JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --
JBA celebrated its 75th anniversary of serving the National Capital Region by hosting an event for service members here, May 2.
The event, which featured guest speakers and performances by the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard drill team and the U.S. Air Force’s Premier Rock Band Max Impact, commemorated the installation’s history of readiness and response.
“We don’t often get the chance to reflect on our long history of accomplishments together as an installation,” said Col. Jocelyn J. Schermerhorn, 11th Wing and JBA vice commander “Celebrating the role JBA and its service members play in the defense of our nation is a great way to pay our respects to those who came before us and recognize today’s Airmen and the missions ahead.”
The keynote speaker Lt. Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, Air Force Headquarters director of staff and former commander of the 89th Airlift Wing, spoke from personal experience about how she and others have seen JBA continue to project air power over the years, especially in times of crisis when the 9/11 attack occurred.
“Nothing exemplifies the readiness and response role of the Airmen here at Andrews like the role you played in the days following the tragic events of 9/11,” Van Ovost said. “You had POTUS safely moving across the CONUS, your medical team were treating injured personnel at the Pentagon, your biomedical engineers were also deployed for rescue and recovery, and the Air National Guard was airborne searching the skies for uncertain additional threats.”
In addition to responding to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, JBA has been involved in a variety of historical events since it became operational on May 2, 1943.
It was first named Camp Springs Army Air Field, and housed the 463rd Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron. The base received its namesake from Army Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, a founding father in the formation of the U.S. Air Force. The day after Camp Springs became operational, Andrews crashed in the mountains of Iceland when flying in a B-24 Liberator. The base was renamed Andrews Field during a dedication ceremony March 31, 1945.
The base’s original mission was to train fighter pilots for overseas combat duty, but the mission evolved from developing fighter units to providing support to the NCR in numerous fashions. The base is now home to three higher headquarters, five wings and about 80 tenant units today, each having their own role in readiness and responsiveness.
“Whether it’s homeland defense, force protection for our senior leaders or the gateway to the world as they enter America, this place has been at the center of all of that for the last 75 years,” said Col. E. John Teichert, 11th Wing and JBA commander.
JBA is known for its particularly high-visibility mission. It is one of two bases, the other being Joint Base Annacostia-Bolling, Washington D.C., with the duty of providing transportation to the president of the United States as well as senior government and military leaders.
JBA has provided air transportation for the president since Nov. 24, 1946, when former President Harry S. Truman used the air field for transportation to visit family. Since then, any travel the POTUS, or any domestic or foreign military, governmental or religious dignitary needs, is completed at JBA.
A video showing the history and purpose of Joint Base Andrews was featured at the event. Audience members were also treated to original songs by Max Impact as well as static displays of a Boeing C-32, F-16 Fighting Falcon, UH-1N Huey and the KC-135 Stratotanker, all aircraft used to support the NCR and global contingencies.
“We’re known as America’s Airfield for a reason, because we are on the edge of our nation’s capital and seat of power for our nation and for the world,” Teichert said. “To have an Air Force base here that facilitates the ability to project airpower and diplomacy is really why this base exists in this location, and the impact we have is massive.”