Smyrna Army Airfield - 1945
Sewart Air Force Base
(1941-1971) is a former United
States Air Force base located near Smyrna, about 12
miles South of Nashville, Tennessee.
- For the civilian use of this facility
after 1971, see Smyrna Airport
- Not to be confused with Stewart Air
ordered the construction of a Bombardment Air Base near Nashville
on 22 December 1941, shortly after the attack by the Japanese on
Harbor. A tract of land consisting of located off US
Route 70 in Rutherford County, Tennessee near Smyrna, was
selected and acquired by the United States Army Air Force
for use as an Army-Air Force Training Command Base.
Six thousand workers erected 200 buildings and air strips to
accommodate 100 four-motor bombers to train crews for their tasks
in the skies over Germany and Japan. By the end of January 1942
bombers were soon operating from the base’s
Throughout World War II
military personnel were stationed at Smyrna Army
. Following the end of hostilities, demobilization
and defense reductions followed, resulting in the base being
deactivated and placed in caretaker status in 1947. However, the
installation's inactivity was short-lived and the newly created
United States Air Force
re-activated the facility as Smyrna Air Force Base
314th Troop Carrier Wing
On 1 November 1948 the
314th Troop Carrier
was formed at Smyrna AFB. The mission of the
314th was a primary troop carrier unit in the eastern United
States, involved in joint airborne training with Army forces,
developed assault airlift operations, and participated in aerial
demonstrations, exercises, maneuvers, and joint operations.
Transport Groups of the 314th were:
- 309th Group: 26 Jun 1949 - 20 Feb 1951
- 314th Group: 1 Nov 1948 - 8 Oct 1957
- 316th Group: 4 Nov 1949 - 14 Nov 1954
- 313th Group: 1 Oct 1953 - 8 Jun 1955
- 513th Group: 8 Nov 1955 - 8 Oct 1957
- 516th Group: 8 Mar 1955 - 9 Jul 1956
Squadrons of the 314th TCW were:
Cargo Aircraft assigned to the 314th were: C-82
, 1948-1951; C-47
1948-1953; CG-15 (glider), 1949-1951; C-119
1949-1951; C-45, 1949-1951, 1954-1955; TC-46, 1950; C-46
, 1952; C-123
, 1956--1961; C-130
, 1956- 1966
During the late 1950s, the 314th also hosted several helicopter
- 20th Helicopter: 9 Jul 1956 - 17 Jul 1959
- 23d Helicopter: 9 Jul 1956 - 12 Oct 1956
- 24th Helicopter: 9 Jul 1956 - 25 Sep 1956
- 21st Helicopter: 30 Jun 1957 - 8 Oct 1957
These units flew the CH-21 Shawnee
Smyrna AFB flourished in the late 1940s and 1950s. In the aftermath
of World War II
, the United States
government renamed several military establishments in honor of
fallen heroes and the Department of Defense chose to name the
Smyrna base after native Tennessean Allan J.
of Nashville. On 25 March 1950,
Sewart Air Force Base
was officially dedicated in
honor of this hero who died in a bombing mission over the Solomon
Islands in November 1942.
In 1958, Sewart was the only operational C-130
base in the United States.
On 7 January 1960, seven ski-equipped C-130 Hercules from Sewart’s
61st Troop Carrier Squadron flew via California, Hawaii, Canton,
Figi and New Zealand to support Operation Deep Freeze ’60 in
Antarctica, during the summer months on the frozen continent. The
mission was to supply the U.S. National Science Foundation by
landing at two bases at the South Pole and Marie Byrd Land. Lt.
Colonel Wilbert Turk, commander of the 61st, led the mission.
Staging from Christchurch, New Zealand, the C-130s flew seven hours
forty minutes to McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, on 23 January to
establish a record-breaking time previously held by a U.S. Navy
R7V Super Constellation
. The 114
pilots and support crew were quartered ten miles (16 km) from the
Ross Ice Shelf in order to be close to flight operations.
The use of the ski-equipped aircraft, which took place during
twelve days in the final weeks of the summer support season, was
called a significant advance in Antarctic explorations since the
aircraft were the first to be able to physically land supplies at
the front door of the scientific bases. Previously, supply was
accomplished only by parachute by means of U.S. Naval Globemaster
aircraft, potentially losing food goods, mail, building materials
and damaging delicate equipment. The C-130s carried extra wingtip
tanks to extend the flight capability of up to 600 extra
The 61st TCS returned to Sewart on 20 February after demonstrating
that the ski-equipped C-130s could be successfully employed as
ground-landing delivery systems. In subsequent years, Antarctic
Development Squadron SIX (VXE-6) of the U.S. Navy took over support
of the scientific stations by means of specially modified,
ski-equipped LC-130F aircraft. Following the decommissioning of
VXE-6, this mission was transferred to the 109th Airlift Wing
of the New York Air National Guard
which continue to performs both Arctic and Antarctic support
missions with the LC-130H aircraft to this day.
January 1966 the 314th Troop Carrier Wing was reassigned to
Ching Chuan Kang Air Base
(CCK), Taiwan to support
the Vietnam War. The 314th also
maintained a large detachment of C-130Es at Tuy Hoa Air
Base, South Vietnam until
A placeholder unit, the 4413th Troop Carrier
was established at Sewart with the wings
At Sewart, the 314th was awarded Air Force Outstanding Unit
for the following periods: 11 Jan - 14 Feb 1955 and 1
Jan 1960 - 31 Dec 1961.
463d Troop Carrier Wing
On 15 January 1959, the 463rd Troop
Carrier Wing moved to Sewart AFB, being transferred from
the closing Ardmore Air Force Base Oklahoma.
Along with the 314th, the two wings made up
the 839th Air
The 839 AD
supported Tactical Air Command
and US Strike Command deployments throughout the world, including
back-to-back deployments to Lebanon and Formosa in response
to crisis situations on opposite sides of the world in the summer
463d wing crews would be involved in numerous
operations all over the world until the 463rd transferred to
Pacific Air Forces
to support the
C-130 squadrons of the 463d at Sewart were:
September 1961, the 463d supported the crisis in Berlin.
- 772d Troop Carrier: 25 September 1957–30 June 1963
- 774th Troop Carrier: 25 September 1957–30 June 1963
Then, on 1 October 1962, the wing was redesignated as the
463rd Troop Carrier Wing (Assault)
the wing deployed to support the Cuban Missile Crisis
moved to Langley
AFB, Virginia, on 1 July 1963, then later deploying to Mactan
AB and Clark AFB in the Philippines during 1965 to support the Vietnam War.
detachment was established at Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, which
flew transport missions until 31 December 1971 when the unit was
At Sewart, the 463d was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit
for the period 15 December 1960–1 April 1961.
64th Troop Carrier/Tactical Airlift Wing
With the departure of the 314th and 463d TCWs to PACAF, the
64th Troop Carrier
was activated at Sewart on 7 March 1966,
replacing the 4413th. On 1 May 1967 the unit was re-designated as
the 64th Tactical Airlift Wing
initially performed global airlift and medical evacuation missions,
including several deployments to South
Vietnam and Thailand.
However beginning in 1968, its primary
mission was providing C-130 combat crew training for other units
deploying to the Vietnam War
C-130E squadrons of the 64th at Sewart were:
- 61st Troop Carrier: 1 July 1966 - 31 May 1971 (Tail Code:
- 62d Troop Carrier: 1 July 1966 - 31 May 1971 (Tail Code:
At Sewart, the 64th was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit
with Combat "V" Device for the period 1 July 1966 - 30
June 1967 and (without "V" device) 1 June 1969 - 31 May 1971.
December 1965 the Department of Defense announced the closure of several military bases in
the United States, and Sewart AFB was one of the installations
identified to close.
Closure activities continued for the
next five years and on 9 March
last C-130 Hercules
left one of the
Sewart AFB runways. The 64th TCW was inactivated on 31 May 1971 and
Sewart AFB was officially closed.
When the base was deactivated it was transferred to a civilian
operation. Ownership of the base was transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers
ultimately to the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority.
The bulk of the property vacated by the USAF was divided between
three entities: 1) Rutherford County 2) State of Tennessee and 3)
Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority.
Rutherford County formed an Economic Development Committee composed
of county commissioners, the county executive and the county mayors
of the municipalities. This group was instrumental in the
conversion of the property obtained from the Department of Defense
to private industrial use.
Some of the larger industries recruited included Better Built
Aluminum, Cumberland Swan, and Square D. During the 1970s many new
jobs were created, and as a result, Smyrna's population nearly
tripled between 1970 and 1980.
The property received by the State of Tennessee has been utilized
by the Tennessee Rehabilitation Center. A portion of the base, to
include some hangar and aircraft ramp space, was retained by the
Corps of Engineers and licensed for use by the Tennessee Army
The land granted to the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority
included the runways, hangars, clear zones and related aviation
facilities. The airport property was held for nearly 20 years with
very few improvements. In 1990 the Metropolitan Nashville Airport
Authority agreed to relinquish control and transfer the airport to
the newly formed Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority.
- Ravenstein, Charles A., Air Force Combat Wings: Linege and
Honors Histories 1947-1977. Office OF Air Force History, United
States Air Force, 1984
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to Present