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Selfridge Air National Guard Base
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Selfridge Air National Guard Base

Selfridge Air National Guard Base or Selfridge ANGB is an Air National Guard installation located in Harrison Township, Michigan, near Mount Clemens.


Units and organizations

The host organization is the 127th Wing (127 WG) of the Michigan Air National Guard, but a variety of Air Force Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps, Army Reserve, Army National Guards and active duty Coast Guard units use the facility as well.[1] In 1971, Selfridge ANGB became the largest and most complex joint Reserves Forces base in the United States, a position it held until surpassed by NAS JRB Fort Worth (former Carswell AFB) in the late 1990s.

"U.S. Army Garrison-Selfridge serves the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) supporting tank construction in the Detroit area."[2] Civil Air Patrol civilian organizations at Selfridge are the 176th Selfridge Composite Squadron and the Headquarters, Michigan Wing.

Selfridge Military Air Museum

The on-base Selfridge Military Air Museum is operated by the Michigan Air Guard Historical Association, exhibits photos and artifacts of military aerospace history, and has an outdoor Air Park of over 30 aircraft.


The airfield was named for Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, the first U.S. military officer to die in an aviation accident while flying with Orville Wright at Fort Myer, Virginia on 17 September 1908[3]. It was an active Air Force base from 1947 through the 1960s, but it always had a significant Reserve and National Guard presence and became a wholly Reserve Component facility on July 1, 1971.[4]

The United States Army leased the of land from Henry B. Joy where he constructed Joy Aviation Field and on July 1, 1917, Selfridge Field opened to train pilots as World War I raged in Europe. The training center suffered an early setback in March 1918, as the Clinton River flooded the entire site and all personnel were evacuated to schools and churches in nearby Mount Clemens.[5]

In 1920, the Army purchased the land for $190,000 however conditions were still primitive as grass was cut by mowers pulled by horse teams and much of the field was mired in mud. After the purchase, Congress approved funds for improvements at Selfridge, turning it into one of the premier airfields in the nation.[5]

Beginning June 27, 1919, Selfridge became the home of the 1st Pursuit Group, currently the oldest combat group in the Air Force. The group was organized in France during World War I and like many others, was demobilized after the war then re-created in 1919. It remained based at Selfridge for approximately 20 years.[6] Many notable names are included in the group's roster including George H. Brett, James "Jimmy" Doolittle, Carl A. Spaatz, Curtis LeMay, Frank O. Hunter, Emmett "Rosie" O'Donnell, Earle E. Partridge, Paul Wurtsmith and over 100 men who rose to the rank of Air Force general ("Home of Generals").[5] (Lieutenant LeMay was fined $50 for flying a biplane through Selfridge Hangar #6.)

Air races at Selfridge from 1922 through the 1930s included the first John Mitchell Trophy Race (named for John L. Mitchell and last held in 1936 at Selfridge[7]), the Pulitzer Trophy Race, and the Curtiss Trophy Race and Boeing Trophy. Charles A. Lindbergh was assigned to Selfridge in 1927, returned in July 1927 (his transatlantic aircraft, Spirit of St. Louis, was escorted by 22 1st Pursuit Group planes)[5] and returned again November 10, 1927, to become a member of the 1st Pursuit Group and complete his reserve training.[8]

In 1925, planes equipped with ice skids left Selfridge for Camp Skeel in Oscoda, Michigan to determine the usefulness of airplanes in harsh winter. Squadron commander Thomas Lamphier declared the test a success and proclaimed that similarly planes could be used to in Arctic regions.[5]

The U.S. Navy came to Selfridge in 1927 when Torpedo Squadron 31 (VT-31) was briefly assigned to the base. The squadron had only one aircraft, a Consolidated NY-1, which was used for training the squadron's Naval Air Reserve pilots. The squadron left before the end of the year, moving to a hangar in downtown Detroit. Naval Aviation would return to Selfridge in 1969 following the closing of Naval Air Station Grosse Ile and the establishment of Naval Air Facilty Detroit.

During the 1930s and 1940s, squadrons "from Selfridge [frequently] performed maneuvers over Detroit, [causing delight to] local citizens".[5] On October 27, 1940, the 17th Pursuit Group consolidated squadron deployed from Selfridge to the Philippines.

Selfridge Army Air Field

Selfridge AAF was a WWII army airfield of the First Air Force and the location where Colonel Lawrence P. Hickey[9] headed a cadre that organized the VIII Interceptor Command in January 19, 1942 (transferred to Charleston AAF on February 13, arrived RAF High Wycombe on May 12).[10] On March 29, 1943, the 332d Fighter Group of the Tuskegee Airmen completed its move to Selfridge.[11] The commander of the Tuskegee's European and Mediterranean operations was Colonel Benjamin O. Davis Jr., the first black officer to graduate from West Point in the 20th Century, and later the first black Air Force general.

Scandal hit Selfridge on May 5, 1943 when the commander Colonel William Colman was charged with shooting Private William MacRae, a black chauffeur who was assigned to drive him.[12] Early reports stated that the incident occurred because Colman's regular driver was off-duty and a dispatcher was unaware of his standing order that he not have a black driver. Following the incident, accusations of several other improper occurrences at the base including misappropriation of government property, procurement of unlawful transfers and exchange of goods for transfers. Colman was found guilty of careless use of firearms after a court martial and demoted to captain. However, he was acquitted of 23 other charges that included authorizing illegal transfers, accepting bribes and theft of government property.[13]

The 477th Composite Group was formed at Selfridge on January 15, 1944 to train Tuskegee Airmen with Republic P-47 Thunderbolt fighters and North American B-25 Mitchell bombers. Following a reprimand of the Selfridge AAF commander for segregating blacks, the Group relocated "without any prior warning or notification to its personnel) to Godman Field, Kentucky, on 5 May 1944.

Cold War air defense

After World War II Selfridge expanded to its present size of , and in 1947 the Selfridge Army Air Base was renamed Selfridge Air Force Base.[4] From 1947-1970 the base hosted 3 successive Cold War aircraft units: the 56th Fighter Wing (July 28, 1947-1952), which conducted the first west-to-east jet fighter transatlantic crossing (US to Scotland via Greenland, 1948); the 439th Fighter-Bomber Wing (1952-7); and the 1st Fighter Wing (Air Defense) from 1956-1970.[14] The units' Selfridge aircraft were F-51 Mustangs (439th, 1953-4), Lockheed P-80 Shooting Stars (439th 1953-6, 56th), F-84 Thunderstreaks (439th), North American F-86D Sabres (1st), and F-102 Delta Daggers (1st). In April 1954, the Selfridge's 13th Fighter-Intercepter Squadron of the 4708th Air Defense Wing won the Eastern Air Defense Force rocket gunnery championship; and on May 10, 1956, a Selfridge F-86D accidentally fired 22 Mighty Mouse missile while on the ground. In November 1957, Air Defense Command (ADC) assumed control of Selfridge AFB.

From 1950-1974, the Selfridge AFB radar station, including a Missile Master Army Air Defense Command Post after 1960, provided ground-controlled interception coverage for interceptor aircraft and surface-to-air missiles. Selfridge was the 1950 location of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB) 28th Air Defense Artillery Group for the Army's Detroit Defense area. Beginning in 1955, the base also had Project Nike radars for dual launch sites on Selfridge AFB at with battery D-14[15] in service until February 1963 and co-located battery D-16 continuing until June 1971. The "shared" Selfridge integrated fire control (IFC) area was at [16] (the 517th Artillery of the 3rd Battalion manned the Nike facilities.)

Michigan Air National Guard

On July 1, 1971, Selfridge Air Force Base was transferred to the Michigan Air National Guard, becoming the first major active Air Force base to come under control of the Air National Guard. At Selfridge Air National Guard Base, the 127th Wing (127 WG) is the host wing to more than 30 tenant units representing every branch of the military - active duty (to include the Coast Guard), Reserve and National Guard. The U.S. Border Patrol and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Northern Air and Marine Wing are also based at Selfridge. Collectively, these organizations comprise what is known "Team Selfridge," one community with syngergistic goals and missions.

The 127th Wing (127 WG) of the Michigan Air National Guard is a combined Air Combat Command (ACC) and Air Mobility Command (AMC) gained organization that was established at Selfridge ANG Base on April 1, 1996, by consolidating the former 127th Fighter Wing and the 191st Airlift Group. The flying units which previously flew the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the C-130 Hercules, converted their flying missions per 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) action. Today, the ACC-gained 107th Fighter Squadron flies the A-10C Thunderbolt II, also known as the A-10 "Warthog." The AMC-gained 127th Airlift Group was renamed the 127th Air Refueling Group and its 171st Air Refueling Squadron now flies the KC-135R Stratotanker.

The 127th Wing is also home to the Air National Guard's 107th Weather Flight, which is operationally gained by the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). These specially trained Airmen collect weather data, develop forecasting products and direct forecasts to the warfighters on the ground, sometimes going ahead of a main operation to prepare soldiers with weather data for the success of the mission.

Air Force Reserve Command

Pursuant to Base Realignment and Closure, 2005, the Air Force Reserve Command's 927th Air Refueling Wing (927 ARW) that was previously based at Selfridge was directed to transfer all of its KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft to the Michigan Air National Guard and relocate to MacDill AFB, Florida in 2008. At MacDill, the 927 ARW has become an Air Force Reserve "Associate" wing to MacDill's 6th Air Mobility Wing, with both organizations flying the KC-135R PACER CRAG variant of the Stratotanker.

Naval Air Facility Detroit

NAF Detroit was established as a tenant activity at Selfridge ANGB in 1969 following the disestablishment of Naval Air Station Grosse Ile, Michigan. NAF Detroit remained operational until 1994 when it was closed and realigned due to BRAC action. An Echelon IV command of Naval Air Force Reserve, NAF Detroit hosted numerous Naval Reserve augmentation units supporting Fleet commands and shore activities in the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets, as well as three operational Reserve Force Aviation Squadrons (RESFORONs): Fleet Composite Squadron TWELVE (VC-12) flying the A-4F Skyhawk II, Patrol Squadron NINETY-THREE (VP-93) flying the P-3B Orion, and Fleet Logistics Support Squadron SIXTY-TWO (VR-62) flying the C-9B Skytrain II. NAF Detroit also hosted Marine Wing Support Group FORTY-SEVEN (MWSG-47) of the Marine Air Reserve's 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

VC-12 was transferred to NAS Oceana, Virginia in 1975 and was redesignated as Fighter Composite Squadron TWELVE (VFC-12) in 1988, where it currently flies the F/A-18 Hornet as a Reserve adversary squadron.

VP-93 was disestablished on 30 Sep 1994 due to (1) retirement of the P-3B from the U.S. Navy inventory and a transition to an all P-3C force, (2) a reduction in active and Reserve VP squadrons as part of post-Cold War drawdown, and (3) BRAC action directing the closure of NAF Detroit and its realignment as Naval Air Reserve Center Detroit (NAVAIRESCEN Detroit) with no operational flying units or activities.

VR-62 was transferred in April 1994 to the former NAS South Weymouth, Massachusetts until that base's closure in September 1996 due to BRAC 1995 action. Concurrent with this move, the squadron also transitioned from the C-9B to the C-130T Hercules. Transferring to the former NAS Brunswick, Maine, subsequnet BRAC action in 2008 direct NAS Brunswick's closure in May 2011, resulting in VR-62 being transferred again in 2010 to its current home station of NAS Jacksonville, Florida.

NAF Detroit became NAVAIRESCEN Detroit on 1 Oct 1994 and remained as a tenant command at Selfridge ANGB. It was renamed Navy Operational Support Center Detroit (NOSC Detroit) in 2006 and downgraded to an Echelon V command.

Coast Guard Air Station Detroit

CGAS Detroit was established in 1966 as a tenant command at Selfridge ANGB, operating the HH-52A Sea Guard helicopter in the Great Lakes region. Air Station Detroit transitioned to the HH-65A Dolphin in 1988 and continues to operate the MH-65C version of this aircraft in search and rescue, maritime safety, and other homeland security/homeland defense missions.

Other Uses

Other activities located at Selfridge include STARBASE, an Air National Guard initiative that engages in activity-based science and math lessons. The program uses an aviation theme to allow local children to excel, regardless of their economic situation. STARBASE traces its roots to the Air National Guard s 127th Wing at Selfridge ANGB in 1991 and the Department of Defense became an official supporter of the STARBASE program in 1993.

In March 2011, the United States Customs and Border Protection "formally opened its new Operational Integration Center on Selfridge".

See also


External links

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