Hickam Field - History

Hickam Field - History

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Hamilton Field was named after First Lieutenant Lloyd Andrews Hamilton of the 17th Aero Squadron. Hamilton was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for "extraordinary heroism in action" in Varsenare, Belgium, where he led a low level bombing attack on a German airdrome 30 miles (50 km) behind enemy lines on August 13, 1918. Thirteen days later, Hamilton died in action near Lagnicourt, France. [1]

What would eventually become Hamilton Air Force Base has its origins in the late 1920s, when the airfield was first established. It was first unofficially named the Marin County Air Field, Marin Airfield, Marin Meadows Air Field, and the Army Air Base at Marin Meadows. It was officially termed from 1929 until 1932 the "Air Corps Station, San Rafael." [ citation needed ] With formal development beginning, it was named Hamilton Field on July 12, 1932.

Construction of the airfield began about July 1, 1932, with the airfield being originally designed to accommodate four bomb squadrons and their personnel. Captain Don Hutchins of the Army Air Corps reported on duty as the first commanding officer of the new field on June 25, 1933, and Captain John M. Davies' 70th Service Squadron arrived that December as the first squadron assigned to the base.

The Hamilton Field Station Complement replaced the 70th Service Squadron on March 1, 1935. The original construction program was completed on May 12, 1935, at which time the field was ceremonially handed over to Brigadier General Henry 'Hap' Arnold, commanding the 1st Wing, by Governor Frank Merriam of California.

The U.S. Weather Bureau had an official cooperative weather station on the base from 1934 to 1964. [2]

Bomber mission Edit

Hamilton Field was originally a bomber installation. On May 5, 1934, the first planes assigned to Hamilton were Martin B-10 and B-12 bombers of the 7th Bombardment Group, having been transferred from March Airfield. Shortly thereafter, amphibious reconnaissance aircraft of the 88th Observation Squadron were assigned to Hamilton.

The B-12 bombers housed at Hamilton Field were phased out in 1937, and the 7th Bomb Group was re-equipped with the Douglas B-18 Bolo. The B-18 was a standard two-engine short-range bomber, and was capable of airlifting combat-equipped troops en masse, an important advance in combat techniques at the time.

The next step forward in bomber technology was the development of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, a four-engine airplane that was bigger, faster, and heavier than any previous bomber and required a longer and stronger runway to operate. Because the runway at Hamilton Field was not adequate for the B-17, the larger planes had to go elsewhere. In 1939, the 7th Bombardment Group was designated a "heavy" bomb group and was moved to Fort Douglas, Utah on September 7, 1940, to train with B-17s.

Fighter mission Edit

Hamilton became a fighter base under the USAAC Air Force Combat Command in December 1940, becoming the home of the 9th, 10th and 11th Pursuit Wings. The 9th PW was reassigned from March Field, bringing the 14th and 51st squadrons equipped with the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. Two other pursuit wings, the 10th, with the 20th and 35th Pursuit Groups, and the 11th, with the 51st, 54th and 55th Pursuit Groups, were activated at Hamilton in December 1940, all equipped with P-40s, the Republic P-43 Lancer, and a scattering of older Curtis P-36 Mohawks.

The arrival of the pursuit wings and their crews caused crowding at the base and initiated the first of many housing problems. Hamilton was assigned to the USAAC 4th Air Force, on December 7, 1941, and the airfield was designated an air defense base for the West Coast as part of the Western Defense Command on January 5, 1942.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Edit

In response to the growing crisis in the Pacific, on December 6, 1941, the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron (30th Bombardment Group) with four B-17Cs and two new B-17Es left Hamilton Field bound for Hickam Field, Hawaii on their way to Clark Field in the Philippines to reinforce the American Far East Air Force there. None were armed. After leaving Hamilton, and flying all through the night, the bombers arrived over Oahu on the morning of December 7, 1941, and faced an unusual welcome. The B-17s had arrived over Oahu during the Japanese air attack on Hawaii which triggered American entry into World War II. They arrived at Pearl Harbor at the height of the attack (radar operators mistakenly thought that the Japanese attack force was this flight arriving from California). Two of the planes managed to land at a short fighter strip at Haliewa, one made a belly-landing at Bellows, one set down on the Kahuku Golf Course, and the remainder landed at Hickam under the strafing of Japanese planes.

The B-17Es of the 7th Bombardment Group were moved back to Hamilton from Utah for deployment to the Far East. Six of them arrived in Hawaii just after the Pearl Harbor attack, but the rest of them were ordered to remain in California and were sent south to Muroc AAF near Rosamond.

During World War II, Hamilton was an important West Coast air training facility. Its mission was that of an initial training base for newly formed fighter groups. The airfield was rapidly expanded to a wartime status, with construction of additional barracks, mess halls, administration buildings, warehouses, Link trainer buildings, schools, hospital and other structures.

The following units trained at Hamilton:

Group Assigned dates Aircraft type
78th Fighter Group May 1942 – November 1942 P-38 "Lightning"
329th Fighter Group July 10, 1942 – July 13, 1942 P-38 "Lightning"
354th Fighter Group November 10, 1942 – January 18, 1943 P-39 "Airacobra"
357th Fighter Group December 1, 1942 – March 4, 1943 P-51 "Mustang"
363rd Fighter Group March 1, 1943 – August 1943 P-39 "Airacobra"
367th Fighter Group July 15, 1943 – October 11, 1943 P-38 "Lightning"
369th Fighter Group August 1, 1943 – November 5, 1943 P-40 "Warhawk"
372nd Fighter Group October 28, 1943 – December 7, 1943 P-40 "Warhawk"
478rd Fighter Group December 1, 1943 – December 12, 1943 P-39 "Airacobra"

Auxiliary training fields used by Hamilton Field during World War II were:

In addition, the Air Transport Command (ATC) used Hamilton as a major aerial port and transshipment facility for troops and cargo heading to the Pacific and CBI Theaters. The ATC West Coast Wing was headquartered at the airfield, with the 64th Transport Group being assigned early in 1942. The 1503rd AAF Base Unit was also stationed here.

In the initial postwar years, Hamilton remained Air Transport Command's primary West Coast facility until 1948 when Military Air Transport Service (MATS) moved most activities to nearby Travis AFB. During this time Hamilton functioned also as a major separation center for returning troops. MATS, and later Military Airlift Command (MAC), retained a presence at Hamilton through the Air Force Reserve, which based several Air Transport, and later Military Airlift wings at the base until it closed in 1976. Strategic Air Command also assigned several reserve reconnaissance groups to Hamilton in the late 1940s, flying photographic missions with RB-29 Superfortresses. Tactical Air Command assigned the F-84 Thunderjet-equipped 349th Fighter-Bomber Wing in the mid-1950s to Hamilton also as part of its reserve forces.

However, the new Air Defense Command, was the major presence at Hamilton after World War II, using the base as headquarters for the air defense of the Pacific Coast. The base went through a series of command redesignations during this period. In the United States Army Air Forces reorganization of 1946 it was assigned to Air Defense Command (ADC). Later, in 1948 the base was assigned to Continental Air Command (CONAC), then back to Air Defense Command in 1951, then, as its usefulness waned, to the Air Force Reserve in 1973.

325th Fighter Group/Wing Edit

The initial Air Defense Command major unit at Hamilton was the 325th Fighter Group which was reassigned from Mitchel AAF, New York on April 9, 1947. Squadrons of the 325th FG were the 317th and 318th Fighter Squadrons, both being initially equipped with the Northrop P-61 Black Widow. The units mission was air defense training missions along the West Coast.

In the immediate postwar years, the Black Widow was pressed into service as an air defense interceptor in response to the USAAF's problems in developing a useful jet-powered night/all-weather fighter. The war-weary P-61s were soon replaced in May 1948 by the North American F-82F Twin Mustang, and on May 10 the Wing and component groups and squadrons were redesignated as All Weather. The 325th was the first Air Defense Command group to receive the F-82.

The 325th Fighter Wing (All Weather) also was established on May 10, 1948 as part of the "one base, one wing" concept, with the 325th Fighter Group becoming a subordinate unit of the wing. The unit was transferred on June 27, 1948 to Moses Lake AFB, Washington for the purpose of defending the Hanford Nuclear site. [3]

78th Fighter Wing Edit

With the departure of the 325th for Washington, the 78th Fighter Wing was activated at Hamilton on November 16, 1948, with the 78th Fighter Group being reassigned from Mitchel AFB as its subordinate operational unit. During World War II, the 78th Fighter Group trained at Hamilton with P-38 Lightnings in 1942 and served as part of its air defense organization. Although briefly inactivated between 1952 and 1956, the 78th Fighter Wing was the host unit at Hamilton until it was inactivated in 1969.

The 78th Fighter Group's initial operational fighter squadrons were the 82d, 83d, and 84th (Jet). The 82d and 83d squadrons were equipped with F-51D Mustangs, while the 84th flew the Republic F-84B Thunderstreak. As its predecessor, the 325th, the mission of the 78th Fighter Wing was the air defense of the Pacific coast. The wing and subordinate units were redesignated as the 78th Fighter-Interceptor Wing on January 20, 1950.

The first production Northrop F-89B Scorpion interceptor was accepted by the USAF during February 1951, and entered service with the 84th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. However, in retrospect, the F-89B was rushed into squadron service too rapidly. There were not enough trained pilots and radar operators, and there were not enough maintenance personnel who knew the intricacies of the complex and troublesome Hughes E-1 fire control system. The in-service rate of the F-89B was appallingly low, and crashes were all too frequent.

In 1949, the ADC Western Air Defense Force (WADF) was established at Hamilton on September 1 and the 28th Air Division (28th AD) was activated December 8. The WADF was responsible for the air defense of the Western United States, and controlled air defense units in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and New Mexico. Its subordinate 28th AD controlled the operational air defense Groups and Squadrons.

566th Air Defense Group Edit

As part of a reorganization of Air Defense Command, on February 6, 1952 the 78th FIW was inactivated and in its place, the 4702d Defense Wing stood up at Hamilton. The 4702d was a placeholder unit until the 566th Air Defense Group of the 28th Air Division assumed control of the base on November 7, 1952. Units of the 566th ADG at Hamilton were:

    (February 6, 1952 – August 18, 1955) (F-86F) (February 6, 1952 – August 18, 1955) (F-86F) (April 1954 – August 18, 1955) (F-86D) Reassigned from Travis AFB, California (March 20, 1953 – August 1954) (F-86D)

When the 78th FIW was inactivated, the 82d FIS was transferred to the 4703d Defense Wing at Larson AFB, Washington.

During its time at Hamilton, the 325th FIS sponsored the "Sabre Knights" aerial demonstration team. In August 1955 the 325th unit designation was transferred to Truax Field, Madison, Wisconsin.

The 496th FIS was activated on March 20, 1953, as a fighter-interceptor squadron at Hamilton as part of the west coast air defense forces. Partially equipped at first with six F-51Ds, the squadron soon transitioned to F-86D aircraft and prepared to move to Europe. In August 1954 the 496th FIS was transferred to Hahn Air Base West Germany to stand air defense alert. Although based at Hahn, the 496th FIS was assigned to the USAFE 86th Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Ramstein Air Base.

On August 18, 1955 the 78th Fighter Group (Air Defense) was reactivated at Hamilton under the 28th AD with the 83d and 84th Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons flying F-86D Sabres.

78th Fighter Wing (Air Defense) Edit

In 1956, it was decided to elevate the operational units at Hamilton back to a Wing level, and the 566th ADG was inactivated, and the 78th was redesignated as the 78th Fighter Wing (Air Defense) on September 14, being reactivated on October 18. The reactivated wing consisted of the 83d and 84th Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons.

F-86Ds Edit

The 78th Fighter Wing was initially equipped with the North American F-86D interceptor version of the Sabre. Although, in reality it was a quite different aircraft than the F-86H model, the predominant version used after the Korean War. In the late 1950s, the F-86D served as the main air defense weapon against Soviet bomber attacks. In retrospect, the Soviet bomber threat was grossly exaggerated, but it cannot be denied that the presence of the F-86D interceptor was an important deterrent.

F-104As Edit

The Lockheed F-104A had originally been scheduled to replace the North American F-100 Super Sabres of the Tactical Air Command beginning in 1956. However, by the time that the F-104A was finally ready for delivery, Air Force requirements had changed. The Starfighter's relatively low endurance and its lack of ability to carry a significant offensive weapons load made it no longer suitable for TAC. Consequently, the TAC lost all interest in the F-104A even before it was scheduled to enter service.

This might ordinarily have been the end of the line for the F-104A. However, delays in the delivery and development of the Convair F-106A Delta Dart Mach 2+ fighter-interceptor for ADC Command had at that time become worrisome, and the USAF decided to go ahead and accept the F-104As originally destined for the TAC and assign them to the ADC as a stopgap measure.

The selection of the F-104A for the ADC was sort of curious, since it had not been originally designed as an interceptor and it lacked an adequate endurance and had no all-weather capability. However, its high climb rate made it attractive to the ADC and it was hoped that the Starfighter could fill in until the F-106 became available.

First to get the F-104A was the 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Hamilton, replacing the F-86Ds and became operational with the type on February 20, 1958. In October 1958, twelve F-104As of the 83rd FIS were crated and airlifted by C-124 transport to Taiwan, where they served temporarily with the Republic of China Air Force during the Quemoy crisis. The crisis was peacefully resolved, and the aircraft were returned to the USA.

The F-104A was not very well suited for service as an interceptor. Its low range was a problem for North American air defense, and its lack of all-weather capability made it incapable of operating in conjunction with the SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) system. The F-104As were replaced by the end of 1960 by more heavily armed all-weather McDonnell F-101B Voodoos. The F-104As were then transferred in 1960 to Air National Guard squadrons.

F-101B/Fs Edit

With the relative failure of the F-104A in the interceptor role, the 84th FIS was re-equipped with the McDonnell F-101B Voodoo in 1959 and the 83d FIS in 1960. The F-101Bs were modified versions of the SAC F-101A nuclear attack aircraft (designed for one-way missions carrying tactical nuclear weapons) by modifying the avionics systems and fire control systems for air-to-air missiles. The last F-101Bs were delivered in March 1961, and once the teething troubles with its fire control system issues were corrected, the F-101B proved to be a quite successful interceptor. However, it was outshone by the faster and more maneuverable Convair F-106A Delta Dart when that interceptor finally entered service.

Along with the F-101Bs, the dual-seat F-101F trainer was also flown at Hamilton. F-101Fs were equipped with dual controls, but carried the same armament as the F-101B and were fully combat-capable.

F-106As Edit

The Convair F-106A Delta Dart replaced the F-101 at Hamilton during 1968. The F-106 was considered by many as being the finest all-weather interceptor ever built. It served with the 84th FIS until 1987, nearly 20 years. On September 30, 1968 the 498th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was transferred to Hamilton from Paine AFLD, Washington and was inactivated, with its F-106s being reassigned to the 84th FIS.


On April 1, 1966, in addition to reactivating the Fourth Air Force, U.S. Air Force, the Headquarters Western NORAD Region (North American Air Defense Command) was activated at Hamilton AFB. This headquarters was not only responsible for the aerospace defense of 11 western states, but also controlled defense forces in two western Canadian provinces. NORAD was a joint U.S. Air Force/Royal Canadian Air Force (Canadian Forces after February 1968) organization. The new Western NORAD Region command combined the 25th, 26th and 27th NORAD Divisions, which were headquartered at McChord AFB Washington, Corvallis Oregon, and Luke AFB Arizona, respectively. West coast radar stations were under the command of headquarters at Hamilton AFB. Data was fed to the NORAD SAGE Combat Center (SCC-5) blockhouse at HAFB via the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system. The SAGE Combat Center utilized a three-string AN/GSA-51 computer system. Headquarters Western NORAD Region was inactivated at Hamilton Air Force Base on December 31, 1969.

1st Fighter Wing (Air Defense) Edit

On December 31, 1969, the 1st Fighter Wing (Air Defense) was reassigned from Selfridge AFB, Michigan as a result of its closing, replacing the 78th Fighter-Interceptor Wing which was inactivated. Its operational squadron was the 84th Fighter Interceptor Squadron which was reassigned from the inactivating 78th FIW. The 84th FIS continued to fly the F-106.

At Hamilton the 1st FW was an administrative organization of the ADC 26th Air Division. Although an Air Defense Command wing since the founding of ADC in 1946, the 1st Fighter Wing had long and deep traditions as a Tactical Air organization since its World War I origin in 1918. As the Vietnam War wound down, Headquarters Tactical Air Command was directed to preserve the lineage of many units which had command-controlled designations that gave them no history or traditions. HQ ADC transferred the 1st FW without personnel or equipment to TAC on October 1, 1970 to replace and absorb all assets of the 15th Tactical Fighter Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

26th Air Division (ADC/ADTAC) Edit

With the transfer of the 1st FW, the 84th FIS continued to operate at Hamilton until August 30, 1973 directly under the Aerospace Defense Commands 26th Air Division.

The 84th FIS was reassigned to Castle Air Force Base near Merced, California on September 1, 1973 as part of Hamilton's closedown, transferring its F-106s and effectively ending the air defense role of Hamilton AFB.

At Castle, the 84th FIS continued to fill the Air Defense role throughout the 1970s, eventually retiring its F-106s in 1981. The squadron was redesignated the 84th Fighter Interceptor Training Squadron on July 1, 1981 flying T-33s as its primary aircraft for live electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM) training. Participated in live flying exercises as targets for various Tactical Air Command ADTAC air divisions and for the F-15s of the 49th TFW at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The 84th FITS also flew target missions for the weapons controller training program.

The 84th FITS was inactivated on February 27, 1987.

United States Air Force Reserve Units Edit

349th Military Airlift Wing Edit

Along with its air defense mission, Hamilton AFB was Headquarters for the 349th Military Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit which was activated on May 10, 1949 and operated at Hamilton through July 25, 1969 with the exception of a brief period during 1951/52. The wing was assigned to Continental Air Command (ConAC), however when activated the wing was allocated to Military Air Transport Service/Military Airlift Command.

The 349th was bestowed the history and lineage of the World War II 349th Troop Carrier Group, which had been part of the Ninth Air Force IX Troop Carrier Command in Europe. Units attached to the 349th MAW (under various designations) were the 349th Troop Carrier Group, Medium (June 27, 1949 – April 2, 1951) and 310th, 311th, 312th and 313th Troop Carrier Squadrons. It was known as the "Golden Gate Wing" and flew the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando. During the Korean War, the reserve personnel of the 349th were called to active duty and used as fillers in other wings that were not up to combat strength. Consequently, the 349th TCW was inactivated on April 2, 1951.

349th Fighter-Bomber Wing Edit

With the reconstruction of reserve forces on May 26, 1952, the unit was reorganized as a Tactical Air Command fighter-bomber wing and it was reactivated on June 13 as the 349th Fighter-Bomber Wing. Its operational squadrons were the 310th, 312th, 313th, 313th and 8649th squadrons (August 20, 1954 – February 6, 1956). As a tactical fighter-bomber wing, the 349th flew the North American F-51 Mustang (1952–1954), Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star (1952–1956), and the Republic F-84 Thunderstreak (1956–1957).

349th Troop Carrier/Military Airlift Wing Edit

In September 1957, the unit was redesignated as the 349th Troop Carrier Wing, Medium, with the following squadrons: (97th, 312th, 313th, 314th Troop Carrier Squadrons) and assigned to Tactical Air Command.

The 349th flew the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar. The wing was ordered to active service on October 28, 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The 349th, like the other reserve troop carrier wings, was completely equipped and ready to move with only a few hours notice as was the case during the Cuban call-up. Only four hours after the first call to report for duty was made, 95 percent of the wing's flying personnel had checked in and were ready to move. With the cessation of the crisis, the wing was relieved from active duty on November 28.

The 349th was redesignated the 349th Military Airlift Wing on June 1, 1966 when the unit was reallocated to Military Airlift Command. The Wing controlled four (921st, 938th, 939th and 941st) airlift groups.

The unit flew the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. A recall to active duty was again initiated on January 26, 1968, in response to the seizure of the USS Pueblo by North Korea. During the Vietnam War, the wing airlifted many thousands of tons of cargo across the Pacific to support U.S. forces throughout the Southeast Asia and Pacific theaters of operations, as well as points in Europe and the Middle East.

On July 25, 1969 the 349th MAW was transferred to Travis AFB.

452d Military/Tactical Airlift Wing Edit

On January 1, 1972, the Air Force reassigned the Air Force Reserve's 452d Military Airlift Wing from March AFB, California to Hamilton AFB. At Hamilton, the wing converted to C-130B Hercules on April 1, was redesignated the 452d Tactical Airlift Wing (452 TAW). In October 1973, the 452 TAW became the "host wing" for Hamilton AFB. As a result of the base closure decision regarding Hamilton, the 452 TAW transferred back to March AFB in 1976 for redesignation as the 452nd Air Refueling Wing (452 ARW) and transition to the KC-135E Stratotanker.

The active Air Force ceased its activities on the base after October 1, 1973, when the 452d was relieved of host base responsibility, with most of the flight line facilities being transferred to the U.S. Army. The National Strike Force's Pacific Strike Team of the U.S. Coast Guard took up residence in two of the historic hangars. The housing was transferred to the U.S. Navy and a 411-acre (166 ha) parcel of the base was transferred to the General Services Administration (GSA) for public sale.

The 452d TAW operated at a low level of activity until January 11, 1976, when an agreement was finally reached to close Hamilton as part of the post-Vietnam War drawdown of the military. The base was placed in a caretaker status on that date pending final disposition. A controversy then developed over future civilian use between those supporting its adaptation into a major civilian airport, those bitterly opposed to its continued use as an airfield at all, and those holding varying intermediate degrees of opinion.

From 1980 to 1983, Hamilton AFB was home to the Refugee Transit Center, an operation of the International Organization for Migration for the processing of refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Afghanistan. Three former Air Force barracks were used as temporary housing, in addition to three other smaller buildings for administration. As many as 180,000 refugees were given overnight rest at Hamilton before moving on to other parts of the country. [ citation needed ]

The GSA public sale occurred in 1985, and finally, in December 1988, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommended closure of the last 700 acres (2.8 km 2 ) of government land at what was then called Hamilton Army Airfield. In 1995, the acreage held by the Army was transferred to the New Hamilton Partnership and public/private redevelopment of the former air base commenced the name was soon changed back to its original "Hamilton Field." As a consequence of BRAC 1993's closure decisions regarding all of the U.S. Navy's San Francisco area bases (NAS Alameda, NAS Moffett Field, Mare Island Naval Shipyard, NAVSTA Treasure Island), the Navy vacated its Hamilton housing in 1996.

Major commands to which assigned Edit

  • Headquarters, United States Army Air Corps, July 12, 1932
  • GHQ Air Force, March 1, 1935 Redesignated: Air Force Combat Command, December 18, 1940 , December 7, 1941 – January 5, 1942 , January 5, 1942 , September 18, 1942 IV Fighter Command San Francisco Fighter Wing, May 1, 1942 – December 15, 1944 , December 15, 1944 , March 21, 1946 Air Defense Command (Agency), December 1, 1948 – July 1, 1950 , July 1, 1950 , October 1, 1970 – January 30, 1976

Major units assigned Edit

  • 1st Wing 7th Bombardment Group, December 5, 1934 – November 5, 1935 May 22, 1937 – September 7, 1940
  • 9th Pursuit Wing, December 18, 1940 – December 7, 1941 14th Pursuit (later Fighter) Group, January 15, 1941 – June 10, 1941 February 7 – July 16, 1942 51st Pursuit (later Fighter) Group, January 15, 1941 – June 20, 1941
  • 10th Pursuit Wing, December 18, 1940 – December 7, 1941 20th Pursuit (later Fighter) Group, September 10, 1940 – February 2, 1942 35th Pursuit (later Fighter) Group, September 10, 1940 – December 5, 1941December 9, 1941 – January 12, 1942
  • 11th Pursuit Wing, December 18, 1940 – June 1, 1941 54th Pursuit Group, January 15 – May 21, 1941 55th Pursuit Group, January 15 – May 21, 1941
  • I Tactical Air Division, September 11, 1941 – February 1942 , December 7, 1941 – January 5, 1942June 19, 1946 – September 1, 1960April 1, 1966 – September 30, 1969 4th (later IV) Bomber Command, December 8, 1941 – January 9, 1942
  • Air Transport Command, West Coast Wing, January 1, 1942 – June 1, 1948 64th Transport Group, February 1 – June 18, 1942 , July 10–13, 1942 , November 10, 1942 – January 18, 1943 , December 1, 1942 – March 4, 1943 , October 28 – December 7, 1943 , March 1 – August 1943 , July 15 – October 11, 1943 , August 1 – November 5, 1943 March 16–28, 1944 , October 28 – December 7, 1943 , December 1–12, 1943
  • 325th Fighter (later All-Weather) Group, April 9, 1947 Established as 325th Fighter Wing, (All Weather), June 9, 1948 – November 26, 1948 325th Fighter Group (All Weather) assigned as subordinate unit 317th Fighter (later All-Weather) Squadron, November 24, 1947 – November 26, 1948 318th Fighter (later All-Weather) Squadron, December 2, 1947 – November 26, 1948
  • 1117th Special Air Missions Squadron, July 19, 1948 – December 31, 1951
  • 78th Fighter Group, May–November 1942 Established as 78th Fighter Wing (various designations), November 16, 1948 – February 6, 1952 August 18, 1955 – December 31, 1969 78th Fighter Group assigned as subordinate unit 82d Fighter Squadron (Various Designations), November 24, 1948 – February 6, 1952 83d Fighter Squadron (Various Designations), November 24, 1948 – July 27, 1952 August 18, 1955 – December 31, 1969 84th Fighter Squadron (Various Designations), November 24, 1948 – December 31, 1969 Assigned to 1st Fighter Wing (Air Defense), December 31, 1969 – October 1, 1970 Assigned to 26th Air Division, October 1, 1970 – September 1, 1973 398th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, November 18, 1956 – February 8, 1957 Scheduled to receive F-104s. Before personnel or equipment were in place, unit inactivated. 498th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, September 30, 1968 Immediately inactivated and personnel and equipment reassigned to the 84th FIS.
  • Headquarters, Western Air Defense Force (WADF), September 1, 1949 – July 1, 1960 , December 8, 1949 – April 1, 1966 566th Air Defense Group 325th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, February 10, 1954 – August 18, 1955 496th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, March 20, 1953 – July 4, 1954
  • Headquarters Western NORAD Region, April 1, 1966 – December 31, 1969 , December 31, 1969 – October 1, 1970
    (SAC), April 9, 1947 – June 27, 1949 (SAC), July 12, 1947 – June 27, 1949 (MATS), June 27, 1949 – April 2, 1951 Redesignated: 349th Fighter-Bomber Wing (TAC), June 13, 1952 – September 1, 1957 Redesignated: 349th Military Airlift Wing (MATS/MAC), September 1, 1957 – July 25, 1969 (MAC), January 1, 1972 – January 12, 1976 Inactivated as host unit after October 1, 1973, although limited presence maintained until reassigned.

Source for major commands and major units assigned: [4] [5] [6] [7]

Following its closure, many of the facilities at the airfield have been reclaimed by the city of Novato and county of Marin for public use. [8] The airfield is also part of tidal wetland restoration effort currently underway by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (San Francisco District), California Coastal Conservancy, and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission. This multi-agency construction and environmental restoration effort is called the Hamilton Wetland Restoration Project and is funded by federal, state, and regional burses.

Most non-original structures have been removed and replaced with housing subdivisions. Seven of the nine original hangars have been converted into offices, retaining their façade while being renovated on the inside. In July, 2017, a proposed tenth hangar is set to be built to match the look and feel of the original nine hangars. This part of the base is now called Hamilton Landing. Several of the original base buildings designed by Capt. Nurse and built in the early '30s have been renovated, including the former base headquarters, three of the large airmen's barracks, and the Firehouse. Others, such as the War Dept. Theatre, the base hospital, the Bachelor Officers' Quarters, and the Officers' Club remain intact either awaiting renovation or demolition. The Discovery Channel show MythBusters has used hangar space at Hamilton to carry out some of their experiments. Some scenes for the 1984 film Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom were filmed at Hamilton, as were some scenes from the 1983 film The Right Stuff, and the television show Emergency! in 1978.

The U.S. Coast Guard currently owns 282 Spanish-style duplexes and homes these units were part of the old Hamilton Air Force Base housing. Due to the buildings' age, there is a need for maintenance, and many housing units are vacant, boarded up and in caretaker status. Many issues experienced with older homes (e.g. insufficient wiring and water damage) are currently experienced by Coast Guard tenants. The Coast Guard planned to sell all or most of their 50 acres of land and homes through a GSA sale in 2020. Since the Coast Guard property was not included in the base environmental studies, this area will need environmental review.

The base's environmental conditions were extensively studied as part of the redevelopment and wetlands restoration effort. Contaminated soil was removed or treated as needed. An underground methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) plume was discovered near the former gas stations. A small number of homes were cautioned against planting fruit trees. This plume has since dissipated and the warning is no longer in effect. [9]

The base was originally built via contract awarded December 5, 1933 most of the buildings were complete by late 1934. Captain Howard B. Nurse, Construction Quartermaster, supervised the design and construction. He departed from traditional base design by rendering the buildings in the Spanish eclectic style then popular in California. Churrigueresque elements adorn the more important buildings. Reinforced concrete walls were covered in stucco to appear similar to earlier California missions mission tile roofs topped the buildings. Recessed porches, cantilevered balconies, polychrome tile bands and wrought iron grillework complement the designs.

In 1993 and 1994, the Historic American Buildings Survey documented many of the structures within Hamilton Field, assessing each one for historic value.


Hickam is home to the 15th Wing (15 WG) and 67 partner units including Headquarters, United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), Headquarters – Hawaii Air National Guard and the 154th Wing (154 WG) of the Hawaii Air National Guard. The Air Mobility Command's 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing (515 AMOW) provides tactical and strategic airlift within the Pacific region. In addition, Hickam supports 140 tenant and associate units.

The 15th Wing is composed of four groups each with specific functions. The 15th Operations Group (15 OG) controls all flying and airfield operations. The 15th Maintenance Group (15 MXG) performs aircraft and aircraft ground equipment maintenance. The 15th Mission Support Group (15 MSG) has a wide range of responsibilities but a few of its functions are Security, Civil Engineering, Communications, Personnel Management, Logistics, Services and Contracting support. The 15th Medical Group (15 MDG) provides medical and dental care.

  • 15th Operations Group (Tail Code: HH)
    • 15th Operations Support Squadron
    • 15th Air Support Operations Squadron (C-17) (C-37, C-40) (KC-135) (F-22)

    They're Killing My Boys: The History of Hickam Field and the Attacks of 7 December 1941

    They&aposre Killing my Boys is a detailed combat narrative of the 7 December 1941 Japanese attacks on Hickam Field--then one of two major army airfields on the island of O&aposahu. Since the field served as a base for bombardment aviation, the Japanese desired to put Hickam out of action to prevent U.S. forces from searching for and attacking their carrier force.

    Typically, militar They're Killing my Boys is a detailed combat narrative of the 7 December 1941 Japanese attacks on Hickam Field--then one of two major army airfields on the island of O'ahu. Since the field served as a base for bombardment aviation, the Japanese desired to put Hickam out of action to prevent U.S. forces from searching for and attacking their carrier force.

    Typically, military historians tend to focus on the destruction sustained by the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Although the loss of life at Hickam Field was less than that sustained by the Pacific Fleet, the attacks on the former location caused destruction and mayhem that was disastrous and wrenching.

    The chapters are divided into the following sections:

    -Background - Early history and base construction during 1935-41

    -Arrival of Major General Frederick L. Martin, and events of 1941 that shaped operations at the field

    -Pre-war life at the station

    -1st Wave Attacks - dive bombing/strafing attacks by dive bombers from the carrier Shōkaku, and strafing attacks by fighters from the carriers Akagi and Kaga.

    -Arrival of B 17s during the attack from the West Coast

    -2nd Wave Attacks - bombing attacks by horizontal bombers from the Zuikaku

    -Searches for the Japanese fleet by bombardment squadrons based at Hickam Field

    -Aftermath -repairs and recovery from the attack

    The work focuses on descriptions of actions in the air and on the ground at the deepest practical personal and tactical level, from both the American and Japanese perspectives. Such a synthesis is possible only by pursuing every conceivable source of American documents, reminiscences, interviews, and photographs. Similarly, the authors ferreted out Japanese accounts and photography from the attacks, many appearing in print for the first time. Information from the Japanese air group and aircraft carrier action reports has never before been used.

    On the American side, the authors also have researched the Official Military Personnel Files at NARA, St. Louis, details of the military careers and personal backgrounds of American officers and men. The authors are the first historians to be allowed free and unfettered access to both open and closed service records. Conversely, the authors have delved into the background and personalities of key Japanese participants, and have translated and incorporated the Japanese aircrew rosters from the attack.

    This accumulation of data and information makes possible an intricate and highly integrated story that is unparalleled. The interwoven nature of the narratives of both sides provides a deep understanding of the events at Hickam Field that has been impossible to present heretofore. . more

    Important Contacts

    The historic naval base Pearl Harbor dates back to the turn of the 20th century and played a significant role during WWII and after. Hickam Field was activated in 1938 and occupied the adjacent land between Pearl Harbor and Honolulu. In 2010, the Base Closure and Realignment Commission decided to combine the two Pacific powerhouses, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) was formed. Major Air Force units that call JBPHH home are the 15th Wing, 647th Air Base Group, and the Joint MIA/POW Accounting Command. It’s host to several major Navy commands including the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

    If you’ve received orders for JBPHH – congratulations! Pack away your winter clothes and stock up on beachwear because paradise awaits. The island can be intimidating, but the good news is that it’s HAWAII and incredible places to live are plentiful. On post housing is in high demand and it’s not uncommon to be on a waiting list for anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

    Hickam Field - History

    Open for dine-in and take-out.

    Located next to the Historic Hickam Officers' Club. Enjoy a delicious selection of breakfast and lunch items.

    The Wright Brothers Cafe & Grille is open to ALL RANKS and all base eligible patrons.

    900 Worthington Avenue
    JBPHH, HI 96860
    808-448-4608 ext. 39

    Mon-Fri 6:30-9:30am | 10:30am-1:00pm

    Sun 7am-12noon

    ***Holiday Hours

    Closed July 4

    July 5 7am-10am

    No events are scheduled at this time.

    To our MWR customers,
    Wright Bros. Cafe & Grille is currently experiencing a staffing shortage that has required an adjustment of operating hours. Dinner service is available only on Fridays and Saturdays. We will be open on Sundays for breakfast only. Mondays-Thursdays we will close after lunch. We sincerely regret any inconvenience and are working diligently to hire new employees.
    We thank you for your patience and understanding during this time.

    If you or anyone you know is looking for a full or part-time, or flex positions, they can view opening here, or they may call our NAF Personnel Office at 808-422-3784.

    Hickam Air Base Scars

    View all photos

    To this day, you can see the bomb and bullet scars from the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, preserved on the buildings at Hickam Air Force Base.

    On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor in an unprecedented act of warfare that officially drew the United States into World War II. The targets were the ships docked in the harbor, but also Hickam Air Force Base right next door to ensure there was no chance of airborne defense.

    The base suffered considerable damage from bombs and machine gun bullets, while several aircraft were rendered useless. More than 300 people were injured, and 189 died.

    The damage inflicted was not covered up or repaired, but preserved as a memorial. It is most visible on the Pacific Air Forces headquarters building, which is pockmarked with scars, but small pieces of damage exist throughout the base as a reminder of that tragic day.

    Know Before You Go

    This is an active US Air Force base, so you must have to have a legitimate reason to enter the base and proper identification. Best way is to know an active or retired military person who can get you on-base.

    Hickam Field - History

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". NATW Phase-Out Begins - Page 25 - Naval Aviation News - March 1967. " WebSite: [08SEP2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". VR-7's Det Alfa: Vietnam Lifeline - Page 37 - Naval Aviation News - August 1965. " WebSite: [01SEP2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". VR-7's Crossroads For Navigators - Page 24 - Naval Aviation News - April 1964. " WebSite: [28AUG2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". VR-7 Crew Honored By AF - Page 10 - Naval Aviation News - December 1961. " WebSite: [21AUG2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". Test Panel Is Invented - Page 29 - Naval Aviation News - May 1958. " WebSite: [13AUG2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". VR-7's Happy Dependents' Special - Page 28 - Naval Aviation News - October 1957. " WebSite: [11AUG2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". VR-7 Super Connie Record - Page 28 - Naval Aviation News - October 1956. " WebSite: [09AUG2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". Sets Maintenance Record - Page 16 - Naval Aviation News - February 1955. " WebSite: [03AUG2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". More R7V's Go To MATS - Page 30 - Naval Aviation News - March 1954. " WebSite: [02AUG2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". Seaman's Coolness Saves Plane - Page 12 - Naval Aviation News - May 1947. " WebSite: [17JUL2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". FASRON-118 ramp NAS Agana, Guam in August 1945 - just a few days after the war ended. " Contributed by Jonathan Horne [05JUN2008]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". Success in battle depends heavily on adequate logistic support which many times provides the thin thread on which hangs the victory. Throughout its history, NAS Moffett Field, California has been home for one or more of these all-important air logistics units. Dating back to 1945 with the arrival of Transport Squadron Four (VR-4) and Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) headquarters, such squadrons as Transport Squadron Forty-four (VR-44), Transport Squadron Five (VR-5) and Transport Squadron Three (VR-3) have played an important role as one of NAS Moffett Field, California's tenant units. R4Ds (DC-3s), R5D (DC-5s) and R6D (DC-6s) were familiar sights in Bay Area skies. With the decommissioning of Fleet Logistic Air Wings in the summer of 1957, two Military Air Transport Squadrons, VR-7 and VR-8, began the move from their Hawaiian base to NAS Moffett Field, California. Flying the sleek R7V Super Constellation, these squadrons operate from here to the far reaches of the Pacific to provide a supply line of men and equipment to the Pacific Fleet. " [17JAN2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". VR's Lead In Utilization - Naval Aviation News - December 1943.." WebSite: [08NOV2004]

    A BIT OF HISTORY : ". VR-7 History. " [01JUN2002]

    VR-7 was originally established in April 1943 under command of the Naval Air Transport Service at NAS Miami FL to engage in the airlift of priority cargo and personnel between the U.S. and South America. The aircraft assigned was the Douglas R4D. Dis-established in 1944, the squadron was re-born in Nov. 1946 with the integration of personel from VR-10, again utilizing the R4D. There it performed as a Headquarters squadron on Guam Island with detachments in Manila Philippines, Shanghai China, Iwo Jima Island and finally Tokyo Japan following the Japanese surrender. It was then dis-estblished in 1948

    In response to increasing military requirements for airlift support in the Pacific, VR-7 attained its third life at Hickam AFB Hawaii with Capt. S.M. Adams commanding, under the direction of Commander Pacific Division of MATS. Its core of experienced personnel were from VR-8 recently returned from the Berlin Airlift also at Hickam and supplemented by additional personnel from throughout the fleet. Both squadrons then were assigned the R5D Douglas Skymaster and provided additonal long range airlift capacity to the MATS routes in the Pacific. The route included stops at Midway, Kwajelein, Wake, Guam, Okinawa Islands and Japan and the Philippines.

    In late 1953 the squadron began the arduous task of acquiring and training in the state of the art R7V Super Constellation aircraft. This aircraft allowed for longer range Trans-Pacific service, eliminating the need for frequent refueling stops at the lesser Pacific Islands. A complement of 16 aircraft, their flight crews and maintenance personnel and equipment was assigned.

    Shortly thereafter they were chosen to establish and maintain the "Embassy Run" which originated at Travis AFB CA and traveled westward across the Pacific to American Embassies in Tokyo (Tachikawa AFB), Manila (Clark AFB), Saigon Indo China (Than Son Nhut AB), Calcutta India, Bangkok Thailand, Calcutta India, New Delhi India, Karachi Pakistan and terminating at Dhahran Saudi Arabia. There it met the Eastern "Embassy Run" flown by squadrons of the Atlantic Division of MATS.

    In 1957 the squadron relocated to NAS Moffett Fld. CA as the operational squadron along with VR-8 as the maintenance squadron with all 32 aircraft. In 1963 the squadrons received a new aircraft, the C-130E long range heavy lift transport, and supplied the R7V to Air National Guard and AF Reserve units throughout the U.S. This also changed their role to that of combat air lift and supply. This new role entailed serious training in formation flying, paratroop and equipment insertion and low level radar evasion tactics.

    In 1967, along with other Navy units assigened to MATS, VR-7 was dis-established at NAS Moffett Fld. CA. During its illustrious history, it had flown the R4D Skytrain, R5D Skymaster, the R7V Super Constellation and the C-130E Hercules with a loss of only 3 aircraft. A Hearty, Hail and Farewell was given to this fine squadron.

    History Book Time: The American Airmen of Pearl Harbor

    At least fourteen U.S. Army fliers did manage to intervene in the skies over Oahu—too few to stop the relentless aerial assault, they nonetheless fought their overwhelming assailants tooth and claw.

    Here's What You Need To Remember: The first Japanese target in the Pearl Harbor attack was not the battleships - it was Hickam Field, where the U.S. Army Air Force was stationed, to keep American pilots from joining the battle. This was mostly successful, but a few pilots managed it - and fought desperately with the overwhelming Japanese strength.

    At 7 AM on the morning of December 7, 1941 the U.S. Army Air Force had 152 fighters in the fifteenth and eighteenth Pursuit Group deployed for air defense of Hawaiian island of Oahu, and 57 bombers that could hunt enemy ships.

    In the following two hours, two-thirds of these aircraft would be damaged or destroyed and four of the battleships they were there to protect sunk at the bottom of Pearl Harbor.

    But at least fourteen U.S. Army fliers did manage to intervene in the skies over Oahu—too few to stop the relentless aerial assault, they nonetheless fought their overwhelming assailants tooth and claw.

    The failure of U.S. air defenses at Pearl Harbor reflected a systemic communication breakdown the military and Washington. The White House was amply warned Japan might attempt some kind of attack due to its need to secure oil wells after Roosevelt imposed an embargo on the expanding empire. Washington warned U.S. forces in the Pacific to prepare for war and dispatch reinforcements to exposed garrisons in the Philippines and Wake island.

    But Army and Navy leaders in Hawaii did not realize Pearl Harbor itself might be in range of an attack. Army Lt. Gen. Walter Short assumed the threat came from clandestine sabotage, so he ordered the aircraft in Hawaii lined up wingtip-to-wingtip in the open. After a week on alert, he gave Army units the weekend off to boost morale.

    Still, the threat of war was palpable. On the evening of December 6, while seeing off the 38 th and 88 th Reconnaissance squadrons as they prepared to fly their B-17s from Hamilton Field, California to Hawaii, Air Force chief General ‘Hap’ Arnold told the pilots “War is imminent. You may run into a war during your flight.”

    When at 7 AM on December 7 technicians manning the Army’s new SCR-270 radar at Opana Point detected some of the 183 Imperial Japanese Navy warplanes inbound for Pearl Harbor, their untrained commanding officer assumed the contacts were the B-17s due to arrive.

    In fact, the B-17Cs and Es were approaching Hawaii from a virtually identical trajectory and bumped into some of the 41 A6M Zero fighters tasked with providing air cover and strafing parked aircraft.

    The Flying Fortress famously bristled with defensive .50 caliber machine guns—all of which were stowed away without ammunition on the transiting aircraft. Fortunately, the rugged bombers proved they could withstand considerable punishment from marauding Zeros.

    Carnage at Hickam and Wheeling Airfields

    Though U.S. battleships were the raid’s primary target, mission planner Minoru Genda emphasized destroying American airpower on the ground before it could inflict losses or launch a counter strike.

    The B-17s and their Japanese attackers were both headed for Hickam airfield, located near the eastern shore to the entrance of Pearl Harbor. Hickam hosted 45 twin-engine B-18 Bolo and A-20A bombers, and twelve B-17Ds of the 5 th and 11 th Bombardment Groups.

    At 7:55, Japanese bomber began demolishing the neatly ranked Bolos and Flying Fortresses with bombs and machine gun fire as you can see in this video.

    This was not a safe environment in which to land a four-engine bomber, but by 8:20 AM ten of the inbound B-17s successfully managed it—though a strafing Zero subsequently caused one freshly landed Fortress to combust. Another B-17 found sanctuary at Bellows air base in northeastern Oahu, and the last landed a hole-in-one at the Kahuku Golf Course.

    Wheeler Army Airfield hosted most of the island’s fighters. At 7:55 AM, 25 D3A1 ‘Val’ dive bombers came shrieking down on field spitting 7.7-millimeter machine gun rounds and blasting parked P-26, P-36A and P-40 fighters with bombs—destroying 48 and damaging most of the rest.

    But not all of the fighters were at Wheeler. Eight P-40Bs and two P-36A gunnery trainers (stripped down to just one gun!) of the 47 th Pursuit Squadron were temporarily detached to austere Haleiwa airstrip in northwestern Oahu.

    Lieutenants George ‘Wheaties’ Welch and Ken Taylor still in their tuxedos recovering from late night revelry at a hotel when they heard the attack unfold. They called and requested that their fighters get prepped and raced ten miles to the airstrip in a Buick.

    Their P-40 Tomahawks were armed with four wing-mounted .30 caliber wing guns and two .50 caliber guns in the nose—but lacked ammunition for the latter. They were agile and reasonably fast and well-armored, but had inferior high-altitude performance compared to Japanese A6Ms.

    Welch spotted Japanese dive bombers circling vulture-like over Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, having just destroyed all but one of Marine squadron VMF-211’s dozen F4F-3 Wildcat fighters based there, and nine of VMSB-232’s Vindicator dive bombers.

    Welch fell in behind the Vals and made one catch fire with a five-second burst—though unbeknownst to Welch, the pilot managed to nurse his damaged bomber back to its carrier. A burst from Taylor caused another Val to explode in a fireball. The two American fliers then converged on a third D3A1 and sent it smashing into the beach.

    A third pilot, Lt. Edgar Dains flying a P-40 from Haleiwa shot down a D3A1 dive bomber, scoring the first U.S. air-to-air kill of World War II. Sadly, he was subsequently killed by friendly ground fire while flying a P-36 out of Wheeler.

    Lieutenants Harry Brown and Robert Rogers, meanwhile, took off with the two P-36 Hawks and tangled with Zeroes over western Oahu, shooting down one and damaging two more—neither of which returned to their carriers.

    200 miles to the west, the carrier USS Enterprise was steaming towards Pearl Harbor—spared from being caught in the attack by weather delays. Nonetheless, it launched nine two-ship elements of SBD-2 Dauntless dive bombers from VB-6 squadron for routine scouting and navigation training in the vicinity of Oahu.

    The Navy aviators ran into Zeros at 8:15. The SBD of Ensign Manuel Gonzales was apparently destroyed in a surprise attack. The remaining two-seat bombers charged into the scrap. Zeros dispatched five more of the slower SBDs in swirling dogfights without loss. Mistaken friendly ground fire downed a sixth SBD, as well as five out six VF-6 Wildcats dispatched to reinforce Ford Island later that day.

    Taylor and Welch landed at Wheeler field where ground crew finally began loading .50 caliber ammunition. But they weren’t done by the time the second wave of 167 Japanese warplanes descended upon Oahu. The loaders fled, leaving empty ammunition boxes on the P-40’s wings.

    The Tomahawk pilots decided to take off towards the incoming attackers so as not to present their tails to the enemy—Taylor even sprayed machine gun fire while still rolling on the ground.

    Once airborne, Taylor was closing for a head-on pass with a Val when another dive bomber riddled his Tomahawk from behind, wounding him in the leg. As Taylor juked evasively, Welch fell in behind Taylor’s attacker and peppered it with .50 caliber machinegun fire, causing the two-seat bomber to smash into a pineapple field below.

    Welch went on to chalk a fourth kill (a Zero), while a wounded Taylor scored his second, managing to dodge defensive fire from the tail gunner of another Val to send it spinning to the ground in flames.

    Meanwhile, nine Zeroes came screaming down over Naval Air Station Kaneohe Naval Air Station and destroyed 27 of its 33 PBY Catalina seaplanes (pictured here) and damaged the rest. The Catalina fliers did notch a small victory earlier that day when they helped hunt down two Japanese mini-submarines.

    The marauding Zeros then swept down upon Bellows field, machineguns and 20-millimeter cannons chattering as three P-40Bs from the 44 th Pursuit Squadron attempted to take off. One Army flyer was killed leaping into his plane, while two more made it off the ground but were promptly shot to pieces

    Back at Wheeler, Lieutenant Lewis Sanders of the 46 th Pursuit squadron managed to scrounge together four P-36s and took off into the fight at 8:50 AM led by. From higher altitude they pounced on six of the Zeroes that had strafed Bellows field—with Sander’s dive attack sending one smoking into the ground.

    He last saw his wingman Gordon Sterling plunging his blazing P-36 into a cloud bank chasing a Zero as another Zero pumped cannon shells into his tail. Sterling never returned to base, but the two Zeroes did.

    Meanwhile, the machine guns of a P-36 flown by Lt. Phil Rasmussen began randomly discharging just as a Zero passed across their line of fire and promptly disintegrated. Two more Zeros shot his Hawk’s tail and rear canopy to pieces, but the Bostonian shook his pursuers off in a cloud bank and nursed his crippled plane back to base.

    Cold War (1947–1991)

    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. After the creation of the separate United States Air Force Hickam was named Hickam Air Force Base on 26 Mar 1948. On 1 Jul 1957 Headquarters Far East Air Forces completed its move from Japan to Hawaii and was redesignated the Pacific Air Forces at Hickam AFB.

    During the Korean War and the Vietnam War Hickam continued to served as the hub of the Pacific aerial network, supporting transient aircraft ferrying troops and supplies to, and evacuating wounded from the forward areas.

    Host units at Hickam Air Force Base, supported the Apollo astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s Operation Homecoming (return of prisoners of war from Vietnam) in 1973 Operation Baby Lift/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.

    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.



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