JB Langley-Eustis, VA Image 1
    JB Langley-Eustis, VA Image 2

    JB Langley-Eustis, VA History

    JB Langley-Eustis has a long military history going back to the earliest English colonies of Virginia, but its modern US Army history starts in World War One with the creation of Camp Eustis.

    Camp Eustis, named for Brigadier Abraham Eustis, an artillery officer and veteran of the War of 1812, was established in 1918 as part of the US buildup in World War One. Camp Eustis was a replacement center for nearby Fort Monroe, a coast artillery fortification. In 1923 Camp Eustis became Fort Eustis, and garrisoned by infantry and artillery units. In World War Two Eustis was an anti-aircraft training center and coast defence center. After the war, Eustis became a transportation hub (coastal defence artillery being out of date) with a mission of keeping the Army rolling. Eustis units became expert at supplying and delivering by any surface vehicle, road, rail, rotor, or raft. This was a period of expansion for Eustis, adding housing, warehousing, and storage facilities.

    From World War Two Eustis has maintained units for overland transport, air transport, and port or river water transport. The US Transportation School was located here until 2010, the study of logistics being the basic activity of military professionals. In the 1950s Eustis added an internal railroad system to shift loads internally and to base terminals. Recently the fort has gained the US Army Training and Doctrine Command, with a mission of training forces in modern doctrine and new weapons development, resolving both doctrine and weapon.

    Langley is one of the oldest active airfields in the USA and among the oldest air bases in the US Air Force, dating to a selection in 1916 and operation to 1918. The site was selected by National Advisory Council for Aeronautics, the original predecessor for what is now NASA, to be a proving ground for "aeroplanes" to enter service for the US Army's Air Section. The field was named Langley for one of the earliest US aviation pioneers, Samuel Pierpont Langley, in 1917.

    Langley Field was the site of some very innovative concepts, for the time, including aerial photography (performed from the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny biplane), and early bombing testing, as well as early US use of lighter-than-air dirigibles. Dirigibles didn't last, but a section of Langley is still called the LTA area. In the 1920s General Billy Mitchell based his testing of the strategic bombing concept of captured German warships from Langley, paving the way to strategic bombing of World War Two and the early nuclear age.

    World War Two brought explosive growth to Langley, and it became a major air base for the East Coast. The threat of German submarines brought a new anti-submarine air patrol mission to Langley; in addition to anti-sub bombing missions, Langley was the site where anti-sub tactics and use of radar were developed and put in practice, locating and destroying German submarines threatening US and Allied shipping. Submarine attacks were the greatest practical threat to the US mainland in World War Two, and Langley was one of the main defenses against them. After World War Two, Langley Field was renamed Langley Air Force Base, and the new air base continued its defense mission through the Cold War.

    The end of the Cold War reduced and consolidated many Air Force commands and units, and the Tactical Air Command was combined with other commands to form Air Combat Command, main combat force provider for the Air Force. ACC is still headquartered at Langley, and the base now houses the 1st Fighter Wing's 27th Fighter Squadron, the first unit flying the highly advanced F-22 Raptor.