Dyess Air Force base is located on the southern edge of the city of Abilene, Texas in Taylor County. Abilene has a population of 100,000 people and is considered the economic center of a 22 county area in West Texas. The base is 183 miles southwest of Dallas and 250 miles north of San Antonio. Access to Dyess AFB is easy via Interstate 20 or four major highways. Dyess is home to the B-1B, C-130, and T-38 planes. The major command is the Air Combat Command. The 7th Bomb Wing maintains operations 38 of the B-1B aircraft and conducts training for personnel assigned to maintain or fly those planes. Another major unit is 317th Airlift Group. This group maintains the transport and supply planes. Over 4500 military are assigned to the base and 491 civilian employees are employed there. Dyess AFB is known for being the greenest bases in the air force. It was the first Department of Defense operation to use renewable energy. The base began using wind energy and now uses both wind and biomass energy for power.
Dyess was first established in 1942 and was named the Abilene Army Airbase. In those war years it was basically a temporary war effort location. When the Korean War started the surrounding area lobbied for a military presence. To show their sincerity, the local community was able to raise over $800,000 to purchase land and give it to the Federal government for the purpose of the establishing a permanent base. Then senator Lyndon B. Johnson helped the locals lobby for the base. In 1956 the city was presented with the base. Shortly thereafter it was renamed Dyess Air Force Base in honor of Lt. Colonel William Dyess of nearby Albany, Texas who died in a plane crash refusing to abandon the plane and risk civilian deaths.
From 1962 to 1965 the area around Dyess had 13 missile silos. The silos were manned by the 578th Strategic Missile Squadron as part of the Cold War movement. In 1965 the silos were decommissioned and removed. Over the years the base has been under several commands due to realignment under the Base Realignment and Closure Act.
There are three distinct neighborhoods on base that provide 1136 housing units. Each neighborhood has a mix of single homes and attached homes which are managed by a civilian company. There is a waiting list for housing, but plenty of reasonably priced rental property exist off-base. Any military member from E-1 on up with family is eligible to live in base housing. A limited number of homes have handicapped accessibility. All the homes are new or nearly new. Temporary housing is available for up to 30 days in the Dyess Inn.
There are no schools on Dyess AFB, but the area immediately outside the base has three elementary schools, one middle school and one high school which students are transported to. These schools maintain a population of 90% military dependents from Dyess AFB.
The base has a 21,500 square foot commissary and a Base Exchange and mini-mall which feature specialty shops, kiosks, and a food court. The Bank of America is situated in the Base Exchange for convenient banking and shopping. There is also a shoppette and gas station located near housing for convenience.
The base also has a fitness center, bowling alley, child care center, youth clubs, swimming pool, library, movie theater, barber shop, hair salon, optical shop, credit union, and a combined enlisted and officers club.
City of Abilene
Abilene has always been very supportive of the military and has many activities throughout the year that honor the military presence in Abilene. They have an annual BBQ as well as other activities geared to show appreciation for the economic impact the base brings to the city. The climate of the area is considered moderate. It rarely goes below 40 degrees or above 90 degrees. Abilene is known as the City of Churches because it has over 175 churches of all denominations in the city.