Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
George Air Force
Air Field, Victorville Air Force Base)
Army Air Field, circa 1943 (National Archives)
Force Base History
George Air Force Base (19411992) is
a former United States Air Force base located 8 miles Northwest
of Victorville, California, about 75 miles Northeast of Los Angeles,
It was closed by the Base Realignment and
Closure (or BRAC) 1992 commission at the end of the Cold War.
George Air Force Base was named in honor
of Brig Gen Harold Huston George (18921942) on June 2,
1950. A World War I fighter ace, General George directed air
operations in defense of the fortified islands in Manila Bay
at the beginning of World War II. He died on April 29, 1942 in
an aircraft accident near Darwin NT, Australia.
Major Commands to which assigned:
West Coast Air Corps Training Center,
June 26, 1941
Air Corps (AC) Flying Training Command,
January 23, 1942 (Redesignated Army Air Forces (AAF) Flying Training
Command, March 15, 1942 and Army Air Forces Training Command,
July 31, 1943
Air Technical Service Command, November
1, 1945 (Redesignated: Air Materiel Command, March 9, 1946. Airfield
placed on standby and temporarily inactive status, October 12,
1945. Transferred to jurisdiction of Sacramento Air Materiel
Area, May 15, 1947. Designated a sub-installation of San Bernardino
Air Depot, December 15, 1948, Reactivated, November 1, 1950.
Facility remained under Major Command jurisdiction during period
Continental Air Command, April 1, 1950
Air Defense Command, January 1, 1951
Strategic Air Command, July 23, 1951
Tactical Air Command, November 15, 1951
Air Combat Command, June 1, 1992
December 15, 1992
Major Units assigned:
AAF Bombardier School, June 1941
87th Base Headquarters and Air Base Sq,
October 1, 1941 (Redesignated: 87th Air Base Sq, July 18, 1942
April 30, 1944)
Air Corps (later Army Air Forces) Advanced
Flying School, June 26 1941 December 23, 1944
63d Troop Carrier Group, November 18,
1942 May 7, 1943
3035th AAF Base Unit, March 1, 1944 (Redesignated:
4196th AAF Base Unit, November 1, 1945, 2756th Air Force (AF)
Base Unit, August 28, 1948, 2579th Air Base Squadron, May 1
July 18, 1950)
36th Fighter-Interceptor Training Wing,
January 8 December 30, 1943
Army Air Force Radar Observer School,
September 1944 October 1945
434th Troop Carrier Group, October 1,
1945 February 2, 1946
482d Bombardment Group, July 5, 1945
September 1, 1945
1st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, July 18
December 1, 1951
94th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, July
18, 1950 August 15, 1955
452d Bombardment Wing, August 10, 1950
October 26, 1950
116th Fighter-Bomber Wing, November 7,
1950 July 1, 1951, Federalized Georgia Air National Guard
131st Fighter-Bomber Wing, August 7, 1951
December 1, 1952, Federalized Missouri Air National Guard
146th Fighter-Bomber Wing, October 25,
1951 January 1, 1953, Federalized California Air National
479th Fighter-Day (later Tactical Fighter)
Wing, December 1, 1952 October 1, 1971
21st Fighter-Bomber Wing, January 1, 1953
November 28, 1954
456th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, August
8, 1954 August 18, 1955
518th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, January
8, 1955 August 18, 1955
327th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, August
18, 1955 July 2, 1958
329th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, August
18, 1955 July 1, 1967
413th Fighter-Day (later Tactical Fighter)
Wing, October 24, 1957 March 15, 1959
831st Air Division, October 8, 1957
April 20, 1971; December 1, 1980 March 31, 1991
31st Tactical Fighter Wing, March 15,
1959 May 31, 1962
355th Tactical Fighter Wing, June 8, 1962
July 31, 1964
USAF Advanced Flying (later Combat Crew
Training) School, July 1, 1962 January 8, 1965
431st Fighter-Interceptor (later Tactical
Fighter) Squadron, May 18, 1964 October 30, 1970; January
15, 1976 October 1, 1978
32d Tactical Fighter Wing, April 1, 1964
Inactivated and replaced by 8th Fighter-Bomber
(later Tactical Fighter) Wing, July 10, 1964 December
68th Fighter-Interceptor (later Tactical
Fighter) Squadron, June 16, 1964 October 1, 1968
497th Fighter-Interceptor (later Tactical
Fighter) Squadron, June 18, 1964 December 8, 1965
35th Tactical Fighter (later Fighter)
Wing, October 1, 1971 December 15, 1992
37th Tactical Fighter Wing, March 30,
1981 October 5, 1989
World War II
Army Air Field, circa 1942 (National Archives)
George AFB, originally called the Victorville
Army Flying School, was constructed between 1941 and 1943 as
a flight training school. It was renamed Victorville Army Air
Field on April 23, 1943, and after the creation of the United
States Air Force, Victorville Air Force Base on January 13, 1948.
Known World War II units based at Victorville AAF were:
87th Air Base Squadron (November 1941
April 1944) (Administrative Headquarters Unit)
3035th AAF Base Unit, (April 1944
November 1945) (Administrative Headquarters Unit)
4196th AAF Base Squadron, (November 1945
January 1948) (Administrative Headquarters Unit)
AC/AAF Advanced Flight School (June 1941
AAF Bombardier School (June 1941
AAF Radar Observer School (September 1944
516th, 517th, 518th Basic Flight Training
Squadron (November 1941 February 1944)
520th, 521st, 522d, 524th Bombardier Training
Squadron (January 1942 April 1944)
983d, 984th, 985th Bombardier Training
Squadron (July 1942 April 1944)
71st Troop Carrier Squadron (434th TCG)
(October 1945 February 1946) Trained with C-46s, Deactivated.
Training began in February 1942 on Curtiss
AT-9's, T-6 Texan's, and AT-17's for pilots, and AT-11's and BT-13
Valiant's for bombardiers. The first class of flying cadets graduated
on April 24, 1942.
During 1943, the following aircraft were
assigned: C-60A, C-47, C-53, L-4A, L-4E, L-3C, PT-15, L-3B, and
In March, 1944, the 36th Flight Training
Wing was activated as a school for P-39 single-engine pursuit
pilots. The wing also included training crew members in the B-24
On October 12, 1945, all flying operations
ceased, and the base was placed on standby status and used for
surplus aircraft storage (mostly Boeing B-29s, Beechcraft AT-7s,
and AT-11s) Its carekeeper host unit was renamed the 2756th Air
Base Squadron in January 1948 after the establishment of the United
States Air Force.
security checkpoint, Victorville AAF, 21 August 1942 (California
Army Units Assigned to Victorville
Headquarters, Air Corps Advanced
Flying School (2-Engine) (Pilot & Bombardier)
516th School Squadron
517th School Squadron
518th School Squadron
519th School Squadron
520th School Squadron
521st School Squadron
522nd School Squadron
523rd School Squadron
524th School Squadron
Headquarters and Headquarters
Squadron, 86th Air Base Group (Special):
301st Material Squadron (Special)
87th Air Base Squadron (Special)
Air Force Band
Detachment, 1st Communications Squadron
Detachment, 1st Weather Squadron
Detachment, 853rd Ordnance Service
Company K, 32nd Quartermaster Regiment (Truck)
Detachment, 858th Signal Service Company (Aviation)
of the United States Station List
Army Air Forces Bombadier School
Army Air Forces Weather Station
(Type B) (AAF)
Finance Detachment (AAF)
Medical Detachment (Colored)
Veterinary Detachment (AAF)
Detachment, 1st Weather Squadron,
36th Flying Training Wing (AAF)
516th-517th Basic Flying Training
520th-524th Bombadier Training
983rd-985th Bombadier Training
44th Army Air Forces Band (AAF)
87th Base Headquarters and Air
Base Squadron (AAF)
312th Sub-Depot (AAF)
342st Aviation Squadron (Colored)
Detachment 13, 858th Signal
Service Company, Aviation (AAF)
966th Quartermaster Truck Platoon,
Air Base (Colored) (AAF)
Detachment 12, 2053rd Ordnance
Service Company, Aviation (AAF)
of the United States Station List
Army Air Forces Technical School
Third Echelon Repair Shop (AAF)
Section, 68th Army Air Forces
Base Unit (1st Weather Region) (AAF)
544th Army Air Forces Band (AAF)
3035th Army Air Forces Base
Unit (Technical School) (AAF)
Women's Army Corps Squadron
of the United States Station List
Section, 68th Army Air Forces
Base Unit (101st Weather Group) (AAF)
4196th Army Air Forces Base
Unit (Air Base) (AAF)
AAF - Army Air Forces
units | AGF - Army Ground Forces | ASF - Army Service Forces
units |WDC - Western Defense Command
A Waco CG-4A Glider
belonging to 63rd Troop Carrier Group undergoing training at
Victorville AAF. Circa 1942-1943 (California Military Department)
Flight training remained the primary mission
of George AFB throughout the Cold War and a number of bomber,
glider, single engine, twin engine, and jet fighter aircraft were
flown by the various organizations assigned.
George AFB was assigned to Continental
Air Command, October 10, 1950, reassigned to Air Defense Command,
January 1, 1951 reassigned to Strategic Air Command on July 23,
1951, then assigned to Tactical Air Command in November 1951.
Primary USAF Wings Assigned
1st Fighter-Interceptor Wing
The initial USAF unit assigned to George
AFB was the Continental Air Command's (ConAC) 1st Fighter-Interceptor
Wing, being reassigned from March AFB, California on July 18,
1950. Operational squadrons of the 1st FIW were:
The 1st FIW Headquarters was normally assigned
to George, however during its time at George, its 27th Fighter-Interceptor
Squadron was detached to Griffiss AFB, New York for attachment
to the Eastern Air Defense Force (EADF). The 71st Fighter-Interceptor
Squadron was attached to Air Force Reserve/Air National Guard
facility at Pittsburgh International Airport, Pennsylvania, also
as part of the EADF.
Air Defense Command (ADC) was reestablished
as a major command on January 1, 1951. Continental Air Command
lost responsibility for air defense on that date and the wing
was reassigned to ADC.
In May, 1951 the 27th and the 71st were
attached to the 103d Fighter-Interceptor Wing, which provided
administrative and logistical support and operational control,
although the squadrons remained assigned to the 1st Fighter Group.
Air Defense Command planners recognized that the policy of deploying
squadrons over a wide area negated whatever advantages may have
accrued from the establishment of the wing-base plan in 1948.
In the case of the 1st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, a wing headquarters
stationed in California could provide only limited control and
virtually no support to squadrons deployed on the East Coast.
With the exception of the Headquarters and
Headquarters Squadron, and the three fighter-interceptor squadrons,
all 1st Fighter-interceptor Wing organizations and the group headquarters
were reduced to a strength of one officer and one enlisted man
on November 30, 1951, at which time the wing moved from George
to Norton Air Force Base, California. The 94th FIS remained at
George until 1955 when it was reassigned to Selfridge AFB, Michigan.
Other ADC squadrons assigned to the Western
Air Defense Force at George were:
327th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (19551958)
(F-86D, F-102A) Activated at George, 1955. First ADC squadron
to fly the F-102A. Reassigned to Thule AB, Greenland
329th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (19551967)
(F-86D/L, F-102A, F-106A) Activated at George, 1955. First ADC
squadron to fly the F-106A. Inactivated 1967.
The 479th Fighter-Bomber Wing was activated
at George AFB on December 1, 1952. It was redesignated as the
479th Fighter-Day Wing on February 15, 1954, and the 479th Tactical
Fighter Wing on July 1, 1958. Replaced the 131st Fighter-Bomber
Wing at George AFB.
Operational Squadrons were 434th, 435th,
436th and 476th Fighter-Bomber/Tactical Fighter Squadrons. Maintained
tactical proficiency with F-51Ds (195253), later with F-86Fs
Tactical components participated in numerous
exercises, augmented air defenses of the West Coast, and deployed
overseas to support other commands.
Converted to the North American F-100
Super Sabre beginning in September 1954 and to Lockheed F-104C
Starfighter beginning in October 1958. The 479th TFW was first
TAC Wing equipped with the F-100. Trained F-104 pilots of foreign
states, January 1962 August 1963. Had one squadron deployed
at NAS Key West, Florida, (435th TFS) during the Cuban Missile
Crisis of 1962.
During 1964/65 the 23d Air Base Group
at Da Nang AB South Vietnam supported the 476th and 479th TFS
in regular TDY rotations. Their job was to fly MiG combat air
patrol (MiGCAP) missions to protect American fighter bombers
against attack by North Vietnamese fighters.
In April 1965, deployed two squadrons
to Ching Chuan Kang Air Base Taiwan (434th and 435th TFS) and
one Takhli RTAFB Thailand (476th TFS) to provide air defenses
of northern area of the Republic of Vietnam.
Transferred one F-104 (476th TFS) squadron
to Udon RTAFB Thailand in June 1966 to carry out escort and bombing
missions with the F-4Cs at Udon. An additional 12 F-104Cs joined
the 8th TFW at Udon on July 22.
The wing conducted F-104 replacement training
until early 1967. Transferred all F-104s in July 1967.
Retired F-104s and gained two McDonnell
Douglas F-4C/D Phantom II Combat Crew Training Squadrons in December
1965 (4535th, 4452d CCTS), and began F-4 replacement training
in February 1966.
476th TFS inactivated September 1968,
F-4s assigned to 4535th CCTS. 435th TFS inactivated May 1970,
F-4s assigned to 4552d CCTS.
Began training foreign personnel in F-4
operations and maintenance in March 1969, including pilots from
Israel, Iran, Japan, and West Germany.
Inactivated, and replaced by the 35th
TFW, in October 1971.
35th Tactical Fighter Wing
The 35th Tactical Fighter Wing reactivated
at George Air Force Base, Califoinia, on October 1, 1971, where
it replaced the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing. The wing's mission
at George was to take over the mission of training F-4 flight
crews. Its operational squadrons (Tail Code: GA) were:
434th Tactical Fighter Squadron (October
1971 October 1975) (F-4D) 434th Tactical Fighter Training
Squadron (October 1975 January 1977) (F-4E)
4435th Combat Crew Training Squadron (October
1971 December 1972) F-4C, Red/White Tail stripe. 4435th
Tactical Fighter Replacement Squadron (December 1972 January
1976) (F-4E, 1972) (F-4C, 19721976)
4452th Combat Crew Training Squadron (October
1971 October 1973) (F-4D, 1972) (F-4E, 19721973)
21st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron
(December 1972 October 1980) (F-4C) 21st Tactical Fighter
Squadron (October 1980 October 1989) (F-4E) 21st Tactical
Fighter Training Squadron (October 1989 June 1991) (F-4E)
431st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron
(December 1972 October 1978) (F-4D, 1972) (F-4E, January
1976 October 1978)
4535th Combat Crew Training Squadron (December
With the arrival of F-105F/G aircraft from
the 388th TFW at Korat RTAFB, Thailand in July 1973, the wing
began training aircrews for radar detection and suppression or
"Wild Weasel" missions in addition to other F-4 training.
By 1975, with the arrival of new F-4G aircraft, the wing was training
aircrews exclusively in Wild Weasel operations for deployment
to operational units in Okinawa and Germany.
561st Tactical Fighter Squadron (July
1973 July 1980) (F-105F/G), (F-4G, Tail Code: WW July
1980 October 1989)
562d Tactical Fighter Squadron (October
1974 July 1980) (F-105F/G), (F-4G, Tail Code: WW July
1980 October 1989)
563d Tactical Fighter Training Squadron
(July 1975 July 1977) (F-105F/G) 563d Tactical Fighter
Squadron (F-4G, Tail Code: WW July 1977 October 1989)
39th Tactical Fighter Squadron (January
1977 May 1984) (F-4C Tail Code: WW) (January 1976
October 1980) (F-4E, January 1982 May 1984)
McDonnell F-4D-28-MC Phantom II AF Serial
No. 65-0672, 4452th Combat Crew Training Squadron June 10, 1972.
Retired to AMARC as FP0308 on September 20, 1989.
McDonnell Douglas F-4E-43-MC Phantom II AF Serial No. 69-7254/WW
in F-4G configuration awaits its turn at Mojave for conversion
to a 'Red Tail' Full Scale Aerial Target (FSAT) drone. White fin
cap indicates aircraft was assigned to the 563 TFS, deactivated
October 1989. Converted to QF-4G AF-209. Expended as target June
Republic F-105F-1-RE Thunderchief, AF Serial No. 63-8320 of the
561st Tactical Fighter Squadron, 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, George
Air Force Base, California, November 1973. Converted to F-105G
in 1972. This aircraft scored 3 MiG kills in Vietnam with the
388th TFW and is currently on display at the National Museum of
the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
In 1980, the wing received the new F-4G
and its advanced Wild Weasel system. By July 1980, the last F-105G
left George Air Force Base, leaving the 35th with F-4Gs in its
inventory for Wild Weasel training.
Operations at George Air Force Base were
reorganized by mission requirements March 30, 1981. The 35th Tactical
Fighter Wing retained control of the 20th and 21st Tactical Fighter
Training Squadrons and gained the 39th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
With the inactivation of the 39th Tactical
Fighter Squadron in 1985, the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated
the 35th Tactical Training Wing. However, the wing kept its air
defense augmentation responsibility. It provided operations and
maintenance support for the close air support portion of Army
training exercises conducted at the U.S. Army National Training
Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., from 1981 to 1990. Also, the wing
advised specific Air National Guard units on F-4 operations from
1981 to 1991.
The new 37th Tactical Fighter Wing assumed
the 561st and 562nd Tactical Fighter Squadrons active Wild Weasel
missions in 1981. This training ended in 1989 when the 37th TFW
was reassigned to Tonopah Test Range Nevada assuming F-117A operational
Operations at George Air Force Base were
reorganized again October 5, 1989. The 37th Tactical Fighter Wing
and the 35th Tactical Training Wing consolidated all operations
under the newly redesignated 35th Tactical Fighter Wing. Under
the reorganization the 35th regained control of the 561st Tactical
Fighter Squadron and the 562nd Tactical Fighter Training Squadron.
In August 1990, the 35th Tactical Fighter
Wing mobilized in support of Operation Desert Shield. On August
16, 1990, 24 F-4Gs of the 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron left
George Air Force Base enroute to Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain.
Once in the Middle East, its deployed people established operational,
maintenance and living facilities for the 35th Tactical Fighter
Wing (Provisional). These facilities eventually housed more than
60 active duty and Air National Guard F-4s and more than 2,600
During Operation Desert Storm, which started
January 17, 1991, the 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron flew 1,182
combat sorties for a total of 4,393.5 hours. The 35th Tactical
Fighter Wing (Provisional) was credited with flying 3,072 combat
missions for 10,318.5 hours. U.S. Central Command relied heavily
on the wing's Wild Weasels to suppress enemy air defense systems.
The F-4G aircrews were credited with firing 905 missiles at Iraqi
targets, while the RF-4C aircrews shot more than 300,000 feet
of vital reconnaissance film. During operations Desert Shield
and Desert Storm, the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional)
suffered no casualties. The wing's people began returning to George
Air Force Base March 23, 1991, with its aircraft and pilots following
three days later.
The 35th became the host unit for George
Air Force Base when the 831st Air Division there inactivated on
March 31, 1991. As a result, the wing gained several support agencies,
including the 35th Combat Support Group and associated squadrons.
In support of the Air Force's force reduction programs, the 21st
Tactical Fighter Training Squadron inactivated June 28, 1991.
That October, as part of the Air Force's reorganization plan,
the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing was redesignated the 35th Fighter
Wing. A month later, the wing's tactical fighter squadrons were
redesignated fighter squadrons.
In 1992, the 35th began downsizing in preparation
for the closure of George Air Force Base. On June 5, 1992, the
20th Fighter Squadron moved to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico,
and by the end of June, the 561st and 562d Fighter Squadrons were
On December 15, 1992, the 35th Fighter Wing
inactivated and George Air Force Base closed bringing an end to
21 years of continuous service and more than 34 years of total
service for the 35 FW.
North American F-100
"Super Saber", 479th Tactical Fighter Wing 1958 (www.supersaber.com)
Secondary USAF Wings Assigned
52d Bombardment Wing (Light)
As a result of the Korean War, the Long
Beach Municipal Airport, California Air Force Reserve 452d Bombardment
Wing (Light) was mobilized at George AFB and ordered to active
duty August 10, 1950. Four squadrons (728th, 729th, 730th, 731st)
of Douglas B-26 Invaders.
The wing was deployed to Itazuke AB Japan
October 1950. It was the first Air Force Reserve wing to fly combat
missions in Korea.
116th Fighter-Bomber Wing
The 116th Fighter-Bomber Wing was a Washington
Air National Guard unit activated to federal service during the
Korean War. Received five Republic F-84G Thunderjets becoming
the first Guard unit west of the Mississippi River to be equipped
with the jets. On February 1, 1951, as a result of the Korean
Conflict, the 116th Fighter Squadron received new North American
The 116th FBW was ordered to RAF Shepherds
Grove, England, in August 1951 to bolster NATO forces in Europe.
The move was the first time in aviation history that a full tactical
fighter squadron had crossed an ocean.
131st Fighter-Bomber Wing
The 131st Fighter-Bomber Wing was a federalized
Missouri Air National Guard unit during the Korean War. It was
assigned to George during August 1951
The wing trained at George with North American
F-51D Mustangs. It was relieved from active duty and returned
to state control on December 1, 1952.
21st Fighter-Bomber Wing
The 21st Fighter-Bomber Wing was activated
at George on January 1, 1953 with three (72d, 416th and 531st)
Fighter-Bomber squadrons, equipped with F-86F Sabres.
At George, the wing established and maintained
tactical proficiency and provided air defense augmentation. In
December 1954, the wing was assigned to NATO and was reassigned
to Chambley-Bussieres Air Base, France.
413th Tactical Fighter Wing
The 413th Tactical Fighter Wing was activated
at George on November 11, 1954 as the 413th Fighter-Bomber Wing.
It was initially equipped with four (1st, 21st, 34th, and 474th)
Transitioned to the F-100D/F in 1958, becoming
the 413th TFW. The wing trained to achieve and maintain combat
readiness by participation in tactical exercises, firepower demonstrations,
joint training with US Army and US Marine Corps units, and tactical
evaluations. Provided augmentation of Sixteenth Air Force to Morón
Air Base Spain through deployment of assigned squadrons on a rotational
basis, 19581959. The 1st Fighter Day Squadron was commanded
by Lt-Col Chuck Yeager from April 1957 to its deactivation in
The wing was deactivated on March 15, 1959
for budgetary reasons. 34th TFS was inactivated and personnel
and F-100s of three other squadrons were reassigned to incoming
31st Tactical Fighter Wing
On March 15, 1959 the 31st Tactical Fighter
Wing was activated without personnel or equipment at George AFB,
and absorbed the personnel and equipment of the inactivated 413th
The 31st was previously assigned to Turner
AFB, Georgia as a Strategic Air Command fighter wing and had transferred
its F-100s to the 354th TFW at Myrtle Beach AFB South Carolina
in 1956 after SAC turned all of its strategic escort fighters
over to Tactical Air Command. The 31st was maintained as an inactive
"paper unit" by TAC with no personnel or equipment assigned
until it was reactivated at George.
The reassignment equipped three F-100D/F
tactical fighter squadrons (306th, 308th, 309th) which were trained
for operational capability. The 31st TFW was reassigned to Homestead
AFB, Florida on May 31, 1962.
355th Tactical Fighter Wing
The 355th Tactical Fighter Wing was activated
at George on April 13, 1962. Four operational tactical fighter
squadrons (354th, 357th, 421st, and 469th) equipped with Republic
F-105D/F aircraft. Trained in tactical fighter operations and
deployed tactical squadrons overseas as required, primarily to
combat duty in Southeast Asia.
354th TFS deployed to Korat and Takhli RTAFB
Thailand January 24 February 21, 1964, and May 2
September 20, 1964 as a part of the USAF buildup of forces in
The 355th TFW was reassigned to McConnell
AFB, Kansas on July 21, 1964.
32d/8th Tactical Fighter Wing
On April 1, 1964, the 32d Tactical Fighter
Wing was activated and being organized at George. Three fighter
squadrons (68th, 433d and 497th) were equipped with F-4Ds.
On June 18, 1964, the 8th Tactical Fighter
Wing was reassigned without personnel or equipment to George
AFB from Itazuke AB, Japan as part of an overall effort to reduce
the number of wings in Japan. The 8th TFW replaced and absorbed
the resources of the 32d TFW. Operational squadrons of the 8th
TFW at George were:
68th Tactical Fighter Squadron
433d Tactical Fighter Squadron
497th Tactical Fighter Squadron
While at George AFB, the wing trained with
the McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II fighter aircraft. The 68th
TFS deployed to Korat RTAFB Thailand during JulyDecember
1964, with the wing participated in numerous exercises, operational
readiness inspections, and the like.
The entire 8th TFW was reassigned to Ubon
Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand in December 1965 to commence
combat operations in the Vietnam War.
37th Tactical Fighter Wing
The 37th Tactical Fighter Wing was activated
at George on March 30, 1981 with F-4G/E Wild Weasel elements of
the 35th TFW (561st, 562d, 563d TFS).
Squadrons returned to 35th TFW control October
5, 1989. 37th TFW reassigned to Tonopah Test Range, Nevada to
conduct F-117 operations and training.
George Air Force Base was officially decommissioned
in December 1992. In 1993, President Bill Clinton announced a
"Five Part Plan" to speed economic recovery in communities
where military bases were to be closed. One part of this plan
called for improving public participation in the base's environmental
cleanup program. George AFB was among a number of installations
where environmental cleanup was placed on a "fast track"
so base property could be quickly transferred to the community
for reuse. Many of the old base housing homes and buildings are
currently used by the Army and Marine Corps for urban warfare
A Kaman HH-43F "Huskie"
belonging to Detachment 12, 42nd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery
Squadron, December 1972 (California Military Department)
by George Ruhge
Located eight miles northwest of Victorville
was the Air Corps Advanced Flying School established on June
26, 1941. Construction began on July 12, 1941, six months before
the attack on Pearl Harbor. The first unit on the base was the
87th Base HQ and Air Base Squadron that arrived October 12, 1941.
The first base Commander was Major William B. Offutt. Twin-engine
bombardier school began October 1,1941. Advanced training began
on February 25, 1942 and continued until 1945.
The Field became a reality largely because
of the efforts of Victorville civic leaders in 1940. They promoted
the Victor Valley as a site for a government defense project.
This site was 2,200 acres of land, which was increased in the
later years to 5,347 acres.
The first construction was four runways
of concrete 6,500 feet in length and 150 feet in width. They
were poured at a rate of ¼ mile per day. The building
construction was not completed until March 1942. Under the jurisdiction
of the Commanding General, West Coast Air Corps Training Center,
two officers and 14 enlisted men from Mather Field arrived to
form a provisional headquarters detachment. The first group of
instructors for the training schools reported from Mather, Minter
and Stockton Fields in February 1942. Advanced twin-engine pilot
training started on February 24 and four days later the first
class of bombardier cadets reported. The Advanced Twin-Engine
Pilot School used North American AT-6, Curtiss AT-9 and Cessna
AT-17 aircraft, while the Bombardiers School trained in Beechcraft
AT-11 and Vultee BT-13s.
Cadet pilots graduated after nine weeks,
with a new class reporting every month. Bombardier cadets trained
for 13 weeks, with a new class reporting every three weeks. More
than 1,000 pilots graduated at Victorville before 1943 when the
school was transferred.
The name changed to the Victorville Army
Flying School on February 6, 1942, then Victorville Army Air
Field on April 23, 1943 and the Victorville Air Force Base on
January 13, 1948. The Field became George Air Force Base on June
2, 1950. The Base was named in honor of Brigadier General Harold
Huston George, a World War I fighter ace. General George directed
air operations in defense of the fortified islands in Manila
Bay at the beginning of World War II. He died on April 29, 1942
in an aircraft accident near Darwin, Australia.
Also attached to the Field were the 24
bombing targets ranges, a radio range station, Hawes Auxiliary
field No. 1, Helendale Auxiliary field No. 2, Mirage Auxiliary
Field No. 3, and Grey Butte Auxiliary Field No. 4.
Victorville added an advanced glider pilot
school when two squadrons of the 63rd Troop Carrier Group arrived
from Stuttgart, Arkansas. The glider pilots trained in the CG-4A
in the art of flying cargo with emphasis on towing technique,
spot landing proficiency and night flying. Gliders were pulled
aloft by the Douglas C-47 Skytrain Cargo aircraft. Glider training
moved to Lubbock Field, Texas after graduating 764 pilots.
During 1943, such aircraft as the C-47,
C-53, C-60A, L-3B, L-3C, L-4C, PT-15 and CG-4A operated at Victorville
Field before transferring out, leaving only the bombardier training
aircraft, AT-11s and BT-15s.
In March 1944, the base began training
Bell P-39 Air Cobra pilots. The first class of 311 pilots received
a maximum of 10 hours of P-39 transition training. Before October
1944, when the school was moved to Luke Field, Arizona, 1,887
P-39 pilots graduated from Victorville Field.
The war years also saw B-25 and B-24 training
at Victorville Army Air Field.
At the end of World War II, Victorville
Army Air Field was no longer needed as a training base. On October
12, 1945, all flying operations ended and the Base was placed
on standby status. Then the Base was assigned to the Air Technical
Service Command on November 1, 1945. The mission was to store
surplus B-29s, AT-7s and AT-11 aircraft. The first of 734
B-29s arrived on October 18, 1945.
By May 1947, the Victorville Army Air
Field's jurisdiction passed to the Sacramento Air Materiel Area
and later to the San Bernardino Air Materiel Area. By October
14, 1948 the last of the stored aircraft had been flown to other
In July 1950 the 1st Fighter Interceptor
Wing staged through George Air Force Base to train in the new
F-86 jet aircraft prior to deploying to Korea.
On November 15, 1951 the Tactical Air
Command took over the Base with the 131st and 146th fighter Bomber
Wings flying F-51 Mustangs. The 1st fighter Interceptor Wing
moved down the road to Norton Air Force Base. The 94th Fighter
Interceptor Squadron at George Air Force Base flew the F-86 in
a defense role.
Both wings at George Air Force Base began
trading in their F-51 fighters for T-33s in late 1952. By January
1953 the 479th Fighter Bomber Wing absorbed the 131st mission
and became the host unit. The new wing began receiving new F-86F
Sabres and then F-86H models.
Six hundred fifty units of Wherry housing
were also completed in mid-1951.
George became the Tactical Air Command's
(TAC) first supersonic Base with the arrival of the F-100s in
mid-1954. New runways were completed in the fall of 1954. The
479th became the first TAC wing to become operational in the
new supersonic F-100 Super Sabre jets in September 1954.
In July 1958 the wing became the first
in TAC to fly the F-104 Starfighter. The following year the F-100D
equipped 31st Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) was activated at George
Air Force Base. That wing was reassigned to Homestead Air Force
Base in Florida in May 1962.
The 32nd TFW was activated to train in
the new F-4C Phantom II tactical fighters. Also in the early
1960s the 355th TFW was activated to fly the 105D Thunderchiefs.
This wing was transferred to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas
in July 1964 after two years training at George Air Force Base.
The 479th received its first F-4C Phantoms
in November 1964 and it became an all-Phantom wing in June 1967
when the last of the F-104s left.
On October 1, 1971 the 35th TFW designation
was transferred from Phan Rang Air Base, Vietnam to replace the
479th TFW, which was inactivated. The mission continued to be
one of training pilots to fly the F-4 but in 1973, the wing gained
the F-105G Wild Weasel mission upon its transfer from McConnell
Air Force Base, Kansas.
The USAF hospital was completed on May
24, 1971. A major Wherry housing renovation project began in
the spring of 1976 and was finally completed in 1980. An electronic
countermeasures facility was completed on March 14, 1979.
In June 1980 three 35th TFW F-105Gs flew
their last operational mission from George Air Force Base. Most
transferred to the 116th TFW, an Air National Guard unit based
at Dobbins Air Force Base, Georgia or to the "Boneyard",
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
The 831st Air Division was reactivated
in December 1980 becoming George Air Force Bases' senior unit.
Training of American and German pilots on the F-4s continued
through the 1980s.
In response to the August 2, 1990 Iraqi
invasion of Kuwait, the 831st Air Division and the 35th TFW began
sending troops and aircraft to the Middle East in support of
"Operation Desert Shield". After the conclusion of
"Operation Desert Storm" the 831st Air Division was
inactivated on March 31, 1991.
George AFB was closed on December 15,
1992 and slowly evolved into an industrial park.
References: U.S. Air Force
History of George Air Force Base, December 10, 1992; George Air
Force Base 479th Fighter-Day Wing, Army and Navy Publications,
1954; The Development of the Army Air Force, San Bernardino County
Library, 1996; History of the Victorville Army Flying School,
San Bernardino County Library, 1996.
Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities,
Mobilization (Quartermaster Corps 700-Series
or Corps of Engineers 800-Series):