Buckley Became an active-duty Air Force Base on October 2, 2000. Prior to that date, the facility was known as Buckley Air National Guard Base. On that date, the base was handed over from the Colorado Air National Guard to Air Force Space Command. Hose command responsibility for the base was transferred from the 140th Wing of the Colorado ANG to AFSPC's 821st Space Group, ending the Guard's 40-year command.
The increase involvement of the United States in the war in Europe in 1941 resulted in plans to enlarge Lowry Army Air Field. A 5,740-acre site was decided on and purchased by the City and County of Denver and donated to the Department of the Army in early 1941.
The name Buckley Field was chosen in honor of 1st Lt. John Harold Buckley, a World War I flier from Longmont, CO. Buckley lost his life in France on Sept. 17, 1918, when his aircraft was shot down on a strafing mission behind German lines, during the third day of the Argonne Offensive.
A contract for architectural and engineering services was awarded in April 192 and construction began the following month. The Army Air Corps Technical School, offering B-17 and B-24 bombardier and armor training, was opened July 1.
At an original cost of $7.5 million, base facilities included streets, runways, more than 700 structures, 10 water wells, a water distribution system, a sewage collecction and treatment system, electrical plant, communication system coal-fired steam heating plant and 16,800 feet of railroad track.
The ever-present need for wartime military personnel required additional basic training sites. In 1943, three of these sites were opened at the Lowry Bombing Range under Buckley's command. The Arctic Training Command transferred Buckley Field in 1943 and a separate training facility was opened at Echo Lake, Co. In its peak year of operation, 30,000 troops received training from January through June 1943, while 2,000 more men attended the Arctic course. Nearly 10,000 new inductees went through the rigors of basic training during this time.
As the army Air Corps approached full strength in 1944, additional training requirements diminished, bringing about a gradual decline in personnel throughout 1945, When the war ended, Buckley became an auxiliary field for Lowry, which in turn transferred it to the Colorado Air National Guard in 1946.
The Air Guar's first-term ownership quickly came to an end when the Department of the Navy took charge in 1947, renaming the installation Naval Air Station-Denver, CO. It was during this postwar era that five veteran villages were built on Buckley to help ease the housing shortage created by the war. Each of the villages had thir own governing bodies.
The Navy decomissioned denver's Naval Air Station on June 30, 1959, and it once again became the property of the Air Force, which licensed it to the state of Colorado.
On April 18, 1960, the installation took on a new, yet familiar name, Buckley Air National Guard Base, making it the first stand alone Air National Guard Base in the nation.
At the time, the base included the following support tenant activities: The Air Force Ballistic Missile Division Field Office; Air Material Command Contract Management Office; Army Corps of Engineers; Glen L. Martin, Co.; Morrison and Knudson Co.; plus numerous other subcontractors who were involved in the Titan Missile complexes being constructed on the old Lowry bombing range. Navy and Marine Reserve and Colorado Army National Guard units maintained small detachments on the base as well.
As of 2002, after several land transactions over the years, Buckley includes three separate land areas totalling 3,250 acres. The airfield complex consisted of one runway 11,000 feet long by 150 feet wide. Flying operations are active and all facilities were fully occupied and in use.
Buckley's location provides a necessary and ideal refueling stop, particularly for military aircraft traniting the country in all directions. In addition to supporting all base-assigned aircraft, Buckely services up to 6,000 transient military aircraft per year, of which approximately 2,000 remain at least one night on base. Transient aircraft representing every type of aircraft in the DOD inventory, from every service and command, visit Buckley AFB during a typical year.
The 821st, which inactivated on September 30, 2001, was responsible for providing space-based missile warning data to Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, Colorado, and the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.
Distinctive landmarks in the compound of the 2nd SWS are the radomes, "giant white golf balls", which weather-protect the huge satellite-commanding/data-receiving antennas.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign the 442 the wing Expeditionary Combat Support to Buckley AFB. This recommendation was part of a larger DoD recommendation that would realign NAS New Orleans ARS, LA that would distribute the 926th Fighter Wing's A-10 aircraft from NAS New Orleans to the 442d Fighter Wing (AFR), Whiteman AFB, MO (nine aircraft), and the 917th Wing (AFR) at Barksdale AFB, LA (six aircraft).
In another Recommendation, DoD recommended to realign Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport AGS, OH. It would distribute the 178th Fighter Wing's F-16 aircraft to the 140th Wing (ANG), Buckley AFB, CO (three aircraft) and two other installations. DoD claimed that it made this recommendation because Buckley (64) had higher military value than Springfield-Beckley (128) and Buckley had a role in the Homeland Defense mission.
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