Do you know why it’s named Andrews Air Force Base? Who was Andrews? If you know, before reading this, you are an all-star GoDCer.
The base’s military history dates back to the Civil War, when Union troops occupied a church near Camp Springs, Maryland. The church still stands, and is used on the base as Chapel Two.
The 4,000-acre base began its current life in 1943 as Camp Springs Army Air Base. Toward the end of 1944, it was reported in the Baltimore Sun, on December 22nd, that the base was to become the air forces’ headquarters for the continental United States. The announcement was made the day earlier. Below is an excerpt from the article.
It will be responsible for air defense of the United States, for joint air-ground training and for training of service and combat units and crews and their preparation for deployment overseas, the announcement said.
The continental headquarters will be manned by personnel now assigned to AAF headquarters here, and new buildings and barracks will be built at Camp Springs airfield to accommodate them.
Brig. Gen. Eugene H. Deebe, of Long Beach, Cal., is to be the first commanding general of the CAF. He was formerly the highest ranking American air officer of the staff of Lord Louis Mounthatten in India.
On February 7th, 1945, the base was renamed Andrews Field to honor Lieutenant General Frank Maxwell Andrews, who had died in Iceland, two years earlier in a plane crash. At the time, he was Commanding General, United States Forces, European Theater of Operators (i.e., kind of a big deal).
We dug up an interesting article about Andrews in the Washington Post from Mar 22nd, 1942.
Army legend has it that before World War I, when aviation was like flying on a leaf and a young lieutenant, “Andy” Andrews wanted to marry the general’s daughter, the general said Andy couldn’t be both his son-in-law and an army pilot.
So young Lieut. Andrews married the daughter and stayed in the cavalry–for three years.
In 1917 he transferred to the Army’s Neophyte Air Arm and with the Army of Occupation in Germany after the war had the satisfaction of being father-in-law Maj. Gen. Henry T. Allen’s air service officer.
Today Lieut. Gen. Frank Maxwell Andrews is as tenacious in his aims as ever. And he aims to keep impregnable the theater of his Caribbean command which anchors in the Panama Canal Zone and fans out to the bases acquired from Britain.
Now, the base named for Lieut. Gen. Andrews is home to the 89th Airlift Wing of the United States Air Force, better known as the Presidential Airlift Group. You may recognize them for their most famous aircraft, Air Force One (there are actually two planes that serve as Air Force One).
And here is a cool video of Air Force One, taking off from Andrews Air Force Base.
Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District. He lives in Columbia Heights with Mrs. Ghost and Ghost Dog. On September 3rd, 2013, the second site launched as Ghosts of Baltimore.