The Elmendorf AFB, Alaska is one of the two major camps that form the more important Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson camp. The installation is part of Anchorage, the largest human settlement in Alaska. The other fort in this union is Fort Richardson. The two merged in 2010. Ever since then, they function as a whole. Both bases activated independently until 2010, with different and particular facilities and objectives.
The first facts about Elmendorf AFB date since June, 1940, when the United States government decided to start the construction. It only took 2 months for the base to become fully functional. The first troops and equipments were brought there in August, 1940. The base was named after Hugh Elmendorf, a captain who passed away in a plane crash during some tests. The camp was highly used during World War II, but abandoned soon after. Most troops were moved to the adjacent Fort Richardson.
A few years later, the base became functional again. Located in the northern part of the United States, close to Russia, it played a very important role during the Cold War and the tensional relations with the Soviet Union. Due to the unstable relations, the base was fully fortified and upgraded with the latest technologies during the ’50s. The peak of this period was reached in 1957, when the base hosted around 250 advanced aircrafts.
During the upcoming decades, the facility saw a serious decline, mostly because of the Vietnam war requirements. However, the upcoming decade – the ’80s – brought back a new round of upgrades and modernization. These days, it is one of the largest bases on the US territory.
Fort Richardson was built at the same time, in 1940, but its history is not that rich. After the merge, the new camp is run by the Air Force, therefore all the civilian employees of these two camps are now Air Force employees.
The base was marked by three major plane crash accidents throughout its history. Two of them took place in 2010. The other one dates back to 1995.
The housing system of Elmendorf AFB is very sophisticated and varied. The newcomers will have to accommodate in one of the multiple hotels around the camp. The same goes for the visitors. Those who are about to get a longterm commitment will be granted a personal home for their families. Obtaining a personal home implies a full bureaucratic process that might take months. They may opt to rent or to buy a place.
Each of the two merging camps hosted different units and companies. These days, the new base is the home of 3rd Wing, Eleventh Air Force, Alaskan NORAD Region and Alaskan Command. Each of them is run by specific headquarters.
The overall purpose of Elmendorf AFB and Fort Richardson is to ensure the training and preparation of soldiers, but most importantly, to secure the defense of the United States with a powerful set of aircrafts. Aside from the possible wars they might be involved in, they are also part of various humanitarian operations.