10th Air Base Wing

The 10th Air Base Wing is the host wing for the Air Force Academy and provides quality support to enhance the education and development of more than 4,000 future Air Force leaders. The 10th ABW is also responsible for medical, engineering, logistics, communications, personnel, services, security and other key support for more than 25,000 military and civilian personnel. The wing preserves and improves a $3.5-billion base infrastructure and operates a regional medical infrastructure serving four U.S. Air Force installations.

The 10th ABW first stood up as the 73rd Observation Group, activated in Harrisburg, Pa., on Aug. 21, 1941. The group was redesignated twice and moved three times until, in December 1943, it became the 10th Photographic Group (Reconnaissance), stationed at Key Field, Miss.

The 10th PG(R) transitioned through Fort Slocum, N.Y., en route to England in January 1944. Arriving in February, the group settled into Royal Air Force Chargrove as part of 9th Air Force. Throughout World War II, the 10th flew important photographic and reconnaissance missions, receiving special recognition for flying the first mission of D-Day and for the last operational mission of the war -- "First on D-Day, last on V-E Day." The group received a Distinguished Unit citation for its pre-invasion efforts of Normandy May 6-20, 1944.

After the war ended, the 10th became part of the Army of Occupation in Germany. The group flew damage assessment missions over much of Eastern Europe. In June 1945, the 10th became the 10th Reconnaissance Group. The group moved to Pope Field, N.C., in June 1947, and it became the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on Aug. 25, 1948.

The wing activated again in West Germany on July 10, 1952, with many of its assigned units in France. It moved to Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France, in November, but construction delays forced the wing headquarters to return to Spangdahlem AB, West Germany, in May 1953. 

The wing flew a variety of reconnaissance aircraft before transitioning to RB-66 Destroyer aircraft in the mid-1950s. In the late '50s, France limited the number of American forces stationed on its soil. Consequently, the 10th TRW and one other wing relocated to England. Although a few of its assigned units remained in France until the mid-1960s, the wing moved to RAF Alconbury on July 10, 1959.

With its headquarters at RAF Alconbury, the 10th operated its B-66 Destroyers from RAF's Alconbury, Bruntingthorpe and Chelveston. In 1965, the TRW received a new airplane, the RF-4C Phantom II. 

In 1976, the 10th TRW's mission changed slightly. The wing inactivated two of its three RF- 4C squadrons. The 527th Tactical Fighter Training Aggressor Squadron, flying F-5E Tiger IIs, activated at RAF Alconbury on April 1, 1976, bringing a new mission to the wing. The squadron provided combat training to North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces by teaching and demonstrating Soviet air tactics under the title of Dissimilar Air Combat Tactics. The 527th flew the first "Aggressor" sortie from RAF Alconbury in May.

In the late 1980s, the 10th TRW experienced more dramatic changes. After 34 years with the same mission, the 10th TRW received a new one. Its 1st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron inactivated in June 1987, and its RF-4Cs left the base. 

On Aug. 20, the wing was designated as the 10th Tactical Fighter Wing. In 1988, two squadrons of A-10A Thunderbolt IIs, the 509th and 511th Tactical Fighter Squadrons, arrived from RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge. As the A-10s arrived, the 527th Aggressor Squadron moved to RAF Bentwaters. Both A-10 flying squadrons kept a strong close air support vigilance and remained ready to perform their mission in a contingency situation. 

The 511th TFS deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from December 1990 to June 1991. The wing's A-10s played an important part in the air phase of the Gulf War, attacking tanks, Scud missiles and other ground positions.

The 10th TFW again went through dramatic changes in the early 1990s. The wing drew down its A-10 mission between September 1991 and March 1992. Without its aircraft, the 10th TRW continued to support the RAF Alconbury community. The wing was finally redesignated as the 10th Air Base Wing in March 1993 and inactivated October 1994. It was reactivated Nov. 1 at the U.S. Air Force Academy as the Academy's support wing.

(Current as of December 2019)