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The Strategic Air Command (SAC) takes control of Westover AFB
from the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). The 4050th Air
Refueling Wing (ARW) would be host unit. Eventually, its 26th and
384th Air Refueling Squadrons would be assigned 20 KC-97
The 337th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS), an Air Defense
Command (ADC) tenant unit at Westover flying the F-86 Sabre, is
The 324th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (FIS), another ADC
tenant, flying the F-86 Sabre, is activated.
The 57th Air Division is activated. The air division, headed by a
brigadier general, is the next level of the chain of command below
8th Air Force.
Another major SAC operation begins on the same date as the
99th Bombardment Wing (BMW) is activated. It takes over host
unit responsibilities from the 4050th ARW.
Ushering in a new aviation era for Westover, the first B-52C
Stratofortress arrives at the base, flown in by Col. Selmon D.
Wells, 99th BMW commander.
The 24th Aviation Depot Squadron is activated. The squadron is
responsible for the maintenance and storage of nuclear weapons,
stored at Stony Brook Air Force Station, adjacent to the base.
The 337th FIS switches from the F-86D to the F-86L Sabre.
The last of 45 B-52 bombers arrive to join the 99th BMW at
Westover. The aircraft include 35 C-models and D models.
The 99th Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) is activated. It would
receive 20 KC-135 Stratotankers by the end of the year. The 99th
and 42nd ARS, Loring AFB, Me., would be SAC’s first units to
receive the new tanker jet.
Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, flies a KC-135
tanker from Westover to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a non-stop
The headquarters for the North Atlantic Communications Region
is relocated from Pepperell AFB, Newfoundland to Westover.
The Notch, a completely self-sustaining command post for 8th Air
Force, is completed. It is built 400 feet inside Mount Holyoke in
A 99th ARS KC-135A, tail number 56-3599, crashes shortly after
takeoff from Westover AFB. All 15 people aboard the aircraft are
killed. They include Brig. Gen. D.W. Saunders, 57th Air Division
commander, and Lt. Col. George Broutsas, 99th ARS
commander. The tanker was part of a four-ship takeoff for a
transatlantic record-breaking attempt to London.
Maj. Burl Davenport, 99th ARS, breaks a record for a transatlantic
flight. Major Davenport flew the lead KC-135 in what was originally
four tankers taking off from Westover (see above).
Capt. William H. Howell, 99th ARS, captures a world weightlifting
record flying a Westover KC-135A Stratotanker, airlifting a 78,089-
pound payload more than one mile into the air.
The 347th Bombardment Squadron – one of three B-52 flying
units of the 99th BMW – is reassigned to McCoy AFB, Fla.,
leaving the 346th and 348th Bombardment Squadrons.
The 76th FIS, another ADC tenant unit, is activated at the base.
Its unit members fly the F-102 Delta Dagger.
SAC establishes a auxiliary airborne command post at Westover.
This was a Boeing EC-135 packed with communications
equipment similar to the Looking Glass aircraft. The EC-135 was
assigned to the 99th Air Refueling Squadron.
Westover goes to its highest state of alert along with the entire Air
Force as the Cuban Missile Crisis grips the nation in tension for
The 4050th Air Refueling Wing is redesignated the 499th Air
Refueling Wing. SAC’s tanker “super wing” includes five
squadrons of KC-97 and KC-135 tankers. Two of the squadrons,
the 99th and 384th Air Refueling Squadrons, are at Westover,
while others are assigned to Otis AFB, Mass., and Dover AFB, Del.
A Westover B-52C crashes into Elephant Mountain near
Greenville, Me., during a low-level mission. Two members of the
99th BMW survive in below-zero temperatures before being
rescued. The other four crewmembers are killed.
President John F. Kennedy lands at Westover in Air Force One
en route to a visit to a Pioneer Valley location. Just weeks later,
Kennedy would be assassinated in Dallas.
The last KC-97 tanker leaves Westover for the boneyard at Davis-
Monthan AFB, Ariz.
The Air Force Reserve’s 905th Military Airlift Group, flying C-124C
Globemaster II transports, moves to Westover from Bradley
International Airport, Conn. This would be the first Air Force
Reserve unit assigned to the base.
The 57th Air Division is inactivated.
Eighth Air Force headquarters concludes operations, ending
almost 15 years at Westover. Its people and resources relocate to
Andersen AFB, Guam, to direct Air Force operations in the
The 8th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron, known as the
“Recces,” departs the base. The top-secret SAC unit was most
well-known for its role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, when unit
members took part in processing the film that would show that the
Soviet Union was building missile bases in Cuba.
The 4713th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron, with its EB-57
Canberras, begins operations at Westover. The squadron’s
mission is to simulate Soviet bombers attacking the U.S.
Secretary of Defense Elliott Richardson announces sweeping cuts
in the Air Force across the nation. Secretary Richardson
announces that all active-duty forces will leave the base except
for Air Force Reserve activities.
The 590th Air Force Band performs its farewell concert. The band
was among the first active-duty Air Force units to leave the base
following the Air Force’s announcement of the partial closure of
Westover. The band left on Aug. 24 for McGuire AFB, N.J.
SAC flying units at Westover are deactivated. They are the 346th
and 348th Bombardment Squadrons, and the 99th Air Refueling
Squadron. The KC-135s with the 99th Air Refueling Squadron
are relocated to Plattsburgh AFB, N.Y., and Pease AFB, N.H.
Westover becomes the nation’s first Air Force Reserve base. The
SAC caretaker unit, the 4040th Air Base Group, remains at the
base until Sept. 30, 1976 to oversee the last elements of the
transition from an active-duty base to reserve.
Spring: The last of the alert KC-135s,pulling duty at the former
alert facility, departs the base, headed to Loring AFB. Me.
The United States Air Force Reference Series, “Active Air Force
Bases within the United States,” Robert Mueller, USAF Historical
Research Center, 1989.
Frank Faulkner, Westover “Man, Base and Mission.”
The Yankee Flyer, Westover AFB, June 27, 1958
News Release, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense
(Public Affairs), April 17, 1973