Pepperrell Air Force Base
Pepperrell AFB, located at St. John's Newfoundland, was originally called Fort Pepperrell during World War II. The sprawling logistics base named after Sir William Pepperrell, a 1740's Colonel in the Maine Militia, was Headquarters for the Newfoundland Base Command.
On 1 January 1946 Fort Pepperrell officially became Pepperrell Air Force Base.
The Northeast Air Command (NEAC) was activated on 1 October 1950, and all units of the Air Transport Command stationed in Newfoundland, Labrador and Greenland, were transferred by General Order from the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff. This order also applied to all units and organizations, including civilian workers who were assigned to any remote station or area. The mission of the Northeast Air Command was to integrate more fully administrative and operational control of all US forces in Canada and Greenland. Further, the mission was to maintain and operate air bases, communications and weather facilities, navigational aids and an air sea rescue service to support the Strategic Air Command, Military Air Transport Service, and in coordination with Canadian and Danish Forces, defend these installations against attack.
In 1950, construction commenced in the White Hills of St. John's, as Pepperrell expanded. Pepperrell was made the headquarters for the newly formed Northeast Air Command on 1 October 1951. The 152nd Aircraft Control and Warning Group, a New York Air National Guard unit, was called to active duty at White Plains, New York on 19 August 1951. In the spring of 1952, the 64th Air Division (Defense) was activated at Pepperrell and the 152nd Aircraft Control and Warning Group was assigned to it. In March 1952, the 152nd Aircraft Control and Warning Group was designated the 64th Air Division (Defense), and advance parties were immediately sent to Pepperrell AFB and other locations in the northeast where they began to set up Aircraft Control and Early Warning (AC&W) Stations.
An Air Defense Direction Center at Red Cliff, close to Pepperrell, was set up on a temporary basis until the permanent facility at White Hills was constructed and manned by an AC&W Squadron.
In the early 1950s a special Aircraft Control and Warning Center was constructed on the White Hills at Pepperrell. Built entirely of 8 to 10 inch concrete, the building, number 1050, was named the "Air War Room". The building remains today with some renovations and outside vinyl siding.
In August 1956 the Northeast Air Defense Command was abolished and on 1 April 1957 the Northeast Air Command was inactivated. Pepperrell Air Force Base then became the headquarters for the Air Defense Command's 64th Air Division, as well as all in-place organizational units of NEAC, the Transportation Terminal Command (Arctic) of the US Army, the Military Sea Transportation Service and the North Atlantic Army Air Communication Service (AACS) Region. The primary mission of the 64th Air Division was to the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), to the Continental Air Defense Command (CADAC), and to the United States Air Defense Command (ADC). The Division's responsibility to NORAD was an operational one in that the work of actually guarding the North American continent comes under the jurisdiction of NORAD. The Division accomplished this responsibility through the Northern NORAD Region of Canadian operational headquarters at St. Hubert, Quebec.
It was indeed a sad day for the populace of St. John's and the surrounding area when, on 11 August 1961, Pepperrell Air Force Base was officially closed.
Our thanks to John N Cardolis.
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Updated: January 31, 2004