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Before space base, Buckley AFB endured three mission changes

The U.S. Navy’s North American FJ-1 Furies are lined up on the ground at the Naval Air Station-Denver. The FJ-1 was the first operational jet aircraft in U.S. Navy service. (Courtesy Photo)

The U.S. Navy’s North American FJ-1 Furies are lined up on the ground at the Naval Air Station-Denver. The FJ-1 was the first operational jet aircraft in U.S. Navy service. (Courtesy Photo)

An aerial view of the Naval Air Station-Denver from 6th Street. (Courtesy Photo)

An aerial view of the Naval Air Station-Denver from 6th Street. (Courtesy Photo)

An aerial view of the Buckley Air National Guard Base flight line in 1967. The main gate is located near the top right corner of the image. A satellite complex is at the top of the image. (Courtesy Photo)

An aerial view of the Buckley Air National Guard Base flight line in 1967. The main gate is located near the top right corner of the image. A satellite complex is at the top of the image. (Courtesy Photo)

An aerial view of Buckley Field while it was controlled by the Colorado Air National Guard. The main gate is located at the top right corner. (Courtesy Photo)

An aerial view of Buckley Field while it was controlled by the Colorado Air National Guard. The main gate is located at the top right corner. (Courtesy Photo)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- (Editor's Note: This feature is part of the Buckley Air Force Base History series. These stories focus on highlighting the base's rich history.)

Before Buckley Air Force Base was a space base, it encountered a few mission changes.

Buckley Field (1941-1946)

The city of Denver purchased 5,740 acres of land and donated it to the United States Department of War. After the land was briefly used as an auxiliary landing field for Lowry AFB, it was determined it could be put to better use as an Army Air Corps Technical School, called Buckley Field.

The school taught bombardier and armorer skills, but grew to include courses on chemical weapons and arctic skills.

At the end of WWII, Buckley Field was again reactivated as Lowry Auxiliary Field. In a few months, the land would be assumed by the Department of the Navy, eventually becoming Naval Air Station-Denver.

Naval Air Station-Denver (1947-1960)

The Department of the Navy was seeking a site for an inland Naval Air Reserve Station. Since Buckley Field was in the middle of the continental United States, it was quickly placed at the top of the list.

Once the Department of the Navy assumed control of Buckley Field, it was renamed Naval Air Station-Denver.

NAS-D quickly became known throughout the Navy as the "World's Highest NAS" and the "NAS farthest from a body of water."

After twelve years of ownership, NAS-D transferred to the Department of the Air Force who then licensed the land to the State of Colorado for use as an Air National Guard training site.

The site was renamed Buckley Air National Guard Base and became the first stand-alone guard base in the U.S. Air Force. A Navy presence has remained however, first as a Naval Air Reserve Center and currently as Navy Operational Support Center-Denver and Naval Information Operations Command-Colorado.

Buckley Air National Guard Base (1960-2000)

The Buckley ANG operated as a fighter base flying F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The fighter wing deployed from Buckley Field numerous times to take part in various military operations such as Operation Desert Storm, Operation Northern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Buckley ANG's population grew considerably. In October 2000, the Buckley ANG was transferred to U.S. Air Force control and it was renamed Buckley Air Force Base.

Buckley AFB was the newest active-duty base in the AF, the first active-duty base to be activated in 19 years.

From Buckley Field to Buckley Air Force Base, the base has seen an unprecedented amount of new construction and modernization. The base now hosts over 13,000 reserve, active-duty, guard, dependents and civilians that live and work on Buckley AFB each day, focusing primarily on space-based missile warning capabilities.

(Information from www.buckley.af.mil was used in this story)
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