Muñiz Air National Guard Base
Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport
San Juan, Puerto Rico
The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is located 14km (9 miles) east of San Juan [Luis Muñoz Marín was the first elected governor of Puerto Rico and its chief political leader for over 25 years].
On 10 April 1954 the 198th Interceptor Squadron squadron began jet conversion with F-86s arrival. The Squadron was required to base its jets at the San Juan International Airport maintaining the rest of its organization at Isla Grande Airport, still under construction. By May 1956 all Puerto Rico National Guard [PRANG] activities were consolidated at the International Airport.
On 23 November 1963 the Puerto Rico Air National Guard Base renamed "Muñiz Air National Guard Base" while commemorating the 20th anniversary of its federal recognition.
On 12 January 1981 a group of terrorists destroyed and damaged ten A-7 and a Starfighter F-104 static display. At the time, the base had 25 pilots and 900 military personnel. This loss was calculated at $45 million. The security increased from 11 to 22 personnel with 100 percent federal funding. The Air Force/Air National Guard invested $5.5 million in Electronic Security Equipment (ESE), a Master Surveillance Control Facility (MSCF), and fencing to secure the flight line and operations area. In addition, Muñiz Air National Guard Base was provided a security police manpower package of 18 AGR security police personnel and 46 civilian contract guards.
On 22 November 1997, Muñiz Air National Guard Base received its first C-130s while celebrating its 50th federal recognition Anniversary.
Coronet Oak is the name for the continuing operation carried out by the 12th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron in which Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and Air National Guard C-130 aircraft, aircrews and related support personnel deploy from the United States to Muniz Air National Guard Base, Puerto Rico, to provide theater airlift support for the U.S. Southern Command. The Guard and Reserve support the Coronet Oak mission year round. Units rotate in and out of Muniz ANGB every two weeks. Through Coronet Oak, the on-hand airlift requirements of the U.S. Southern Command are cost effective. It costs less to rotate elements of Guard and Reserve C-130 units through Muniz ANGB than to station a C-130 squadron in Puerto Rico permanently, which would require stationing all related maintenance and support equipment, facilities and additional personnel.
The main Coronet Oak mission is to deliver special forces to any location in theater as directed by Southern Command. So one of the four C-130s on Muñiz' cramped parking ramp is always on alert. Luckily that doesn't happen often. So aircrews support a host of airlift requirements, mostly for Navy and Army customers. Those missions reach from the southern part of South America to much of Central America and the Caribbean - with a couple of missions into the States in support of U.S. troops. The mission also includes any other kind of contingency and logistics support. Aircrews provide theater mobility, embassy support and airdrops. They also fly people, food and mail.
The mission moved to Muñiz in June 1999. Today a small cadre of airmen - three Reserve and three Guard members from the 12th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, or Coronet Oak - oversee the mission along with three active-duty members. For years, Coronet Oak - known to many as the "Panama Rotation" - flew from Howard Air Force Base, Panama. Guard and Reserve units took over the Coronet Oak mission at Howard in October 1977. That operation closed in May 1999 as part of the series of events that led to the turning over to Panama of the Panama Canal and all U.S. military bases in the republic as part of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977. The treaty mandated all U.S. military personnel depart Panama by Dec. 31, 1999.
Coronet Oak shares the Muñiz flight line with the 156th Airlift Wing of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, which also flies C-130s. That makes for a good partnership, when Hercs need repairs or spare parts.
San Juan's Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, the largest of eleven commercial airports on the island, supports the continuous growth and development of the economy. It has become a significant hub for Caribbean and South American destinations and thus important for the development of regional markets and tourism. Conscious of this fact, the Ports Authority strives to provide services and facilities responsive to its client's profile. As part of this effort, they are improving facilities at other airports on the island to stimulate an increase in passenger and cargo movement in order to ensure that the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport continues its operations below capacity levels.
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