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UPPER HEYFORD

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7509th Air Base Squadron /
3918th Air Base Group
From the 1954 RAF Upper Heyford Yearbook. Submitted by Gerald 'Jerry' Moore, 3918th Headquarters Squadron, Dec 1952 - Dec 1955.

The 7509th Air Base Squadron / 3918th Air Base Group History at RAF Upper Heyford
Information Source: Exceprts from a 1954 RAF Upper Heyford Yearbook submitted by Gerald "Jerry" E. Moore, A/1C (at that time), 3918th Headquarters Squadron, Dec 1952 - Dec 1955.

The story of Royal Air Force Station Upper Heyford begins back in World War I when the site was used to train R.A.F. personnel. During World War II the base was also used for training, yet this time the men of the R.A.F. learned paratroop tactics.
    But the current history of Upper Heyford has its beginning on 7 July 1950, when the first group of United States Air Force personnel arrived on the station. The original organization consisted of one officer and 26 airmen. It was designated the 7509th Air Base Squadron.
    The first base commander was Lt. Col. Frank A. Roper. He served later as deputy commander. The first base adjutant was Capt. John H. Gabbert. He arrived at Upper Heyford in July 1950; he served here until November 1950.
    The Heyford airbase site was situated on a large tableland which dropped off the west end into the villages of Upper and Lower Heyford. Lower Heyford is situated on the banks of the Cherwell river, which runs through a valley formed by two ridges.
    Up at the Heyford airdrome, there was only a small contingent of R.A.F. personnel on duty. Their main work was light- service and maintenance of the few transient aircraft that made occasional use of the small landing strip.
    Then on 18 July 1950, two U.S. Army Aviation Engineer battalions moved in. They were the 801st and the 804th units. Theirs was the job to increase the capability of Upper Heyford to accommodate the latest type of USAF bombers. It was a big job. All existing airfield facilities were inadequate. The engineers pitched in to the job.
    The main runway was only 6,ooo feet long by 150 feet wide, but it was later lengthened and widened.
    On 15 May 1951 the British Air Ministry officially turned over the station to the USAF. The day was marked by a review of troops. On the reviewing stand were : Maj. Gen. Leon W. Johnson, commanding general, Third Air Force; Col. William L. Snowden, commanding, 7509th Air Base Squadron and Chief Air Marshal Sir Hugh P. Llovd, Commander in Chief R.A.F. Bomber Command....
    Then on 25 May 1951 the 7509th Air Base Squadron was redesignated a Group and given the same number.
   

On 30 November 1951 Gen. Johnson and Col. Snowden and others watched base personnel pass in review, thus officially, confirming the operational status of the base under the USAF.
    At the beginning of the following year, changes took place in the base organization. On 10 January 1952, the 7509th Air Base Group at Upper Heyford became the 3918th Air Base Group. Also on this date the Third Air Force, under United States Air Force Europe, relinquished control of the station and turned it over to the Strategic Air Command. ... Yet in this period of time, another change took place. Col. Alvan C. Gillem II took command of the 3918th Air Base Group-25 January 1952.
    Col. Gillem saw great expansion in the construction program -road widening, erection of Orlit concrete buildings, extension of the main runway. In fact the base felt the impact of his leadership-top support to rotating TDY wings from the ZI, implementation of EWP exercises, and accentuation of all phases of base education.
    Then on 22 June 1953, the 3918th Air Base Group received a new commander. He was Col. F. V. Wikstrom from Hq. Seventh Air Division at South Ruislip, Middlesex. Colonel Wikstrom brought with him a thorough knowledge of military planning; he had been Chief of plans at 7AD. Under his leadership the 3918th Air Base Group reached new heights of success. Projects blossomed - construction, road widening, airfield work. He departed for the ZI on 12 August 1954.
    Since 1950 the base has supported eight TDY rotational units. They were: 93rd Bomb Wing, 97th Air Refueling Squadron, 509th Air Refueling Squadron, 301st Bomb Wing, 8th Air Sea Rescue Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing, 5th Bomb Wing Detachment, and the 22nd Bomb Wing.
    The commanders at Upper Heyford since 1950 have been: Lt. Col. Roper, 7 July 1950-May 1951; Col Snowden, June 1951- 29 December 1951; Lt. Col. Roper took command from Col. Snowden and served until 25 January 1952; Col. Gillern assumed command on 25 January 1952; and Col. Wikstrom took command on 22 June 1953.
    On 13 August 1954, Col. Timothy J. Dacey, Jr. assumed command of the 3918th Air Base Group. He came from Headquarters, Strategic Air Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Nebraska.

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This page was last updated on 20 April 2008.