_ Home your visit our history museum collection restoration hangar educational activities museum news donations join us contacts & links

OUR HISTORY

_
McCHORD AFB - 1950 TO 1970
"Locate and Liquidate"

x
F-94A Starfires from the 318th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and it's sister squadrons from the 325th Fighter-All Weather Wing flew the interceptor been 1950-1952.
 
 
1950-1955
 

The original design of the 62 Wing insignia can be seen on the tail of this 62nd Troop Carrier Wing C-124C. 

In the early 1950's, McChord would begin an association with one of World War II's most historic units with the transfer of the 325th Fighter All-Weather Group from Moses Lake AFB, WA. In WWII squadrons of the 325th FG or "Checkertail Clan" flew well over 550 combat missions with more than 500 victories where 27 pilots achieved Ace status. The 325th along with the 317, 318 All-Weather Fighter Squadrons were components of the newly assigned 325th Fighter-All Weather Wing.

 Shortly after ther transfer to McChord the 317th, 318th Fighter (AW) Squadrons (and the 319th based at Moses Lake AFB) would become McChord first "jet" units and the first Continental Air Command units to fly all-weather jet interceptors with their transition into the Lockheed F-94A Starfighter after flying the North American F-82G Twin Mustang, the last piston engine fighter ordered into production by USAF. In September 1951 the 25th Air Division (Defense) relocated its headquarters from Silver Lake, WA to McChord AFB, the beginning of a 49 year relationship between the base and the division.

During the early 1950s, the second major construction period began at McChord. Much of the work was carried out to accommodate new aircraft and associated equipment. New fighter operational facilities and the air defense tracking system facility were constructed. The runway was lengthened to 8,100 feet. Temporary World War II facilities were upgraded or replaced.

On June 1, 1950, the 62d Troop Carrier Wing was inactivated. The 62d Troop Carrier Group, together with the 7th and 8th Troop Carrier Squadrons, moved for a short time to Kelly Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, while the 4th TCS was temporarily transferred to Japan. On September 17, 1951, the 62d Troop Carrier Wing was once again activated at McChord AFB. Shortly thereafter, the 62d Group and its three flying squadrons, the 4th, 7th and  8th, again assigned to the 62d Wing, returned to McChord. At the Base the 7th TCS received the first of five Douglas C-124 Globemaster II's to the Group.

Not two years had passed, however, before the 62d was once again on the move. Now fully equipped with the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, which the 62nd had just proven as a viable platform for live paratroop drops, the Wing took command of Larson AFB (formerly Moses Lake AFB) in central Washington, on  April 1, 1952. The 1705th Air Transport Group became the main transport unit at McChord.

A good deal of traffic, both personnel and supplies, passed through McChord during the 1950's in support of the United Nations operations in Korea. This activity was supported initially by the 62d TCG, later by the 1705th Air Transport Group after the 62d's move to Larson AFB. The 1705th ATG assisted in the operation by Royal Canadian Air Force Canadair CL-2 North Stars. The North Star, a  re-engined C-54 manufactured in Canada, were flown at McChord by  Canadian Air Transport Command's 426th (Transport) Squadron between 1950 and 1953. 

 

Royal Canadian Air Force Canadair CL-2 North Star. The CL-2 is the Canadian built Rolls Royce Merlin powered version of the Douglas C-54G Skymaster.

On February 6, 1952 the 325th Fighter-Interceptor Wing and the 325th Fighter-Interceptor Group was deactivated and replaced by the 4704th Air Defense Wing and the  567th Air Defense Group both activating at McChord on February 1, of that year. The 4704th ADW and the 567th ADG absorbed all personnel, equipment and responsibilities of the 325th FW and the 325th FG.

As the 317th prepared to convert from F-94 Starfires into North American F-86D Sabre "Dog" interceptors, the 318th FIS "Green Dragons" prepared for a move to transfer to Thule, Greenland, a new squadron, the 465th FIS stood up February 18, 1953 flying F-86D aircraft.  An Air Defense Command program to reactivate historic Groups and Squadrons named "Project Arrow" the 465th FIS was redesignated as the 318th FIS and the 567th AD being redesignated as the 325th Fighter Group (Air Defense).

 
 
1955-1960
 
Crews service a 317th FIS North American F-86D before its next mission. 

On October 18, 1956 the 325th Fighter Wing (Air Defense) reactivated; the 325th FG(AD) continued to serve under the wing through March 25, 1960. The end of 1956 was also the end for the F-86D's assignment with the 317th FIS after their last aircraft left for California on November 20th in preparation for the newest weapon in Air Defense, the F-102A Delta Dagger. The Convair built jets would soon be flown by both McChord based fighter Squadrons after the first TF-102A (a training version of the Delta Dagger) arrived for the 317th on December 13, 1956, and the first three F-102As for the 318th on January 6, 1957. During 1957 the 317th FIS was awarded the Hughes Trophy for its excellent performance during 1956. The award is presented annually to the top Air Force Squadron with an air defense mission.    

On August 15, 1957, all personnel and equipment of the 317th FIS  transferred  from McChord and the Air Defense Command  to a new assignment at with the Alaska Air Command (AAC) at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. The 317th replaced 3 AAC Fighter Interceptor Squadrons equipped with Northrop F-89 Scorpions.  One squadron 64th FIS "Scorpions" would move to McChord and transition into the F-102.

By treaty agreement in August 1957, Canada and the United States agreed that air attack against the North American continent will be opposed by both countries contributing forces, real estate and equipment under a single operational agency, the North American Air Defense Command or NORAD. The 25th NORAD Region became one of nine regions under NORAD command.  Construction began on the Division's three Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) systems. The SAGE system was the first major real-time, computer-based command and control system designed to protect the United States from long-range bombers and other weapons

 

 
  F-102A from the 64th FIS / 325th FW landing at McChord in 1957.
 

On January 8, 1958 , The Seattle Air Defense Sector (SeADS) was activated  McChord AFB, and became the first SAGE sector in the 25th Air Division and the Western United States. By  1960, the 25th AD contained 3 sectors Seattle ADS (SeADS), Spokane ADS (SPADS) headquartered at Larson AFB, in central Washington, and the Portland ADS (POADS) headquartered at Adair Air Force Station, Oregon. In addition to the Air Defense Sectors, the 25th also contained the 7th Region, (which replaced the 31st Artillery Brigade, AD in 1960) from the U.S. Army's Air Defense Command, responsible for the services air defense missiles in the Division. Activation of the final SAGE system (POADS) occurred on June 18, 1960    

In 1958, 25th Air Division units representing the Western Air Defense Force (ADC) participated in the USAF's newly revamped weapons competition, the William Tell Weapons Meet. The competition, which began as a rocket and gunnery meet in 1954, was converted into competition to challenge the skills of air defense units and their weapons. WWII fighter Ace Col. Charles King, Commander of McChord’s 325th Fighter Wing led a team from the 318th FIS and its F-102's into battle 12 other teams (including a team from the 322d FIS, Larson AFB) for the coveted Richard I. Bong trophy, the highest award at William Tell 1958.    

In 1959 the 25th AD's 460th FIS "Tigers" from Portland IAP, OR won the F-102 category of the William Tell Air to Air Weapons Meet while the 538th FIS from Larson AFB, WA took the F-104 Starfighter category during the same competition. The William Tell Meet is a bi-annual test of aerial marksmanship between the few of the best Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons in the Air Force. 

On December 31, 1959, the 62d Troop Carrier Wing relinquished command of Larson AFB, WA and Military Air Transport Service (MATS) turned that base over to the 462d Strategic Aerospace Wing of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Meanwhile, the Air Force reorganized the structure of its wings, and the 62nd Troop Carrier Group, along with the other groups under the Wing, inactivated January 8, 1960. The Wing assumed direct control of its flying squadrons and aircraft. On June 1, 1960, the 62nd moved back to McChord as a tenant unit. The 1705th also flying C-124s was inactivated.  

 
 
1960-1965
 
 

KC-135A S/N 59-1504 is christen as the "City of Tacoma" during this 1960 ceremony at  McChord AFB. After flying with various units the tanker returned to Fairchild's 92nd (Air Refueling) Wing as a KC-135T.  

 

The Strategic Air Command positioned a squadron of KC-135 tankers at the base in June 15, 1960. The new unit, 22d Air Refueling Squadron, was an element of the 92d Bombardment Wing (Heavy) based at Fairchild AFB, WA. The arrival of the 22d ARS brought a few changes to McChord. On the Bases aircraft parking ramp huge banks of night lighting fixtures were installed on what was to be called the "SAC ramp", nearby a SAC Alert building would be occupied by KC-135 aircrews. After a 2 year stay at McChord, the 22nd ARS was deactivated on July 1 1962. 

An important piece of the Air Defense puzzle arrived at McChord on March 24, 1960, it was the USAF's  most advanced Interceptor, the Convair F-106 Delta Dart. The capable F-106 was to replace the F-102's of 318th FIS. By June 1960, McChord's other fighter squadron; the 64th FIS would be reassigned to Paine AFB, WA. But McChord would later (on July, 1 1963) add an additional F-106 squadron, the 498th FIS "Geiger Tigers" from Geiger Field, WA. To accommodate the higher performance Interceptors, McChord runway was again lengthened to its current 10,100. 

In June 1961, during Operation Queens Row the U.S. Government transferred 56, two- seat F-101B Voodoo fighters  plus 10 dual control F-101Fs to the Canadian Air Force. The 25th AD's 409th Squadron began replacing their worn Avro CF-100 Canuck in July 1961.

 

325th Fighter Wing F-106A's on patrol over Alaska. The 318th FIS and the newly assigned 498th FIS were the first Delta Dart units to deploy to Alaska to defend our northern border against Soviet agression.

 

In a move to strengthen the air defense of Alaska, the U.S. Air Force deployed ten F-106 Interceptors from the 325th Fighter Wing to maintain 24 hour strip alerts at Elmendorf AFB, King Salmon, and Galena Airfields. The 318th and 498th Fighter - Interceptor Squadrons  maintained a continuous rotation until December 1965 in this operation codenamed "White Shoes" and later "College Shoes". Later additional F-106 squadrons across the Air Defence Command assisted in this deployment until its end in October 1970. During this busy period the 318th FIS won a very convincing victory at the 1963 William Tell Air to Air Weapons Meet.     

The dominance of McChord units in their respective competitions was also displayed that year by the 62d Troop Carrier Wing, the unit took top honors in the MATS Airdrop Competition, the unit also received its first Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period of  January 1961 thru November 1962.

During Easter weekend 1964, residents of Alaska suffered the most devastating earthquake and tidal waves ever recorded on the American continent. The 62nd responded with 23 C-124 sorties, bringing one million pounds of supplies, including 115 beds, 667 mattresses, 250 crates of infant formula, more than a ton of charcoal briquettes, 5,400 pounds of canned soup, and about a ton of blankets and bedding for displaced Alaskans.

 
 
1965-1970
 

By  January 1, 1965, the Wing had been redesignated 62nd Air Transport Wing (Heavy). The redefinition brought more flying hours, more missions, and more personnel, making the 62nd one of the largest wings in MATS. With the increasing commitments in the ever-growing conflict in Southeast Asia, the 62nd continued to grow. On January 1, 1966, MATS became the Military Airlift Command (MAC). By January 8, of the same year, the Wing became the 62nd Military Airlift Wing (MAW). In September McChord AFB gained a Reserve C-124 unit, the 941st Military Airlift Group, formally based at Paine Field, WA flying C-119's.  

The 318th FIS won the right to attend their second William Tell Weapons Meet placing forth in the competition, William Tell 65 was also the first  for the Royal Canadian Air Force flying their CF-101 VooDoo's.

In an effort to bolster the air defense of Southeast Asia, F-102's from 64th FIS based at Paine AFB  were flown to California in preparation for their deployment the region. On June 14, 1966 F-106's from 498th FIS left McChord for their new assignment as a  replacement for the 64th at Paine AFB. The squadron would remain at the base until their deactivation on September 30, 1968.  

 

 
 

Miss Washington 1966 Sandra Marth assisted by former 8th Military Airlift Squadron Commander Lt Col. George Demmon prepares to christen C-141A 65-000277 the "Tacoma StarLifter"

On August 5, 1966, a new era began for the 62nd, and McChord AFB, when the first Lockheed C-141A StarLifter  s/n 65-000277 piloted by then 8th Military Airlift Squadron Commander Lt Col. George Demmon arrived to McChord from the Lockheed factory in Georgia. On August 9,  Miss Washington 1966 Sandra Marth assisted by Lt Col. George Demmon christen the Wings new C-141A as the "Tacoma Starlifter" during the bases official acceptance ceremony.  Tragically  on the morning of September 7 of that year the Wing suffered its first C-141 loss when one of their four assigned StarLifters under routine maintenance exploded and burned on the McChord ramp killing two injuring four. The aircraft 65-000281 was the second aircraft assigned to the Base.

As C-141's arrived they were quickly pressed into service, flying troops and supplies into action in Southeast Asia unfortunately 62d MAW C-141's were involved in two fatal accidents. On March 22, 1967 C-141A 65-9407 was lost after a collision with a A-6 Intruder on the runway at Da Nang, Vietnam, 5 of the six crewmembers were lost. On  April 12, 1967 a second C-141A (s/n 66-0127) was destroyed with its crew during takeoff Cam Ranh Bay, Republic of Vietnam.

In 1967, McChord F-106's were the first F-106's to have in-flight refueling installed in their interceptors. On November 20, 1967, 10 F-106's using their new in flight refueling capability, the "Green Dragons" flew non-stop from McChord to Tyndall AFB FL and successfully intercepted drone targets with live air to air missiles. The squadrons mission was the longest non-stop flight for the F-106 at that time.           

The 62d MAW gained two additional flying squadrons in 1967. The 19th Military Airlift Squadron (MAS), from Kelly AFB, Texas, was assigned on July 1. The 28th MAS from Hill AFB, Utah, assigned July 7 (these squadrons did not remain with the 62nd very long, as the 28th inactivated on April 8, 1969, and the 19th on December 22, 1969). During the first half of 1967, the Air Force coped with the phase out of C-124s and the influx of C-141s by assigning the new StarLifters to the 4th and 8th Military Airlift Squadrons, while leaving the C-124s for Alaskan duties in the able hands of the 7th MAS. Later that year the 62d won its second Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the period of July 1965 thru July 1966.

 

A fully armed Soldier guards F-106's from the 318th FIS standing on strip alert in Korea during the Squadron’s deployment code named “College Cadence”.

 

Following the seizure of the USS Pueblo by North Korean forces in January 23, 1968, F-106's of the 318th FIS were pressed into action to defend US interests in the area. On February 12, 1968 the 318th with assistance from the 62d MAW, deployed 18 interceptors and 400 personnel to Osan Air Base, South Korea, during the buildup of American forces. The mission codenamed  "College Cadence" marked the first overseas deployment for any F-106 unit. During their 6-month deployment, the 48th FIS from Langley AFB, VA was temporarily assigned to McChord to supported the 318th's air defense commitment. On January 28, 1968 McChord AFB's reserve C-124 unit the 941st MAG was recalled to active duty to  support US forces related to the "Pueblo Crisis". 

On July 1, 1968 the 325th Fighter Wing was deactivated and relinquished control of McChord AFB to the Military Airlift Command's 62d Military Airlift Wing. The 62d MAW assumed all host unit responsibilities at the Base. Months later the 325th FW and the 318th FIS was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious achievement in support of military operations for the period of June 1967 to March 1968. It was in that month that the 62nd gained MAC's second associate airlift unit, the 939th Military Airlift Group. The 939th came to McChord from Portland International Airport where it flew C-119's.  

The Aerospace Defense Command nominated the 318th FIS for the 1968 Hughes Achievement Award. The "Green Dragons" placed second in one of the closest contests for the coveted Hughes Trophy.   

On April 23, 1969 highly decorated 318th FIS pilot Maj. Clyde Falls, Jr. died in the crash of his F-106A, s/n 59-0148 (the last F-106 produced). In Southeast Asia Maj. Falls spent a little more than one year flying F-105 "Wild Weasels"  during raids deep in North Vietnam. For his bravery in combat in the sky's of Southeast Asia  Maj. Falls earned four Distinguished Flying Crosses fifteen Air Metals and the nations third highest award for combat valor, the Silver Star.

 

F-106A's 59-0148 and 59-0058  from the 318th FIS fly in formation with the squadrons new tail flash and "supersonic" wing tanks. 

 

There were numerous instances of civil unrest in our country during the 1960s, and the 62nd flew numerous missions in support of Garden Plot. Garden Plot was a series of operations moving federal troops where actual or anticipated civil disturbances might get out of hand, like the racial unrest in Watts, and antiwar protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Troops were used to contain riots and enforce curfews where needed.  

In late 1969, Former President Richard Nixon announced the reduction of U.S. Forces in Southeast Asia 62d MAW StarLifters landed at McChord with troops Unit to be removed from the war zone. 

The last of the 62nd's C-124 Globemaster IIs were transferred to the Alaskan Air Command (AAC) in early December 1969, when AAC took over the responsibility for re-supplying the stations along the DEW Line. By December 5 all Globemaster of the 7th MAS had been reassigned to other users, and the squadron was inactivated at McChord that month.

 

 

U.S. Air Force personnel unload this U.S. Army truck from a 62d MAW C-124 at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.

 
_
McCHORD AIR FORCE BASE HISTORY 
 
McChord History Pages
Early History
 1950-1970
NEXT PAGE: 1970-1990
1990-2000 
2000-2010
 
Website provided and maintained by:
 
The McChord Air Museum Foundation
P.O. Box 4205
JBLM-McChord Field, WA. 98438-0205
253-982-2485
e-mail - mamfound@mcchordairmuseum.org