10 things you may not know about Altus AFB's history and heritage

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dillon Davis
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
 Many service members and their families have been stationed at Altus AFB and many others have worked civilian or contractor jobs for the base, but it is unlikely that anyone knows all of the following facts about this installation.

#1 - Construction of the original infrastructure of the Army Air Forces Advanced Flying School, now Altus AFB, began on Sept. 14, 1942. By January of 1943, the school had begun training pilots on multi-engine aircraft in support of World War II.

#2 - U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient, 1st Lt. William R. Lawley Jr., trained at the Army Air Forces Advanced Flying School here before serving over Europe in World War II. He earned the Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts that saved the lives of multiple crewmembers during a bombing mission.

#3 - The Altus Army Airfield was closed in December of 1945 and the following year it was turned into a World War II aircraft surplus base and salvage operation. The scrap metal from the planes was often recycled and used to make various household appliances.

#4 - On January 8, 1953, Altus AFB was officially opened and initially served as a troop carrier wing for Tactical Air Command.

#5 - In 1953, Altus AFB was reassigned to Strategic Air Command and was supplied with a fleet of B-47 Stratojets and KC--97 Stratotankers. With this fleet at Altus, the wing's mission was to provide operational enemy deterrent missions in support of national defense.

#6 - The first KC-135A Stratotankers arrived at Altus AFB on June 6, 1958 and began replacing the aging KC-97 Stratotankers. Beginning with the arrival of the original KC-135A fleet, the refueling aircraft has had many revisions and the current fleet consists of the most updated KC-135R models.

#7 - From 1962-1965, the 577th Missile Squadron of Altus AFB manned 12 Atlas missile silos within a 60 mile radius. The Atlas missiles assigned to the base were intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of launching an attack against enemy threats.

#8 - On December 17, 1969, the first C-5 Galaxy arrived at Altus AFB, making the 56th Airlift Squadron the first operational C-5 squadron in the U.S. Air Force. The C-5 fleet departed Altus AFB June of 2007, but while assigned to the wing, they flew operational and humanitarian missions in addition to the training of C-5 pilots, loadmasters and flight engineers.

#9 - On January 1, 1992, a C-141 Starlifter from Altus AFB temporarily became "Air Force One" as the aircraft and its crew flew President George H.W. Bush into Mogadishu, Somalia to witness firsthand the U.N. relief efforts as part of Operation Restore Hope. Per protocol, any aircraft the President is aboard uses the call sign "Air Force One."

#10 - In late 2007, Altus AFB sent a C-17 Globemaster III and crew members to Edwards and Holloman AFB to work with Michael Bay, Hollywood movie director, and a cast of actors and actresses to help produce the movie "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen". The aircraft was featured in multiple scenes and the coordination allowed the aircrew members to help bring a more realistic feel to the movie's scripting.