The 1,018-acre military base is located in Southwest D.C. The installation is situated between the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, off of Interstate 295 in the Anacostia and Congress Heights areas. JBAB’s primary mission is to support 17,000 military and civilian members it serves in the National Capital Region.
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HISTORY OF JOINT BASE ANACOSTIA-BOLLING
Pre-Bolling Field History
The earliest inhabitants of the Anacostia Flats were the Anacostan Indian Tribe. In 1663, the land, then known as Giesboro, was granted to Thomas Dent by the authority of Caecilius Calvert, second Lord Baltimore. The land stayed in the Dent family until 1715 when it was sold to Col. Thomas Addison, Addison then sold the plantation to George Washington Young in 1863. Young separated the original grant into two, selling the lower portion to his brother Ignatius. Young’s portion of the land was leased by the federal government to use as a Union Cavalry depot during the American Civil War. In the late nineteenth century, the upper portion was slowly sold off for river resorts known as Giesboro Park, River View, City View, and Buena Vista.
Bolling Field Comes into Existence
The Navy began using the northern portion of the Anacostia for seaplanes in late 1917. Naval Air Station Anacostia was officially established on 1 January 1918 including the construction of two hangars, two runways, small office buildings and a barracks large enough to feed and house 200 men.
Newton Baker, Secretary of War, made the decision to lease the Anacostia Flats for military purposes and authorized the use of the area as an airplane landing field. It was turned over to the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps to serve as the primary aviation facility for the capital city and was officially dedicated on 1 July 1918.
Colonel Raynal C. Bolling was one of the first leaders to realize the military potential of the airplane and consequently helped to organize the First Aero Company of the New York National Guard. On April 7, 1917, one day after President Wilson delivered his war message to Congress, Bolling put on his uniform and requested to be placed into continuous active duty. Major Bolling’s first duty was to draft a bill for Congress to authorize the Air Service program. In June 1917, he was named to head the “Bolling Commission” an aeronautical group sent to Europe for the purpose of choosing aeronautical equipment to be produced by the U.S. from among the battle tested Allied airplanes. More than anything, Bolling was a fierce advocate of military preparedness. “Whatever may be thought of our delay in the decision to enter the war, our failure to make every possible preparation during the last three years is the greatest shame and crime in our national history,” he wrote from France to his wife, Anna, in 1917. Bolling was killed in action when he accidentally drove behind German lines near Amiens, France on 26 March 1918. To honor Colonel Bolling, the new airfield in the District of Washington was named Bolling Field on 1 July 1918.
By October 1919, Brigadier General William “Billy” Mitchell, was Acting Chief of the Air Service and was unwilling to part with Bolling Field. General Mitchell presented a strong case to the Secretary of War of extending the license for use of Bolling Field. He requested that the Air Service be authorized the indefinite use of this property. The ultimate disposition of Bolling Field was still in doubt as late as 1922 when a board of officers was appointed to assess the suitability of the flying field as a location for permanent aviation activities. The board recommended that Bolling be retained as a flying field and that the most glaring deficiencies, such as poor drainage, restricted landscape when flying east or west, and the lack of suitable ground for these erection of permanent quarters and barracks, be corrected. At this same time, the Army Corps of Engineers began dredging along the Potomac filling in the Anacostia flats and creating a large open area.
First Air Tournament
In May of 1920, Bolling Field held the first ever Army Air Tournament, a predecessor to the modern airshow. The highlight of the first day was a record-setting flight by Lieutenant Fred Nelson in his German Fokker when he completed a flight from Middletown, PA to Bolling Field in a record breaking 59 minutes. The crowd was also treated to daring acrobatic demonstrations and an exciting mock air battle. An active participant of the day was Bolling Field’s staunchest supporter, General “Billy” Mitchell. He performed stunts such as loops, turns, and barrel rolls to the delight of admirers below. The second day included a simulated attack on an observation balloon which resulted in three airmen parachuting from the besieged balloon. The crowds also enjoyed various static displays and airplane repair demonstrations in the hangers.
Aviation History at Bolling
The cornerstone of the first airway on Bolling was laid by the Boy Scouts in February of 1921. In attendance were Orville Wright, General Mitchell, Glenn Curtiss, Glen Martin, General John J. Pershing, and General Charles T. Menoher. The initial ground marker was 20 feet along and composed of white washed stones, forming the letters “DC-1,” for District of Columbia, Stop 1.
The 1920s saw a series of landmark flights at Bolling Field including the first night flight ever made from Washington to New York City by Lieutenant Clayton Bissell on June 16, 1922. A Pan American flight landed at Bolling on May 2, 1927 after completing a 20,000 mile flight from San Antonio to Washington by way of Central and South America and the West Indies, delivering letters of goodwill from President Coolidge to the leaders of 23 countries. Lieutenant Oakley G. Kelley and Lieutenant John A. McReady landed at Bolling Field and were greeted by President Warren G. Harding after the first non-stop transcontinental flight from New York to San Diego, covering 2,520 miles in 26 hours, 50 minutes and 5 seconds.
In the 1920s, Bolling witnessed ceremonies for many landmark aviators. On 21 October 2020, a convoy of aircraft escorted four planes who had just completed a 9,000 mile roundtrip flight from New York to Alaska in a record breaking 112 hours. Other aviators to be honored at Bolling included the first pilots to fly from Roosevelt Field, New York to Rockwell Field, California in 1923, the “Round-the-World Flyers” on Defense Day 1924, and the first non-stop flight from Oakland, California to Hawaii in 1927. Charles Lindbergh visited in 1927 and took up residence with Bolling Field Commander, Major Harvey S. Burwell. During his visit he personally treated more than 1,000 passengers to sightseeing tours over the city. Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis
was disassembled at Bolling Field and transferred to the Smithsonian in 1928. In 1930, Colonel Eddie Rickenbacker received the Medal of Honor at Bolling for deeds of valor performed during World War I.
The original Bolling Field was unable to meet the increasing demands that resulted from the growth of military and civilian aviation, especially in the Washington area. In addition, the constant threat of high water was a decided drawback in long-range planning. In 1928, torrential rains flooded the entire flight line in five feet of water. Responding to the worsening situation at the field, Major General James E. Fechet, Chief of the Air Corps, sent a memorandum in the spring of 1928 to Trubee Davison, Assistant Secretary of War for Air, recommending that a substantial portion of land be purchased as an addition to Bolling Field. In 1930, the War Department acquired title to approximately 345 acres of land from the Washington Steel and Ordnance Company. Some of the earliest buildings constructed on the new field were the main barracks (Building 20, now 11 Operations Group headquarters), the flight surgeon’s clinic (Building 21), officers’ open mess, fire stations, gymnasium, quartermaster warehouses (Buildings 11, 12, and 13), and the officers’ quarters on Westover Avenue. A total of fifty brick buildings were built in an amazingly short period of time.
In February of 1934, President Franklin Roosevelt assigned the Air Corps the responsibility for airmail transportation to Bolling Field.
Leading a formation of Martin B-10 Bombers, Lieutenant Colonel Henry H. “Hap” Arnold left Bolling Field on July 19, 1934, for a flight of 4,000 miles to Fairbanks, Alaska. The flight was designed to demonstrate the capabilities of the Air Corps’ long range bombers. After completing the entire mission on schedule, they returned to Bolling on August 20 and were greeted by Secretary of War George H. Dern and Major General Benjamin D. Foulois, Chief of the Army Air Corps.
In 1939, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7235 settling land ownership at Bolling. The old Bolling Field was given to Naval Air Station Anacostia and the new Bolling Field to the south was given to the Army Air Corps
Bolling enters World War II
In the years leading up to World War II, Bolling Field played a large role in ferrying American-built planes to Britain. The new Air Corps Ferrying Command was created and headquartered at Bolling Field in June 1941. The new Ferrying Command borrowed pilots from the Air Service Combat Command to deliver more than 1,300 plants prior to 1941.
The mission of Bolling Field during World War II was three-fold: 1) to supply air transportation and other services for officials in Washington; 2) to be ready to participate in the air defense of Washington; and 3) to supply trained men to combat organizations.
General Headquarters Air Force moved into Building 410 at Bolling Field in 1941 with 46 officers and 270 enlisted personnel. By 1944, Headquarters Army Air Forces at the Pentagon housed the majority of its 2,600 personnel at Bolling. At one time during World War II, there were 5,200 persons stationed or housed at Bolling Field. Their presence, and the many other units assigned to the field, created an immediate need for additional buildings. As a result, more than 150 wood frame and cinder block temporary buildings-barracks, officers and warehouses-were hurriedly constructed around the field throughout the 1940s.
Bolling Field also played a role in the activation of the Eighth and Twelfth Air Force. While the Eighth Air Force was formally activated at Savannah, Georgia on 28 January 1942, by that spring an echelon of Headquarters Eighth Air Force was established at Bolling and became the nerve center of the force. The Twelfth Air Force was activated at Bolling Field on 20 August 1942, and deployed to England the following month under the command of Brigadier General James H. Doolittle in preparation for the invasion of North Africa in November.
The ceremonial mission of Bolling continued throughout World War II. On 28 June 1942, Lieutenant General Arnold, Commanding General, Army Air Forces, honored the survivors of the first American air raid on Japan. The general pinned the Distinguished Flying Cross medal on each of the courageous men who had manned the squadron of B-25 bombers on the daring raid four months after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. From the back seat of his open car on the runway of Bolling Field, President Roosevelt presented four American-built Liberator heavy bombers to the Yugoslavian government on 6 October 1943.
Post World War II History
Following World War II, Bolling Field was assigned to the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in March 1946. When SAC moved to Andrews Field on 20 October 1946, Bolling Field Command again became an independent command. On 19 March 1948, the Bolling Field Command was redesigned Headquarters Command U.S. Air Force. Bolling also became an Air Force Base in 1948.
The official radio program of the Air Force went off air on 11 May 1952, after four years of broadcasting from Bolling Air Force Base the latest armed forces news, in-depth documentary features and popular music. The “Air Force Hour” featured the Symphony Orchestra and the Singing Sergeants of the U.S. Air Force Band, an elite music organization with headquarters on Bolling since September 1941.
The official aircraft of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Harry S. Truman, nicknamed the “Sacred Cow” made its last voyage when it was flown out of Bolling AFB by Major General Brooke Callen, Chief of the Air Force Headquarters Command on 17 October 1961. The Douglas VC-54C was delivered to Andrews AFB to de disassembled and presented to the Smithsonian Institution.
On 1 July 1962 flight activities of all fixed-wing aircraft on Bolling Air Force Base were transferred to nearby Andrews AFB. The last airplane, a C-54, departed 1 July 1962. That same year, the Naval Air Station Anacostia was moved to Andrews AFB as well.
Ceremonial and Administrative Headquarters
Bolling evolved into the ceremonial and administrative headquarters for the Air Force. The U.S. Air Force Band and U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, having its headquarters at Bolling since 1941 and 1948 respectively, continued representing the Air Force at Presidential inaugurations, parades, and VIP arrivals and departures. They also participated in the funerals of most the founding fathers of the U.S. Air Force including General Henry H. “Hap” Arnold, General Ira C. Eaker, and General Elwood Richard Quesada.
On 25 July 1967, the Blanchard Barracks were dedicated.
By the mid-1970s, Bolling AFB had become part of the Military Airlift Command (MAC). Throughout the next few years, Bolling would experience a series of re-organizations within MAC. From 1977 until 1985 the base fell under the 1100th
Air Base Group which fell under the 76th
Military Airlift Wing headquartered at Andrews AFB. The decision was made in 1985 to make Bolling the headquarters for all Air Force operations in the National Capital Region. The “military district” concept had already been employed by the Army and Navy, with the Military District of Washington and Naval District of Washington, respectively. After setting the parameters from which the Air Force District of Washington (AFDW) would command and operate, the plan was put into motion to activate AFDW as a direct reporting unit on Bolling AFB in 1985.
Bolling AFB operated under AFDW until 1993 when the 11th
Support Wing (it became 11th Wing in 1994) was stood up and AFDW was inactivated. The 11th
Wing existed at Bolling until 2010 when it was moved to Andrews AFB and Bolling was turned over to the United States Navy for operation. Today, the Naval Support Anacostia serves as headquarters for the Commander, Naval Installations, Navy Office of the Chief of Information and continues to maintain a large heliport facility, primarily used by Marine Helicopter Squadron One.
Bolling Field Commander 1918-1946
Colonel Rutherford S. Hartz, July 1918-November 1919
Major Martin Scanlon, 20 November 1919-5 June 1922
Major George E.A. Reinburg, 6 June 1922-23 May 1923
Major Robert L. Walsh, 24 May 1923-30 June 1923
Major William H. Garrison, 1 July 1923-4 January 1924
Major Henry B. Clagett, 5 January 1924-9 August 1926
Major Frederick L. Martin, 10 August 1926-1 April 1927
Major Harvey B.S. Burwell, 2 April 1927-4 January 1928
Major Howard C. Davidson, % January 1928-23 August 1932
Lt Colonel Barton K. Yount, 15 June 1934-30 June 1934
Lt Colonel Kress Muhlenberry, 1 July 1934-14 January 1935
Lt Colonel Martin F. Scanlon, 15 January 1935-15 January 1936
Major William Ord Ryan, 18 January 1936-5 June 1938
Lt Colonel Floyd D. Galloway, 8 July 1938-16 August 1939
Lt Colonel Edmond W. Hill, 18 August 1939-12 June 1941
Colonel Ralph B. Walker, 12 July 1941-3 June 1942
Colonel Lewis R. Parker, 4 June 1942-May 1943
Colonel Thomas W. Hastey, May 1943-June 1944
Colonel Robert W.C. Wimsatt, June 1944-12 January 1945
Colonel John M. Hutchison, 13 January 1945-19 May 1945
Colonel William L. Boyd, 20 May 1945-2 January 1946
Headquarters Command Commanders, 1946-1977
Brigadier Burton M. Hovey, 3 January 1946-13 December 1948
Brigadier General Sydney D. Grubbs, 14 December 1948-1 October 1950
Brigadier General Morris John Lee, 2 October 1950-13 June 1952
Brigadier Stoyte Ogleby Ross, 14 June 1952-31 July 1956
Colonel N.H. Van Sicklen, 3 July 1956-31 July 1956
Major General Reuben C. Hood Jr., 1 August 1956-30 June 1959
Colonel Joseph B. Stanley, 1 July 1959-29 July 1959
Major General Brooke E. Allen, 29 July 1959-31 December 1965
Major General Rollin H. Anthis, 3 January 1966-December 1967
Major Milton B. Adams, December 1967-1 July 1968
Major General Neils O. Ohman, 1 July 1968-29 April 1971
Major General John L. Locke, 29 April 1971-25 February 1974
Major General M. R. Reilly, 25 February 1974-15 August 1975
Major General William C. Norris, 1 August 1975-30 June 1977
76th Airlift Division Commander 1977-1985
Major General William C. Norris 1 July 1976-25 February 1977
Major General B.F. Starr, 26 July 1977-28 February 1980
Major General Archer L. Durham, 28 February 1980-1 September 1980
76th Airlift Division Commanders
Brigadier General Archer L. Durham, 1 September 1980-1 February 1982
Brigadier General Albert C. Giodotti, 1 February 1982-22 August 1984
Brigadier General Paul A. Harvy, 22 August 1984-1 October 1985
1100th Air Base Wing (76 ALD) Commanders
Colonel William A. Murphy, 1 July 1976-30 September 1977
1100th Air Base group (MAW) Commanders
Colonel William A. Murphy, 30 September 1977-6 January 1978
Colonel Alfred De Groote, 6 January 1978-24 November 1979
Colonel Thomas T. Tamura, 24 November 1979-1 September 1980
1100th Air Base Wing (76ALD) Commanders
Colonel Thomas T. Tamura, 1 September 1980-[circa late 1980]
Colonel Stanley G. Maratos, [by 24 March] 1981-29 September 1982
Colonel E.R. Maney, 1 October 1983-8 November 1984
Colonel R.L. Russell, 8 November 1984-after 31 December 1984
Colonel Frederick E. Tokash, circa early 1985-21 August 1985
Commanders Air Force District of Washington 1985-1994
Brigadier General Edward N. Giddings, 1 October 1985-31 October 1988
Brigadier General Ralph R. Rohatsch, 1 November 1988-1 July 1990
Brigadier General James L. Vick, 2 July 1990-31 July 1992
Colonel Stevan B. Richards, 1 September 1992-15 July 1994
11th Support Wing Commanders 1994-1995
Colonel Stevan B. Richards, 15 July 1994-29 July 1994
Colonel Steven A. Roser, 29 July 1994-26 April 1995
11th Wing Commanders 1995-2010
Colonel Steven A. Roser, 26 April 1995-26 July 1996
Colonel Peter U. Sutton, 26 June 1996-15 January 1998
Colonel Duane W. Deal, 16 January 1998-10 May 2000
Colonel James P. Hunt, 10 May 2000-May 2002
Colonel Duane Q. Jones May 2002-20 June 2004
Colonel William A. Chambers 20 June 2002-18 June 2006
Colonel Jon A. Roop 18 June 2006-7 October 2009
Colonel Carl S. Gramlick 7 October 2009-29 November 2009
Colonel Cedric George 30 November 2009-30 September 2010