Historic California Posts, Camps Stations and Airfields
Beale Air Force Base
(Camp Beale, Army Service Forces Depot, Chemical Warfare Service Depot, Quartermaster Depot, Prisoner of War Camp, Prisoner of War Branch Camp, Beale Bombing and Gunnery Range)
M5 Light Tanks and M3 Half tracks of the 13th Armored Division training at Camp Beale


Camp Beale History
by Lt. Col. Danny Johnson, USA (Ret)

The name Edward Fitzgerald Beale is synonymous with Camp Beale and the later Beale Air Force Base. But did you also know that Beale was a surveyor, an explorer and a Mexican War veteran who made six trips between Washington, D.C. and the Pacific coast, relaying military information. Beale graduated from the Naval Academy and was a Lieutenant and served as a Brigadier General in the California militia. He is also rumored to have traveled to Washington, D.C., as the first person to report news of California's gold discovery. But he is also known as the individual who came up with the idea of using camels to reach distant Western military posts. After he successfully pitched the idea to War Secretary Jefferson Davis, Congress voted in 1855 to spend $30,000 for an experimental American Camel Corps.

The following year the camels started to arrive at the mouth of the Mississippi River. General Beale and a team of men led the camels from New Orleans to Fort Tejon, CA. They subjected the animals to various tests but ultimately found the experiment problematic. Ultimately, some camels headed out into the desert and the rest were sold at auction by the U.S. Army and with the 1937 demise of their last descendant, "Topsy," the American Camel Corps died a quiet death. Beale served as the U.S. Minister to Austria-Hungary during1876-77. He died in Washington, D.C., on April 22, 1893 at age 77. He is interred in Chester, PA.

Camp Beale became Beale Air Force Base and is located 12 miles east of Marysville, California, in Yuba County. The 9th Reconnaissance Wing is now the host unit at Beale flying the U-2 Dragon Lady and the UAV RQ-4, Global Hawk. The 9th Reconnaissance Wing is responsible for providing national and theater command authorities with timely, reliable, high-quality, high-altitude reconnaissance products. To accomplish this mission, the wing is equipped with the nation's fleet of U-2 and RQ-4 reconnaissance aircraft and associated support equipment. The wing also maintains a high state of readiness in its expeditionary combat support forces for potential deployment in response to theater contingencies. The 9th Reconnaissance Wing is composed of more than 3,000 personnel in four groups at Beale and multiple overseas operating locations. The base has been under several commands, including: Air Training Command, Continental Air Command, Aviation Engineer Force, the Strategic Air Command, and since June 1, 1992, Air Combat Command.

Today, there's not much left of the original Camp Beale. In 1940, the "Camp Beale" area consisted of grassland and rolling hills and the 19th century abandoned mining town of Spenceville. Then Marysville, CA city officials encouraged the War Department to establish a military facility partially located in Yuba and Nevada counties. Camp Beale was about 40 miles north of Sacramento and 130 miles northeast of San Francisco, California. The U.S. government purchased 87,000 acres (352 km²) in 1942 for a training post for the 13th Armored Division.

In 1942, the War Department chose land for Camp Beale that lay between the communities of Linda, Smartville, Indian Springs, and Wheatland, and was owned by 150 different persons. Landowners were informed that their land was being taken through the Government's right of eminent domain. Dredge materials from the area's abandoned gold mines were used to build streets at the Camp. At various times throughout its history, Camp Beale was known as Beale Air Force Base; Beale Air Force Military Reservation; Camp Beale Military Reservation; Air Force Facility S-2; Marysville Armored Training Camp; Beale Triangular Division Camp; and Beale Bombing and Gunnery Range.

When Camp Beale was initially established, the first Post Commander was Colonel A.D. Cowley, who arrived on post on June 27, 1942. Construction workers would build barracks, administrative buildings and a hospital that would include 100 buildings and one thousand beds, had replaced barns and homes. Carpenters would construct warehouses, cold storage plants, a bakery, mess halls, chapels, theaters, fire stations, a huge field, a motor pool, maintenance shops, power houses and post exchanges. Railroad sidings stood where wheat fields and orchards had been. Most of this was accomplished in less than six months by Army engineers that would ultimately accommodate 35 thousand people to begin with. Beale would continue to grow during WWII. At its peak, Beale was home to over 60,000 people. There was further construction which included ten chapels, five theaters, and 175 mess halls. In order to gain access to Beale, there were fourteen perimeter gates. Beale even had a small airfield near C Street.

Assigned to the 4th Army, Western Defense Command, Camp Beale was originally established as a training post for the 13th (Black Cat) Armored Division. Authorization for the formation of the 13th Armored Division came in the form of a letter from Army Ground Forces, Washington, D.C., and dated 18 July 1942. The original cadre forming the nucleus for the Division came from the 5th Armored Division, then at Camp Cooke, California, and the 8th Armored Division, then at Fort Knox, Kentucky. This cadre started to arrive at Camp Beale, California, which was to be the first home of the Division, on 3 September, 1942, and on 15 October, at 0001, the Division was formally activated. In the activation ceremonies that day, Major General John B. Wogan, the Division commander, presented the various colors to assigned divisional units. Wogan was a native of New Orleans and a West Pointer. Thus began the career of the 13th Armored Division which took it the width of the United States and over a large part of Europe. The division would depart Camp Beale in December 1943 for Camp Bowie, Texas for additional training.

The division acquired its nickname, the "Black Cats," from its numerical designation, 13th, and from the unofficial insignia prepared for it by Walt Disney. Disney's insignia features a formidable-looking black cat, sitting jauntily under a ladder and unrounded by such other symbols of bad luck-for the enemy-as a "13," an opened umbrella, a broken mirror and spilled salt. The insignia was also featured in an issue of Walt Disney's Comics and Stories. The reasoning behind the black cat and superstitious design elements was the thought that any enemy unit which came up against the 13th would be in for a run of bad luck. A black cat, spilt salt, broken mirror, open umbrella, standing under a ladder and the number 13 are all thought of as so-called "bad luck" symbols. It was rumored t he design was created in the fall of 1942.

From activation day until the end of the year, fillers (both officers and enlisted men) continued to arrive, until the Division was at full strength. During this period, the training concentrated on maintenance of vehicles, short road marches, small arms training, and the shifting of personnel within units to put the right men in the right spot. 1943 saw the Division progress from being a group of small units to the point where it was a unified combat force. Starting with unit RSOP's (Readiness Standard Operating Procedures) and short road marches, organizations worked hard to perfect their assigned mission tasks. In June, units took and passed the ITP (Individual Training Program) test (testing the individual state of training of each soldier).

Pressure was on to meet the requirements of POM (Preparation for Overseas Movement). Because movement overseas was imminent, time no longer permitted tactical exercises for large units; emphasis was placed on checking individual small-unit capabilities. The tests for the Expert Infantryman Badge were given high priority.
Physical conditioning was continued. Weekly nine-mile cross-country marches in two hours, monthly 25-mile marches in eight hours, both for assault infantry and cavalry troops, and less strenuous marches for other troops were required. The most important small-unit training conducted at Camp Beale was the rifle platoon attack on a fortified position from a landing at an assumed beach. This exercise was scheduled for all rifle platoons from the 29th of May to the 7th of June 1944. Over 2,300 men were awarded the Expert Infantryman Badge while at Beale.

As a complete training environment, Army weapons associated with ranges on Camp Beale included Light, Medium, and Heavy tanks, Self Propelled anti-tank guns, 37mm anti-aircraft guns, 105mm howitzers and 81mm and 4.2 mortars. As of 1943, the facilities under control of the range office, a detail of 20 men, included artillery and mortar ranges, Tommy-gun with pop-up targets, landscape and miniature anti-aircraft ranges, moving targets for machine guns and carbines, rifle ranges, anti-tank ranges, and an artillery range with a moving target. Three-fourths of the area comprising Camp Beale was under the jurisdiction of the range office. Although bivouac areas were utilized at Camp Beale for field training exercises they were generally temporary encampments with little or no shelter that were created. In the field during training exercises, bivouacs were used for temporary shelter until permanent structures could be built.

The old mining town of Spenceville, was reconstructed as a German Village consisting of approximately twenty buildings. It was used as a "Combat in Cities" course. In the training scenario, the Village of Spenceville was held by German detachments estimated to be about twenty-five men. They had hastily prepared the Village for defense by installation of roadblocks, booby traps, machine gun and tank emplacements. Units were given the mission of capturing Spenceville and of mopping up the Village.

The 13th Armored Division (Black Cat) would go on to serve in the European Theater of Operations arriving in France on 30 January 1945 and into combat on 10 April 1945. The division would earn campaign streamers for Central Europe and Rhineland as part of Third Army. The division spent 16 days in combat and suffered 1,176 casualties. The division left for the states in July 1945 for additional training for possible duty in the Pacific. The surrender of Japan eliminated the need for the 13th to deploy to the Pacific. The division was inactivated at Camp Cooke, California in November 1945. The 13th would serve yet another day.

In 1943, recommendations were in progress to establish a Chemical Warfare School on the west coast. Camp Beale was selected and on December 13, 1943, the school was opened and designated the West Coast Chemical Warfare School. Four types of classes were initially scheduled to be taught at this school: a Unit Gas Officers Course (4 weeks); a Navy Gas Course for officers (6 days); a Gas Noncommissioned Officers Course (4weeks); and a Navy Gas Course for enlisted personnel that was (3 days). Eventually a CWS Refresher (10 days); a CWS Familiarization (10 days); and an Air Raid Protection Course (6 days) were added.

The Chemical Warfare School began at Beale under the jurisdiction of the commanding general of the Ninth Service Command. On May 14, 1944, the Army Service Forces approved a recommendation to move the school to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. From June 1944 until the close of the war the school, which was renamed the Western Chemical Warfare School, was an activity of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. In 1945, the ASF Depot at Camp Beale was designated as a point for classification, rehabilitation, and repacking of CWS (Chemical Warfare Service) materiel returning from the Pacific Theater. It was responsible for receiving chemical warfare material, such as gas and 4.2inch mortars, classifying the material, packaging serviceable equipment for shipment to designated storage depots or assigning it to salvage. It performed this function through 1947, when it ceased operations as part of the closure of Camp Beale.

A German prisoner of war base camp opened at Beale in May 1944. Initially, several dormitories and storehouses were converted by construction crews into a prison camp. It would grow to seventeen barracks, four mess halls, a canteen, six storehouses and a chapel. All of this was enclosed behind a tall barbed wire-topped fence with two guard towers, and floodlights that watched over the compound. The capacity of the Beale camp was 1200 German soldiers. Branch camps were established in Northern California at Arbuckle, Colusa County, CA (200 Germans); Chico (Camp), Butte County, CA (475 Germans); Davis, Yolo County, CA (250 Germans); Napa, Napa County, CA (250 Germans) and Windsor, Sonoma County, CA (250 Germans). All of the camps provided agriculture manpower to local farms and ranchers. German POW's at Beale also provided manpower for base support operations. All of these camps were closed by July 1946.

During World War II and for two years afterward, more service men and women may have been at Beale than at any other Army post. It served as a personnel replacement depot, which meant that soldiers were sent to Beale temporarily while waiting for their assignments. By September 1945, when World War II ended, Camp Beale's Personnel Replacement Depot had sent over 225,000 men overseas. Others entered the service there, as Beale was also an induction center. Eighty thousand others were processed through Beale's Reception Station before it moved to Fort Ord, California in December 1946.

Camp Beale was also a Separation Center, which discharged 387,174 men and women before it closed in April 1947. With the Center's closure, the Army's mission at Beale was finished. In May of 1947 Camp Beale was placed on surplus status by the Department of the Army, and in September of that year, it was turned over to the War Assets Administration (WAA). A program of facilities disposal commenced, and 70 percent of the buildings were sold and carried away, leaving a huge variety of concrete foundations. The WAA initiated the sale of about 2,000 buildings and other facilities on Camp Beale at this time. In early 1948, the property was withdrawn from the WAA and transferred to the Air Force to become Beale AFB.

In 1948, Camp Beale became Beale Air Force Base (AFB), its mission to train bombardier-navigators in radar techniques. The Base established six bombing ranges of 1,200 acres (4.9 km²) each. The U.S. Navy also used Beale AFB for training. From 1951 on, Beale trained navigation engineers and ran an Air Base Defense School. These additional activities led to rehabilitation of existing Base facilities and construction of rifle, mortar, demolition, and machine gun ranges. Numerous organizations used the training/demolition areas at Beale, including Mather AFB, Castle AFB, McClellan AFB, Travis AFB, Chico Army Airfield, Santa Rosa Army Air Field, and Mare Island Naval Shipyard. In 1958 the first runway was operational.

One year later, the installation stopped being used as a bombing range and the U.S. Government declared portions of Camp Beale/Beale AFB as excess, eventually transferring out 60,805 acres (246 km²). On December 21, 1959, 40,592 acres (164 km²) on the eastern side of the Base were sold at auction. An additional 11,213 acres (45 km²) was transferred to the State of California between 1962 and 1964, and now comprise the Spenceville Wildlife and Recreation Area. In 1964-1965, another 9,000 acres (36 km²) were sold at auction. In deeds for the former Camp Beale property, the Federal Government recommended that the property have surface use only.

Two other Army Divisions, the 81st and 96th Infantry, also trained at Beale. Camp Beale provided a complete training environment for divisional training that included ranges for all of the division weapons plus areas for joint training with Army Air Corps units from bases such as Sacramento and Santa Rosa.

The 81st Infantry Division, and organized reserve unit, was ordered into active military service in June 1942 at Camp Rucker, Alabama and would serve in the South Pacific. The 81st (Wildcat) Division was from the Southern part of the United States. It moved to Hawaii in July 1944 and entered combat on the island of Palau in September 1944. The division would go on to earn campaign streamers for the Western Pacific and Leyte. It also earned the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. The division would serve in combat for 166 days and would suffer 2,314 casualties. The 81st was inactivated in Japan in January 1946.

The 96th Infantry Division, another organized reserve unit, was ordered into active military service at Camp Adair, Oregon in August 1942. The "Deadeye" division was an organized that served in the Pacific area of operations. The division deployed to Hawaii on 28 July 1944 and entered combat on Leyte on 20 October 1944. The division earned campaign streamers for Leyte (with arrowhead) and Ryukyus. The division also earned a Presidential Unit Citation for Okinawa and a Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. The division spent 200 days in combat and experienced 8,812 casualties. The division returned to the United States and was inactivated at Camp Anza, California in February 1946.

Not many people are even aware that during WWII the US Army established the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment composed primarily of Filipino expatriates, Filipino Americans by birth, and white Americans. The Regiment, after training in several California Army posts, transferred to Camp Beale, CA on 8 January 1943 and was attached to the II Armored Corps on 21 February 1943. It temporarily moved to Hunter-Ligget Military Reservation, CA on 2 May 1943. It returned to Camp Beale on 24 September 1943 where it was attached to the Fourth Army on 31 October 1943 and to III Corps on15 January 1944. The citizenship of the troops remained a major issue. On February 20, 1943, Army officers on Camp Beale's parade grounds administered the oath of allegiance, granting citizenship to 1,000 Filipinos. Many in the First Regiment believed that citizenship gave them the right to marry their common-law wives, thus providing family allowances and making these women their federal insurance beneficiaries. An appeal of the miscegenation law fell upon deaf ears, leading the regimental chaplain and the Red Cross to obtain emergency leaves so that couples could travel to New Mexico to become legally married before the regiment went overseas.

When Camp Beale was established in 1942, it incorporated Camp Far West, the earliest United States Army outpost in Superior California, is located about four miles east of the present-day city of Wheatland, near the Bear River, Yuba County, California. In 1849 the United States Government established Camp Far West. Two companies of soldiers were stationed there for about two years as protection for the earliest settlers. It was abandoned in May of 1852. At that time Lt. Davis and a company of about 40 men of Co. E, 2d Infantry were ordered to establish a post in Cottonwood to provide protection to the settlers. The log buildings were left behind but no longer exist. This site served as a graveyard for the post and the emigrant trail. The area is marked by a stone monument but is on private property. Camp Far West, a military post established in 1849 by the United States Government as a protection and resting station for immigrants entering California during the Gold Rush. This army post functioned until 1852, when it was deemed no longer necessary to protect the incoming settlers.

The 13th Armored Division was activated again in 1947, reflagged from the 19th Armored Division, which had been 'placed on the rolls,' but not actually activated, during World War II. The 19th Armored Division was eventually activated just after the war, and allotted to the Sixth Army area of the Organized Reserves (specifically California, Oregon, and Arizona). In 1947, the 19th Armored Division was reflagged as the 13th Armored Division at California's request. In 1952, the division was reflagged as the 63rd Infantry Division in Los Angeles, California, and thus the 13th Armored Division was finally inactivated.

Beale AFB is rich in culture and history and is considered across America as the most popular show place in the United States Air Force, housing the most technologically advanced equipment and aircrafts in the world. The base currently houses within its area historical sites such as 41 World War II sites, 45 homestead sites, and 38 Native American sites which are being maintained and preserved by the Beale Air Force authorities in order to maintain the rich cultural background of the site.


Beale Air Force Base History

Beale is home of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, and is also considered by many to be one of the show places of the United States Air Force. A base steeped in history, it is in the forefront of the Air Force’s future in high technology. Beale is located in northern California about 10 miles east of the towns of Marysville and Yuba City and about 40 miles north of Sacramento, the state capital. Beale is a large base in terms of land and has five gates providing access on all sides of the base. Visitors enter the base through a main gate that local merchants, individuals and the Beale Military Liaison Committee donated $100,000 to construct. The base, covering nearly 23,000 acres, is home for approximately 4,000 military personnel.

Beale Air Force Base spans 23,000 acres of rolling hills in northern California. The base's natural resources are as rich as its significant cultural and historical heritage. Native Americans lived on this land; the mortar bowls they carved into the bedrock lie embedded in a shallow stream. German prisoners of war were held captive on the base during World War II; a block of barred prison cells still stands at the base, and the drawings of the POWs remain vivid on the walls of the prison cells. To preserve these and other historic areas, the base proudly maintains 38 Native American sites, 45 homestead sites, and 41 World War II sites.

Although Beale AFB enjoys a wealth of historical significance and natural beauty, the results of poor environmental practices in the past are evident in some places. Rusted 55-gallon drums fill a trench located near Best Slough, a waterway that flows into the Bear River. The trench is found in a riparian preservation area that is hidden away from most base activity. The drums were discovered in 1985, but their exact origin remains unknown, and the environmental damage inflicted by the drums is decades old. Long-emptied, the drums serve as a reminder of the consequences of irresponsible environmental practices on future generations.

Today, the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at the base achieves its mission in harmony with historical and environmental preservation efforts. Dozens of cattle graze on base lands because of a successful partnership between Beale AFB and local cattle ranchers. A flock of wild turkeys emerges from a field of brush and slowly walks, undisturbed, alongside a bubbling stream.

Unlike most Air Force bases, which since the birth of the Air Force in September 1947 have carried the name of famous aviators, Beale was named for Edward Fitzgerald Beale (1822-1893), the nineteenth century pioneer. Beale graduated from the Naval Academy, served in the California State Militia, led the experiment to replace Army mules with camels, and who was one of California's largest landholders. Camp Beale opened in October 1942 as a training site for the 13th Armored and the 81st and 96th Infantry Divisions. During World War II, Camp Beale’s 86,000 acres were home for more than 60,000 soldiers, a prisoner-of-war encampment and a 1000-bed hospital. In 1948, the camp transferred from the Army to the Air Force.

The Air Force conducted bombardier and navigator training at Beale and, in 1951, reactivated the Beale Bombing and Gunnery Range for aviation engineer training. The base has been under several commands including: Air Training Command, Continental Air Command, Aviation Engineer Force, Strategic Air Command and, on June 1, 1992, the newly created Air Combat Command.

The U-2 began flying for the Air Force in 1956.

In May 1959, Colonel Paul K. Carlton assumed command of the recently activated 4126th Strategic Wing. The first two KC-135s arrived two months later on July 7, 1959. On Jan. 18, 1960, the 31st Bombardment Squadron with its B-52s arrived at Beale to become part of the wing. The 14th Air Division moved to Beale from Travis Air Force Base one week later. On Feb. 1, 1963, SAC redesignated the 4126th as the 456th Strategic Aerospace Wing. SAC used a variety of Air Force bases for dispersal. The 456th Bombardment Wing at Beale AFB deployed Detachment 1 to Hill AFB, which was activated 01 January 1973 and discontinued 01 July 1975. A $2 million dollar alert facility large enough to accommodate seven aircraft was constructed. The first of four B-52s assigned there arrived on 28 December 1973.

On 30 September 1975, the 456th Bombardment Wing inactivated, and the 17th Bombardment Wing activated in its place. On 30 September 1976, the 17th inactivated, and the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., became the 100th Air Refueling Wing and moved to Beale. Many of the people and the tankers that had been part of the 17th now became members of the 100th. The 17th Wing’s B-52s moved to other bases. The 100th ARW stayed at Beale until March 15, 1983, when the Air Force inactivated the wing and consolidated its refueling mission and assets into the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.

From 1959 until 1965, Beale was support base for three Titan I missile sites near Lincoln, Chico and the Sutter Buttes. On January 30, 1959, the Air Force announced plans to conduct surveys in the vicinity of Beale to determine the feasibility for missile bases. Site investigations, topographic explorations, and surveys were performed by the Corps of Engineers Sacramento District. On September 17, Col. Paul Calton, Commander of Beale’s 4126th Strategic Wing, announced that the base would be the fifth Titan I missile installation. Three complexes with three weapons each (3 x 3) were located 25 miles southwest, 37 miles west, and 71 miles northwest of Beale near the respective communities of Lincoln, Live Oak, and Chico. The Corps of Engineers also oversaw the construction at Beale AFB of mechanical, pneudraulics, cryogenic, propulsion, and liquid oxygen shops to support the nine deployed and one spare missile assigned.

Bids were opened on January 12, 1960, in the Empire Room of Sacramento’s Hotel Senator. Peter Kiewit Sons’ Company won the contract to build the silos after submitting a low bid of approximately $30.2 million. Before the job was completed, some 400 modifications to the original plans boosted construction costs to over $40 million. Construction began on January 22, 1960. More than 600,000 cubic yards of rock and earth had to be excavated and reused as backfill. By the time the project was completed, each of the three complexes had received 32,000 cubic yards of concrete, 90 miles of cables, 300 tons of piping, and 1,800 separate supply items. Supervision of the construction initially fell on the Sacramento District; however, this responsibility was shifted on November 1, 1960, to CEBMCO.

There were six wild-cat work stoppages; only one caused an appreciable delay. In the wake of earlier labor strife at other missile sites, the Federal Government established Missile Site Relations Committees for each project. At Beale this mechanism contributed to successful management-labor relations and allowed construction to forge ahead. In addition to good labor relations, the Beale project enjoyed a good safety record. There was only one accident-related fatality.

The first missile was moved to the 4A complex at Lincoln on February 28,1962, where workers encountered some difficulty placing the missile in the silo. Follow-on missile installations went smoothly and the last missile was lowered into Chico complex 4C on April 20, 1962.

On May 16, 1964, Defense Secretary McNamara directed the accelerated phaseout of the Atlas and Titan I ICBMs. On January 4, 1965, the first Beale Titan I was taken off alert status. Within 3 months, the 851st Strategic Missile Squadron would be deactivated.

On July 1, 1979, the 7th Missile Warning Squadron brought the Phased Array Warning System (PAVE PAWS) radar site to Beale. This 10-story structure can detect possible attack by sea-launched ballistic missiles. The 7th Missile Warning Squadron operates a PAVE PAWS phased array radar situated on the outskirts of Beale AFB in south central California. The radar is primarily used to detect submarine launched ballistic missiles. Mock missile attacks, site emergencies and equipment failures keep the Canadian and American crew busy. A routine training session can become a lesson in the unexpected. When the Beale radar picks up a disintegrating spacecraft, usually there's a warning. Once or twice a year, when the system is being used for training, it goes to an operational display over the Pacific, tracking a satellite which is breaking up with pieces all over the place. Following appropriate procedures, the crew runs tests to ensure the pieces are from the same object, providing no-notice training.

On 15 October 1964, the Department of Defense announced that Beale would be the home of the new, supersonic reconnaissance aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird. The 4200th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing activated on Jan. 1, 1965. The new wing received its first aircraft, a T-38 Talon, on July 8, 1965. The first SR-71 did not arrive until Jan. 7, 1966. On June 25, the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, that began as the 9th Observation Group in 1922, and its 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron activated as the 1st Aero Squadron in 1913, replaced the 4200th. The first U-2 arrived from Davis-Monthan on July 12, 1976. Until Jan. 26, 1990, when budget restrictions forced the retirement of the SR-71, Beale was the home of two of the world’s most unique aircraft.

On September. 1, 1991, the 14th Air Division inactivated, and the 2nd Air Force, with a lineage stretching back to World War II, activated at Beale. Second Air Force inactivated on July 1, 1993, and activated at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., that same day. In July 1994, the 350th Air Refueling Squadron transferred from Beale to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., taking the last of the KC-135Q tankers with it. Tankers returned in 1998 when the 940th Air Refueling Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit, transferred to Beale. So today Beale AFB is again the home for the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, the T-38 jet trainer and the KC-135 tanker.

Also, in 1994, Congress directed the reactivation of three SR-71s and their return to operational status by September. 1, 1995. The aircraft were maintained at Beale’s Detachment 2 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Source: GlobalSecurity.com

Beale AFB's Phased Array Warning System (PAVE PAWS) Radar site
Units Assigned to Camp Beale during World War II

 Data Source


 Army of the United States Station List 1 June 1943
Army Ground Forces:
  • 45th Armored Regiment Band
  • 46th Armored Regiment Band
  • Detachment 3, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Special Troops, II Armored Corps
  • 13th Armored Division
    • Headuarters and Headquarters Company
    • Service Company
    • 153rd Armored Signal Company
    • 93rd Armored Reconnaisance Company
    • 45th Armored Regiment
    • 46th Armored Regiment
    • 496th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
    • 497th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
    • 498th Armored Field Artillery Battalion
    • 59th Armored Infantry Regiment
    • 124th Armored Engineer Battalion
    • Division Train
      • Headquarters and Headquarters Company
      • Quartermaster Battalion
      • Maintenance Battalion
      • 83rd Medical Battalion
  • 99th Quartermaster Bakery Battalion
    • Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment
    • Company D, 97th Quartermaster Bakery Battalion
  • 193rd Quartermaster Gasoline Supply Company (less 1st Platoon)
  • 169th Engineer Combat Battalion (to be activated)
  • 170th Engineer Combat Battalion (to be activated)
  • 170th Ordnance Ammunition Battalion
    • Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment
    • 614th Ordnance Ammuntion Company
  • 173rd Engineer Combat Battalion (to be activated)
  • 174th Engineer Combat Battalion (to be activated)
  • 181st Field Artillery Group
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery
    • 273rd Field Artillery Battalion (105mm Howitzer, Truck Drawn)
    • 753rd Field Artillery Battalion (155mm Howitzer, Truck Drawn)
    • 774th Field Artillery Battalion (4.5-Inch Gun)
    • 775th Field Artillery Battalion (4.5-Inch Gun)
  • 219th Military Police Company
  • 241st Signal Operations Company
  • 317th Ordnance Battalion
    • Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment
    • 888th Ordnance Heavy Automotive Maintenance Company
    • 889th Ordnance Heavy Automotive Maintenance Company
    • 904th Ordnance Heavy Automotive Maintenance Company
    • 536th Ordnance Heavy Automotive Maintenance Company
    • 837th Ordnance Depot Company
    • 974th Ordnance Evacuation Company
  • 3524th Ordnance Automotive Maintenance Company
  • 487th Ordnance Evacuation Company (to be activated)
  • 530th Engineer Light Pontoon Company (to be activated)
  • 540th Armored Infantry Battalion
  • 556th Engineer Heavy Pontoon Battalion (to be activated)
  • 723rd Engineer Depot Battalion (to be activated)
  • 1108th Engineer Combat Battalion
  • Headquarters and Headquarters Company
  • 37th Engineer Combat Battalion
    • Headquarters and Service Company
    • 415th Engineer Dump Truck Company (Colored)
    • 610th Engineer Light Equipment Company
  • 209th Engineer Combat Battalion
    • Headquarters and Service Company
    • 613th Engineer Light Eqiopment Company
    • 482nd Engineer Maintenace Company
  • Army Service Forces:
  • 78th General Hospital
  • 224th Station Hospital (250-Bed)
  • 240th Station Hospital (250-Bed)
  • 739th Sanitation Company (Colored) (Medium)
  • 1918th Service Command Unit (Station Complement)
  • 1921st Service Command Unit (Branch School for Bakers and Cooks)
 Army of the United States Station List  7 April 1945
Army Service Forces 
  • 452nd Army Services Forces Band
  • 749th Military Police Battalion
  • 1909th Service Command Unit (Armed Forces Induction Station)
  • 1918th Service Command Unit
    • Area Veterinary Detachment
    • Motorized Packing Squad
    • Station Complement
  • 1990th Service Command Unit (Sub-School for Bakers and Cooks)
 9th Service Command Station List
Army of the United States Station List
1 March 1946
7 May 1946
Army Service Forces
  • 467th Army Service Forces Band
  • 361st Army Service Forces Band
  • 1918th Service Command Unit
    • Station Complement
    • Area Veterinary Detachment
    • Army Service Forces Replacement Depot
    • Film Library
    • Quartermaster Laundry
    • Prisoner of War Camp
    • War Department Personnel Center
      • Reception Center
        • Reception Station No. 14
      • Separation Center No. 42
  • 1937th Service Command Unit (Armed Forces Induction Station)


Camp Beale Army Service Forces Depot
Army Units Assigned to Camp Beale Army Service Forces Depot

 Data Source


  Army of the United States Station List
 7 April 1945
Army Service Forces:
  • Salvage Segregation Center
  • 9197th Quartermaster Corp Technical Service Unit
  • 9312th Ordnance Corps Technical Service Unit
  • 9514th Signal Corps Technical Service Unit
  • 9757th Chemical Warfare Service Technical Service Unit
  • 9831st Corps of Engineers Technical Service Unit
  • 9923rd Surgeon General Office Technical Service Unit

Extract, War Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities, December 1945

Camp Beale Chemical Warfare Service Depot
A sub-post of Desseret Chemical Warfare Depot (now Tooele Army Depot) in Utah, this activity is recorded in the List of Military Posts Camps and Stations in the Continental United States as of 6 November 1945.
Army Units Assigned to Camp Beale Chemical Warfare Service Depot

 Data Source


 9th Service Command Station List
 1 March 1946
Army Service Forces:
  • Detachment, 9732nd Chemical Warfare Service Technical Service Unit (Classification) (Deseret Chemical Warfare Service Depot)
Army of the United States Station List
7 May 1946
Army Service Forces:
  • Detachment, 9732nd Chemical Warfare Service Technical Service Unit (Classification) (Deseret Chemical Warfare Service Depot)
Camp Beale Quartermaster Depot
A subpost of the California Quartermaster Depot in Oakland, this activity is recorded in the List of Military Posts Camps and Stations in the Continental United States as of 6 November 1945.
Army Units Assigned to Camp Beale Quartermaster Depot

 Data Source


 9th Service Command Station List  1 March 1946
Army Service Forces:
  • Detachment, 9190th Quartermaster Corps Technical Service Unit (California Quartermaster Depot)
 Army of the United States Station List  7 May 1946
Army Service Forces:
  • Detachment, 9190th Quartermaster Corps Technical Service Unit (Lathrop Army Service Forces Depot)
Camp Beale Prisoner of War Camp
A large prisoner of war camp with branch camps at Arbuckle and Windsor. Capacity was approximately 1,200 mostly German prisoners. For most of the camp's history it was under the direct control of Camp Beale's 1918th Service Command Unit. It was later transferred to Benicia Arsenal's Stockton Sub-Depot as a branch camp.
Example of Camp Beale Prisoner of War Camp Canteen Script.
POW Camp Gone, But Not Forgotten During World War II
By Chris Kaufman, Marysville Appeal-Democrat
Scattered piles of rubble that were once buildings now cover part of a windswept field on the southern end of Beale Air Force Base.
Nearby, on a foundation of a larger building that was torn down long ago, two small buildings stand quietly, withstanding the test of time.
A look inside the desolate small gray buildings reveal 10 tiny rooms, each with a concrete bench, vertical bars across the windows and a small square opening with wire mesh in the ceiling.
On the light gray walls of these solitary confinement buildings are elaborate drawings of nude women and calendars of days gone by, drawn by prisoners with too much time on their hands.
Although most of the buildings are gone and the prisoners of this place are no longer there, the unmistakable drawing of a swastika on a wall reminds those looking in that these cells were part of a larger home to 1,000 World War II German prisoners of war.
"The Beale POW Camp, more specifically the confinement cell block, serves as the only standing reminder of Camp Beale's significant role in World War II," said Staff Sgt. Nik Waller, a historian with the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base.
In 1944, existing dormitories and storehouses at the site were converted into the POW camp. When the conversion was finished, there were 17 barracks, four mess halls, a canteen, six storehouses which were used for recreation and a chapel. Two guard posts stood on opposite ends of the camp with floodlights that overlooked the camp, which operated from March 1944 until July 1946.
All of the prisoners were enlisted men and were largely from German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's unit that was defeated in North Africa, recalled Don Churchill, who was an Army typist clerk at the base with the 6007th Army Service Unit during those years. Churchill said there were an unknown number of Italian prisoners of war there also, but their numbers were small compared to the Germans.
Prisoners were issued flight caps and denim outfits with the letters PW imprinted on the clothing to identify them as POWs. They wore those clothes until they were released in 1946.
Waller said the POWs were permitted to work on the base as orderlies or out in the fields and orchards of Yuba and Sutter counties. Waller said the POWs were brought here and to other places in the United States because there was a need for workers, and POWs were able to fill that need. Only those that wanted to worked.
"A lot of them already had skills," Waller said, so they were employed for jobs that ran the gamut from repairing shoes and clothes to plumbing, carpentry and working on the railroad. Others worked in the laundry, kitchen and hospitals.
They were paid 80 cents per day as the Geneva Convention rules of war stated, and saved Camp Beale an estimated $3 million, Waller said.
"It kept the POWs actively engaged in something," Waller said. The money allowed them to purchase items at the canteen, such as a two-glass limit on beer, cigarettes, newspapers, ice cream or other items. Profits from the canteens went to buy more than 5,000 books for the prisoners' library, according to Waller. They also had movies and newsreels that were screened for anti-American sentiment.
The prisoners also had access to classes such as American history and English, which were popular with the prisoners, even though they had to pay for the privilege, Waller said. They also had access to a hobby shop, which provided equipment and supplies for watchmakers, carvers and artists.
But while there was much for prisoners to do in the camp, it was still a prison. The 10 solitary confinement cells held those prisoners that did not conform to the rules.
There were also six deaths by hanging at the prison. Waller said no one is absolutely sure if they were suicides or acts of retribution by hard-core German prisoners who thought the prisoners were too comfortable in the setting. The bodies were moved in 1946 from their resting place on a hill near the camp to a cemetery in San Bruno.
Churchill said he has many memories of the prisoners back in 1945 and 1946. He said he worked in a building about one block from the camp. And although he said he never went inside the prison, he was aware of the goings-on inside the camp.
Source: Marysville Appeal-Democrat, October 15, 2000.
Army Units Assigned to Camp Beale Prisoner of War Branch Camp

 Data Source


 Army of the United States Station List  7 May 1946
Army Service Forces:
  • Detachment (Prisoner of War Branch Camp), 3986th Service Command Unit (Stockton Sub-Depot, Benicia Arsenal)
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