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    Westover 80th Anniversary Video



    Story by W.C. Pope 

    439th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs

    Westover 80th Anniversary Video Script Draft


    Optional Opening Statement by Col. Peters:

    Greetings, I’m Col. Craig Peters. This year marks the 80th Anniversary of Westover Air Reserve Base. For eight decades, Westover has played a vital role in the defense of the United States of America and its allies. Our servicemen and women have participated in five major conflicts and numerous humanitarian missions.

    As we celebrate another milestone in the history of our installation, I invite you to watch this short video – a time capsule into our past – in recognition of our 80th Anniversary.


    Script (SMSgt Frohreich):

    Westover Air Reserve Base has supported international humanitarian missions and fought to end conflicts for 80 years. What started as a tobacco field in the hills of Western Massachusetts, grew to be largest Air Force Reserve base in the country.

    Construction on Westover Airfield started in 1939, six weeks after the Nazis invaded Poland. The airfield was named after Major General Oscar Westover, an Army Infantry Officer who helped found the Army Air Corps.

    The airfield opened on April 6, 1940 and provided anti-submarine operations against German U-Boats during the early part of World War II. Throughout the course of the war, it became the largest military air facility in the Northeast. The base played a vital role in training bomber and fighter aircrews and provided troop transportation to the European and Pacific Theaters. It also housed 250 German POWs, who planted trees on base that still exist today.

    After World War II ended and the Air Force became its own service, the airfield was renamed Westover Air Force Base.

    Westover maintained its strategic importance during the Cold War. It was the headquarters for the Berlin Airlift and helped deliver tons of food, supplies and fuel to Germans in West Berlin. The local community also got involved. Chicopee school children organized “Operation Little Vittles”, attaching ten tons of candy to parachutes that Westover aircrews dropped over Berlin.

    In 1955, Strategic Air Command’s Eighth Air Force kept armed B-52s on the base in case they were called to bomb the Soviets. The aircrews were ready to launch at a moment’s notice and the aircraft became a major deterrent to threats from abroad. In 1962, Westover’s photo lab developed film from U-2 reconnaissance aircraft showing Soviet ships delivering nuclear missiles to Cuba. As a result, Westover was one of the Soviet Union’s top targets during the Cold war.

    By the late 1960s, Westover’s B-52s were heavily involved in the Vietnam War and the base became the return point for POW’s. In 1973, the last Vietnam War veterans stepped onto Westover’s tarmac and the base began its transition from active duty to reserve.

    On May 19, 1974, Westover became the first stand-alone Reserve base. In the process, cargo aircraft replaced the B-52s and 2,500 acres were sold back to the city of Chicopee.

    In 1987, the wing received its first C-5As and the unit eventually became designated as the 439th Airlift Wing.

    Saddam Hussein ordered Iraqi troops to invade Kuwait on August 2, 1990. Westover’s aircrews immediately volunteered to fly troops and supplies to the region. 20 days later, the 337th Military Airlift Squadron was activated and flew hundreds of missions in support of Operations Desert Shield and Storm. During the first month, Westover’s maintainers worked on more than 700 aircraft. Mechanics and cooks worked around the clock supporting the nearly 20 C-5s that landed at Westover daily.

    By October, more than 20,000 tons of cargo and more than 10,000 troops had passed through the base. By the end of the Gulf War, the base had processed more than 3,600 aircraft, 120,000 tons of cargo and 63,000 military passengers. Additionally, the pilots logged 100,000 hours of flight time.

    In September 2001, a Westover C-5 aircrew was flying a routine mission to Travis AFB, California. They suddenly found themselves heading eastward with emergency supplies after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. Within months, more than 1,000 Westover Reservists were mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

    When Operation Iraqi Freedom kicked off in February 2003, Westover ran a major C-5 staging operation. It quickly became the busiest C-5 operating center in the world with over 1,100 launches in four months. The wing has maintained their presence in the region by supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom’s Sentinel to this day.

    For the last 30 years, the wing has supported peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and the Persian Gulf. Westover also provided humanitarian aid in the United States and other countries like Japan, Guatemala, and Somalia by delivering much needed supplies and equipment. It’s also provided relief closer to home.

    In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe quickly filling hospitals with sick patients. Westover’s medical staff was among the first wave of Reservists sent to New York City and other locations around the world to battle the virus and provide much needed relief to hospital workers.

    Westover Air Reserve base has played a vital role in the local community, the nation and abroad for 80 years. Today, the Airmen, officers and civilian employees of the Patriot Wing follow in the footsteps of their predecessors – displaying the bravery, commitment and professionalism that has made Westover a premier military installation.



    Date Taken: 06.09.2020
    Date Posted: 06.10.2020 09:56
    Story ID: 371809
    Location: CHICOPEE, MA, US 

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