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 1076 units of family housing, and encompasses of land. The base has a total economic impact of over $446 million annually on the local community.
The 7 BW consists of the following groups:
The 317th AG consists of the following squadrons:
Dyess AFB is also home to several tenant units, including Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) Detachment 222.
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 caught fire in flight on 23 Dec 1943 near Burbank, CA. He refused to bail out over a populated area and died in the crash of his P-38 in a vacant lot.
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 which received A-24, A-26, P-40, and P-47 aircraft in Oct 1943 and began training. It was disbanded shortly after leaving Abilene on 1 Apr 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 Apr 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 sub-base 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.
Dyess' first active combat unit was the 341st Bombardment Wing, which activated on September 1, 1955. The 341st was part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), flying the B-47 Stratojet, which it continued to operate until its deactivation 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 Bomb 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. There were even signs in the base's movie theater that 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.
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 conflict, 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 TAC 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 13 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. It was intended to replace the base's B-52 Stratofortresses and in October 1986, officially took over the nuclear alert duties. 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 being reassigned to the newly established Air Combat Command (ACC), and the 463 AW being assigned to the new Air Mobility Command (AMC).
On October 1, 1993, the 96 BW and 463 AW were both deactivated 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 BRAC 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 the 1997, Dyess' C-130s were transferred back to Air Mobility Command, and the 317th Airlift Group was created 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.
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 U.S. Air Force.
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.