HomeLibraryFact SheetsDisplay

Beale's History: Past to Present

Edward Fitzgerald Beale (1822-1893) was a nineteenth-century pioneer who graduated from the Naval Academy, served in the California militia and led the experiment to replace Army mules with camels. Beale Air Force Base (formerly World War II's Camp Beale) was named to honor him.

Edward Fitzgerald Beale (1822-1893) was a nineteenth-century pioneer who graduated from the Naval Academy, served in the California militia and led the experiment to replace Army mules with camels. Beale Air Force Base (formerly World War II's Camp Beale) was named to honor him.

Beale Air Force Base not only has a unique mission, but it was named for an unique individual. Unlike most other bases that were named for aviators, Beale was named for Edward Fitzgerald Beale (1822-1893), the nineteenth-century pioneer. Beale graduated from the Naval Academy, served in the California militia and led the experiment to replace Army mules with camels.

Camp Beale opened in October 1942, as a training site for the 13th Armored and the 81st and 96th Infantry Divisions. During World War II, Camp Beale's 86,000 acres were home for more than 60,000 soldiers, a prisoner-of-war encampment, and a 1,000-bed hospital. In 1948, the camp transferred from the Army to the Air Force. The Air Force conducted bombardier and navigator training at Beale and in 1951 reactivated the Beale Bombing and Gunnery Range for aviation engineer training. The base has been under several commands, including Air Training Command, Continental Air Command, Aviation Engineer Force, the Strategic Air Command, and since June 1, 1992, Air Combat Command.

In May 1959, Colonel Paul K. Carlton assumed command of the recently activated 4126th Strategic Wing. The first two KC-135s arrived two months later on July 7,1959. On January 18, 1960, the 31st Bombardment Squadron with its B-52s arrived at Beale to become part of the wing. The 14th Air Division moved to Beale from Travis AFB, one week later. On February 1, 1963, SAC redesignated the 4126th as the 456th Strategic Aerospace Wing. On September 30, 1975, the 456th Bombardment Wing deactivated and the 17th Bombardment Wing activated in its place. On September 30, 1976, the 17th deactivated and the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz., became the 100th Air Refueling Wing and moved to Beale. Many of the people and the tankers that had been part of the 17th now became members of the 100th. The 17th Wing's B-52s moved to other bases. The 100th ARW stayed at Beale until March 15, 1983, when the Air Force deactivated the wing and consolidated its refueling mission and assets into the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. From 1959 until 1965, Beale was support base for three Titan I missile sites near Lincoln, Chico, and the Sutter Buttes. On July 1, 1979, the 7th Missile Warning Squadron brought the Phased Array Warning System (PAVE PAWS) Radar site to Beale. This 10-story structure can detect possible attack by sea-launched ballistic missiles or track a global satellite.

On October 15, 1964, the Department of Defense announced that Beale would be the home of the new, supersonic reconnaissance aircraft, the SR-71 "Blackbird." The 4200th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing activated on January 1, 1965. The new wing received its first aircraft, a T-38 Talon, on July 8, 1965. The first SR-71 did not arrive until January 7, 1966.

On June 25, 1966, the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, that began as the 9th Observation Group in 1922 and its 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron activated as the 1st Aero Squadron in 1913, replaced the 4200th. The first U-2 arrived from Davis Monthan on July 12, 1976. Until January 26, 1990, when budget restrictions forced the retirement of the SR-71, Beale AFB was the home of two of the world's most unique aircraft.

In July 1994, the 350th Air Refueling Squadron transferred from Beale to McConnell AFB, Kansas, taking the last of the KC-135Q tankers with it. Tankers returned in 1998 when the 940 th Air Refueling Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit, transferred to Beale. In 2001, the 12 th Reconnaissance Squadron activated at Beale as the parent organization for the GLOBAL HAWK, the Air Force's newest high-altitude reconnaissance platform. 

Today, Beale AFB is home for the U-2 Dragon Lady, T-38 Talon and RQ-4 Global Hawk. The base, covering nearly 23,000 acres, is home to more than 4,500 military personnel. Beale AFB has an unique name and mission, a historic past, and a promising future.

Social Media

Facebook Twitter
Yesterday members of Beale came together for a speed networking event as part of Women's Equality Day. The focus of the event was to foster small group conversations on a variety of topics, such as the inclusion of men and women across the armed forces, progress that has been made, and how we can improve in the future. 25th Air Force 9th RW Commander Gen Mike Holmes
If you need to talk to someone or elevate an issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to us, 9th RW Commander, 9th RW Command Chief, or even our leadership at ACC. We may not always have the answer or be able to directly help, but we can find the people or organizations that will make sure you have what you need to be your best self. Service before self does not mean service instead of self. When you are at your best, we are all better for it. When you can’t get there yourself, we will be here to help carry the load.
#PortDawgs are a pivotal part of how Recce Town makes our mission happen.
Beale sheet metal Airmen have been restoring a vertical stabilizer to serve as a memorial to Lt. Col. Ira Eadie. Eadie passed away after a U-2 crash September 20, 2016. The vertical stabilizer was salvaged from the crash and after being refurbished it will be put on display in his honor. The official unveiling date and time has yet to be determined. 9th RW Commander
Staying mobile is key in today’s Air Force, good thing Recce Town has an exceptional Individual Deployment Readiness Center team keeping the mission going.
An amazing turnout in an amazing effort to help veterans. The Yuba Sutter Stand Down is still going on, stop by if you get a chance. Do you know all the benefits that veterans can receive?
Another #MissionMonday to kick off your week! The 9th Medical Group's Dental Flight works tirelessly to keep Recce Town's teeth sparkling clean. Clean teeth keep Airmen across the base healthy and fit to fight.
Beale Airmen have been members of the local community for a long time. Being part of the Yuba Sutter Stand Down really is veterans helping veterans both retired and active. The event will be held August 21-23 at the Cotton Rosser Pavilion in Marysville’s Riverfront Park. For more information visit: http://www.yubasutterveteransstanddown.org/
In response to the CSAF-directed Resilience Tactical Pause, Airmen from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing Staff Agency, alongside the Community Support Coordinator took time engaging each other to grow connections to one another, and to help prevent interpersonal and self-directed violence. In all the Air Force is taking a day to actively seek feedback on resiliency. If there is any feedback that you would like to submit regarding issues or information in your work environment, please send it to usaf.resilience@mail.mil #RTP #ResilienceTacticalPause
When brand new U-2 crew chiefs come to Beale they don't start with the 9th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. Instead they begin learning how to work on the U-2 at the 372nd Training Squadron Det. 21. The detachment then molds them into the great Recce crew chiefs you see everyday. To read more: https://bit.ly/31LB5Vp Air Education and Training Command
Sad to see a Col. Werner and family leave Recce Town. Good luck on your next adventures. Warm welcome to Col. Heather Fox, the new 9th Operations Group commander, and her family to Team Beale. ECHO VICTOR!
#ICYMI we recently passed the U-2s 64th anniversary of its first flight. Still going strong! Follow the link below to get more info on the Dragon Lady’s first flight... 👇👇👇 Lockheed Martin 9th RW Commander 9th RW Command Chief https://www.businessinsider.com/anniversary-of-u2-spy-plane-accident-first-flight-in-1955-2019-8
Can you hear me now?
The Airman and Family Readiness Center partnered with Operation Homefront to host this year's back to school brigade. The event helps offset the cost of school supplies for military families by providing them with learning essentials.
The Dragon Lady's roar can be heard far and wide. Thanks to the propulsion shop. The U-2 engine maintenance they do goes a long way in keeping Recce Town flying. To read more: https://bit.ly/2MhgV0Q
Since its beginning, Recce Town has been sending it. What have you done to #SendIt for the mission? #U2dragonlady