Sheppard AFB, Texas
Sheppard AFB has been providing top-notch instruction in a diverse array of Air Force specialties for more than half a century.
Though the mission has changed several times, Sheppard has always been in the training business since it was officially opened as an active Army Air Corps base in October 1941.
Sheppard Field was first conceived November 29, 1940, when Maj. Gen. Rush B. Lincoln, commandant of U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Schools, surveyed sites around the city of Wichita Falls for a proposed training school.
J.S. Bridwell, a Wichita Falls cattleman, offered 300 acres just south of Kell Field to the government for one dollar. The school plans were officially approved by the Army Air Corps in February 1941.
Thus Sheppard Field began as a World War II Army Air Corps training center when representatives of the War Department and the city of Wichita Falls entered into a lease agreement. The lease gave the government the right to build and operate a military installation adjacent to the Wichita Falls Municipal Airport, and granted the government the right to full use of the airport's land, runways, and facilities.
Official dedication of the field was October 17, 1941, following the arrival of the first military members June 14. The field was named for the late Senator Morris E. Sheppard, former chairman of the Senate Military affairs Committee. Facilities were completed sufficiently to allow the first class of 22 aviation mechanics to enter training that October; the class graduated February 23, 1942.
During World War II, Sheppard conducted basic training, and it also trained glider mechanics, technical and flying training instructors and B-29 engineers. In addition to the basic flying training, the base also provided advanced pilot training for ground officers, and helicopter pilot training.
The Field reached its peak strength of 46,340 people while serving as a separation center for troops being discharged following World War II from September through November 1945.
Sheppard Field was deactivated August 31, 1946 and declared surplus to the War Department's needs; it was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers April 30, 1947.
Control and accountability for Sheppard Field was transferred to the Department of the Air Force August 1, 1948. It was reactivated August 15, 1948, to supplement Lackland AFB, Texas, as a basic-training center and was renamed Sheppard AFB.
Basic training was discontinued in June 1949, but was resumed from July 1950 to May 1952. The aircraft mechanics school was transferred to Sheppard from Keesler AFB, Miss., in April 1949 to make room for expansion of electronic training at that base. The school was renamed the Department of Aircraft Maintenance Training within the 3750th Technical School.
Comptroller, transportation, and intelligence training moved to Sheppard from Lowry AFB, Colorado, in the fall of 1954. Communications, refrigeration, air conditioning, and power production operator and repairman training were transferred here from F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, in 1959. Intelligence training returned to Lowry in February 1962. Training in certain missile systems began at Sheppard in 1957 and was conducted here through September 1985.
The 3950th Technical Training Wing was designated the Sheppard Technical Training Center January 1, 1959. It has had two subsequent name changes and is now the 82d Training Wing.
Field training became an important part of Sheppard's mission in 1959, when management of 53 field training detachments was assigned to Sheppard. Additional detachments were added in 1966 and, in 1971, Sheppard assumed responsibility for all field training detachments under supervision of the Department of Field Training. The department was designated the 3785th Field Training Wing in July 1984. It is now the 982d Training Group.
A Strategic Air Command operational Wing of B-52 bombers and KC-135 tanker aircraft was located at Sheppard from 1960 to 1965. In July 1969 Detachment 1, 2nd Bombardment Wing, with four B-52 aircraft, became a tenant organization and remained here until 1975.
The U.S. Air Force Medical Service School began it's move to Sheppard from Gunter AFB, Ala., in March 1966. On June 10, 1971, the name changed to the School of Health Care Sciences an on April 15, 1988, it was designated the 3790th Medical Service Training Wing. It has had two subsequent name changes and is now the 882d Training Group.
It's teaching squadrons provide training for most Air Force medical service members in biomedical sciences, dentistry, health service administration, clinical services, medical readiness and nursing.
The wing also provided physician assistant training from 1971 until the program was discontinued in 1985. It was reactivated in 1989 and continues here today.
Helicopter pilot training was transferred from Stead AFB, Nev., in October 1965. It included firefighting training in addition to undergraduate helicopter pilot training. H-19, H-43, CH-3C, and H-19 helicopters were used for training.
The 3630th Flying Training Wing was activated in 1965, and it assumed the helicopter training program. It began providing undergraduate pilot training in the T-37 and T-38 for the German Air Force in August 1966. Helicopter training was discontinued in 1971 when the U.S. Army assumed responsibility for training Air Force helicopter pilots.
The 3630th Flying Training Wing also provided undergraduate pilot training for pilots of the Republic of Vietnam Air Force from 1971 to 1975. The Wing designation was changed to the 80th Flying Training Wing in 1973.
The 80th Flying Training Wing began conducting the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program in 1981. This one-of-a-kind program includes 13-NATO countries.They are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the Unites States. Approval to conduct the program was recently extended through the year 2005.
In February 1992, restructuring and downsizing of the Air Force caused a realignment and renumbering of units at Sheppard. Some of the training wings were redesignated as groups, and the technical training groups became squadrons. Within the 882d Medical Training Group, the teaching departments were redesignated as teaching squadrons.
Today, Sheppard is the largest training base and most diversivied in Air Education and Training Command. Two organizations (82d Training Wing and 80th Flying Training Wing) conduct resident training that qualifies students in a broad range of career fields - from pilot, aircraft maintenance, civil engineering, communications, comptroller and transportation to a wide scope of medical specialties.
The 82d TRW, the host unit, conducts all technical training here, while the 80th FTW conducts pilot training.
The 982d Training Group, under the 82d TRW, provides instruction in a wide range of specialties at more than 60 Air Force installations worldwide. The 82d Support Group, 82d Logistics Group, and 82d Medical Group support these organizations.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Sheppard AFB by relocating to Eglin AFB, FL, a sufficient number of front-line and instructor-qualified maintenance technicians and logistics support personnel to stand up the Air Force's portion of the Joint Strike Fighter Initial Joint Training Site, hereby established at Eglin AFB, FL. This recommendation would establish Eglin Air Force Base, FL as an Initial Joint Training Site that would teach entry-level aviators and maintenance technicians how to safely operate and maintain the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) (F-35) aircraft. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 487 jobs (295 direct jobs and 192 indirect jobs) over 2006-2011 in the Wichita Falls, TX, Metropolitan Statistical Area (0.5 percent).
DoD also recommended to realign Moody AFB, GA, as follows: relocate Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Training for Pilots to Sheppard AFB; and relocate Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Training for Weapons Systems Officers to Sheppard AFB. This recommendation would realign and consolidate USAF's primary phase of undergraduate flight training functions to reduce excess/unused basing capacity to eliminate redundancy, enhance jointness for UNT/Naval Flight Officer (NFO) training, reduce excess capacity, and improve military value. The basing arrangement that flows from this recommendation would allow the Inter-service Training Review Organization (ITRO) process to establish a DoD baseline program in UNT/NFO with curricula that would permit services latitude to preserve service-unique culture and a faculty and staff thatwould bring a "Train as we fight; jointly" national perspective to the learning process. Environmentally, this recommendation might require significant air permit revisions for Sheppard. This recommendation might impact cultural, archeological, or historical resources at Sheppard. DoD would need to re-evaluate noise contours for Sheppard. Additional operations at Sheppard might impact threatened and endangered species and/or critical habitat. It also might need to modify the hazardous waste program for Sheppard. Additional operations at Sheppard might impact wetlands, which might restrict operations.
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