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Dyess Air Force Base
Near Abilene, Texas in United States of America
Dyess AFB is located in North America
Dyess AFB
Dyess AFB
Location in North America
Dyess AFB is located in the United States
Dyess AFB
Dyess AFB
Location in the United States
Dyess AFB is located in Texas
Dyess AFB
Dyess AFB
Location in Texas
Coordinates32°25′15″N 099°51′17″W / 32.42083°N 99.85472°W / 32.42083; -99.85472
TypeUS Air Force Base
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defense
OperatorUS Air Force
Controlled byAir Force Global Strike Command
Site history
Built1942 (1942) (as Tye Army Air Field)
In use1942 – present
Garrison information
Airfield information
IdentifiersIATA: DYS, ICAO: KDYS, WMO: 690190
Elevation545.6 metres (1,790 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
16/34 4,114.8 metres (13,500 ft) PEM
164°/344° Strip 1,066.2 metres (3,498 ft) Asphalt
163°/343° Strip 1,066.8 metres (3,500 ft) Graded or rolled earth
Other airfield
Marion drop zone
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]
Main gate entrance sign
7th Bomb Wing Headquarters
Abilene Army Airfield, mid-1940s.

Dyess Air Force Base (AFB) (IATA: DYS, ICAO: KDYS, FAA LID: DYS) is a United States Air Force (USAF) base located about 7 miles (11 km) southwest of downtown Abilene, Texas, and 150 miles (240 km) west of Fort Worth, Texas.

The host unit at Dyess is the 7th Bomb Wing assigned to the Global Strike Command Eighth Air Force. The wing is one of only two B-1B Lancer strategic bomber wings in the USAF, the other being the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.

The 317th Airlift Wing, assigned to Air Mobility Command Eighteenth Air Force, is a tenant unit and one of four world-wide active-duty locations for the C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft.[2]

Dyess AFB was established in 1942 as Abilene Army Air Base. It was renamed in honor of Texas native and Bataan Death March survivor Lieutenant Colonel William Dyess. As of 2023, the 7th Bomb Wing is commanded by Colonel Seth W. Spanier. The vice commander is Colonel Samuel M. Friend and the command chief master sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Richelle D. Baker.[3]

Dyess covers 6,409-acre (25.94 km2), and is home to the 7th Bomb Wing, which consists of four groups. The 9th and 28th Bomb Squadrons fly the B-1B. In addition, the 28th Bomb Squadron is the USAF schoolhouse for all B-1B aircrew members.

The base employs more than 5,000 people, making it the single largest employer in the area. Dyess AFB has nearly 200 facilities on base, plus 988 units of family housing, and encompasses 6,117 acres (24.75 km2) of land. The base has a total economic impact of nearly $310 million yearly on the local community.


The base is named after Lt Col William Edwin Dyess, a native of Albany, Texas, who was captured by the Japanese on Bataan in April 1942. Dyess escaped in April 1943 and fought with guerilla forces on Mindanao until evacuated by submarine in July 1943. During retraining in the United States, his P-38 Lightning caught fire in flight on 23 December 1943 near Burbank, California. He refused to bail out over a populated area and died in the crash of his P-38 in a vacant lot.[4]

World War II

In 1942, the United States Army Air Forces built Tye Army Air Field, as it was popularly known, on the site of what is now known as Dyess AFB. On 18 December 1942, the field was opened and was initially named Abilene Army Air Base. The name was changed on 8 April 1943 to Abilene Army Airfield. The first host unit as Abilene AAB was the 474th Base HQ and Airbase Squadron, established on 18 December 1942. The airfield was initially assigned to Second Air Force and its mission was to be a flying training center for cadets.

Known groups which trained at the base during the war were:

The 77th and 69th groups were units that trained reconnaissance personnel who later served overseas. The 408th was a new group that received A-24, A-26, P-40, and P-47 aircraft in October 1943 and began training. It was disbanded shortly after leaving Abilene on 1 April 1944.

On 25 March 1944, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt training for flight cadets was taken over by the 261st Army Air Force Base Unit. Training continued until 1 April 1946.

With the end of the war, the base was declared inactive on 31 January 1946. Although assigned to Continental Air Command, Abilene AAF was classified as an inactive subbase of Fort Worth Army Airfield and was sold to the city of Abilene for $1. It was used as a training facility for the Texas Army National Guard for several years.

Cold War

Nike missile sites around Dyess AFB

Shortly after the Korean War broke out, the city of Abilene called for the need of a military installation. They believed the 1,500 acres (6 km2) of the former Tye AAF were the perfect site for a new base. The city's leaders went to The Pentagon with their request. The city showed their determination for a new base by raising almost $1 million to purchase an additional 3,500 acres (14 km2) adjacent to the site. They were able to attract then U.S. Senator Lyndon B. Johnson's (D-TX) attention, who had the power to persuade military officials to reactivate the base in Abilene. Finally, in July 1952, Congress approved the $32 million needed to construct an air force base on the Tye AAF site. It was to be called Abilene Air Force Base and a little over three years after first starting construction, the base was opened on 15 April 1956.

Dyess' first active combat unit was the 341st Bombardment Wing, which activated on 1 September 1955. The 341st was part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), flying the B-47 Stratojet, which it continued to operate until its inactivation on 25 June 1961.

On 1 December 1956, the name of the base was changed to Dyess Air Force Base in honor of the late Lt Col William E. Dyess, USAAF.

The 96th Bombardment Wing moved to Dyess on 8 September 1957 and for a few years worked alongside the 341st. It included not just B-47 and B-52 nuclear bombers, but also the KC-97 and later on the KC-135 refueling aircraft. During the Cold War, the base was constantly on alert in case of nuclear attack. Even signs in the base's movie theater would instantly alert pilots in the scenario that the USSR would initiate a nuclear attack during a movie. These can still be seen today at the theater.

During the Vietnam War, B-52s and KC-135s (917th ARS) from the 96th BW participated heavily in various air campaigns, including Arc Light, Young Tiger, Bullet Shot, Linebacker, and Linebacker II missions over North and South Vietnam. The B-52s flew combat missions primarily out of Andersen AFB, Guam and Utapao RTAFB, Thailand during these missions. The KC-135As flew primarily out of Utapao RTAFB, Thailand, Clark AFB, Philippines, Kadena AFB, Okinawa, Andersen AFB, Guam, and NAS Agana, Guam.

On 19 November 1959, the United States Army conducted groundbreaking ceremonies at Dyess AFB for the battalion headquarters of the 5th Missile Battalion, 517th Artillery of the U.S. Army Air Defense Command. Installed to defend the SAC bombers and Atlas F missile silos stationed at and around Dyess AFB, the two Nike Hercules sites were controlled by a "BIRDIE" system installed at Sweetwater Air Force Station. Site DY-10, located at Fort Phantom Hill 32°34′49″N 099°43′02″W / 32.58028°N 99.71722°W / 32.58028; -99.71722 and site DY-50, located southwest of Abilene 32°16′17″N 099°57′32″W / 32.27139°N 99.95889°W / 32.27139; -99.95889, remained operational from 1960 until 1966.

Units stationed at Dyess Air Force Base while the 5/517th was operational included SAC's 819th Strategic Aerospace Division, the 96th BW, and the 578th Strategic Missile Squadron. Several of the 578th's Altas F Silos are located near the Nike sites. The Army Air Defense Command Post was located 37 miles west at Sweetwater AFS. Both of the sites were located near former Army posts. Camp Barkeley served as a World War II infantry division training center, while Fort Phantom Hill was a frontier outpost and stop on the Butterfield stage route.

C-130 aircraft depart in a minimum-interval takeoff at Dyess during a mass airdrop exercise, December 1988.

Since 1961, various models of C-130 Hercules aircraft have been stationed at Dyess AFB. The C-130s were originally assigned to the 64th Troop Carrier Wing (TCW) and from 1963 to 1972, the 516th Troop Carrier Wing was the host C-130 wing. In 1972, the 516 TCW was replaced with the 463d Tactical Airlift Wing (463 TAW). During the Vietnam War, TAC C-130 crews routinely rotated to forward based C-130 wings in the Pacific theater to support operations in Vietnam. In 1974, the 463 TAW was reassigned from Tactical Air Command to Military Airlift Command (MAC) as part of a USAF-wide initiative to place both strategic and tactical airlift assets under MAC control.

From 1962 to 1965, Dyess Air Force Base had 12 SM-65 Atlas missile sites stationed around it. The Dyess sites were operated by the 578th Strategic Missile Squadron. After being decommissioned in 1965, the Atlas missiles were removed and all sites demilitarized.

In June 1985, the 96th received its first B-1B Lancer replacing the B-52 Stratofortress, and in October 1986, assumed nuclear alert status. Since achieving IOC, Dyess has been recognized as the premier bomber-training center and leads the fleet in maintaining the highest mission capability status of its aircraft, avionics test stations and support equipment. Shortly after, the Soviet Union fell and left many wondering the fate of the base. In 1991, the 463d Tactical Airlift Wing was simply designated the 463d Airlift Wing (463 AW). In October 1992, the parent commands of both wings changed. The 96 BW was reassigned to the newly established Air Combat Command, and the 463 AW was assigned to the new Air Mobility Command.

The 1990s

The number-two ship of the C-130 Avionic Modernization Program from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., visited Dyess 27 November 2007. The program will update the avionics on more than 400 C-130s. Part of the program includes new navigation system, a heads-up display, an all-digital cockpit, and other technology advances.

On 1 October 1993, the 96 BW and 463 AW were both inactivated and replaced by the 7th Wing, a former B-52 and KC-135 wing that had been located at the former Carswell AFB, which was being realigned as NAS Fort Worth JRB/Carswell ARS as a result of Base Realignment and Closure action. The 7th Wing incorporated Dyess' B-1Bs and C-130s, the latter which transferred from Air Mobility Command to Air Combat Command.

Within its first year, the 7th Wing's diverse mission made it one of the most active units in the United States Air Force. The C-130s were deployed around the globe performing several airlift missions to Europe and the Persian Gulf. The crews and support people of the B-1s focused on enhancing the purpose of the Lancer in a post-Soviet 21st century.

In 1997, Dyess' C-130s were transferred back to Air Mobility Command, and the 317th Airlift Group was reactivated as the parent unit for Dyess' C-130 squadrons. At the same time, the 7th Wing was redesignated the 7th Bomb Wing. Despite this separation as units, both the 7th Bomb Wing and the 317th Airlift Group remained at Dyess.

One of the many unique features of Dyess is its extensive collection of static military aircraft on display. Collectively known as the "Dyess Linear Air Park", it contains 34 aircraft, 7 inert ordinances and one model from World War II to the present, many of them formerly based at Dyess, and is located along the base's main road, Arnold Blvd. All but one plane has been flown before. Its most recent addition is the first operational B-1B Lancer, known as The Star of Abilene, which made its final flight in 2003. It can be seen at the front gate to Dyess along with a recently retired C-130 Hercules located on the other side of the road (a tribute to the two main aircraft currently housed at Dyess).

Another unique feature of Dyess is its main source of energy. In January 2003, Dyess became the first Department of Defense installation in the United States to be powered exclusively from renewable wind energy. Today, most of the energy Dyess receives is from other sources of renewable energy, such as biomass, and is considered one of the "greenest" bases in the USAF.

The remnants of Tye AAF can still be seen today. Parts of the old runway still exist, as well as part of its parking area on the west side of Dyess.

Global War on Terrorism

The 7th Bomb Wing and 317th Airlift Group were called to duty once again shortly after 11 September 2001. Both played and continue to play vital roles in both Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Many of the 7th BW's B-1s and support personnel deploy to Southwest Asia. From there, the 7 BW provides close air support to troops in the field and precision strike missions with the B-1B Lancer. The 317th Airlift Group has been deployed continuously to Southwest Asia since December 2003, where the group provides airlift support to OIF, OEF, and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa operations.

On 1 October 2015, Dyess became part of Global Strike Command.[5]

Role and operations

The host unit at Dyess is the 7th Bomb Wing of the Global Strike Command, which was activated on 1 October 1993. The wing performs combat training with the Boeing B-1B Lancer bomber and is the USAF's premier operational B-1B unit with 36 aircraft.

The wing consists of these groups:

The 317th Airlift Wing (317 AW), an Air Mobility Command tenant unit, performs Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules airlift missions with 28 aircraft assigned. The wing is now the largest C-130J unit in the world.

The 317th AW consists of these squadrons:

Dyess AFB is also home to several tenant units, including Air Force Office of Special Investigations Detachment 222.

Based units

Flying and notable nonflying units based at Dyess Air Force Base:[6]

Units marked GSU are geographically separate units, which although based at Dyess, are subordinate to a parent unit based at another location.

United States Air Force

Previous names

Prior to this date popularly known as Tye Field and Tye Army Air Base

Major commands to which assigned

Base operating units

Major units assigned

SM-65F Atlas missile sites

SM-65F Atlas Missile Sites

The 578th Strategic Missile Squadron operated twelve missile sites, of one missile at each site.

See also


  1. ^ "Airport Diagram – Dyess AFB (KDYS)" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration. 20 June 2019. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 June 2019. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  2. ^ "C-130 Hercules". Air Force. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  3. ^ "CHIEF MASTER SERGEANT RAYMOND K. MOTT > Dyess Air Force Base > Display". Archived from the original on 19 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Comrades Pay Final Tribute to Lt. Col. William E. Dyess". Los Angeles Times. 25 December 1943.
  5. ^ Jensen, Will (28 September 2015). "Ceremony at Dyess marks transition within U.S. Air Force". KTXS-TV. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  6. ^ "Units". Dyess Air Force Base. US Air Force. Retrieved 22 June 2019.

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from Dyess Air Force Base. United States Air Force.