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Howard Air Force Base is a former
United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosph ...

United States Air Force
base located in
Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several ...

Panama
. It discontinued military operations on 1 November 1999 as a result of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, which specified that US military facilities in the former
Panama Canal Zone The Panama Canal Zone ( es, Zona del Canal de Panamá), also simply known as the Canal Zone, was an unincorporated territory Under United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), o ...

Panama Canal Zone
be closed and the facilities be turned over to the Panamanian government. The airport is located six miles southwest of Balboa, at the southern (Pacific) end of the
Panama Canal The Panama Canal ( es, Canal de Panamá, link=no) is an artificial waterway in Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a List of transcontinental countries#Nor ...

Panama Canal
. Most of the area around it was uninhabited and formed part of the
Panama Canal Zone The Panama Canal Zone ( es, Zona del Canal de Panamá), also simply known as the Canal Zone, was an unincorporated territory Under United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), o ...

Panama Canal Zone
watershed, although
Panama City Panama City ( es, Ciudad de Panamá, links=no; ), also simply known as Panama (or Panamá in Spanish), is the capital and largest city of Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República ...

Panama City
could be reached by crossing the nearby
Bridge of the Americas The Bridge of the Americas ( es, Puente de las Américas; originally known as the Thatcher Ferry Bridge) is a road bridge in Panama, which spans the Pacific Ocean, Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal. Designed by Sverdrup & Parcel, it was compl ...

Bridge of the Americas
. After demilitarization, the facility reopened as Panamá Pacífico International Airport in 2014.


Overview

For over 50 years, Howard Air Force Base was the bastion of US air power in Central and South America. In its heyday, it was the center for counter-drug operations, military and humanitarian airlift, contingencies, joint-nation exercises, and search and rescue. It boasted fighters, cargo planes, tankers, airborne warning and control aircraft, operational support airlift "executive" jets, and search and rescue helicopters. It was also home to a host of transient
U.S. Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
and
U.S. Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = " Anchors Aweigh" ...
aircraft. Personnel assigned to tenant commands at Howard AFB tracked drug traffickers from South America, and its cargo aircraft, primarily rotational
Lockheed C-130 Hercules The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed Corporation, Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin). Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, ...

Lockheed C-130 Hercules
aircraft from the active duty
U.S. Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of the atmosphe ...
, the
Air Force Reserve The Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) is a MAJCOM, major command (MAJCOM) of the United States Air Force, with its headquarters at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. It is the federal Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the U.S. Air Force, consisting of ...
and the
Air National Guard The Air National Guard (ANG), also known as the Air Guard, is a Reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, federal military reserve force of the United States Air Force, as well as the militia (United States), militia air force of eac ...

Air National Guard
, provided theater airlift for
United States Southern Command The United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), located in Doral, Florida, Doral, Florida in Greater Miami, is one of the eleven unified combatant commands in the United States Department of Defense. It is responsible for providing continge ...
(USSOUTHCOM) contingencies, exercises, and disaster relief, and conducted search and rescue in the vast region. Only a portion of the transports, several special-mission C-130s, two
C-27 Spartan The Alenia C-27J Spartan is a military transport aircraft A military transport aircraft, military cargo aircraft or airlifter is a military-owned transport aircraftTransport aircraft is a broad category of aircraft that includes: * Air ...
aircraft, and executive jets belonged to the host unit, the 24th Composite Wing, later redesignated the
24th Wing The 24th Special Operations Wing (Air Force Special Tactics) is a United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water ...

24th Wing
. Although Regular Air Force C-130 aircraft rotated to Howard AFB for 90-day detachments in the 1970s and early 1980s in the support mission called CORONET OAK, this mission was later transferred to the
Air Force Reserve The Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) is a MAJCOM, major command (MAJCOM) of the United States Air Force, with its headquarters at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. It is the federal Air Reserve Component (ARC) of the U.S. Air Force, consisting of ...
and the
Air National Guard The Air National Guard (ANG), also known as the Air Guard, is a Reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, federal military reserve force of the United States Air Force, as well as the militia (United States), militia air force of eac ...

Air National Guard
, which then provided C-130s for VOLANT OAK.I was the detachment commander there
Vought A-7 Corsair II The LTV A-7 Corsair II is an American carrier-capable subsonic light attack aircraft designed and manufactured by Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV). The A-7 was developed during the early 1960s as replacement for the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk. Its design was ...
and later
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine Multirole combat aircraft, multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF). Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it ...

General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
fighters also rotated through Howard AFB.


History

Carved out of the jungle, 500 yards from the Pacific Ocean, Howard Air Base opened in 1942. It was named after Major Charles H. Howard (1892–1936), who flew in Panama in the late 1920s. The only five-star general in Air Force history, Henry H. "Hap" Arnold played a prominent role in the history of Howard AFB and military aviation in Panama. As a captain, Arnold led the first air unit, the 7th Aero Squadron, to the Isthmus on March 29, 1917. Within a week, he left for Washington, DC, and more pressing duties there. When he returned to Panama in May 1939, he was a major general and chief of the Army Air Corps. The purpose of his visit was to select a site for a new air base. He chose what is now Howard AFB and suggested the name Howard Field, in honor of Major Charles H. Howard, a personal friend and former subordinate who had served in Panama during the period 1926–1929 and who had been part of Arnold's crew on his famed flight of B-10 bombers to Alaska in 1934. Major Howard died in an air crash on October 25, 1936. On December 1, 1939, the new air base officially became Howard Field. Construction began shortly thereafter and the first troops arrived on May 15, 1941. Howard Field hosted both fighter and bomber aircraft during the World War II era. The base was inactivated on January 1, 1950 and its real estate turned over to the Army. The Air Force continued to use Howard as a deployment site for joint training exercises during the 1950s, and by December 1961 all USAF flying operations in Panama relocated to Howard. On October 1, 1963, the Air Force officially reclaimed Howard from the Army and the base played a central role in US military operations in Latin America ever since, largely due to its 8500-foot runway and its status as the only jet-capable US air field south of the Rio Grande. Control of the Panama Canal changed hands on 31 December 1999, from the United States to Panama.
Department of DefenseDepartment of Defence or Department of Defense may refer to: Current departments of defence * Department of Defence (Australia) The Department of Defence (DoD) is a Government department, department of the Government of Australia charged with ...
elements began drawing down more than a year earlier, in anticipation of the deadline established by the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977. The last of the fixed-wing US aircraft departed Howard Air Force Base on 1 May 1999. On 1 November 1999, the 24th Wing inactivated and Howard Air Force Base was turned over to the Panamanian government.


Previous names

* Bruja Point Military Reservation, 11 August 1928 * Fort Bruja, 1929 *
Fort KobbeFort Kobbe was an Army fort renamed from Fort Bruja on 15 April 1932 to honor Major General William A. Kobbe. At the time it was located adjacent to Howard Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone The Panama Canal Zone ( es, Zona del Canal de Pan ...
(named after Maj Gen William A. Kobbe, USA, who died 1 November 1931) 1932; airfield section of Fort Kobbe named Howard Field, 1 December 1939 * Howard Air Base, 10 July 1941 * Howard Air Force Base, 1948 – February 1950; October 1955 – 1999


Major commands to which assigned

*
Panama Canal Department The Panama Canal Department was a Department (United States Army), department (geographical command) of the United States Army, responsible for the defense of the Panama Canal Zone between 1917 and 1947. First U.S. Army presence The Isthmian Ca ...
, 1 December 1939 – 19 October 1940 * Panama Canal Air Force, 19 October 1940 – 5 August 1941 * Caribbean Air Force, 5 August 1941 – 18 September 1942 *
Sixth Air Force Sixth is the ordinal number, ordinal form of the number Six (number), six. * The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Sixth Amendment, to the U.S. Constitution * A keg of beer, equal to 5 U.S. gallons or 1/6 barrel * A fraction (mat ...
, 18 September 1942 – 31 July 1946 *
Caribbean Air Command The United States Air Forces Southern Command is an inactive List of Major Commands of the United States Air Force, Major Command of the United States Air Force. It was headquartered at Albrook Air Force Base, Panama Canal Zone, Canal Zone, being ...
, 31 July 1946 – 8 July 1963 : Operations at Howard drew down during the summer of 1949 and all training ceased on 11 October 1949; the base was transferred in inactive status to
United States Army Caribbean United may refer to: Places * United, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community * United, West Virginia, an unincorporated community Arts and entertainment Films * United (2003 film), ''United'' (2003 film), a Norwegian film * United (2011 film) ...
in February 1950. In the 1950s, Albrook AFB used Howard to reduce aircraft activity at Albrook; a joint
United States Army Caribbean United may refer to: Places * United, Pennsylvania, an unincorporated community * United, West Virginia, an unincorporated community Arts and entertainment Films * United (2003 film), ''United'' (2003 film), a Norwegian film * United (2011 film) ...
, and Caribbean Air Comd, USAF, agreement (18 August 1955) permitted the resumption of regular flying operations at Howard in October 1955. *
United States Air Forces Southern Command The United States Air Forces Southern Command is an inactive Major Command Major Command or Major Commands are large formation Formation may refer to: Linguistics * Back-formation, the process of creating a new lexeme by removing or affixes * Wo ...

United States Air Forces Southern Command
, 8 July 1963 – 1 January 1976 *
Tactical Air Command Tactical Air Command (TAC) is an inactive United States Air Force organization. It was a Major Command Major Command or Major Commands are large formation (military), formations of the United States Armed Forces. Historically, a Major Command is ...
: USAF Southern Air Division, 1 January 1976 – 1 January 1989 : 830th Air Division, 1 January 1989 – 15 February 1991 :
Air Forces Panama Air Forces Panama is an inactive United States Air Force (USAF) headquarters. It was assigned to Tactical Air Command, most recently to Twelfth Air Force. Its headquarters were located at Albrook Air Force Station and Howard Air Force Base in th ...
, 15 February 1991 – 11 February 1992 *
Tactical Air Command Tactical Air Command (TAC) is an inactive United States Air Force organization. It was a Major Command Major Command or Major Commands are large formation (military), formations of the United States Armed Forces. Historically, a Major Command is ...
, 11 February – 31 May 1992 *
Air Combat Command Air Combat Command (ACC) is one of nine Major Commands (MAJCOMs) in the United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, exclud ...

Air Combat Command
, 31 May 1992 – 1 November 1999


Major units assigned

* 16th Air Base Group, 15 May 1941 – c. June 1943 * 44th Reconnaissance Squadron, 8 July – 27 October 1941 * 15th Air Base Squadron, 15 May 1941 – 1 October 1945 * 7th Reconnaissance Squadron, 26 November – 11 December 1941 *
59th Bombardment Squadron The 59th Bombardment Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was first activated in Panama in 1941 during the expansion of the United States Army Air Corps before World War II. Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor the squadron ...
, 28 October – 11 December 1941 *
397th Bombardment Squadron The 7th Reconnaissance Squadron is a squadron Squadron may refer to: * Squadron (army), a military unit of cavalry, tanks, or equivalent subdivided into troops or tank companies * Squadron (aviation), a military unit that consists of three or f ...
, 26 November – 10 December 1941 * 51st Pursuit Squadron, 10–23 December 1941 * 53d Fighter Group, 1 January – 26 November 1942 * 72nd Observation Group, 18 January 1942 – 1 November 1943 *
40th Bombardment Group 4 (four) is a number, numeral (linguistics), numeral and numerical digit, digit. It is the natural number following 3 and preceding 5. It is the smallest composite number, and is tetraphobia, considered unlucky in many East Asian cultures. In mat ...
, 16 June – 16 September 1942 *
20th Troop Carrier Squadron The 20th Attack Squadron is a United States Air Force unit, based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. It currently flies the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper and is assigned to the 432d Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. It was originally a ...
, 19 February 1942 – 9 June 1943 *
37th Fighter Group 37th may refer to: *37th (Howitzer) Brigade Royal Field Artillery, a brigade of the Royal Field Artillery which served in the First World War *37th (North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot, raised in Ireland in February 1702 *37th (Northern Ontario) Batt ...

37th Fighter Group
, 20 September 1942 – 1 November 1943 * VI Air Force Ground Support Command, 14 October 1942 – 21 August 1943 * 6th Bombardment Group, 14 January – 1 November 1943 *
40th Bombardment Group 4 (four) is a number, numeral (linguistics), numeral and numerical digit, digit. It is the natural number following 3 and preceding 5. It is the smallest composite number, and is tetraphobia, considered unlucky in many East Asian cultures. In mat ...
, 2–16 June 1943 *
43d Fighter Squadron The 43d Fighter Squadron is part of the 325th Fighter Wing The 325th Fighter Wing (325 FW) is a wing A wing is a type of fin A fin is a thin component or appendage attached to a larger body or structure. Fins typically function as ...
, 9 February – 6 April 1944; 29 August 1944 – 10 January 1945 * 51st Fighter Squadron, 10 June 1944 – 15 October 1946 *
32d Fighter Squadron #REDIRECT IBM ROMP 150px, ROMP The ROMP is a reduced instruction set computer A reduced instruction set computer, or RISC (), is a computer with a small, highly optimized set of instructions, rather than the more specialized set often found ...
, 10 January 1945 – 15 October 1946 *
28th Fighter Squadron 8 (eight) is the natural number following 7 and preceding 9. In mathematics 8 is: * a composite number, its proper divisors being , , and . It is twice 4 or four times 2. * a power of two, being 2 (two cubed), and is the first number of the fo ...
, 25 September 1945 – 15 October 1946 *
30th Fighter Squadron 030 may refer to: * Motorola 68030 The Motorola 68030 ("''sixty-eight-oh-thirty''") is a 32-bit 32-bit microcomputers are computers in which 32-bit microprocessors are the norm. Range for storing integers A 32-bit register can store 232 di ...
, 25 September 1945 – 15 October 1946 * 1300th Military Airlift Squadron, tenant unit administratively assigned to the
437th Military Airlift Wing The 437th Airlift Wing (437 AW) is an active unit of the United States Air Force The United States Air Force (USAF) is the Atmosphere of Earth, air military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight u ...
, 1 March 1978 - 1 December 1982 * 1978th Communications Group (Air Force Communications Command) * 582nd Air Service Group, 20 September 1946 – 26 July 1948 *
36th Fighter Group
36th Fighter Group
, 15 October 1946 – 13 August 1948 : Redesignated
36th Fighter Wing The United States Air Force's 36th Wing is the host wing (air force unit), wing for Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. It is part of Pacific Air Forces' Eleventh Air Force. The 36th Wing provides day-to-day mission support to more than 9,000 milita ...
, 2 July 1948 - 13 August 1948 * 530th Aircraft Control and Warning Group, 15 October 1946 – 16 April 1948 * 5605th Air Base Group, 26 July 1948 – 25 April 1949 * 23d Fighter Wing, 25 April 1949 - 24 September 1949 : 23rd Air Base Group, 25 April 1949 - 24 September 1949 * 560th Air Base Squadron, 24 September 1949 - 15 December 1949 * 5700th Air Base Group (Wing), 24 October 1954 – 8 November 1967 * 605th Air Commando Squadron, 16 November 1963 – 30 September 1972 * 5700th Operations Squadron, 15 May 1964 – 15 March 1968 *
61st Military Airlift Group
61st Military Airlift Group
1 Dec 1984-1 June 1992 *
24th Composite Wing (various designations)
24th Composite Wing (various designations)
, 3 January 1968 – 1 November 1999 : 24th Air Base Group, 8 November 1967 - 1 January 1976 : Redesignated: 24th Combat Support Group, 1 January 1976 - 1 November 1999 * 6933rd Electronic Security Squadron


See also

*
List of former United States military installations in Panama This is a list of United States military installations in Panama, all of which fall within the former Panama Canal Zone, Canal zone. The U.S. military installations in Panama were turned over to local authorities by 1999. Transition phases In 1903, ...
*
List of United States Air Force installations This is a list of Military base, installations operated by the United States Air Force located within the United States and abroad. Locations where the Air Force have a notable presence but do not operate the facility are also listed. Backgroun ...


Notes


References

* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. . * * Fletcher, Harry R. (1989) Air Force Bases Volume II, Active Air Force Bases outside the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History.


External links

* {{authority control 1939 establishments in Panama 1999 disestablishments in Panama Airports in Panama Installations of the United States Air Force in Panama Military installations closed in 1999 Panama Canal Zone