Just east of Marysville, California, Camp Beale is one of the larger US Air Force bases on the west coast. The military camp hosts the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, which is assigned to the Air Combat Command. It’s also a part of the 12th Air Force. The 9th Reconnaissance Wing is responsible for collecting intelligence that directly affect presidential and congressional decisions in relate to national defense. For this purpose, they have access to a fleet of U-2 Dragon Lady planes, MC-12 Liberty aircraft and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft. The base is always on alert for readiness to support combat situations and provide services for forces to threats within and outside of the country.
A Closer Look at Camp Beale
While Camp Beale is known as a large air force base, it’s also home to a chemical warfare service depot and the quartermaster depot. The base has an outstanding history of providing the latest technology. As a large base, it’s also vigorously protected and has five gates that can provide access to parts of the base. However, visitors may only enter through the main gate that also allows for local merchants. The base covers 23,000 acres and is home to 4,000 military personnel.
Camp Beale has a long historical and cultural heritage within the area. The land is rich with resources and was once home to Native Americans, and you can still find the mortar bowls that they carved in nearby bedrocks surrounding the streams. German prisoners of war were also held here after World War II, and this block of prison cells still exists on the base with drawings of several POWs on the walls. To preserve this heritage, the base maintains 38 Native American historical sites, 41 World War II sites and 45 homestead sites.
There is a lot of natural beauty surrounding the base. Woods, streams, fields and scenic trails provide a natural landscape to admire even on the hottest days in Marysville. However, there are some still spots where it is clear that the environment was not always a top priority. For example, a rusted 55-gallon drum used to fill a trench can be near Best Slough, a stream that leads to the Bear River. While the drums were discovered in 1985, it’s unclear how they got there or what they contained. It’s a reminder of carelessness and irresponsible environmental policies.
Most air force bases are named after famous aviators, but Camp Beale is named after Edward Fitzgerald Beale who was a 19th century pioneer who graduated from the Naval academy and went on to serve in the California State Militia between 1840 and 1860. Camp Beale was opened in 1942 as a training camp for infantry divisions fighting in World War II. Back then, Camp Beale sprawled 86,000 acres and was home to 60,000 solders in addition to prisoners of war and a hospital that allowed for 1,000 beds.
In 1948, Camp Beale switched from US Army to US Air Force and started conducting bombardier and navigator training in 1951. A bombing and gunnery range was constructed.
Campe Beale has transformed into different commands depending on what the Department of Defense has needed most. It was an Air Training Command, Continential Air Command, Aviation Engineer Force, Strategic Air Command and in 1992, it became what it is now, Air Combat Command.
In 1956, the U-2 became the latest aircraft to be used by the Air Force. A few years later, Colonel Paul K. Carlton would take command of the activated 4126th Strategic Wing. Later, the 31st Bombardment Squadrom with B-52s would arrive at Beale in 1960. Beale also became a support base for Titan I missile sites, and plans were developed for more weapons facilities. The base became home to mechanical, cryogenic, propulsion, pneudraulics and liquid oxygen shops to support missiles being developed.
Camp Beale is not as large as it used to be. Much of it is grasslands and rolling hills. The facilities here serve all kinds of purposes that aren’t all related to air combat. Weapons testing, storage and chemical weapons are just a few of the responsibilities that Camp Beale continues to handle.
Camp Beale’s Mission Today
The 9th Reconnaissance Wing has a mission of environmental and historical preservation in addition to military services. The base is home to cattle that graze on base lands thanks to a partnership between the air force base and local cattle ranches. There are also wild turkeys, who live near the streams on the base without any disruption. The preservation of the land and natural resources is one of the major goals of the air force base command.
Beale’s host wing is the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, which has more than 3,000 personnel in different areas of the base as well as operations overseas. There’s also the 9th Mission Support Group, Medical Group, 9th Operations Group and 9th Maintenance Group. Several military units are also hosted here including an air refueling station of the Air Force Reserve Command.
Military family housing at Camp Beale is privatized. There is the Balfour Beatty Communities, which owns the housing development and is responsible for maintaining, constructing, repair and managing the privatized military communities. Families have the option to purchase or rent housing in the local community. Tenants sign a lease with BBC.
The community has several amenities and has wider support services than other communities located around the base. For instance, military housing provides a youth center, swimming pool, playgrounds, picnic areas, community center, fitness center, athletic fields, golf course and bowling center.
To apply for privatized housing, you must contact the HMO once you know you are being transferred to Beale. You’ll receive all of the latest information and application to fill out and return to HMO.
There are several schools nearby but the closest to Camp Beale include Lone Tree Elementary School, Bear River Middle School and Wheatland Union High School.