Home to the 17th Training Wing, Goodfellow Air Force Base is a United States Air Force training installation subordinate to Air Education & Training Command. Goodfellow's mission is to develop firefighters and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance professionals on behalf of the Department of Defense. Located on 1,235 acres near the west Texas city of San Angelo, Goodfellow boasts a population of about 5,500, half of whom are students.
Goodfellow's history traces to the period prior to Pearl Harbor when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, responding to the train of aggression across Europe, Africa, and Asia, began a program of preparedness that included the construction of facilities dedicated to basic and advanced air training. As several such bases were envisioned for Texas, civic leaders from San Angelo immediately commended their community to the War Department. A generous offer of utility hookups, a railroad spur, and a 50-year lease on 640 acres at one dollar per year plus perhaps some powerful political connection helped decide the issue.
Construction of the new flying training school began at once. Officially established on 17 August 1940, the airfield was ready for occupancy by January 1941 and the first students arrived in February. On 27 May 1941 the post was officially named Goodfellow Field.
The next four years witnessed the graduation of nearly 10,000 pilots and the decoration of scores upon scores of these for outstanding heroism in action against Axis forces. Goodfellow continued to train pilots into the post war, first on the T-6 Texan and the T-28 Trojan and then, beginning in 1954, on the twin-engine B-25 Mitchell. On 3 September 1958, with nearly 20,000 aviators to its credit, Goodfellow graduated its last class of pilots.
The end of flying training at Goodfellow marked the transfer of the base from Air Training Command to the USAF Security Service and the beginning of a new mission – the training of Air Force personnel in the advanced cryptologic skills that the Security Service required at installations and collection sites worldwide. Eight years later the mission expanded further to include joint-service training in these same skills for Army, Navy and, later, Marine Corps personnel.
Reverting to Air Training Command in 1978, the base emerged from a close brush with closure to become a Technical Training Center in 1985 and the site for the consolidation of all Air Force-managed intelligence training. Eight years later, on 1 July 1993, the historic 17th Training Wing was activated at Goodfellow. Accompanying the change in name was a marked diversification and increase in mission, as the base realignment and closure process brought fire protection training from Chanute AFB and special instruments training from Lowry AFB to Goodfellow. Over the next two decades the production of graduates for the field more than doubled while the transformation of the Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) enterprise delivered a fresh pedagogy focused on critical thinking and analysis in place of simple repetition and memorization. In support of such sweeping academic change Goodfellow underwent extensive modernization and growth, transporting it fully into the 21st century as one of the most modern installations in the United States Air Force.