Lockbourne Air Force is located
in Franklin and Pickaway counties in a rural/residential area, twelve
miles southeast of downtown Columbus and just east of the Village of
Lockbourne. In 1974, it was renamed Rickenbacker Air Force Base.
It is home of the 121st
Air Refueling Wing, the first Air National Guard unit to fly KC-135
The Early Years
The Army Air Forces activated the base in June
1942. It was then named the Northeastern Training Center of the Army Air Corps,
It provided basic pilot training and military support.. The
facility was renamed Lockbourne AFB. The 55th Fighter Wing was
established there in December 1947, where it converted from the P-51 to
the F84C Thunderjet. The 121st Air Refueling Wing (now stationed
at he base) began as component of the 55th Fighter Wing.
Benjamin Davis was one of the most famous of the Afro-American
Tuskegee Airmen on World War II. He returned to the US in April
1945, and was given command of the 477th Composite Group at Godman
Field, Kentucky. The group moved to Lockbourne AAB, Ohio, in 1946.
In addition to commanding the flying unit, Davis also served as base
commander. He was the first Afro-American to obtain the rank of general.
Strategic Air Command.
On Sept. 11,
1951, the 91st Bomb Wing moved to Lockbourne. It was to become one of SAC's
longest-lasting and most versatile wings. It began as a
reconnaissance wing, evolved into a bomb wing and ended up a missile
wing. The 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was activated in 1948
at McGuire, AFB, New
Jersey and continued it's worldwide reconnaissance
mission until inactivated on November 8, 1957. It was redesignated the
91st Bombardment Wing, Heavy and activated on November 15, 1962 at
Glasgow AFB, Montana on February 1, 1963. In 1968, the old
reconnaissance and bombardment wing was moved to Minot AFB, North
Dakota, where it absorbed the personnel and equipment of the recently
inactivated 355 Strategic Missile Wing. It was then
redesignated the 91st Strategic Missile Wing
The 70th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Medium
was established on March 23, 1953 and activated January 24, 1955.
It was Initially deployed at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio, while it's permanent
base underwent construction. During this time, few wing components
were actually manned. In 1955, it moved to it's new home, Little
Rock, AFB, Arkansas and began flying strategic reconnaissance missions
using RB-47 Stratojets.
The 301st Bomb wing converted to the sleek
new B-47 Stratojet in
1953 and traded in its KB-29 tankers for KC-97s. It moved from
Barksdale AFB to
Lockbourne on April 15, 1958. Added
electronic countermeasures activities to other missions in 1958 and soon
devoted most of its activity to ECM work. Phased out the B-47 in
1964. Became an air refueling wing in 1964 and received KC-135s.
In 1974, the base was renamed in
honor of Eddie Rickenbacker. It was
recommended for closure by the 1991 Commission, but as a result of a
proposal by the State of Ohio, the 1993 Commission recommended that
Rickenbacker ANGB be realigned rather than closed. The Commission
decided to retain the 121st Air Refueling Wing and the 160th Air
Refueling Group in a cantonment area at Rickenbacker ANGB instead of
realigning to Wright-Patterson AFB and operate as tenants of the
Rickenbacker Port Authority (RPA) on the RPAs airport.
The Air Force issued a Record of Decision (ROD) on May 19, 1995,
which documented a series of decisions in regard to parcel disposal, the
organizations or agencies to receive certain parcels; the means for
parcel disposal (Federal transfer, public benefit conveyance, negotiated
sale, or public sale); and the mitigation measures to be adopted. The
Air Force issued a Supplemental Record of Decision (SROD) on April 23,
1996, which clarified that the base electrical system would be disposed
of by negotiated sale. The SROD also, made modifications to the ROD
concerning the size of various parcels of land to be transferred to the
Army and the Rickenbacker Port Authority (RPA).
In August 2001 a Groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the start
of construction for a new, consolidated Navy and Marine Corps Air
Reserve Center at Rickenbacker International Airport. The $10 million
center, scheduled for completion in early 2003, will be located at the
intersection of 2nd Avenue and Club Street adjacent to the Air National
Guard facility at Rickenbacker. Being developed by the Naval Reserve,
the project will consolidate the Naval Air Reserve Center at
Rickenbacker with the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center currently
located on Yearling Road in Columbus. When completed, the nearly 1,000
Navy and Marine Reservists currently located at the two existing Reserve
Centers will shift their activities to this new facility. Once the new
center opens, the site of the existing Naval Air Reserve Center at
Rickenbacker will be redeveloped by the Rickenbacker Port Authority,
which operates the 5,000-acre Airport.