Ramey Air Force Base

Ramey Air Force Base

Infobox Military Structure
name=Ramey Air Force Base
partof=the Strategic Air Command, decades ago
location= Located near Aguadilla, Puerto Rico

caption= 13 October 1993
type=Air Force Base
controlledby=Formerly the Strategic Air Command
garrison=None - base deactivated decades ago

Ramey Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force near Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. In addition to a small on-site Air Force detachment, and occasional operations by the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, a portion of the former Air Force Base is operated by the United States Coast Guard as the Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen. There is also civilian general aviation airport use of the airfield, now known as Rafael Hernandez International Airport.


Origins and Military Use

Ramey's origins go back to 1936, when the necessity for an air base in Puerto Rico was recognized and advocated by United States Army Air Corps officials as a logical extension of the air defenses of the Panama Canal and of Puerto Rico itself.

The Commandant of the Air Corps Tactical School forwarded to the Chief of the Air Corps a report pointing out that Puerto Rico was a "most valuable asset" of the for national defense, and recommending that a military Air Base be established on the island.

In 1939, then-Major George C. Kenney was sent to Puerto Rico to conduct a preliminary survey of possible air base sites. In all, 42 sites were examined, and Major Kenney declared that Punta Borinquen was the best site for a major air base. A total of 3,796 acres (covered by planted sugar cane farms) were taken for government military use in 1939.

Later that year, Major Karl S. Axtater assumed command of what was to become "Borinquen Army Air Field". In a less than auspicious arrival, Axtater, upon landing the first aircraft ever at Borinquen's crude & unprepared runway, blew the tire on his plane's tail wheel, but no serious damage or injury resulted.

The first squadron based at Borinquen Field was the 27th Bombardment Squadron, consisting of nine B-18A Bolo medium bombers, arriving from Langley Field, Virginia, in late 1939.

In 1940, the air echelon of the 25th Bombardment Group (14 B-18A aircraft and two A-17 aircraft) arrived at the base from Langley Field.

On December 13, 1940, the "tempest-in-a-teapot" "Battle of Borinquen Field" took place. Strictly a misnomer, the "battle" consisted solely of an "alert" and the firing of machine guns by nervous guards against a non-existent enemy invasion force, which was in reality a friendly merchant vessel traveling inshore for protection. The "battle" lasted 15 minutes, and in the confusion, one woman was wounded.

Following World War II, Ramey was significantly expanded for its new role as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) bomber base. From 1952-1959, the 72d Bombardment Wing, Heavy was equipped with the huge B-36 "Peacemaker". Ramey later served as a B-52 bomber and a KC-135 aerial tanker base.

Closing and Current Use

In 1971, the Coast Guard relocated its aviation units from San Juan, and established the "Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen". U.S. Coast Guard fact sheets and historical documents state that the Coast Guard took possession of, "...an outstanding hangar with adjacent support facilities," from the Air ForceFact|date=February 2007. Within the boundaries of the base are a housing area, a clinic and dispensary, a station library, a community center, a swimming pool, a Base Exchange, a mini-mart, a package store, a gymnasium and other fitness facilities, a chapel, and a movie theater.

In 1973, Ramey AFB was closed by the Air Force as an active Air Force Base, a part of a post-Vietnam War reduction-in-force (RIF) that closed-down numerous Air Force Bases.

As it was before the Air Force's departure, the primary mission of Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen remains search & rescue. Secondary missions include law enforcement, aerial support for ATON, and logistic support. To accomplish these missions, the Air Station has now four HH-65A Dolphin helicopters and four HU-25 Guardian jets, as well as periodically hosting Coast Guard HC-130H/J Hercules aircraft base at other Coast Guard Air Stations.

CGAS Borinquen consists of two runways (the primary runway, 11,700 feet long, is still maintained), a very large former B-52 heavy bomber dispersal parking area, and numerous ramps & hangars - many of which are currently in a state of disrepair.

The runways of Ramey are still available for USAF, US Navy, and USMC fighter planes sent there on a contingency basis for the air defense of Puerto Rico, since the Puerto Rico Air National Guard no longer has any fighter planes. The PRANG is a force strictly built around transport planes, now.

In addition to the Coast Guard facility, the former Ramey AFB flight-line is now operated as a general aviation airport, named Rafael Hernandez International Airport, and it supports numerous other government agencies such as the:

* US Department of Homeland Security
* US Customs and Border Protection (both Customs and Border Patrol assets and personnel)
* Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement
* Puerto Rico National Guard (both Army National Guard and Air National Guard)
* Central Intelligence Agency

The US Army and the US Air Force also have active duty and reserve units stationed on the base grounds. The former Air Force Base is also the home of the Ramey Sector of the US Border Patrol, which covers all of Puerto Rico, and also an Immigration Detention Center run by the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

ee Also

* 72d Bombardment Wing 1 Oct 1962-30 Jun 1971

External links

* [http://www.rameyafb.org Ramey AFB Historical Association]

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