Hickam AFB consists of 2,850 acres of land and facilities valued at more than $444 million. Sharing its runways with adjacent Honolulu International Airport (HIA), Hickam and the HIA constitute a single airport complex operated under a joint-use agreement.
In 1934, the Army Air Corps saw the need for another airfield in Hawaii and assigned the Quartermaster Corps the job of constructing a modern airdrome from tangled brush and sugar cane fields adjacent to Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu. The site selected consisted of 2,200 acres of ancient coral reef, covered by a thin layer of soil, located between Oahu's Waianae and Koolau mountain ranges, with the Pearl Harbor channel and naval reservation marking its western and northern boundaries, John Rodgers Airport to the east, and Fort Kamehameha on the south. The new airfield was dedicated on May 31, 1935 and named in honor of Lt. Col. Horace Meek Hickam, a distinguished aviation pioneer who was killed in an aircraft accident on Nov. 5, 1934, at Fort Crockett in Galveston, Texas.
While construction was still in progress, the first contingent of twelve men and four aircraft under the command of 1st Lt. Robert Warren moved from Luke Field on Ford Island to Hickam on Sept. 1, 1937. Hickam Field, as it was then known, was completed and officially activated on Sept. 15, 1938. It was the principal army airfield in Hawaii and the only one large enough to accommodate the B-17 bomber. In connection with defense plans for the Pacific, aircraft were brought to Hawaii throughout 1941 to prepare for potential hostilities.
The first mass flight of bombers (21 B-17Ds) from Hamilton Field, California, arrived at Hickam on May 14, 1941. By December 1941, the Hawaiian Air Force had been an integrated command for slightly more than one year and consisted of 754 officers and 6,706 enlisted men, with 233 aircraft assigned at its three primary bases (Hickam, Wheeler, and Bellows).
When the Japanese attacked Oahu's military installations on Dec. 7, 1941, Hickam suffered extensive property damage, aircraft losses, and personnel casualties totaling 139 killed and 303 wounded. The bombing and strafing of Hickam Field was an important objective, because the success of the Japanese attack on the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was dependent on eliminating air opposition and precluding US planes from following their aircraft back to their carriers and bombing the task force. During the war years, the base played a major role in pilot training and aircraft assembly work, in addition to seeing as a supply center for both air arid ground troops. Hickam served as the hub of the Pacific aerial network, supporting transient aircraft ferrying troops and supplies to. and evacuating wounded from. the forward areas, not only during World War II but also during the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War.
After World War II, the Air Force in Hawaii was primarily comprised of the Air Transport Command and its successor, the Military Air Transport Service, until I July 1957 when Headquarters Far East Air Forces completed its move from Japan to Hawaii and was redesignated the Pacific Air Forces. The 15th Air Base Wing, host unit at Hickam AFB, supported the Apollo astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s; Operation Homecoming (return of prisoners of war from Vietnam) in 1973; Operation Babylift/New Life (movement of nearly 94,000 orphans, refugees, and evacuees from Southeast Asia) in 1975; and NASA's space shuttle flights during the 1980s, continuing into the 1990s. Throughout those times, and continuing today, Hickam has served as "America's Bridge Across the Pacific.
In October 1980, the Secretary of the Interior designated Hickam AFB as a National Historic Landmark, recognizing it as one of the nation's most significant historic resources associated with World War II in the Pacific. A bronze plaque reflecting Hickam's "national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America" took its place among other memorials surrounding the base flagpole. Dominating the area is a large bronze tablet engraved with the names of those who died as a result of the 7 December 1941 attack. Other reminders of the attack can be seen at Hickam today, including the tattered American flag that flew over the base that morning. It is encased and on display in the lobby of the Pacific Air Forces Headquarters building, where bullet-scarred walls have been carefully preserved as a constant reminder to never again be caught unprepared.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Realign Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB), ND. This would distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135R aircraft to the 154th Wing (ANG), Hickam AFB, HI (four aircraft) and several other installations. The Wing would also host an active duty associate unit.
In another recommendation, DoD would establish a Combat Air Force Logistics Support Center at Langley Air Force Base by realigning Regional Supply Squadrons positions from Hickam Air Force Base and Sembach, Germany (non-BRAC programmatic) as well as base-level Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) positions from Luke Air Force Base.
In another recommendation, DoD would realign Hickam AFB, HI, by relocating the installation management functions to Naval Station Pearl Harbor, HI, establishing Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI.
Secretary of Defense Justification: The Air Force used military judgment in moving force structure from Grand Forks to Hickam (87), concluding that Hickam's strategic location argued for a more robust global mobility capability in the western Pacific. Increasing tanker force structure at Hickam would robust the unit an establishe an active duty/Air Force Reserve association to maximize Reserve participation.
Combined with a recommendation to create a Mobility Air Forces LSC, this second recommendation would be a transformational opportunity consistent with eLog21 initiatives that would standardize Air Force materiel management command and control. This recommendation would realign RSS manpower (from three MAJCOM locations) and base-level LRS manpower (from three installations) into two LSCs in support of Combat Air Forces and Mobility Air Forces. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 269 jobs (151 direct jobs and 118 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Honolulu, HI, Metropolitan Statistical economic area (less than 0.1 percent).
All installations employed military, civilian, and contractor personnel to perform common functions in support of installation facilities and personnel. All installations executed these functions using similar or near similar processes. Because these installations shared a common boundary with minimal distance between the major facilities or are in near proximity, there was significant opportunity to reduce duplication of efforts with resulting reduction of overall manpower and facilities requirements capable of generating savings, which would be realized by paring unnecessary management personnel and achieving greater efficiencies through economies of scale. Intangible savings would be expected to result from opportunities to consolidate and optimize existing and future service contract requirements. Additional opportunities for savings would also be expected to result from establishment of a single space management authority capable of generating greater overall utilization of facilities and infrastructure. Further savings would be expected to result from opportunities to reduce and correctly size both owned and contracted commercial fleets of base support vehicles and equipment consistent with the size of the combined facilities and supported populations. Regional efficiencies achieved as a result of Service regionalization of installation management would provide additional opportunities for overall savings as the designated installations are consolidated under regional management structures. The quantitative military value score validated by military judgment was the primary basis for determining which installation was designated as the receiving location. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 511 jobs (277 direct jobs and 234 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Honolulu, HI Metropolitan Statistical Area (less than 0.1 percent).
Community Concerns: There were no formal expressions from the community.
Commission Findings: The Commission found operational efficiencies gained by the second recommendation. The Commission noted a risk to material management support to the Air Force during the transition period, but the Commission also recognized that the Air Force has, in-place, a detailed implementation plans to mitigate this risk.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission approves the recommendation of the Secretary.
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