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Dyess AFB, Abilene, Taylor County, Texas, USA

December 30th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Dyess AFB (IATA: DYS, ICAO: KDYS, FAA LID: DYS) is a military airport located five miles (8 km) southwest of the central business district (CBD) of Abilene, a city in Taylor County, Texas, USA. Dyess AFB was originally known as Abilene Air Force Base until it was renamed in December of 1956, after Lt. Col. William E. Dyess.

In 1942, the United States Army Air Forces built Tye Army Air Field on the site of what is now known as Dyess AFB. It was used mostly as a training center for cadets learning to fly the P-47 Thunderbolt. The airfield was closed shortly after the end of World War II and was sold to the city of Abilene for $1. The Texas National Guard used a portion of the old base as a training facility as well.

Shortly after the Korean War broke out, the city of Abilene called for the need of a military installation. They believed the 1,500 acres (6 km²) of the former Tye AAF were the perfect site for a new base. The city's leaders went to The Pentagon with their request. The city showed their determination for a new base by raising almost $1 million dollars to purchase an additional 3,500 acres (14 km²) adjacent to the site. They were able to attract U.S. Senator, and Texan, Lyndon B. Johnson's attention, who had the power to persuade military officials to put a base in Abilene. Finally, in July of 1952, Congress approved the $32 million needed to construct an Air Force Base on the Tye AAF site. It was to be called Abilene Air Force Base and a little over three years after first starting construction, the base was opened on April 15, 1956. Just eight months later, the base was renamed Dyess AFB after a Lt. Col. William E. Dyess, a native of Albany, Texas who died in a plane crash during World War II.

Dyess' first active combat unit was the 341st Bombardment Wing, which activated on September 1, 1955. The 341st was part of the Strategic Air Command and flew the B-47 Stratojet. It continued flying until its deactivation in June 25, 1961.

The 96th Bomb Wing moved there on September 8, 1957 and for a few years worked alongside the 341st. It included not just B-47 and B-52 nuclear bombers, but also the KC-97 and later on the KC-135 refuelers. During the Cold War, the base was constantly on alert in case of nuclear attack. There were even signs in the base's movie theater that would instantly alert pilots in the scenario that the USSR would initiate a nuclear attack during a movie. These can still be seen today at the theater.

From 1961 C-130 Hercules aircraft have been stationed at Dyess AFB. The C-130s were originally assigned to the 64th Troop Carrier Wing (TCW). From 1963 to 1972 the 516th Troop Carrier Wing was the host C-130 wing. In 1972, the 516 TCW was replaced with the 463d Tactical Airlift Wing (TAW). In 1974, the 463 TAW was reassigned from Tactical Air Command TAC to Military Airlift Command. During the Vietnam conflict, TAC C-130 crews rotated to forward based C-130 wings in the Pacific theater to support operations in Vietnam.

In June of 1985, the 96th received its first B-1B Lancer. It was intended to replace the base's B-52 Stratofortresses and in October 1986, officially took over the nuclear alert duties. Shortly after, the Soviet Union fell and left many wondering the fate of the base. In 1991 the 463d Tactical Airlift Wing was simply designated the 463d Airlift Wing (AW). In October 1992, the parent commands of both wings changed. The 96 BW being reassigned to the new Air Combat Command, and the 463 AW being assigned to the new Air Mobility Command.

On October 1, 1993, the 96 BW and 463 AW were both deactivated and replaced by the 7th Wing. The 7th Wing incorporated Dyess' B-1Bs and C-130s, the latter which transferred from Air Mobility Command to Air Combat Command.

Within its first year, the 7th Wing's diverse mission made it one of the most active units in the United States Air Force. The C-130s were deployed around the globe performing several airlift missions to Europe and the Persian Gulf. The crews and support people of the B-1s focused on enhancing the purpose of the Lancer in a post-Soviet 21st century.

In the 1997, Dyess' C-130s were transferred back to Air Mobility Command, and the 317th Airlift Group was created as the parent unit for Dyess' C-130 squadrons. At the same time, the 7th Wing was redesignated the 7th Bomb Wing. Both the 7th Bomb Wing and the 317th Airlift Group remained at Dyess.

One of the many unique features of Dyess is its extensive collection of static military aircraft on display. Collectively known as the "Linear Air Park," it contains 30 aircraft from World War II to the present, many of them formerly based at Dyess, and is located along the base's main road, Arnold Blvd. All but one plane has been flown before. Its most recent addition is the first operational B-1B Lancer, known as "The Star of Abilene," which made its final flight in 2003. It can be seen at the front gate to Dyess along with a recently retired C-130 Hercules located on the other side of the road.

Another unique feature of Dyess is its main source of energy. Most of the energy Dyess receives is from wind energy (readily available in windy West Texas), and is considered one of the "greenest" bases in the U.S. Air Force.

The remnants of Tye AAF can still be seen today. Parts of the old runway still exist as well as part of its parking area on the west side of Dyess.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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