K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base History Timeline

K.I. Sawyer | 1940's

1944 | Early airport construction phase at present site was named the K. I. Sawyer Airport.

1949 | July 22, airport officially activated as the K. I. Sawyer County Airport to serve as a municipal airport for Marquette County. Six years later, it was given the name K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base.

K.I. Sawyer | 1950's

1954 | U. S. Government enters into negotiations with Marquette County for the lease of five thousand two hundred and seventy-eight acres (8.25 sq. miles) to become the new K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base.

1955 | A ninety-nine year lease was signed on January 24. Construction started almost immediately. Over 850 people and several local contractors were involved.

1956 | On January 8th, K. I. Sawyer became the home of the 473rd Fighter Group. On January 24, 1956, as an Air Defense Command Base, Lt/Col. Robert L. Blocklehurst became the first commander of K. I. Sawyer.

1957 | K. I. Sawyer’s 6000 foot runway is completed.

1958 | August 1st, the 4042nd Strategic Wing was organized and activated with one officer and one airman. Also during this year, twenty-five F-102 “Delta Dagger” aircraft were sent from Kincheloe AFB at Sault Ste. Marie to operate out of K. I. Sawyer for several months while the runway at Kincheloe was being repaired and extended.

1959 | October 27th, Pilot LTC Edward McNeff along with radar observer Captain Chester Oranges, piloted the Groups first “Voodoo” to K. I. Sawyer. The plane was christened the “U. P. Queen” in honor of native residents. The 62nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron from O’Hare airport in Chicago was transferred to K. I. Sawyer and became an operational F-101 “Voodoo” aircraft Squadron after K. I. Sawyer’s runway was extended to 12,300 feet long by 300 feet wide with 1000 foot overruns and 24 inches of concrete.

K.I. Sawyer | 1960's

1960 | By this time, the 473rd had become the 56th Fighter Group and was host to two major tenant units – the Sault Ste. Marie Air Defense Sector, which was a SAGE unit, and the 4042nd Strategic Wing, a Strategic Air Command Unit that formed the nucleus of the 410th Bomb Wing.

August 13th, the 4042nd Combat Defense Squadron and 923rd Air Refueling Squadron were assigned. The wing’s first KC-135A “Stratotanker”, #59-1497 arrived and was christened “The County of Marquette” with a bottle of water from Lake. The 923rd Air Refueling Squadron was soon to became the 46th ARS.

1961 | June 1st, the 526th Bomber Maintenance Squadron was reassigned from Homestead AFB, Florida to K. I. Sawyer. On August 4th, the first B-52H “Stratofortress”, #60-0024 arrived at Sawyer.

1963 | February 1st, the 4042nd Strategic Wing was redesigned the 410th Bombardment Wing (Heavy). February the 526th BMS became the 644th Bombardment Squadron. The Sault Ste. Marie Air Defense Sector Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE), built sometime in the late fifties, was shutdown in September.

1964 | January, control of the base was passed from the Air Defense Command to the Strategic Air Command leaving the 410th Bomb Wing as K. I. Sawyer’s host unit.

1965 | K. I. Sawyer’s tankers and tanker crews entered the war in Southeast Asia by participating in “Operation Young Tiger”, air refueling operations in Indochina.

October, the 62nd FIS and their “Voodoo’s” participates at the “William Tell Worldwide Weapons Meet” in Florida and sweeps the fighter phase of the competition winning eight first place trophies.

1968 | K. I. Sawyer’s bomber crews entered the war in Southeast Asia by augmenting units involved in “Operation Arc Light.”

K.I. Sawyer | 1970's

1971 | April, the F-101 “Voodoo” aircraft equipped 62nd FIS is deactivated and replaced by the 87th FIS and its F-106 “Delta Dart” aircraft which were transferred from Duluth, MN.

1974 | FB-111 (fighter/bombers) from Pease AFB, New Hampshire were placed on satellite alert on K. I. Sawyer.

1975 | FB-111's complete their mission at K. I. Sawyer and leave.

1977 | H-43B and HH-1H “Rescue” helicopters leave K. I. Sawyer.

Six 71st Fighter Training Wing (FTW) T-37 “Tweets” (trainer) arrive at K. I. Sawyer to become the  “Accelerated Copilot Enrichment Program”  later to be named the “Companion Trainer Program” under the 410th Bomb Wing and the new Air Combat Command.

K.I. Sawyer | 1980's

1983 | September 15, a B-52D named the “Black Bandit” arrives from Carswell AFB, Texas to be put on static display to commemorate the SAC bomber and air crews role during the war in Southeast Aisa.

1984 | The 87th FIS was scheduled to convert to F-15 “Eagle” aircraft but due to budget cuts the conversion was cancelled and the squadron was scheduled for deactivation in 1985.

1985 | October 1st, the 87th FIS deactivated.

1987 | September, an F-101B “Voodoo” arrived in the belly of a C-5A cargo aircraft to be put on static display commemorating the contributions of base supporter Mr. Sam Cohodas and all the men and women of the 62nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The dedication was held on November 27th

K.I. Sawyer | 1990's

1990 | More than 450 men and women from Sawyer are deployed in support of “Operation Desert Shield.”

1991 | The 410th BMW is redesignated as the 410th Wing. September 28th, worldwide change brings the 410th Wing’s aircraft off alert status.

1992 | June 1st, SAC stood down, joined the Tactical Air Command to become the Air Combat Command and was redesignated the 410th Bomb Wing. That same day, the refueling squadron’s aircraft and air crews became part of the Air Mobility Command.

1993 | July, BRAC Commission recommends closure of K. I. Sawyer AFB.

1994 | November 21st, last B-52H #60-0026 leaves K. I. Sawyer AFB for Minot AFB, North Dakota

1995 | June 1st, Air Force Inactivation Ceremony, September 30th, the Air Force left K. I. Sawyer.