History of Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana
Published June 05, 2013
Grissom Air Reserve Base is one of only five Air Force Reserve Command bases in the nation. Its history began on July 1, 1942 when it was opened by the U.S. Navy as Bunker Hill Naval Air Station.
During the next four years, it served as a training base for thousands of Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard pilots. One of its most famous alumni is former major league baseball star and member of the baseball hall of fame, Ted Williams.
After World War II, the base was closed and the area reverted to its former use as farmland. With the outbreak of the Korean conflict, the base was reopened by the Air Force as Bunker Hill Air Force Base on June 22, 1954. The base was under the direction of the Tactical Air Command and was home to the 4433rd Air Base Squadron and the 323rd Fighter-Bomber Wing.
In 1955, the Air Defense Command's 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron was added. The Strategic Air Command arrived in the mid-fifties and assumed jurisdiction of the base on September 1, 1957. In May 1959, the 305th Bomb Group and its B-47 aircraft arrived. Later that same year, the first KC-135 Stratotankers were assigned to the base. Two years later, the B-58 "Hustler" bomber began replacing the B-47s.
After 26 years of bearing the name Bunker Hill, the base was renamed on May 12, 1968 in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, a native of Mitchell, Ind. Colonel Grissom was one of America's original seven astronauts and was killed during a fire in his Apollo capsule at Cape Kennedy, Fla. The changes continued and on Jan.1, 1970, the 305th Bomb Group was replaced by the 305th Air Refueling Wing.
Grissom's mission changed from bombers to tankers and the base became one of the largest KC-135 bases in the nation. The Air Force Reserve became part of the Grissom community in 1971 when the 434th Special Operations Wing and its A-37 aircraft relocated to the base. For the next 23 years Grissom was home to both active duty and reserve personnel.
In 1978, a second Air Force Reserve unit--the 931st Air Refueling Group-- joined the scene. At the height of its operations, the base was home to one active duty and two Air Force Reserve wings along with their KC-135 Stratotankers and A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.
Due to changes in the Air Force mission, two units (one reserve, one active duty) were deactivated in 1994. In October of that year, Grissom was realigned as an Air Force Reserve Command facility. Today, the host-unit is the 434th Air Refueling Wing and Grissom is one of only five Air Force Reserve Command bases in the nation.
While the Air Force has the largest contingent of personnel at Grissom, it is also home to organizations from other branches of America's armed forces. The Army Reserve has had a presence at Grissom since the 1970s and a Marine Corps Reserve unit relocated to the base in 2001.
In addition to its contributions to our nation's defense, Grissom Air Reserve Base plays an important part in the local community. It has a combined military-civilian work force and is the largest employer in Miami County and the third largest in North Central Indiana. Its annual economic impact exceeds $140 million per year. Grissom units are heavily involved in community activities, including the "Toys for Tots" program, and the base was designated as a "Tree City" by the National Arbor Day Foundation.
(Current as of June 2013)