Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove is one of the stations that are no longer on the military map of the United States of America. It used to be a Naval Air Station, just like it name claimed. It was established in the Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. It was owned, run and operated by the United States Navy. The primary mission of this military base was to maintain a ready-to-go force in great shape by training and maintaining a reserve group. The JRB status was given in 1994 and only to to better describe the status of the base. Multiple fields used the base for training operations. Aside from the US Navy, the Army, Marines and Air Force were also allowed to train on site.
The history of JRB Willow Grove dates back to 1926. The “father” of this base is considered to be Harold Frederick Pitcairn. He is responsible for building the first constructions. He began with a large hangar and a long airstrip in Horsham. Although it was not very advanced, but just a grassy and muddy airstrip, it was usable, especially during those times. The new military installation was named after the nearest town. During those years, Horsham was nothing but a small and insignificant place on the map of Pennsylvania. The base was not really taken too much into consideration between the two major wars of the 20-th century. By 1942, it was only used for small testing and design operations. One of the most common planes used at that time was Mailwing, a popular aircraft used by the postal services. The military purposes of the place were quite insignificant.
As World War II was quickly approaching, the United States of America began a short, yet very sophisticated process to strengthen the country. Multiple bases were renovated and upgraded, while the officials began dozens of new installations. As the war began, the government acquired the land and turned it into a secret warfare program that was supposed to fight the offensive submarines. As the war reached to an end, the base played a small role throughout the Cold War and was turned into a training ground for troops. It was mostly used for the reserve units of the major military fields in the country.
In 2005, JRB Willow Grove was on the official list of the BRAC (Base Realignment And Closure) commission. The officials decided to shut it down, while the personnel on site was supposed to be directed to other military bases, along with all the equipments. One of the most important “receivers” was McGuire Air Force Base. The base got officially closed in the autumn of 2011.
JRB Willow Grove is no longer an official military base. The last units hosted on site were the Group 3 Headquarters and the Liberty Bell Squadron. Over the past years, the base was also home to a few other major units, such as the 111-th Fighter Wing, the 270-th EIS or the 913-th Airlift Wing. Most of them were relocated somewhere else.