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Kincheloe Air Force Base

Shield Strategic Air Command.png

Part of Strategic Air Command (SAC)
Kinross, Michigan
Kincheloe Air Force Base - April 1997.jpg
United States Geological Survey aerial photo taken April 28, 1998
Type Air Force Base
Built 1943
Built by U.S. Government
In use 1952-77
Controlled by U.S. Air Force
Garrison 449th Bombardment Wing
For the civil use of this facility and airport information, see Chippewa County International Airport
Kincheloe AFB is located in Michigan
Kincheloe AFB
location of Kincheloe AFB,
south of Sault Ste. Marie

Kincheloe Air Force Base was a U.S. Air Force base during the Cold War. Built in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1943 during World War II, the base was in service until 1977. The base was known by various names, including Kinross Municipal Airport, Kinross Army Air Field, Kinross Air Field, Kinross Air Force Auxiliary Field, and Kinross Air Force Base. The present-day Chippewa County International Airport and the community of Kincheloe are located on the site of the base.

Contents

History

During World War II, the Soo Locks were considered vital to the war efforts. An airport was planned in Kinross as early as June 1941 and construction began in 1943. The base was then designated the Kinross Auxiliary Air Field, and was to serve as a refueling stop for aircraft headed for Alaska as well as to defend the locks. However, no tactical units were assigned to the base during the war. The base was controlled by the 4250th Army Air Force Base Unit of the U.S. Army, which also operated the air field in Alpena.

After the war, the city of Sault Ste. Marie, along with Capital Airlines and Trans-Canada Air Lines, leased the property and used it for commercial air service from 1945 to 1952. With the increasing tensions of the Cold War and the outbreak of the Korean War, the 4685th Air Base Squadron was assigned to the reactivated airfield in October 1952. The units based there changed designations several times in the following months, with the base ultimately becoming operational as a U.S. Air Force facility in July 1953.

Kinross AFB expanded throughout the 1950s, and was renamed "Kincheloe AFB" in September 1959, after Captain Iven Carl Kincheloe, Jr., a native of the state who was born in Detroit and raised in Cassopolis. Kincheloe was a veteran of the Korean War and a test pilot for the Century Series of fighter aircraft, and the Bell X-2. He was slated to fly the X-15, but was killed at the age of 30 in a crash of a F-104 Starfighter at Edwards AFB in 1958. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The base was a component of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Strategic Air Command, having its runway extended to 12,000 feet (3658 m) to accommodate fifteen B-52H bombers and ten KC-135A aerial refueling aircraft.

Two other SAC bases with B-52s were in the vicinity: K.I Sawyer AFB was 100 miles (160 km) to the west, near Marquette, and Wurtsmith AFB in the Lower Peninsula on Lake Huron just north of Saginaw Bay, near Oscoda. Wurtsmith AFB was closed by the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, and K.I. Sawyer AFB was closed by the 1995 BRAC. Both have since been converted to civilian airports.

In December 1965, the Department of Defense announced a decision to close Kincheloe by October 1971. Its units were either deactivated or relocated by 1968; however, in May 1971, the decision to close the base was reversed and it was again a component of SAC. This was only a six-year reprieve, as the base was inactivated on September 30, 1977 as part of an ongoing Reduction in Force in the USAF following the end of the Vietnam War, reductions that particularly impacted SAC with concurrent closures of installations such as McCoy AFB in Florida, Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico, and Forbes AFB in Kansas.

Portions of the base had already been transferred to local authorities, and following the deactivation all the remaining property was transferred, although the federal government reserved the right to have exclusive or non-exclusive use of the airport facilities during a declared national emergency.

Despite the loss of approximately 10,000 personnel living in the area, the base has been successfully redeveloped since closing. Chippewa County International Airport, Kinross Correctional Facility, Kinross Manufacturing, American Kinross, Inc. and Rudyard Area Schools are now located on the property. In all, the local tax base had doubled, and the civilian payroll created by the new ventures had reached $110 million.

The base was used in the filming of the 1990 movie Die Hard 2, starring Bruce Willis.[1]

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ imdb.com - Die Hard 2 - filming locations
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Mueller, Robert (1989). Volume 1: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C. ISBN 0912799536; 0160022614
  • A Brief History of Kinross/Kincheloe Air Force Base
  • Kincheloe AFB history from Strategic-Air-Command.com
  • Kincheloe AFB at GlobalSecurity.org

External links

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