By NowOmaha Magazine
Timeless Guardians of the Heartland
Picture this: nestled in the bustling city of Bellevue, Nebraska, lies an unassuming yet iconic institution — the Offutt Air Force Base. Steeped in history and brimming with tales of bravery and service, it stands as an emblem of American strength. Together with the equally fascinating Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, this Air Force Base serves as a bridge, connecting our past with our future.
A Storied Past: From Fort Crook to Offutt
What started as Fort Crook, an U.S. Army outpost established in 1896, blossomed into a significant player on the global stage. It was in this humble fort that the first landing of a U.S. Army airship, the Roma, took place in 1921. A pivotal moment, it marked the beginning of Fort Crook’s transformation into an airfield.
When World War II arrived, the airfield, renamed as Fort Crook Army Airfield, was chosen as the site for the Glenn L. Martin Bomber Plant. This plant was responsible for producing B-26 Marauder bombers, and later the B-29 Superfortresses, planes that played a critical role in ending the war. In 1942, the airfield was renamed once again to honor Omaha native 1st Lt. Jarvis Offutt, the first Omahan casualty of World War I, thus giving birth to the Offutt Army Air Field.
The Birthplace of Strategic Air Command (SAC)
As the smoke of World War II cleared, the winds of the Cold War began to stir. Offutt found itself at the center of this new global scenario. In 1948, it became the headquarters of the newly minted Strategic Air Command (SAC). Tasked with strategic bombing and intercontinental ballistic missile operations, SAC became the backbone of America’s defense strategies.
A Tribute to the Skies: The SAC Museum
In 1959, the Martin Bomber Plant underwent a transformation and emerged as the SAC Aerospace Museum, a testament to the rich history of the Strategic Air Command and Offutt. The museum later moved to Ashland and was renamed the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum.
Housing a splendid collection of vintage aircraft, missiles, and space vehicles, the museum offers an immersive exploration of America’s aviation history. It features interactive exhibits that captivate both children and adults, making it an ideal destination for families eager to delve into the annals of aerospace history.
Offutt Today: Still Serving
Today, Offutt Air Force Base stands as a significant piece in the U.S. defense network. It houses the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), the 55th Wing (the largest wing of the U.S. Air Combat Command), and the 557th Weather Wing, among others.
Moreover, it hosts the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s laboratories, where dedicated scientists work tirelessly to bring closure to the families of American war heroes missing in action.
The Legacy Continues
As we delve into Offutt’s rich history and visit the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, we’re reminded of the dedication, courage, and sacrifice that underpin America’s freedom. Offutt Air Force Base is more than just a military institution; it’s a testament to American resilience, echoing the valor of our past and forging the strength of our future.