Hunter Army Airfield
Coast Guard Air Station Savannah
Hunter Army Airfield, part of the Stewart/Hunter complex, covers about 5,400 acres and is also the home of the U.S. Coast Guard Station, Savannah - the largest helicopter unit in the Coast Guard. It provides Savannah and the Southeast United States with round-the-clock search-and-rescue coverage of its coastal areas. Hunter Army Airfield is located in historic Savannah, Georgia - the "cradle of Georgia" and the first planned city in North America (1733). A sub-installation of Fort Stewart located 45 miles to the southwest, Hunter Army Airfield is regarded as the Army's premiere power projection platform with its 11,375 foot long runway which can accommodate any aircraft, its proximity to the deep water port of Savannah, and its extensive road and rail networks.
Hunter's mission is to provide base operations support structure for 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized), nondivisional, tenant, and reserve component units to accomplish their wartime and peacetime missions. Hunter Army Airfield is home to the 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized) Aviation Brigade, 603d Aviation Support Bn; 1st Bn, 75th Ranger Regt; 3d Bn, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regt (Abn); 559th and 260th Quartermaster Battalions; 224th Military Intelligence Bn (AEB); 117th Tactical Control Squadron (GAANG); Coast Guard Air Station, Savannah; and 6th Brigade, 1st ROTC Region. Population served includes: 4,319 soldiers, 722 civilian employees, 9,700 family members, and over 12,000 retirees and their families. Size: 5,370 acres, 69 miles of roads and streets; 690 buildings (3,125,000 sq ft.)
On 30 October 1998 a ribbon-cutting ceremony dedicated the new Departure / Arrival Airfield Control Group (DAACG) facility, named the Truscott Air Terminal. Savannah District managed the design and construction of the 72,000-square-foot facility, which consists of a terminal, an operations area, and a combined pallet storage and a state-of-the-art cargo processing area. The $8.4 million facility includes an 11,375-ft. runway, the Army's longest east of the Mississippi River. It can accommodate any aircraft in the Air Force, including the C-5A Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster, 747, and 777. It is also a back-up landing site for the space shuttle. From the airfield, soldiers from the 3d ID's Immediate Ready Company can deploy within 22 hours, and the brigade combat team within 72 hours, to any area of operation across the globe.
With tensions growing in the divided country of Viet Nam, the U.S. found itself becoming increasingly involved in that conflict. The Vietnamese terrain and the type of war being fought there demanded an increased aviation capability through the use of helicopters and light, fixed wing aircraft. This brought about a need for more aviators. In response to this need, an element of the U.S. Army Aviation School at Fort Rucker, Alabama was transferred to Fort Stewart in 1966. Helicopter pilot training and helicopter gunnery courses became Fort Stewart's new mission. In an ironic twist, now instead of training soldiers to shoot down aircraft, they were training soldiers to fly them.
When the Air Force closed their base at Hunter Field in Savannah in 1967, the Army promptly assumed control and in conjunction with the flight training being conducted at Fort Stewart, the U.S. Army Flight Training Center came into being. The helicopter pilot training was rapidly accelerated and pilots were trained and soon sent to duty all over the world, with a large percentage seeing active duty in Viet Nam.
In 1969 President Nixon planned to reduce American involvement in Viet Nam by training the Vietnamese military to take over the war. In conjunction with this, helicopter flight training for Vietnamese pilots began at the Training Center in 1970 and continued until 1972.
Gradually America's involvement in Viet Nam dwindled and by mid-1972 the flight training aspect of Fort Stewart's mission was terminated and both Hunter Field and Fort Stewart reverted to garrison status. The following year Hunter was closed entirely and Fort Stewart sat idle with the exception of the National Guard training which continued to be conducted at the installation.
On 1 July 1974 the 1st Battalion, 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger), parachuted into Fort Stewart and was reactivated the following month. They were the first Army Ranger unit activated since WWII. Hunter Army Airfield was once again reopened to support the training and activities of the Rangers.
Hunter Army Airfield is home of Coast Guard Air Station Savannah. Coast Guard and Air Station Savannah support a multitude of Coast Guard missions world-wide. These missions include: Search & Rescue, Marine Safety, Marine Environmental Protection, Fisheries Enforcement, Aids to Navigation, Migrant Interdiction, Drug Interdiction, Other Law Enforcement and Defense Readiness. Many of these missions require deployment of aviation detachments about Coast Guard Cutters.
While not permanently assigned to specific ship aviation detachments from Air Station Savannah become an integral part of the Coast Guard team on all of our deployments. The capabilities of the deployed helicopters greatly increase the chances of seizing illegal contraband, sighting vessels carrying illegal migrants, and generally maintaining more effective vigilance over patrol areas. The Coast Guard HH-65A is also an important Search and Rescue (SAR) asset while on board. During most deployments, Coast Guard Cutters will maintain one HH-65 helicopter and an aviation detachment consisting of two pilots and two or three flight mechanics.
United States Coast Guard Air Station Savannah was commissioned in the summer of 1963 on what was then known as Hunter Army Air Force Base (which became Hunter Army Airfield in 1967). In 1964 the Coast Guard's original HH-52A Basic Operational Training Unit (BOTU) was established in Savannah. This unit was the forerunner of the Coast Guard's specialized aviator training program now at the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama.
Since 1963, Air Station Savannah has provided search and rescue (SAR) coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the Atlantic Coast from the northern border of South Carolina to Melbourne, Florida, averaging more than 250 SAR cases a year. Other missions include maritime law enforcement, drug interdiction, aids to navigation, marine safety and environmental protection. Aircraft are routinely deployed aboard Coast Guard cutters along the East Coast and throughout the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Air Facility Charleston became operational on October 1, 1990, with daylight search and rescue response by crews deployed from Savannah. In 1993, with the completion of a multi-million dollar support facility, aircrews at the facility began providing around the clock SAR response in the northern sector of the Air Station's area of responsibility.
Siler Hall and the new operations center were completed in 1996, providing the Air Station and local commands, with a state of the art training venue. This, combined with various leading initiatives such as the infrared imaging system, will ensure that Air Station Savannah remains at the forefront of Coast Guard Aviation.
Many Hunter Army Airfield families live off-post in nearby communities. Living accommodations range from apartments to single-family subdivisions or apartment complexes. The majority of Hunter personnel live in near-by areas such as Garden City, Richmond Hill (20 miles southwest of Savannah).
Savannah is located on the Atlantic Coast, at the confluence of the Savannah River. The city is located on the boarder with South Carolina. Savannah is within easy driving distance of Atlanta, Macon, Columbia, Charleston, and Jacksonville. Inter-state 95 links Savannah with other cities along the East Coast, while Inter-state 16 connects Savannah with Macon and Atlanta. Numerous U.S. Highways provide alternative links to cities throughout the area.
Savannah, located in the last of the 13 colonies, had its beginnings when General James Oglethorpe and 12 weary travlers from the English ship "Ann" ended their journey at Yamacraw Bluff in 1733. Savannah prides itself on the cultural and social idendity, and its residents builts lavish homes that reflect the affulence of the mid-1700's to mid-1800's. James Oglethorpe is credited with the first "planned City" in the United states; the same year the colonist landed. The shady square parks that give Savannah an air all its own were created two and a half centuries ago. The city grew and flourished as its preeminence as a port and trade center became acknowledged; for almost a century the Savannah Cotton Exchange set world progress. Savannah's luck changed with the onslaught of the Civil War, a period punctuated by blockades and stifling of the city's trading economy, finally ending in flames as General William Sherman reached the goal of his "March to the Sea". As the city struggled to rebuild its economy after the war, the original residential and trading centers were slowly abandoned. Then in the 1950s the first efforts at restoration of the historic district began - and Savannah found its identity again, this time as a preserverif the invaluable past.