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Wurtsmith Air Force Base
Shield Strategic Air Command.png
Part of Air/Aersopace Defense Command (ADC)
and Strategic Air Command (SAC)
Oscoda Township, Iosco County, Michigan
Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport-2006-USGS.jpg
2006 USGS Airphoto. Note the christmas tree alert staging area at top center.
Wurtsmith Air Force Base is located in Michigan
Wurtsmith Air Force Base
Wurtsmith Air Force Base
Location of Wurtsmith Air Force Base
Coordinates44°27′09″N 083°22′49″W / 44.45250°N 83.38028°W / 44.45250; -83.38028
TypeAir Force Base
Site information
Controlled byUnited States Air Force
Site history
Built1923
In use1923–1993
Garrison information
Garrison379th Bombardment Wing
Oscoda Army Airfield, 1943
Oscoda Army Airfield, 1943

Wurtsmith Air Force Base is a decommissioned United States Air Force base in Iosco County, Michigan. It operated from 1923 until decommissioned in 1993. On January 18, 1994 it was listed as a Superfund due to extensive groundwater contamination with heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethylene, 1,1-dichloroethane, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and vinyl chloride. In 2010, Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination was discovered, and as of 2022 remediation is still ongoing.

During the Cold War, it was one of three Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases in Michigan with the B-52 bomber, the others (Kincheloe AFB and Sawyer AFB) were in the Upper Peninsula. The base was named in honor of Major General Paul Wurtsmith, commander of SAC's Eighth Air Force, who was killed when his B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed on Cold Mountain near Asheville, North Carolina, on September 13, 1946.[1][2]

In 2022, Granot Loma was being touted as a potential space port in the Upper Peninsula.[3] This would be in tandem with Oscoda, Michigan's Wurtsmith Air Force Base.[3]

Previous names

Major commands to which assigned

Re-designated Strategic Air Command, 21 March 1946

Major units assigned

Re-designated 2476th Base Service Squadron, 1 January 1949
Re-designated 4655th Base Service Squadron, 1 December 1950
Re-designated 527th Air Defense Group, 16 February 1953 – 15 October 1955

Environmental contamination

On January 18, 1994 Wurtsmith was listed as a Superfund due to extensive groundwater contamination with heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethylene, 1,1-dichloroethane, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, and vinyl chloride.

In March 2010 the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) became aware of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances concentrations in groundwater, when EGLE staff sampled at a former fire training area on the base. Air Force completed the PFAS Preliminary Assessment, Site Inspection, and planned the Remedial Investigation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Air Force performed three removal actions and planned two interim remedial actions.[4] On November 1, 2017, more than twenty-two years after being listed as a superfundsite Wurtsmith held its first Restoration Advisory Board meeting.[5]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wurtsmith Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) meetings became virtual events, yet in August 2021 RAB members said that progress was made on the WAFB cleanup, and that the relationship between the Air Force and the community has improved.[6]

See also

References

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

Further reading

Coordinates: 44°27′09″N 83°22′49″W / 44.4525°N 83.380278°W / 44.4525; -83.380278