Buckley transitions to active-duty base

by Lynn Gonzales
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs

10/03/00 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFPN) -- The Air Force unveiled its newest base Oct. 2, when Buckley Air National Guard Base became an  active-duty base during a transition ceremony here.

Secretary of the Air Force F. Whitten Peters; Gen. Ed Eberhart, Air Force Space Command commander; Colorado Gov. Bill Owens; and Colorado Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Mason C. Whitney officiated the ceremony marking the handing over of the base from the Colorado Air National Guard to Air Force Space Command.

"In the past 10 years, we have transformed Buckley from a decaying World War II base -- with buildings with leaking roofs and rotting floorboards -- to what you see now, an updated base with modern buildings and a brand new infrastructure," Whitney said. "Buckley has a proud history and a promising future."

The ceremony officially transferred host command responsibility from the 140th Wing of the Colorado ANG to AFSPC's 821st Space Group, ending the Guard's 40-year command. The transition was made final with the unveiling of the new name at the front gate -- Buckley Air Force Base.

"The sun will come up tomorrow, as it has for the last 40 years, on a well-run base, overflowing with great Americans who are going about the day-to-day business of defending the nation," Peters said. "On the surface, very little will be different tomorrow. However, things are changing -- subtly, deliberately and profoundly."

In addition to a new name, the transition brings a few other noticeable changes. More active-duty Air Force members will be assigned to support the new host organization, and a new commissary and base exchange are being built to accommodate existing and incoming airmen.

"What great stewards of this base the taxpayers found in ... the Colorado Air National Guard," Eberhart said. "You have set a tough standard, but we are going to dedicate ourselves to meeting that standard and, together, taking it to new heights."

Although the change in host responsibility from the Guard to the Air Force presents some changes in operational support, many people look forward to what these changes will mean for the installation and those who support it.

The base was named after 1st Lt. John Harold Buckley, a World War I flier from Longmont, Colo. Buckley lost his life in France, when his aircraft was shot down Sep. 17, 1918, behind German lines.

Buckley began as an extension of Lowry Army Air Field, Colo., to train World War II troops. In 1947, the Navy took over command and renamed it Naval Air Station Denver. When the Guard became host in 1960, the installation changed to Buckley Air National Guard Base, making it the first Air National Guard base in the nation."