Dover Air Force Base Celebrates 75th Anniversary
Only 10 days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Municipal Airport, Dover Airdrome, opened on Dec. 17, 1941, and was assigned to the 1st Air Force.
During World War II the base’s name changed several times: from Municipal Airport, Dover Airdrome, to Dover Army Airbase, Dover Subbase, Dover Army Airfield, and in 1948, it took its lasting name of Dover Air Force Base.
Air Force officials say that over the years the base has seen a variety of missions, ranging from submarine defense, fighter training and rocket testing during World War II, to Dover AFB’s lasting and current mission, airlift.
“This base has gone from a small World War II coastal patrol base, which was looking for German U-Boats
off the coast, to the strategic installation it is today,” said Col. Ethan Griffin, 436th Airlift Wing commander was reported as saying. “Today, Dover’s rapid global mobility capability means that our C-5s and C-17s deliver combat power anytime and anywhere.”
Some of the major units assigned to Dover AFB include: the 45th Bombardment Group, the 312th Air Base Squadron, the 365th Fighter Group, the 83d Fighter Group, the 336th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, the 46th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, the 1607th Air Transportation Wing, the 98th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, the 4728th Air Defense Group, the 95th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and the 912th Military Airlift Group.
Dover AFB is now home to a fleet of 18 C-5M Super Galaxy and 13 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters, operated jointly by the active-duty 436th AW since 1966, and the Reserve 512th AW since 1973. This represents 20 percent of the United States’ outsized airlift capacity, according to Air Force officials, who say those two wings have a combined total force strength of more than 11,000 people.
Air Force officials say that for many years, Dover AFB’s aircraft have delivered combat power and humanitarian relief to points all around the globe, from Vietnam and Afghanistan, to Haiti and Nepal.
Along with the two airlift wings, the base is home to several mission partners, including the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, and the Joint Personal Effects Depot. AFMAO is responsible for the base’s most well-known mission, returning America’s fallen heroes by a dignified transfer. Since it first opened in 1955, Dover AFB’s Port Mortuary has processed the remains of more than 58,000 service members. It has also processed the remains of victims from other countless tragic events, such as the Jonestown mass murder-suicide, the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia, and military personnel killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Air Force officials said.
The Dover AFB has an approximate $629.8 million economic impact on the local area, according to officials.
Read more about Dover AFB’s history here.