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Griffiss AFB

This article is about the former United States Air Force base in New York. For the civil use of this facility and airport information, see Griffiss International Airport.

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Griffiss AFB
2 May 1997 (closed 1995)
IATA: noneICAO: none
Elevation AMSL 504 ft / 154 m
Direction Length Surface
ft m
15/33 11,820 3,600 Concrete
Griffiss AFB
Griffiss AFB
Location of Griffiss Air Force Base, New York

Griffiss Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force installation, located in Rome, New York, about 15 miles (24 km) NW of Utica in central New York state. Missions at Griffiss AFB included fighter interceptors, electronic research, installation, and support activities, aerial refueling, and bombers. Opened in 1942, the base closed in 1995 and its airfield is now Griffiss International Airport, owned by Oneida County.

Realigned for civilian and non-combat purposes in 1995, it is now home to the Griffiss Business and Technology Park and the Rome Research Site of the Air Force Research Laboratory. The New York Air National Guard operates the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) from a small complex of buildings in the Technology Park.


Ground was broken on August 2, 1941 for the Rome Air Depot, to be completed in 1942. After a series of names and realignments, the base was finally named "Griffiss Air Force Base" in 1948. The base was named in honor of Lt. Col. Townsend Griffiss (1900–1942), a Buffalo native and 1922 West Point graduate who, in 1942, became the first U.S. airman to be killed in the line of duty in the European Theatre of World War II[1] when the Consolidated B-24 Liberator in which he was flying was shot down by friendly fire over the English Channel.

On April 3, 1941, the War Department began looking for an area to construct an air depot in central New York. Orders to begin construction came from the War Department on June 23, 1941. Facilities were completed in February 1942, and flight operations on the depot airfield began on February 18, 1942.

Rome Air Depot

On February 1, 1942, the Rome Air Depot was activated and throughout World War II the depot provided aircraft engine maintenance and repair, and trained air depot groups in engine repair. With the end of the war and the sharp reduction of AAF aircraft operations, activities were sharply curtailed in the fall of 1945. The Rome Air Depot continued operations well into the 1960s as an Air Force Logistics Command Air Materiel Area (AMA) supporting USAF electronics and RADAR systems. The depot began a phasedown in the early 1960s, with the depot closing in 1967 with its functions being transferred to other AFLC Air Materiel Areas.

Air Defense

Although many aircraft landed at Griffiss during the war, the airfield had no permanently stationed flying units. It wasn't until after World War II, that the Air Force Reserve 65th Reconnaissance Group conducted aerial photo and mapping operations from Griffiss from December 27, 1946 until being inactivated on June 27, 1949.

On October 3, 1950 the 1st Fighter-Interceptor Group of Air Defense Command (ADC) became the first permanently assigned USAF flying unit at Griffiss. Although the group moved to California in 1951,[2] its 27th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS) remained behind.[3] ADC units were stationed there for the next 30 years as Griffiss became a center for the Northeast air defense mission, and was headquarters of the Northeast Air Defense Sector. The 27th FIS flew Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars, North American F-86 Sabres, Northrop F-89 Scorpion, Lockheed F-94 Starfires and Convair F-102 Delta Daggers before leaving Griffiss in 1959.[3]

In October 1955, the 465th FIS was assigned to Griffiss[4] with F-89 Scorpion all-weather fighters. ADC activated the 4727th Air Defense Group as a headquarters for the two squadrons in February 1957 and it became a major tenant at Griffiss.[5] The 49th FIS moved, less personnel, equipment, and aircraft from Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts and replaced the 465th FIS in October 1959, receiving, after the transfer, its McDonnell F-101 Voodoos.[6] Later that year, when the 27th FIS departed Griffiss, the 4727th was discontinued.[5]

Rome Laboratory

Further information: Rome Laboratory

Electronic research began at the Rome Air Depot in 1949. The Watson Laboratory complex was transferred to Rome from Red Bank, New Jersey between 1950 and 1951. The Rome Air Development Center was begun at the base on June 12, 1951, as a response to the specific electronics needs of air forces learned by the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the war. The RADC would be renamed to Rome Laboratory in 1991 as a response to its changing role in research and development.

Strategic Air Command

Further information: 416th Air Expeditionary Group

The base was home to the 10th Mountain Division's aviation brigade from 1988 to 1992.

BRAC Realignment

Griffiss AFB was selected for realignment by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 1993.[7]

The facility is now home to the Griffiss Business and Technology Park, and it is still home to the Rome Research Site of the Air Force Research Lab as well as the Eastern Air Defense Sector (EADS) of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD), and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) Rome Location.

At its peak, the base was the largest employer in Oneida County, New York.

The base was designated a Superfund site in 1987.[8] Griffiss was the site of the Woodstock 1999 concert festival. The base was chosen for its defensibility.

Major Commands to which assigned

Major units assigned


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Further reading

  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Mueller, Robert (1989). Volume 1: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C. ISBN 0-912799-53-6, ISBN 0-16-002261-4
  • Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).

External links

  • Griffiss AFB at
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