Friday, October 10, 2014

TOP STORY >> Little Rock Air Force Base turns 59

By Airman 1st Class Scott Poe
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Little Rock Air Force Base celebrated its 59th Anniversary on Oct. 9. Since the inception of the base, in 1955, partnership has been part of its foundation, and the Team Little Rock partnership would not have been possible without the community 59 years ago.

In 1951, local leaders sent a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force to propose building an Air Force base near Little Rock. In January 1952, the Air Force agreed to the proposal and made plans to build the base. By September of the same year, community members had raised nearly $1 million to contribute 6,100 acres to the establishment of the base.

From the funds raised by the local community, land was purchased from more than 150 landowners and construction of the base began Dec. 8, 1953. By Sept. 10, 1955, air traffic started to flow in and out of the base, and Little Rock Air Force Base was airborne. 

Nearly a month later the base was officially dedicated Oct. 9, 1955. The Secretary of the Air Force, Donald Quarles, and Gen. Curtis LeMay, Strategic Air Command commander, were in attendance as well as approximately 85,000 visitors from the community. 

“Since that time, Little Rock Air Force Base has been home to a wide variety of aircraft and weapon systems that have provided global vigilance, reach, and power,” said Col. Rhatigan, 19th Airlift Wing commander, in his Herk Call newsletter. 

The base has been host to many aircraft and missions including the RB-47, RF-101 Voodoo, KC-97, KC-135, as well as the B-58 Hustler and even the Titan II missiles. Many commanders have come and gone, along with squadrons, groups and wings.

Currently the home of C-130 combat airlift, Little Rock AFB finds itself constantly transforming. All Airmen, civilian and active duty, Guard and Reserve, instructors and students, work in partnership to create one Team Little Rock. 

“Even as we celebrate this year’s anniversary, we’re already making plans for a big 60th Anniversary bash next year,” said Rhatigan. “The Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council is very excited about the opportunity to recognize our rich heritage and to honor the Airmen of Little Rock, both past and present.”

In order to celebrate not only the 59th anniversary of The Rock, but the upcoming 60th anniversary in 2015 as well, the 19th Airlift Wing will be delving into the exciting history of Little Rock AFB and encouraging Airmen and their families to follow suit. 

Look forward to more stories, photos and personal accounts on the official Facebook page and in the Combat Airlifter throughout the year. If you or someone you know has a story to share with the Team Little Rock community, contact the public affairs office at 501-987-5855. 

We look forward to sharing Team Little Rock’s history with you! 

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