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Andersen AFB

Pacific Air Forces.png
Part of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)

Airport type Military: Air Force Base
Operator United States Air Force
Location Guam
In use 1944–present
Occupants 36th Wing
• 254th Air Base Group
• 337th Air Support Flight - Australia
• 44th APS
• 497th Combat Training Squadron
• 554th Red Horse Squadron
• 734th Air Mobility Squadron
HSC-25 Island Knights
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Elevation AMSL 612 ft / 187 m
Coordinates 13°34′52″N 144°55′28″E / 13.58111°N 144.92444°E / 13.58111; 144.92444
Direction Length Surface
ft m
6L/24R 10,558 3,218 Asphalt/Concrete
6R/24L 11,185 3,409 Asphalt/Concrete
Sources: FAA,[1] official site[2]

Andersen Air Force Base (IATA: UAMICAO: PGUAFAA LID: UAM) is a United States Air Force base on the northern end of the island of Guam, largely within the village of Yigo but also stretching into Dededo. It sits atop a 500 ft plateau on the extreme northeast portion of the island. The base was named for Brigadier General James Roy Andersen.

The host wing is the 36th Wing (36 WG) of the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), which includes an operations group, a maintenance group, a mission support group, a medical group, and a contingency response group.

The mission of the 36th Wing is to employ, deploy, integrate and enable air and space forces from the most forward US sovereign Air Force Base in the Pacific.



Andersen Air Force Base was established on December 3, 1944 and is named for Brigadier General James Roy Andersen (1904–1945).

General Andersen graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1926, served at various Army installations, and obtained his wings at Kelly Field, Texas, in 1936. During 1943–1944 he served on the War Department General Staff. In January 1945, General Andersen was assigned to HQ AAF, Pacific Ocean Area. He died on February 26, 1945 in the crash of a B-24 Liberator aircraft between Kwajalein and Johnston Island while en route to Hawaii.


North Field

Previous names of the station were North Field, December 3, 1944; North Field Air Base Command, May 9, 1946; North Army Air Base, unk; North AFB, March 1, 1948; North Guam AFB, April 22, 1948; [North Field AFB, Guam, February 1949 and North Guam AFB, March 1949. It was named Andersen AFB on October 7, 1949.


Major Commands to which assigned

Major units assigned

19th Bombardment Group,January 16, 1945 – June 1, 1953
29th Bombardment Group, January 17, 1945 – May 20, 1946
39th Bombardment Group, February 18 – November 17, 1945
330th Bombardment Group, February 18 – November 17, 1945
  • North Guam Air Force Base Command (Provisional), May 15, 1946 – August 24, 1948
  • 19th Bombardment Wing, August 10, 1948 – June 1, 1953
  • 54th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, February 21, 1951 – March 18, 1960
  • 6319th Air Base Wing, June 1, 1953 – April 1, 1955
  • 3d Air Division, June 18, 1954 – April 1, 1970
  • 92d Bombardment Wing, October 16, 1954 – January 12, 1955
  • 509th Bombardment Wing, July 10 – October 8, 1954
  • 6th Bombardment Wing, January 14 – April 12, 1955
  • 3960th Air Base Wing, April 1, 1955 – April 1, 1970
Redesignated: 605th Airlift Support Squadron, January 8, 1966
Redesignated: 734th Air Mobility Squadron, June 1, 1992 – Present
Redesignated: 36th Wing, April 12, 2006 – Present

Operational History

World War II

A B-52 from Barksdale AFB takes off from Andersen in 2007

Andersen Air Force Base's origins begin on December 8, 1941 when Guam was attacked by the armed forces of Imperial Japan in the Battle of Guam (1941) three hours after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Guam surrendered to Japanese on December 10. During the height of the war, Approximately 19,000 Japanese soldiers and sailors were deployed to the island. Guam was liberated by the United States Marine Corps 3rd Amphibious Corps on July 21, 1944, in the Battle of Guam (1944), after a 13 day pre-invasion bombardment.

The Japanese managed to contain the Marines on two beachheads, but their counter-attack failed. The Marines renewed their assault, and reached the northern tip of the island on August 10, 1944. Japanese guerrilla activities continued until the end of the war, and some even were holdouts for many years afterwards.

Guam was considered as being ideal to establish air bases to launch B-29 Superfortress operations against the Japanese Home Islands. The Mariana Islands were about 1500 miles from Tokyo, a range which the B-29s could just about manage. Most important of all, it could be put on a direct supply line from the United States by ship. "North Field", as Andersen AFB was first named, was the first air base built on Guam after its liberation, being constructed by United States Navy Seebees beginning in November 1944. North Field and its co-located Northwest Field, was a massive installation, with four main runways, taxiways, revetments for over 200 B-29s, and a large containment area for base operations and personnel.

The first host unit at North Field was the Twentieth Air Force XXI Bomber Command 314th Bombardment Wing. The 314th arrived on Guam on January 16, 1945 from Peterson Field, Colorado. The 314th controlled four operational B-29 bomb groups, the 19th, (Square M), 29th (Square O), 39th (Square P), and 330th (Square K).

B-29 Superfortress missions from North Field were attacks against strategic targets in Japan, initially operating in daylight and at high altitude to bomb factories, refineries, and other objectives. Beginning in March 1945, the XXI Bomber Command changed tactics and started carrying out low-level night incendiary raids on area targets. During the Allied assault on Okinawa, groups of the 314th Bomb Wing attacked airfields from which the Japanese were sending out suicide planes against the invasion force.

S/Sgt Henry E Erwin of the 29th Bombardment Group was awarded the Medal of Honor for action that saved his B-29 during a mission over Koriyama, Japan, on April 12, 1945. When a phosphorus smoke bomb exploded in the launching chute and shot back into the plane, Sgt Erwin picked up the burning bomb, carried it to a window, and threw it out.

After the war, B-29s from North Field dropped food and supplies to Allied prisoners and participated in several show-of-force missions over Japan. The 29th, 39th and 330th Bomb Groups returned to the United States and inactivated in December 1945 while the 19th remained on Guam to become the host unit at the station when the 314th Bomb Wing was reassigned to Johnson AB, Japan for occupation duty.

Postwar Years

After the end of World War II, Guam served as a collection point for surplus war goods that had accumulated in the Pacific Theater.

The 19th Bombardment Wing was formed at North AFB in 1948 from the resources of the former North Guam Air Force Base Command (Provisional). The 19th BW, with the 19th Bomb group as its operational flying unit, operated Andersen AFB and maintained proficiency in B-29s. In May 1949, headquarters Twentieth Air Force moved from Guam to Kadena AB, Okinawa and its former staff was assigned to the 19th Bomb Wing.

At Andersen, the wing assumed responsibility for administering two active and one semi-active bases plus an assortment of communication, weather, radar, rescue and other facilities and units including the Marianas Air Material Area, a wing size unit. Many of the units and facilities were inactivated with a few months.

In October 1949, the 19th Wing again became subordinated to the 20th AF and the remaining units in the Marianas and Bonin Islands were transferred to other organizations. From October 17, 1949 until June 28, 1950, the wing continued B-29 training, operation of Anderson AFB and some rescue and reconnaissance missions.


Three days after North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, the 19th Bomb Group deployed B-29s to Andersen to begin bombing targets throughout South Korea. A few days later, the group was detached from the 19th Bomb Wing and deployed to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa Island, Japan, though the rest of the wing stayed at Andersen and provided maintenance for transient aircraft and operated ammunition dumps until 1953.

In 1951, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) chose several overseas bases to support rotational unit deployments of its bombers from stateside bases, starting with B-29 Superfortress units and later including Convair B-36, B-47 Stratojet, B-50 Superfortress bombers, and KB-29 refueling tankers.

With hostilities in Korea at a standstill, the 19th Bomb Wing headquarters relocated to Kadena Air Base, Japan in 1953, and was replaced by the 6319th Air Base Wing of the Far East Air Forces (FEAF).

However, the FEAF Bomber Command (FEAF's 19th Bomb Wing and SAC's 98th and 307th Bomb Wings) was inactivated in 1954 and its three B-29 wings returned stateside and replaced with B-47s.

The 3rd Air Division was activated on June 18 in its place, its object being control of all SAC units in the Far East. The division operated as a tenant unit from June 1954 until April 1955, and received host-base support services from the 6319th until that unit was inactivated on April 1, 1955. The 6319th was replaced with the SAC-aligned 3960th Air Base Wing.

The Strategic Air Command continued its 90-day unit rotational training program, and began to take over control over the base from the FEAF. After the April 1, 1955 base transfer and activation of the 3960th Air Base Wing, B-47s replaced the B-36s in the rotations, and the 43rd Bomb Wing from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, operated from July to October 1957 (it eventually became the host unit at Andersen). The 3960th Air Base Wing was redesignated on July 1, 1956 as the 3960th Air Base Group.

Additionally, the 41st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the Pacific Air Forces, along with its F-86s, was stationed at Andersen from August 1956 until it was inactivated in March 1960. After that, the air defense mission was provided by deployments of 5th and 13th Air Force units flying the F-102 aircraft.[4]


Andersen saw an end to its role in rotational duties when the B-47 was phased out and replaced by the B-52 Stratofortress. The first B-52, the "City of El Paso", arrived from the 95th Bomb Wing at Biggs Air Force Base, Texas, in March 1964, followed by KC-135 Stratotankers.

With the start of Operation Arc Light in June 1965, B-52s and KC-135s began regular bombing missions over Vietnam, and continued in that capacity until 1973, with a break between August 1970 and early 1972.

In support of Operation Arc Light, SAC activated the 4133rd Bombardment Wing (Provisional) on February 1, 1966, though the 3960th Strategic Wing, originally activated in 1955 as the 3960th Air Base Wing, continued as the base's host wing until it was inactivated and replaced by the 43rd Strategic Wing on April 1, 1970. The 43rd assumed the mission of the 4133rd on July 1, 1970, and continued in this capacity until the 57th Air Division (Provisional) and 72nd Strategic Wing (Provisional) were activated in June 1972 in support of Operation Bullet Shot. The 303rd Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Wing (Provisional) was activated a month later in July. All of the provisional units remained at Andersen until bombing missions ceased on November 15, 1973.

Operation Linebacker II continued the mission of Operation Arc Light, and was most notable for its 11-day bombing campaign between December 18 and 29, in which more than 150 B-52 bombers flew 729 sorties in 11 days. The B-52s at Andersen, combined with other bombers stationed at U-Tapao Field in Thailand, constituted about 50 percent of SAC's total bomber force and 75 percent of all combat crews. Essentially, two bases contained the equivalent of 13 stateside bomber wings.

The frequent bombings resulted in a cease-fire in Vietnam, but the B-52s continued to fly missions over Cambodia and Laos until those were halted on August 15. With the end of these runs, more than 100 B-52s, both D and G models, were redeployed elsewhere in the world by October 1973. The Eighth Air Force moved to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, and the 3rd Air Division was reactivated on January 1, 1975.

When the Communist forces overran South Vietnam later in 1975, the base provided emergency relief and shelter for thousands of Vietnamese evacuees as a part of Operation New Life. After the fall of Saigon, Andersen received almost 40,000 refugees and processed another 109,000 for onward transportation to the United States.[2]

The base returned to routine operations by the late 1970s, but continued to serve as one of SAC's strategic locations. Crews and aircraft were regularly sent to sites between Australia, Alaska, and Korea, and supported sea surveillance operations support for the U.S. Navy.

Andersen was also home to the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron "Typhoon Chasers" during the 1960s through the 1980s. Aircrews flying WC-130s tracked and penetrated typhoons giving advanced warnings to military and civilian populations throughout the western Pacific. The 54th WRS was deactivated in September, 1987.

A B-1B bomber at Andersen
This B-2 Spirit was photographed in 2004 at Andersen


In 1983, the 43rd completed its transition from the B-52D to the B-52G, and thus became one of only two SAC bomber wings equipped with the Harpoon anti-ship missile.

The base saw a major change in 1989, when control transferred from the Strategic Air Command to Pacific Air Forces. The 633rd Air Base Wing activated on October 1, 1989, which led to the deactivations of the 43rd Bomb Wing on March 26, 1990, and the 60th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on April 30, 1990.

In August 1990, Andersen personnel began shipping over 37,000 tons of munitions to forces in the Persian Gulf in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

With the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in June 1991, Andersen was instrumental in caring for American evacuees and their pets as a part of Operation Fiery Vigil. In December, Andersen became home to the Thirteenth Air Force, which had evacuated from Clark Air Base in the Philippines after the eruption.

Modern Era

The host unit changed again on October 1, 1994, when the 633rd Air Base Wing was inactivated. The 36th Air Base Wing took over host operations, and was redesignated as the 36th Wing on April 12, 2006.

The base is one of the few places in the world where the Space Shuttle is permitted to land, serving as an Augmented Emergency Landing Site for the Shuttle orbiter.[5]

On February 23, 2008, a US B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, one of the most expensive military aircraft in the world, crashed on the base. The USAF said both pilots had ejected safely before the plane, valued at $1.4 billion, came down at Andersen Air Force Base, moments after take-off due to a mechanical failure. This was the first time a B-2 had crashed.[6]

On July 21, 2008, a US B-52 Stratofortress crashed into the sea while on a training mission that was to include a flyover during a parade in Guam remembering the U.S. liberation of the island from Japanese occupation in 1944.

On August 21, 2008, a US district court judge awarded an Air Force member, Master Sergeant Thomas Rutledge, and his wife, Deborah Rutledge, US$7.5 million in damages for a malpractice case against the Andersen base family medical clinic."[7]

B-2s from the 13th Bomb Squadron and 393d Bomb Squadron have taken turns with B-52 aircraft to provide a continuous bomber presence at the base. The most recent four-month deployment by four B2s began in March 2009.[8]

In March 2009, the base announced that it would look into allegations by a whistleblower of environmental violations at the base. The allegations include poaching, illegal trapping of coconut crabs and resale of trophy deer, and paving beaches and stripping vegtation used for nesting by endangered hawksbill turtles and green sea turtles. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility stated that, "The Air Force program for protecting Guam's natural resources has utterly broken down."[9]

The Department of Defense Inspector General (DOD IG) determined that the Air Force responses to the PEER allegations adequately addressed the issues raised. Consequently, DoD IG determined further investigation was not warranted.


Andersen Air Force Base is home to Andersen Elementary School and Andersen Middle School. High school students attend Guam High School in Asan, Guam.

Higher educational opportunities for those in the military and working for the Department of Defense, as well as for family members at Andersen are available through contracted academic institutions such as The Asian Division of University of Maryland University College (UMUC).

See also


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

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  1. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for UAM (Form 5010 PDF), retrieved 2007-03-15
  2. ^ Andersen Air Force Base web page
  3. ^ a b c pacific Wrecks: Anderson AFB
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Space Shuttle Emergency Landing Sites
  6. ^ US stealth bomber crashes on Guam, BBC News, Retrieved on February 23, 2008.
  7. ^ Limtiaco, Steve, "Judge Awards Air Force Couple $7.5M", Pacific Daily News, August 22, 2008.
  8. ^ Dumat-ol Daleno, Gaynor, "Stealth Bombers to Deploy to Guam", Pacific Daily News, February 27, 2009.
  9. ^ Pacific Daily News, "Andersen To Review Alleged Environmental Violations", March 7, 2009.

External links


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