For the civil airport use of this facility, see Honolulu International Airport
Hickam Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located in the City and County of Honolulu on the island of O'ahu, Hawai'i. Hickam AFB consists of 2,850 acres (12 km²) of land and facilities bordering Pearl Harbor, valued at more than $444 million. It is under the operational control of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), which is headquartered on the base, and is also home to both PACAF's 15th Airlift Wing (15 AW), the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing (154 WG), which is operationally gained by PACAF, and Air Mobility Command's 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing (515 AMOW).
Geography and Physical Layout
Hickam is bounded on the north by Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard
, on the west by the Pearl Harbor entrance channel, on the south by Fort Kamehameha, and on the east by the airport complex.
Hickam AFB shares its runways with adjacent Honolulu International Airport under a shared-use agreement that creates a single airport complex. As of the 2000 Census, the base had a population of 5,471.
The Hickam AFB main gate is reached via Nimitz Highway (State Rte. 92) from Honolulu, and shares its western terminus with the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard main gate. This part of Nimitz Highway can be reached from Interstate H-1 (Exit 15) southeast from Hālawa or west from Honolulu (Exit 15B) and from Kamehameha Highway (State Rte. 99), the eastern termination of which is at Nimitz Highway.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Realign Grand Forks Air Force Base, ND. This would distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing’s KC-135R
aircraft to the 154th Wing (ANG), Hickam AFB, HI (four aircraft) and several other installations. The 154th Wing would also host an active duty associate unit.
In another recommendation, DoD would realign Hickam AFB, HI, by relocating the installation management functions to Naval Station Pearl Harbor, HI, establishing Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI.
Hickam Air Force Base is home to the 15th Airlift Wing (15 AW) and 67 partner units including Headquarters, United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and the Hawaii Air National Guard. In all, Hickam supports 140 tenant and associate units.
The 15th Airlift wing is composed of four groups each with specific functions. The Operations Group controls all flying and airfield operations. The Maintenance Group performs Aircraft and Aircraft support equipment maintenance. The Mission Support Group has a wide range of responsibilities but a few of its functions are Security, Civil Engineering, Communications, Personnel Management, Logistics, Services and Contracting support. While the Medical Group provides medical and dental care.
- 15th Operations Group (Tail Code: HH)
- 15th Mission Support Group
- 15th Civil Engineer Squadron
- 15th Mission Support Group
- 15th Contracting Squadron
- 15th Communications Squadron
- 15th Mission Support Squadron
- 15th Security Forces Squadron
- 15th Services Squadron
- 15th MSS Civilian Personnel Flight
- 15th Maintenance Group
- 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
- 15th Maintenance Squadron
- 15th Maintenance Operations Squadron
- 15th Medical Group
- 15th Aeromedical-Dental Squadron
- 15th Medical Operations Squadron
- 15th Medical Support Squadron
- 15th Airlift Wing Staff Agencies
- Hickam Tenant Units
- 3d Space Operations Squadron/Operating Location-Bravo
- 17th Operational Weather Squadron
- 22d Space Operation Squadron, Det 4
- 48th Aerial Port Squadron (AFRC)
- 55th Space Weather Squadron, Det 5 (AFWA)
- 324th Intelligence Squadron
- 352d Information Operations Squadron
- 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing
- 561st Network Operations Squadron, DET 1
- 624th Regional Support Group (Pacific Division)
- 624th Logistics Support Flight
- 624th Aeromedical Staging Squadron
- 715th Air Mobility Operations Group (HQ)
- 735th Air Mobility Squadron
- 624th Civil Engineering Squadron
- Air Force Audit Agency, Pacific AAO, Team A
- Air Force Office of Special Investigations, DET 601
- Air Mobility Control Center
- Air Salazar Ops Center - (Super Swell)
- Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC)
As of the census
of 2000, there were 5,471 people, 1,632 households, and 1,589 families residing at Hickam. The population density
was 1,703.5/km² (4,419.0/mi²). There were 1,718 housing units at an average density of 534.9/km² (1,387.7/mi²). The racial makeup of the town was 66.20% White
, 11.72% African American
, 0.57% Native American
, 8.21% Asian
, 0.97% Pacific Islander
, 4.08% from other races
, and 8.26% from two or more races. 8.37% of the population were Hispanic
of any race.
In 2000, there were 1,632 households out of which 73.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 90.9% were married couples living together, 3.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 2.6% were non-families. 2.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 0.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.35 and the average family size was 3.40.
On the base, the population was spread out with 40.4% under the age of 18, 7.9% from 18 to 24, 45.5% from 25 to 44, 5.9% from 45 to 64, and 0.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 26 years. For every 100 females there were 102.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.2 males.
The median income for a household at Hickam was $42,298, and the median income for a family was $41,989. Males had a median income of $30,588 versus $23,548 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $15,039; 2.2% of the population and 2.1% of families were below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 2.6% of those under the age of 18 and 25.0% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
- Hawaiian Dept, United States Army, (1935-1940)
- Hawaiian Air Force, (1940-1942)
- Seventh Air Force, (1942-1944)
- Army Air Forces Pacific Ocean Areas (Provisional), (1944-1945)
- Seventh Air Force, (1945)
- Air Transport Command, (1945-1946)
- Pacific Air Command, (1946-1949)
- Military Air Transport Service, (1949-1955)
- Far East Air Forces, (1955-1957)
- Pacific Air Forces, (1957-Present)
Base Operating Units
- 17th Air Base Squadron (September 1937 - February 1938)
- Base HQ and 17th Air Base Squadron (February - September 1938)
- 17th Air Base Squadron (September 1938 - September 1940)
- 17th Air Base Group (September 1940 - July 1942)
- 17th Service Group, HQ and HQ Sq (July 1942 - April 1943)
- 17th Base HQ and Air Base Squadron (April 1943 - July 1944)
- 543d Base HQ and Air Base Squadron (July 1944 - March 1946)
- Air Base Services Div, Hawaiian AMA (March 1946 - December 1947)
- HQ and Base Service Sq, 556th Air Service Group (December 1947 - May 1948)
- Hickam Air Base Group (May - September 1948)
- 6506th Air Base Group (September 1948 - June 1949)
- 1500th Air Base Group (June 1949 - May 1952)
- 1500th Air Base Wing (May 1952 - October 1954)
- 6486th Air Base Wing (October 1954 - November 1971)
- 15th Airlift Wing (November 1971 - Current)
- 154th Wing (19?? - Current)
Major USAAF/USAF Units Assigned
- 5th Bombardment Group (B-17, B-18) (January 1939 - November 1942)
- 11th Bombardment Group (B-17) (February 1940 - July 1942, April - November 1943)
- 19th Troop Carrier Group (C-47) (January 1941 - August 1948)
- 90th Bombardment Group (B-24) (September - November 1942)
- 318th Fighter Group (P-39, P-40, P-47) (October 1942 - June 1944)
- 307th Bombardment Group (B-24) (November 1942 - February 1943)
- 38th Bombardment Group (B-24) (October - November 1943)
- 41st Bombardment Group (B-25) (October - December 1943)
- 1500th Air Transport Group (C-47, C-54) (June 1948 - May 1958)
- 50th Military Airlift Squadron (July 1952 - December 1969)
- 1502d Air Transport Wing (July 1955 - January 1966)
- 61st Military Airlift Wing (September 1966 - 1992)
- 15th Airlift Wing (November 1971 - Present)
- 154th Wing (19?? - Present)
- Hawaiian Air Depot (April 1943 - May 1948)
History shows Hickam played a pivotal role in past Pacific operations - bullet-scarred walls are still visible from the December 7th, 1941 attack that pushed the U.S. into World War II.
In 1934, the Army Air Corps
saw the need for another airfield in Hawai‘i and assigned the Quartermaster Corps
the job of constructing a modern airdrome
from tangled brush and sugar cane fields adjacent to Pearl Harbor. The site consisted of 2,200 acres (9 km²) of ancient, emerged coral reef
covered by a thin layer of soil, with the Pearl Harbor entrance channel and naval reservation marking its western and northern boundaries, John Rodgers Airport (HIA today) to the east, and Fort Kamehameha on the south. The new airfield was dedicated on 31 May 1935
and named in honor of Lt Col Horace Meek Hickam
, a distinguished aviation pioneer who was killed in an aircraft accident the previous November 5 at Fort Crockett
in Galveston, Texas
Construction was still in progress when the first contingent of 12 men and four aircraft under the command of 1st Lt Robert Warren arrived from Luke Field on Ford Island on September 1, 1937. Hickam Field, as it was then known, was completed and officially activated on September 15, 1938. It was the principal army airfield in Hawai‘i and the only one large enough to accommodate the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. In connection with defense plans for the Pacific, aircraft were brought to Hawai‘i throughout 1941 to prepare for potential hostilities.
The first mass flight of bombers (21 B-17Ds) from Hamilton Field, California arrived at Hickam on 14 May 1941. By December, the "Hawaiian Air Force" had been an integrated command for slightly more than one year and consisted of 754 officers and 6,706 enlisted men, with 233 aircraft assigned at its three primary bases: Hickam, Wheeler Field (now Wheeler Army Airfield}, and Bellows Field (now Bellows Air Force Station).
World War II
When the Japanese
attacked O‘ahu's military installations on 7 December
1941, their planes bombed and strafed Hickam to eliminate air opposition and prevent U.S. planes from following them back to their aircraft carriers. Hickam suffered extensive damage and aircraft losses, with 189 people killed and 303 wounded.
During World War II, the base became a major center for training pilots and assembling aircraft. It also served as the hub of the Pacific aerial network, supporting transient aircraft ferrying troops and supplies to—and evacuating wounded from—the forward areas -- a role it would reprise during the Korean and Vietnam wars and earning it the official nickname "America's Bridge Across the Pacific".
After World War II, the Air Force in Hawai‘i was consisted primarily of the Air Transport Command
and its successor, the Military Air Transport Service
(MATS), until 1 July 1957
when Headquarters Far East Air Forces
completed its move from Japan
to Hawai‘i and was redesignated the Pacific Air Forces
(PACAF). The 15th Air Base Wing, host unit at Hickam AFB, supported the Apollo
astronauts in the 1960s and 1970s; Operation Homecoming
(return of prisoners of war from Vietnam) in 1973; Operation Babylift
/New Life (movement of nearly 94,000 orphans, refugees, and evacuees from Southeast Asia) in 1975; and NASA's space shuttle
flights in the 1980s and 1990s. Hickam is home to the 65th Airlift Squadron which transports theater senior military leaders throughout the world in the C-37
aircraft. In mid-2003, the 15th Air Base Wing (15 ABW) was converted to the 15th Airlift Wing (15 AW)as it prepared to beddown and fly the Air Force's newest transport aircraft, the C-17 Globemaster III
. The first Hickam-based C-17 arrived in February 2006, with seven more to follow during the year. The C-17s will be flown by the 535th Airlift Squadron
On September 16, 1985, the Secretary of the Interior designated Hickam AFB a National Historic Landmark, recognizing its key role in the World War II Pacific campaign, including the tattered American flag that flew over the base that morning. It is on display in the lobby of the Pacific Air Forces Headquarters building, whose bullet-scarred walls (the structure was a barracks and mess hall known as "the Big Barracks" in 1941) have been carefully preserved as a reminder to never again be caught unprepared.
Today, the 15 AW remains the launch point of strategic air mobility and operational missions in support of the Global War on Terrorism as well as special air missions in support of the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) and Commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).
Hickam Photo Gallery
Much of this text in an early version of this article was taken from pages on the Hickam Air Force Base website, which as a work of the U.S. Government is presumed to be a public domain resource. That information was supplemented by:
- Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October 1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. CD-ROM.
- Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
- Mueller, Robert (1989). Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
- Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.