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Andersen shares in PACAF’s 50th anniversary

  • Published
  • By Dr. John Treiber
  • 36th Wing Historian
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 might have joined PACAF in 1957 if not for the 1955 SAC takeover of the base. After all, it had been under Far Eastern Air Force (PACAF's predecessor) until April 1, 1955. As it worked out, PACAF merely retained a limited but significant presence on Guam under the 7th Air Force, which had activated Jan. 1, 1955 and had its headquarters at Andy South. 

The 7th AF controlled three important late FEAF, early PACAF units. First, was the 41st Fighter Interceptor Squadron that flew F-86Ds out of Andersen starting in August 1956. This was Andersen's largest unit at the time, and it had the significant role of air defense for the Marianas. 

Another PACAF unit here was the 852nd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, whose mission was to operate and maintain an early warning system and conduct air defense operations. It was the first unit to operate out of the Mt. Santa Rosa facility, which opened in 1957. 

Andersen's other PACAF unit at this time was the 79th Air Rescue Squadron, which with its fleet of helicopters, performed search and rescue identical to that of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 today. 

While the 79th ARS remained at Andersen for a considerable time, the ACWS was discontinued in January 1961. The 7th Air Force had actually been inactivated on July 1, 1957, the day of PACAF's inception, replaced by the 327th Air Division. That organization disappeared along with the 41st FIS on March 8, 1960, leaving only the 79th ARS as a reminder that PACAF had ties to Guam. 

While PACAF's original period at Andersen may have been short-lived, it was also highly important to the safety and security of Guam and its people, military and civilian alike. While Andersen can directly celebrate only about half of PACAF's 50 years, it can do so with pride.

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