Historical Facts

- In 1952, Pulaski County Citizens Council raised $1.2 million for the purchase of land

- In January 1961, construction began on eighteen underground silos to house Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) across the region north of LRAFB. In September 1980, there was a nearby disaster in Titan II Missile Launch Complex 374-7 site in Southside (Van Buren County). A dropped tool pierced the missile's fuel tank causing it to eventually explode, killing one airman and injuring 21 people. The documentary, Command and Control  tells the story of this disaster.

- During 2009, LRAFB and community council were awarded the Abilene Trophy.

-  AMC Rodeo the 19AW won the Best C-130 Wing and Best Airdrop Wing awards in 2005. 

- Aircraft from the base flew 238 missions in Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE, after an earthquake demolished Haiti in January 2010.

- The local community also won the 2011 Abilene Trophy for best community support to an AMC base.

- The 314 AW, at the 2011 Rodeo, brought home nearly every C-130 Trophy that the 19th didn't bring home. The 314th was the best C-130 Wing in the Air Force in 2011.

- The base faced its own disaster on 25 April 2011, when an EF-2 tornado carved a five-mile path from North Pulaski High School, straight through the base housing area, and across the flightline. The storm damaged or destroyed more than 120 homes, five C-130s, and 50 other base facilities but only injured four people. Community support was immense and fairly immediate.

- LRAFB was the international hub for international aid flowing in from other countries after Hurricane Katrina.

More than 60 years of History

More than 60 years of History

History of LRAFB


- In 1951, the Air Force wanted to build a base in central US. Local citizens wanted that base in Little Rock, but congress said there wasn’t any money for it. Local leaders convinced congress they would buy land and donate it for the base.

- By the end of Sept 1952, the Pulaski County Citizens Council, (Currently LRAFB Community Council), had collected almost one million dollars, allowing the Air Base Committee to begin buying property from more than 150 private landowners near Jacksonville.

- That same month, the USAF announced it would build a $31 million jet bomber base on the site. Fundraising and land purchase took nearly 18 months, with construction beginning Nov. 6, 1953.

- First Units:

- Base assigned to Strategic Air Command, and by Aug. 1954 SAC had identified the 70th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, flying RB-47 Stratojet reconnaissance aircraft and KC-97 aerial refueling aircraft, as the first organization assigned to the base. SAC also assigned the new 384th Bombardment Wing (BW) to the new base, flying B-47 Stratojet bombers.

- First Airmen arrived in 1954 to no base housing, and had to live in the community.

- In January 1955, 70th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing officially activated at the not-yet-completed base, followed by the 384th Bombardment Wing in August.

- First base commander Col Joseph A. Thomas arrived February 1955 only to tragically die in the crash of the base's only aircraft, a C-45, after seeing base’s basic infrastructure finished.

- Base opened to air traffic Sept. 10, 1955, and was dedicated at open house celebration Oct. 9, 1955.

 - First Mission

- During these early years, the 70th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (SRW) performed operational reconnaissance missions flying b-47 Stratojets over the Soviet border, then added training to their mission, before leaving LRAFB in 1962.

- People

   - By mid-1957, there were more than 5,500 military personnel and 300 civilian employees assigned to Little Rock AFB, with housing built by May 1959.

- Second Mission

 - In January 1961, construction began on eighteen underground silos to house Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). During construction, the 308th Strategic Missile Wing (SMW) activated, organized, and began preparing for its strategic deterrence role at Little Rock AFB.

-  On Jan. 1, 1964, the 308 SMW completed its first full operational day with missiles on alert in each of the 18 silos. Qualified crews staffed and supported the missiles 24-hours a day, for the next 23 years.

- New Units

- In 1962 the Arkansas Air National Guard first appeared at LRAFB. The 154th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS) began moving operations out to the base, bringing with it a venerable tradition as a combat unit.

- On Sept. 1, 1964, the 384th Bombardment Wing inactivated ending the era of the Stratojet at LRAFB. The same day that the 384 BW inactivated, the 43d Bombardment Wing (BW) relocated to Little Rock bringing with them a new jet bomber, the supersonic B-58 Hustler.

-  On Jan. 31, 1970, the 43d Bombardment Wing retired its last B-58 and officially inactivated.

- Next Host Unit

- In March 1970 the 64th Tactical Airlift Wing headquarters arrived and became the base’s host unit. With them came the 4442d Combat Crew Training Wing. Both Wings flew C-130 Hercules, a small, agile transport plane. With the arrival of the new Wings, the base was transferred to Tactical Air Command.

- The 314th Tactical Airlift Wing took over the 64 TAW equipment, personnel and mission when the 64th inactivated in May 1971 and the 314th arrived from Ching Chuan Kang Air Base in China.

-  Soon afterward, the 4442d Combat Crew Training Wing inactivated, and the 314 TAW absorbed its training role. On Dec. 31, 1974, Both the TAW and LRAFB transferred from TAC to Military Airlift Command.

- Training and other missions

- Throughout next 13 years, the 314th TAW flew and trained C-130 air and maintenance crews, and the 308th Strategic Missile Wing stood alert with its Titan II ICBMs.

- In 1976, the Arkansas Air National Guard smen of the 189th Air Refueling Group transitioned to a refueling mission, began an around-the-clock ALPHA alert for SAC, and provided refueling assets to a wide variety of tanker task forces.

- In 1986, the unit assumed its current mission, tactical airlift training in the C-130, implementing the Total Force concept, as the base’s active Air Force and Air National Guard wings began working together on a common mission: the training and employment of the world’s best C-130 airlifters.

- In October 1995, the 189th Airlift Wing activated as thefirst Air National Guard unit in the country to be located on an active duty Air Force base flying the same type aircraft as its active duty counterpart, and performing the same day-to-day mission.

(Click here for the rest of the story.)

Iconic Photos

For a little more than six decades, Little Rock Air Force Base has been a part of many monumental events and has hosted many distinguished visitors. Here is a slideshow featuring few of the iconic images that have captured those events.

Share Your Photos


Many of the historic photos we have do not have a lot of information about them readily available. If you have information about some of the photos posted here or have photos you'd like to share as part of our 60th Anniversary celebration, send them to them to the 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office.

Yesterday's Air Force