Pamphlet highlighting leadership during WWII. (Courtesy Graphic)

Andersen Air Force Base history


In a tent on Pati Point in 1944, four men of the 854th Airfield Construction Battalion stood at a draftsman's table drawing lines on a blueprint that would become runways, taxiways and parking aprons for World War II B-29 operations. North Field's first runway became operational Feb. 3, 1945. The first combat mission from North Field took place Feb. 25.

After World War II, the Army Air Forces in the Pacific closed many airfields, leaving the 19th Bomb Group at North Field as the only bombardment unit of the Far East Air Forces.

In the fall of 1946, construction began for permanent structures. When the Air Force became a separate service in 1947, North Field became North Guam Air Force Base. The installation was renamed Andersen AFB on Oct. 7, 1949, in honor of Brig. Gen. James R. Andersen, who was presumed lost at sea in the crash of his B-24 Liberator, Feb. 26, 1945, on a flight from Kwajalein to Hawaii.

During the Korean War, Andersen served in an administrative and logistical capacity, operating ammunition dumps and providing maintenance to transient aircraft. Following the war, Andersen began supporting bomber and aerial refueling units on rotational deployments from the United States. During this time, Andersen was home to the B-36, B-47, B-50, B-52, B-29, KC-97 and KC-135.

Andersen's role in Vietnam is legendary, starting on June 18, 1965, when 27 B-52 bombers were launched from its runway. These flights began Operation Arc Light, bombing missions against Viet Cong base operations, troop concentrations and supply lines. In early 1972, 153 B-52s lined the airfield in a surge of Arc Light missions titled Bullet Shot. It took five miles of ramp space to park them and an expert to ensure their orderly movement since a blocked taxiway could prove a mission-crippling impasse.

Later that year Operation Linebacker II got underway when, on December 18, 1972, 87 B-52s were launched from Andersen in one hour and 43 minutes. Throughout the 11-day operation, Andersen-based B-52s flew 379 of the 729 sorties. Often called the "11-day war," Linebacker II led to the renewal of the Paris Peace Talks and, on January 28, 1973, the signing of a cease-fire agreement with the government of North Vietnam.

Two years after U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War ended Andersen participated in Operation New Life, becoming home to thousands of Vietnamese refugees until officials could process them into the United States. In the end, 109,553 refugees departed Andersen for the United States aboard 518 aircraft.

The post-Vietnam period brought a return to routine operations at Andersen, with B-52s on the ramp throughout the 1980s and the base remaining a vital overseas platform for carrying out the USAF's mission of global deterrence.

In support of the Gulf War in 1991, Andersen aided in transporting and deploying 200 aircraft, 2,200 troops and 2,212 tons of cargo. In addition, Andersen munitions specialists shipped more than 75 million pounds of bombs to the Gulf.

During Operation Fiery Vigil in June 1991, more than 21,000 people and their pets evacuated from Clark Air Base in the Philippines, came through Andersen following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
The Air Force inactivated 633rd Air Base Wing Oct. 1, 1994, and activated the 36th Air Base Wing, in keeping with the Air Force chief of staff's policy of keeping the most highly decorated and longest serving Air Force units on active duty. The Air Force had inactivated the 36th Fighter Wing at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, Oct. 1, 1994.

In October 1994, the U.S. Navy Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Five relocated to Andersen from the now closed Naval Air Station, Guam.

Today, with its huge fuel and munitions storage facilities and dual runways, Andersen is an important forward-based logistics support center for contingency forces deploying throughout the southwest Pacific and Indian oceans. Andersen's ideal flying conditions, relatively unlimited airspace and nearby air-to-ground range make this an ideal training area for the U.S. military and militaries of nearby countries.

Printable Fact Sheet



  • Ask Joyce: What role does its pre-liberation history play in its culture?

    The taotaomonas (first people) were people of simplicity and resiliency on a lush island yet undiscovered by outside civilization. They survived on fish caught near shorelines and reef flats. They had gardens of root starches such as taro (in Chamorro it is "suni."), yams ("gaddo" and "dagu"), rice

  • Expeditionary Airmen talk live on radio show

    Airmen from the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron were on a different mission July 3 when they visited a local radio station to discuss the B-52 Stratofortress and the bomber presence in the Pacific region. Three aircrew members, who are deployed to Andersen in support of the continuous bomber

  • 10 B-52 bombers gear up for Australia

    B-52 aircrews assigned to Team Andersen, from the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron took their mission to another level by flying to Australia this week to demonstrate the long range capability and flexibility of the "Buff." The mission consisted of 10 B-52 bombers flying over 4,500 nautical miles to

  • Ask Joyce: Can you explain what happened on Guam on July 21, 1944?

    Let's visualize, hear and feel the presence of American battleships, cruisers and destroyers slightly off the Agat and Asan beaches in early dawn of July 21, 1944. Deadly explosions of shell bombardments lit the shores like fireworks. More than three hours later, the 3rd Marine Division landed at

  • The base multimedia center: Showing you to the world

    When I tell people that I work at the base multimedia center, they often retort, "So what, all you guys do is just take pictures?" We do more than "just take pictures." Through our eyes and lenses, we record history. We provide the public with a dynamic, over-the-shoulder view of servicemen and

  • Andersen shares in PACAF’s 50th anniversary

    July 1 marked Pacific Air Force's 50th anniversary, but Andersen shares only half of those years because from 1955 to 1989, this was a Strategic Air Command base. Nevertheless, starting in the mid-1950s PACAF did have a serious presence on Guam in the form of tenant units. Interestingly, Andersen

  • Brig. Gen. Owens discusses Andersen's future

    Brig. Gen. Douglas Owens, 36th Wing commander, recently sat down with Tony Birtley, an Al Jazeera correspondent, to talk about what the future holds for Andersen. Mr. Birtley: [Inaudible], an awful lot of money's going to be spent here [inaudible] used to increase your capability ten or fifteen

  • Operation Fiery Vigil brought 21,000 refugees to Andersen

    Seventeen years ago in June, the entire base was engaged in one of the most significant episodes in Andersen's history: Operation Fiery Vigil, an event that ensured the safety and well-being of more than 21,600 people. This operation was different from Andersen's other refugee operations - 1975's

  • Andersen runway open for business

    After nearly two years of construction aimed at improving mission capability and safety at the "Tip of the Pacific's Strategic Triangle," a new and improved $24 million runway re-opened here 18 June. Guam. Brig. Gen. Doug Owens, 36th Wing commander, flew the first F-16 sortie over the waiting crowd

  • B-52H heralds 47-year legacy

    Five aircrew members of the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron gather in a room to receive a mission briefing to put bombs on time, on target against the enemy. To top it off, they will accomplish this in a relatively young aircraft. The B-52s are some of the oldest planes in the Air Force's

  • 18 Cannon F-16s arrive Weds

    Eighteen F-16s from the 522nd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived Wednesday in support of the deployment for the Theater Security Package to the Western Pacific. The nearly 400-person deployment is part of the continuing force posture to maintain a credible deterrent posture and presence for the

  • Barksdale B-52 unit arrives

    More than 300 Airmen from the 20th Bomb Squadron, at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., will arrive on Guam Saturday to begin a four-month deployment here. The 20th BS is replacing the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, also from Barksdale. The expeditionary warriors of the 20th EBS are part of a

  • Andersen awards $9 million contract to upgrade Northwest Field

    Core Tech International was recently awarded a $9 million military contract to provide water, sanitary sewer and electrical infrastructure at Northwest Field. The infrastructure will support the beddown of the 554th RED HORSE Squadron, combat communications, Commando Warrior and Silver Flag

  • Andersen B-52s, KC-135s support Cobra Gold

    Airmen from the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, currently deployed to Andersen, added a critical air component to the assets of U.S. and Thai military members in exercise Cobra Gold this week in the Kingdom of Thailand. The Airmen used the B-52 Stratofortress bomber's range and versatility to

  • $42 million Global Hawk facility contract awarded

    On May 4, 2007, the Air Force announced that Black Construction Corporation was awarded a $42 million contract to build an aircraft maintenance and operations center for the Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicles here. The company, which previously built the $32.8 million Hangar 1 and Andersen's $13