Strategic Air Command
SAC Bases:  Lowry Force Base
Location: Denver, Colorado
Home of: 703rd Strategic Missile Wing, 451st Strategic Missile Wing (Titan I)
Status:  Closed October 1, 1994.  Now an administrative center.
Early History
      Lowry Field was originally located near East 38th Avenue and Dahlia Street.  It was named after Denver native, US Army Lt. Francis B. Lowry, who was killed in action during World War I. In 1937, President Roosevelt authorized funds to relocate Lowry field to its final site near East 6th Avenue and Quebec Street. The base started its training mission in earnest the following year. World War II caused Lowry to greatly expand it facilities in order to train bomber aircrews along with a large number of other technical specialists.
Training Center
      After the war, Lowry continued to train technicians for all branches of the US military. The 59,814 acre Lowry Bombing Range operated from July to December of 1952.  It was used by the local Navy, Lowry Air Force Base, and the Air National Guard for practicing bombing and strafing missions and for demolition of unusable Air Force munitions. 
     On June 7, 1951, Lowry’s 3415th Technical Training Wing formed a Guided Missile Department. It taught courses in guidance, control, and propulsion for such systems as Matador, Falcon, Rascal, Snark, and Navaho. By 1962, the Department of Missile Training was providing the Air Force with over 1,000 trained missile specialists per year.  
      Over the years, thousands of airmen trained at Lowery.

Lowry Barracks, circa 1951

       From 1953 to 1955, Lowry became President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "Summer White House" from which he conducted affairs of state while Mamie Eisenhower, a Denver native, visited with family.  In 1955, the United States Air Force Academy was established at Lowry AFB pending construction of its facilities in Colorado Springs.   The academy remained in operation at Lowry until 1958.
Titan Missile Base

      On March 13, 1958, the Air Force Ballistic Committee approved the selection of Lowry to be the first Titan I ICBM base. The launch sites were to be located on the bombing range east of Denver. This was conveniently close to the Titan I manufacturer, the Martin Company (now Lockheed Martin) located in Littleton, Colorado. 
    Deployment of the missiles entailed a 3 x 3 configuration, meaning that each of the three complexes had three silos grouped in close proximity to a manned launch control facility. In September 1958, construction began on Titan I Missile Complex 1A, the first of six complexes constructed within an 18 mile radius. The excavation was started in May 1959 using an open cut method with depths ranging from 38' to 72'. The missile silo shafts were excavated by mining crews to a depth of 163'. The construction of the underground facilities were of reinforced concrete and structural steel with steel lined tunnels. An unusual requirement was the blast-proofing of elements incorporated into the work with the major mechanical and electrical elements shock-mounted to withstand all explosions except a direct hit. The heavy construction phase was completed on 4 June 1961. The complex was made up of three missile launching silos.
     The Omaha District of the Army Corps of Engineers contracted a joint venture led by Morrison-Knudsen of Boise, Idaho, to construct the silos. A 144-day steel strike in 1959 caused delays and forced Morrison-Knudsen to resort to winter concreting. Despite this problem and others caused by constant design modifications, Morrison-Knudsen completed the project on time with the lowest construction costs of any ICBM base in the country at the time. Fairly smooth management-labor relations contributed to the success. The project also maintained the best safety record in the missile construction program up until that time. Use of a safety net was credited with saving many lives. Three workers did die during the project, although one was the result of a motor vehicle accident that occurred off site.

First Titan I Missile

The 703rd Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Titan ) was established on September 5, 1958.  It was activated at  Lowery on Sept. 25, 1958 and assigned to the 1st Missile Division, Fifteenth Air Force.  It was a very short-lived wing.  It trained in the operation of the Titan intercontinental ballistic missile and became partially operational on December 10, 1958, but before it could become fully operational, it was replaced by the 451st Strategic Missile Wing.
     The 451st Strategic Missile Wing (ICBM-Titan) was activated on April 26, 1961 and replaced the 703rd in July. The first missile complex was accepted on April 18, 1962.  The Titan I was soon replaced by the more advanced Titan II, which was deployed at other locations.  On November 19, 1964, Defense Secretary McNamara announced the phase-out of remaining first-generation Atlas and Titan I missiles by the end of June 1965. This objective was met; on June 25, 1965, the 724th SMS and 725th SMS were inactivated. The 451st went off alert status on March 26, 1965 and began phasing down.  The last missile was removed from Lowry on April 14, 1965.  The 451st was discontinued and inactivated June 25, 1965.
      Although the strategic missiles were gone, missile training remained a vital component of Lowry’s mission. In 1972, the 3415th Technical School became the USAF School of Applied Aerospace Sciences with missile training continuing within the Department of Aerospace Munitions Training. In 1978, this department would be redesignated the 3460th Training Group.
     The Lowry AFB Titan I Missile Complex IA is located approximately 15 miles southeast of Denver, Colorado.  It is bounded by a chain-link fence.
 Recent History
      Due to the close proximity of the residential area around Lowry and the increase in the number of high performance jet aircraft accidents at the base, flight operations at Lowry ceased in 1966. In 1976 the US Air Force Accounting and Finance Center moved from its old location near East 40th Avenue and York Street to newly built facilities at the southwest corner of the base.
      In 1980, Lowry Technical Training Center acquired a B-52D from Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and stabilized another B-52 on base for use in training crews to load Air Launched Cruise Missiles (ALCMs) and Short Range Air Missiles (SRAMs). Although Chanute AFB, Illinois, served as the primary training center for the Peacekeeper ICBM, Lowry supported training for this strategic missile by providing maintenance and repair training for the Peacekeepers’ reentry vehicle at a state-of-the-art facility opened in 1985.  In October 1986 ATC initiated an undergraduate space training program at Lowry AFB, CO, providing a basic preparation for space operational assignments. The Maintenance Officer's Nuclear Munitions Course was also conducted at the Lowry AFB Technical Training Center. Comptroller, transportation, and intelligence training moved to Sheppard AFB from Lowry AFB in the fall of 1954. In the late 1980s intelligence training consolidation brought general intelligence training from Lowry AFB to Goodfellow AFB.
    In 1993 it was announced that Lowry would be closed as part of cost reduction measures being taken by the US military. On 12 April 1993 the Air Staff approved moving small missile maintenance training from Lowry AFB to Vandenberg AFB, California, where it would be consolidated with large missile maintenance training. The base officially closed October 1, 1994.
      Lowry is still an active air force base, but has become an administrative center.  It is home of the Reserve Personnel Center, which is  charged with providing essential services and administration for the nearly half million women and men of the Air Reserve components in support of the Air Force mission. The center also maintains the master personnel records of all Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members. The Defense Finance Accounting Service is also located at Lowry.