PCS Guide: 354th Fighter Wing, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- Eielson Air Force Base was established in 1942 and is the home of the 354th Fighter Wing. Located in eastern Alaska, the base's flying units have seen action in World War II, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf.

The base occupies 63,000 acres south east of Fairbanks, Alaska, and supports a base population of about 7,000 active-duty, reserve and guard members, families and civilian employees.

The 168th Air Refueling Wing is also located at Eielson AFB. The wing is the primary tanker unit for the Arctic Region and Pacific Rim and annually transfers more than 17 million pounds of fuel in flight to mostly active-duty aircraft on operational missions. The wing traces its roots back to the 437th Bombardment Squadron, originally activated at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, in June of 1942, and is responsible for all KC-135 operations.

Several units are associated with the base, including the 353rd Combat Training Squadron and the Detachment 1, 66th TRS. The Detachment 1, 210th Rescue Squadron provides maintenance and operations support for up to two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and provides search-and-rescue for both military and civilian aviators north of the Alaska Range. Other detachments include the Detachment 632, Air Force Office of Special Investigations and Detachment 460, Air Force Technical Applications Center.

THE HISTORY OF EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE

Eielson AFB was named after pilot Carl Ben Eielson. Eielson served during World War I with the U.S. Army Signal Corps' aviation section. The war ended one month before he was scheduled to deploy to France. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant in March 1919 and was discharged the same day. During the next several years Eielson worked as a teacher and pilot before founding his own aviation company. The company eventually closed after a crash and Eielson began flying with Hubert Wilkins. In 1928, they became the first pilots to successfully fly across the North Pole. At the age of 32, Eielson and his friend, Earl Borland, died while flying across the Bering Strait to Siberia in an attempt to rescue the crew and cargo of the ice-bound ship, the Nanuk.

At the end of World War II, Eielson AFB, closed due to lack of use and was reopened the next year with a new mission, to support Arctic training for Air Force and strategic units.
Since reopening, Eielson AFB has hosted several wings. One of its current wings, the 354th FTW moved there in August 1993. Within the first year of its arrival the wing hosted an arctic combat search and rescue exercise between the U.S. Canada and Russia; these were the same countries that took part in the search and recovery efforts following the fatal crash of Carl Eielson and his friend and co-pilot Earl Borland.

Eielson AFB history and information are culled from historical facts. Courtesy of the 17th Training Wing Public Affairs.