Legendary New Mexico: a Brief History of Our Military Bases

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For more than 70 years, New Mexico has been a major military crossroads for the United States.

At the dawn of the second World War, the Albuquerque Army Air Field was training thousands of military personnel on the B-17 “Flying Fortress”. The privately-owned Portair Field in Clovis became the Clovis Army Air Field and, just east of the White Sands Proving Grounds, the Alamogordo Army Air Base was established.

As the war pushed on, the B-29 Superfortress became an integral part in the Pacific Theater. Planes stationed at Alamogordo saw more action, as did planes from Albuquerque and Clovis. In July 1945, the world was ushered into the nuclear age with the detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb at Trinity -located in the northern stretch of White Sands.

In September of 1947, the United States Air Force was officially established. By then, Albuquerque’s base was re-named Kirtland, Clovis became Cannon Air Force Base and Alamogordo became Holloman.

Throughout the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, tactical wings based at Cannon and Holloman played key roles in both wars. During a five-month period, Holloman’s 49th Tactical Wing suffered zero planes down or casualties.

Kirtland has stayed on the forefront of nuclear development for both war and peacetime applications, with many of the discoveries being tested south at White Sands Missile Range. And with New Mexico’s wide open spaces and similarities to modern wartime theaters, our state’s role in the war on terror will continue to provide support and advancement for our United States military.

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