Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Travis Air Force Base
(Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base, Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base)
Travis AFB is named in honor of Brigadier General Robert F. Travis, who was killed in a B-29 crash at the installation on 5 August 1950. At the time of his death, the general was commander of the 9th Heavy Bombardment Wing and was the base's commanding general. Formal dedication ceremonies were held on 21 April 1951.
Although today Travis is the home of the largest airlift organization in the Air Force, it began as an isolated airstrip with a few tar paper shacks set in the middle of a wind-swept prairie during World War II. Activated on 11 May 1943, the field was named Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base, after the two closest--mostly agricultural--towns. Planned shortly after Pearl Harbor, the base served as home for medium bombers and fighters assigned to defend the West Coast. The first runway and temporary buildings were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the summer of 1942. They were used initially by Army and Navy fighter planes for takeoff and landing practice. For a few months, the outline of an aircraft carrier's deck was painted on the runway to help newly-commissioned Navy pilots practice maneuvers. The strong local prevailing winds nearly duplicated those at sea.
Shortly after construction began, however, the base's potential as a major aerial port and supply transfer point for the Pacific theater led the Army Air Corps to assign it to the newly-designated Air Transport Command. The base officially opened 1 June 1943, with a primary mission of servicing and ferrying tactical aircraft from California across the Pacific to the war zone. By 1945, the base had become the West Coast's largest aerial port. The airlift of troops and supplies to occupied Japan and Korea, and the processing of war-weary returning GIs, had become the primary mission. On 1 June 1948, the Military Air Transport Service assumed jurisdiction. In July, two of the base's air transport squadrons left for Europe to assist in the Berlin Airlift.
On 1 May 1949, the Strategic Air Command became the parent major command for the base, turning it into a major long-range reconnaissance and intercontinental bombing installation. For the next nine years, airlift operations became secondary while the base served as home for SAC bombers such as the B-29, B-36, and eventually, the B-52. During this period, new hangers appeared, runways were added and widened, and permanent barracks and family living quarters were built. The base grew to its present size which encompasses 6,258 acres.
MATS resumed command of Travis AFB on 1 July 1958, after SAC's new dispersal policy led to the transfer of the 14th Air Division to Beale AFB, California. The base became headquarters the 1501st Air Transport Wing--1955; for MATS's Western Transport Air Force (later Twenty-Second Air Force)--1958; and the 60th Military Airlift Wing (later the 60th Airlift Wing, later the 60th Air Mobility Wing)--1966. The 60th replaced the 1501st as the host unit on Travis on 8 January 1966. The 349 MAW (USAF Reserve) joined with the 60th when it moved from Hamilton AFB, California, in 1969.
Travis became part of the Air Mobility Command on 1 June 1992, when assets from MAC and SAC were fused into a single team. AMC's primary mission is mobility for America's armed forces. Travis supports this capability by deploying air and air mobile forces anywhere in the world, and sustains them in a conflict. The base has become the largest in AMC in terms of aircraft and personnel. The only wing to fly both the C-5 "Galaxy" and the C-141 "Starlifter," the base added the KC-10 "Extender" to its inventory in 1994.
With the addition of the KC-10 community, and with other force structure changes, Travis AFB's construction budget for Fiscal Years 1993 through 1997 totalled nearly $1 billion.
Two major facilities completed in 1995 included a new Child Development Center and the largest Base Exchange in the Army and Air Force Exchange System.
Known as the "Gateway to the Pacific," Travis handles more cargo and passenger traffic through its aerial port than any other military air terminal in the United States. Additionally, the base has had a long and proud history of supporting humanitarian airlift at home and around the world. Today, the Travis Team includes approximately 7,260 active military, 3,770 civilians, and 4,250 reservists.
Fairfield-Susuin AAF by Justin M. Ruhge
Located at Fairfield, the airfield was established on May 17, 1943. Construction began on July 6 1942. The field was occupied on June 1,1943 by the 23rd Ferrying Group. It became the Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base on January 13, 1948. The name was changed to Travis Air Force Base on October 20, 1950 and named in honor of Brigadier General Robert Falligant Travis who commanded the 8th Air Force's 41st Combat Wing during World War II. He personally led 35 combat missions. He was Commander of the 9th Heavy Bombardment Wing in Strategic Air Command's 15th Air Force when he died on August 5, 1950 in a crash of a B-29 at the field that bears his name.
Operations changed from processing and ferrying of tactical aircraft to airlifting troops and cargo after November 1944. Major construction programs included replacement of temporary buildings with permanent structures, installing underground fuel pipelines to Suisun Wharf and expansion of hangars, runways and parking aprons between 1945 and 1946. A hospital and other facilities were added in mid-1945, which enabled the base to serve as the west coast's aerial embarkation and debarkation point for the Pacific Theater. The primary base mission was changed to long-range reconnaissance and strategic bombing when the Strategic Air Command (SAC) assumed jurisdiction of the base in May 1949.

Additional Online Histories
America’s First Choice: A Brief History of the 60th Air Mobility Wing and Travis Air Force Base
Known Units at Fairfield-Suisun AAF
1504th Army Air Forces Base Unit (West Coast Wing, Pacific Division, ATC)


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Updated 8 February 2016