McChord Air Force base in one half of the current much larger Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the Puget Sound area of Washington State. The second half of the base, the Army garrison of Fort Lewis, was merged into McChord Air Force Base in February of 2010 as a result of the 2005 Base Relocation and Closure Commission. The joint base is one of 12 such mergers throughout the United States that were created as a result of the Base Relocation and Closure Commission.
The base is jointly command by the United States Army and Air Force at both the officer and enlisted level, allowing for collaboration and sharing of assets in for training and deployment. The strategic location of the base, within a few miles of three major ports, makes the installation the single power and projection platform of the United States Armed Forces west of the Rocky Mountains.
The base is most widely known amongst the U.S. Air Force as home to the C-17 Globemaster III, the workhorse of the Air Force. The advanced cargo aircraft is used across all branches of the armed services for troop and cargo transport, strategic air drops and medical evacuations.
McChord Air Force Base began life as Tacoma Field in 1930 as an Army Airfield. In 1940 the airfield was renamed to McChord Field in honor of Colonel William Caldwell McChord, a former chief of the Army Air Corps Headquarters. In World War II, prior to US involvement, the base served as an internal security guard for the United States. The bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in 1941 changed the role of McChord Field and the base was equipped with bombardment units to undertake anti-submarine patrols on the west coast. Only a few months after the attacks on Pearl Harbor a bomber from McChord field sank a Japanese submarine with four bombs while on patrol. In the later days of World War II units from McChord Field were deployed to participate in the famed Doolittle Raids over mainland Japan.
In 1947 the Army turned over control of McChord Field to the newly established United States Air Force and the base was renamed McChord Air Force Base.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord is home to a large contingent of both the United States Army and Air Force. Primary Air Force units include the 62nd Air Lift Wing, the 446th Air Lift Wing, 627th Air Base Group and Air Force Special Operations Command. The base is also home to tenant organizations of the 1st Air Support Operations Group, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron and 361st Recruiting Squadron.
Units stationed at the installation fill a variety of responsibilities, with many of them being in a regular deployment cycle in support, combat and humanitarian roles.