Because both of my parents served in the Air Force, I’ve visited my fair share of military bases. I visit McChord AFB frequently, the base where my father is assigned. I have even been overseas to visit family members stationed at Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall. Out of all the bases I have visited, my personal favorite is Hickam Field, commonly referred to as Hickam Air Force Base. The great weather, close proximity to Waikiki, historical richness and many other perks of living on a tropical island like Hawaii makes this base an excellent temporary duty assignment or duty station.
Located in Honolulu, Hawaii, this base is a part of a Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Its rich history spans all the way back to its completion and activation in 1938. Hickam was built to alleviate the heavy traffic that was caused by running air operations and the operation of the air depot at Luke Field on Ford Island. It was also built large enough to accommodate B-17 bombers. The name Hickam originates from the commemoration of Lieutenant Colonel Horace Meek Hickam, a famous aviator who was killed in an aircraft landing accident during construction of the base.
In December 1941, Hickam suffered extensive damage when it was bombed by Japan in an effort to eliminate air opposition and ensure the success of the Japanese attack on the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. During World War II, it served as a strategic launch point to defend the Pacific, and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, it became a major location to train pilots and assemble aircraft. It was the central point of all communication and operations between the US and the Pacific, earning it the name “America’s Bridge Across the Pacific.” After World War II, in July of 1957, the Far East Air Forces’ headquarters completed the move from Japan to Hawaii and was reassigned to the current Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).
In the many years that would follow, the 15th Air Wing stationed at Hickam, supported the Apollo astronauts in the 1960’s, returned prisoners from Vietnam in the 1970’s, and moved nearly 94,000 orphans, refugees, and evacuees from South East Asia. In October of 1980, the Secretary of the Interior designated Hickam Field as a National Landmark for its key role in World War II. To this day you can go and visit Hickam and see the vintage hangers from the 50’s, and even some bullet holes in the older buildings. Hickam Field is full of history that can fill museums. If you’re interested in World War II, this location is a must visit.