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D-M Airman 1st Class Michael Langerman competes in obstacle course competition
D-M Airman 1st Class Michael Langerman, 355th Security Forces Squadron, competes in obstacle course event at the Air Combat Command Contending Warrior Challenge, September 1999 Photo: Master Sgt. Kevin Johnson

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona, has a strong history as a former bomber base and is currently an active combat wing. It was named in honor of Lieutenants Samuel H. Davis and Oscar Monthan, two Tucsonans and World War I era pilots who died in separate military aircraft accidents. D-M has always played a major role in the economy of the region. Today, D-M is the second largest employer in the city, followed by the University of Arizona. Approximately 6,000 military and 1,700 civilian employees work at Davis-Monthan and nearly 13,000 military retirees reside in the Tucson area.

When the base was constructed in the early 40s, it was several miles southeast of the city, but with the growth of Tucson, it now finds itself within city limits and surrounded by residential and industrial areas. Perhaps the greatest enemies to D-M currently are not invading armies, intercontinental ballistic missiles or terrorists, but the land developers who are building more and more communities every year and thus tightening the noose around the base.

D-M became a military base in 1925, but its origins can be traced to the earliest days of civil aviation. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh, fresh from his non-stop crossing of the Atlantic, flew his "Spirit of St. Louis" to Tucson to dedicate Davis-Monthan Field -- then the largest municipal airport in the U.S. In 1940, with a war cloud on the horizon, the field was selected for expansion. During World War II, D-M served as an operational training base for B-18, B-24, and B-29 aircraft. With the end of the war, operations at D-M came to a virtual standstill. It was then that the base was chosen as a storage site for hundreds of decommissioned aircraft. Tucson's dry climate and alkali soil make it an ideal location for aircraft storage and preservation, a mission that has continued to this day. On March 2, 1949, the Lucky Lady II, a B-50A of D-M's 43rd Bombardment Group, completed the first nonstop around-the-world flight, having covered 23,452 miles in 94 hours and 1 minute.

Today Colonel Bobby J. Wilkes is the Commander of the 355th Wing, the host unit at Davis-Monthan, which provides medical, logistical, and operational support to all D-M units. The principal organizations that reside on the base at this time are the Headquarters Twelfth Air Force, the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC), the 305th Rescue Squadron, the 162nd Fighter Wing (Air National Guard), and the US Customs Service Aviation Branch.

Project documentation includes a four-page report; a map of the base; a collection of articles from the base newspaper, Desert Airman; a collection of flyers, bulletins and announcements at Davis-Monthan AFB; a set of fact sheets about organizations, activities, and aircraft at the base at the close of the 20th century; a history of the D-M, and a documentary video, "A Day in the Life of Davis-Monthan AFB," filmed during November and December 1999.

Originally submitted by: J.D. Hayworth, Representative (6th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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