF and supporting facilities will adequately provide the units housed in this facility with hangar, administrative, supply and maintenance shop spaces, fuel and fire control facilities. This project will be coordinated and comply with requirements of "ANTI-TERRORISM & FORCE PROTECTION". This project has been evaluated for compliance with the protection of wetlands.
The Austin Army Aviation Support Facility (AAASF) was initially located at Robert Mueller Airport. Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, a City-owned airport named to honor a City Council Member who died while in service to Austin, was officially dedicated on October 14, 1930. The main terminal building was dedicated on May 27, 1961, expanded in 1983, and the east terminal was dedicated in April 1990. The Federal Inspection Station, located near the terminal, was completed in 1995. Robert Mueller Municipal Airport officially closed to commercial air traffic on 22 May 1999. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport opened at 4 a.m. on 23 May 1999.
The Air Force-Austin partnership began in 1942 when Austin purchased land for the Del Valle Army Air Base. Before giving the land to the federal government, the city stipulated that should the military vacate the property, the property could revert to the city. The base on State Highway 71 seven miles east of Austin in Travis County, was activated on 19 September 1942. It was constructed in the summer of 1942 on 3,000 acres leased from the city of Austin. The Chisholm Trail ran through the tract.
The name of the base was changed to Bergstrom Army Air Field on March 3, 1943 [some sources report November 11, 1943], in honor of Capt. John A. E. Bergstrom, who was killed at Clark Field, Philippine Islands, on December 8, 1941. He was the first native of Austin killed in World War II. Lyndon B. Johnson, then a US representative from Texas, petitioned Congress to rename the installation for Capt. Bergstrom.
Initially, Bergstrom was the home of troop-carrier units. It was declared a permanent base after World War II, and renamed Bergstrom Air Force Base in December 1948.
In the 1950s the Strategic Air Command based the 12th Strategic Fighter Wing and the 27th Fighter Escort Wing at Bergstrom. These units provided fighter escort, air defense for SAC bomber forces from 1950 through 1957. In 1950, the 524th fighter escort squadron flying the F-84 went to Taegu Air Base, Korea, where they served in combat until moving to Bergstrom AFB in mid 1951. In 1953, the unit was redesignated as the 524th Strategic Fighter Squadron and then the 524th Fighter Bomber Squadron in 1957. That same year F-101s replaced the F-84s and the unit was redesignated the 524th Tactical Fighter Squadron a year later. Subsequently, Tactical Air Command's Twelfth Air Force was headquartered at Bergstrom, as was the TAC 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.
In 1959 Second Air Force activated the 4130th Strategic Wing at Bergstrom Air Force Base, Austin, Texas. General Howard W. Moore was assigned as commander of the 4130th Strategic Wing, where he organized and upgraded the wing to combat-ready status. The 4130th Strategic Wing at Bergstrom was inactivated on 01 September 1963. The B-52 aircraft of the wing's 335th Bombardment Squadron were transferred to the newly-arrived 340th Bomb Wing. The wing's 486th Bombardment Squadron remained at Bergstrom through 1966.
After July 1966 Bergstrom was under the control of the Tactical Air Command and housed the headquarters for the Twelfth Air Force, which was responsible for all Tactical Air Command reconnaissance, fighter, and airlift operations west of the Mississippi River. The economic contribution of the base in fiscal 1989 on a fifty-mile radius was estimated to be $343 million and on Central Texas, $533 million.
In July 1991, the BRAC Commission recommended the closure of Bergstrom and the retirement of the assigned RF-4 aircraft. Existing Air Force Reserve units were maintained in an enclosed area when the installation was converted to a civilian airport. All other mission activities were inactivated or relocated, and the installation was closed in late FY93.
The Air Force Reserve took additional actions resulting from the 1995 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommendations and force structure decisions. The 924th Fighter Wing and its subordinate units at Bergstrom ARS, Texas, started drawing down support activities 31 March 1996 and inactivated when the base officially closed 30 September 1996. The wing's F-16 fighter aircraft transfered to Homestead ARB, Fla., to replace older aircraft. Headquarters 10th Air Force and some of its supporting units transfered from Bergstrom to Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas.
Austin saw this as a solution to its major dilemma of how and where to replace the municipal airport. The Land Reuse Plan for the installation was developed to establish the city of Austin Bergstrom International Airport. After years of complaints from local residents about noise pollution from low flying aircraft, the City of Austin decided to construct a new airport. As city officials continued their search for a new site for the airport, Bergstrom Air Force Base (AFB), located inside Austin city limits, was placed on the 1991 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list. The city quickly realized that Bergstrom AFB was the ideal location for Austin's new airport.
Bergstrom AFB was placed on a very strict restoration schedule in order to open the airport within the time frame required by the city. Bergstrom Air Force Base was the first bioremediation project in Texas conducted on a military base. Leaking underground jet fuel tanks were removed and the contaminated soil surrounding these tanks was also removed and stored on site. It was unknown how much jet fuel had leaked into the soil. Three hundred cubic yards of this jet fuel contaminated soil was placed on a plastic liner to a uniform depth of eighteen inches and surrounded by a sand wall to prevent the contaminated soil from leaching into the clean soil surrounding the area.
The Austin-Bergstrom International Airport project is the largest construction project in Texas in 20 years. The new design called for the elimination of 155,000 square yards (127,000 tons!) of existing concrete pavement. Rather than dig it up and dump it, concrete recycling plants were built on site and the old concrete used as the subbase for roads and the new runway. That also resulted in cost savings of more than $2 million. Of the 242 buildings left from Bergstrom (excluding base housing and various small structures), approximately 30 percent were reused, and 276 duplexes and single family homes were successfully relocated to other sites.
Cargo operations began at the airport in 1997, and have expanded to include two additional carriers. Dual runways allow for simultaneous takeoffs and landings. The old Bergstrom runway D, at 12,500 feet long, is named the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Runway. Johnson landed on this runway when he visited his home in Texas and considered Bergstrom his home base. The second and shorter 9000-feet runway is dedicated to former US representative from Texas, J. J. "Jake" Pickle. Pickle insisted that the new airport have two runways running separate and parallel. The new terminal building memorializes former US representative from Texas Barbara Jordan. Anticipated growth in the local area prompted the city to expand the number of terminal gates to 25, with the capacity to expand to 55. Austin expects to have 16,000 new jobs associated with the airport by 2012 and more than 725,000 square feet of new development drawn to the surrounding area.
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