Located in the middle of the Lone Star State, the Dyess Air Force Base has a population of nearly 7,800 people and spans over 6,400 acres. Dyess AFB is established in Abilene, Texas, a military friendly city minutes from Interstate 20 and U.S. Highway 83/84. The Abilene Regional Airport offers many services to the community, including daily connecting flights to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Greyhound buses are also commonly used for transportation to/from DFW and other urban locations. The base’s formal mailing address is 490 Ave B, Bldg. 6132 Dyess AFB, TX, 79607 and phone number is 1 (325) 696-3113.
The modern Dyess AFB was built in 1942 by the United States Army Force, known as the "Abilene Army Force Base". The base was originally hosted by the 474th Base HQ and Air Base Squadron units. The mission of the base was to train cadets how to fly Republic 9-47 Thunderbolts in the midst of World War II. By 1944, AAF Base was renamed as the “Abilene Army Airfield” and flight training was overtaken by the 261st Army Air Force Base Unit. At the end of the war, the base was declared inactive and sold to the city of Abilene for $1. The Texas National Guard occupied the site for training in the following years.
Around a decade later, as the Cold War grew, the government of Abilene realized that they possessed the perfect location for a new military base. The city leaders raised nearly $1 million for the project and traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the base creation. Military leaders reactivated the base and Congress, pushed by Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, approved $52 million to construct a modern Air Force base. An additional 3,500 acres were purchased for the formation of the new Abilene Air Force Base.
The base opened in the spring of 1956 and was soon renamed to Dyess Air Force Base in honor of Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess. Dyess, a native of Abilene, was captured by the Japanese during World War II. He escaped in 1943 and continued to fight in the war. While returning to the U.S., Dyess’ P-38 Lightning caught on fire. Dyess made sure the aircraft crashed in a remote area in California, saving many lives while sacrificing his own.
The 96th Bomb Wing moved to Dyess AFB in 1957, sharing the base with the 341st wing. The 96th Wing contained the B-47 and B-52 nuclear bombers, along with the KC-135 refueling aircraft. As the Cold War continued, the base was on constant alert of a nuclear attack. The local movie theater installed emergency signs in order to warn pilots if the USSR was initiating an attack. In the 1960s, Dyess AFB gained fame for installing two Nike Hercules sites, which were designed for high-altitude long-range air defense. Units at the base received the B-15 Lancer in 1986, as Dyess transformed into the premier bomber training center of the Air Force.
Dyess AFB made history in 2003 by becoming the first Department of Defense installation to be powered entirely by renewable wind energy. The base continues to stay green by using other forms of renewable energy, such as biomass.
The 7th Bomb Wing and the 317th Airlift Group are the current host units of the Dyess AFB. The 7 BW moved to Dyess in October 1993 and aims to provide combat-ready B-1B aircraft and crews for global engagement tasks. It is one of the only wings in the Air Force to possess the Rockwell B-1 Lancer, a supersonic heavy bomber. In 1997, the 317 AG was reactivated in order to provide combat delivery, airlift maintenance and recovery, and deployable air mobility command. Both wings played a major role in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom following 9/11. The 7 BW provided air support to troops and strike missions, while the 317 AG supplied airlift support.
Housing and Education
When first arriving at the base, rooms at The Inns of Dyess are available for military members. Pets are allowed in certain rooms. The Inn is located at 441 Fifth Street and can be contacted at (325) 696-2681.
Family housing is privatized at Dyess. Apartments and Townhouses, provided by the Hunt Military Communities, are available off base. Duplex and single homes, provided by the Balfour Beatty Communities, are available on base. There are no schools located on the base. Those living on or off base will attend schools in the Abilene Independent School District. For more information, please contact the Housing Management Office at (325) 696-2150.
Things to Do / MWR
Dyess AFB and the city of Abilene are definitely not boring. Abilene offers a wide range of activities, whether you prefer shopping at over 2,000 merchants or visiting the local Abilene Zoo. The base has multiple amenities, including a fitness center, movie theater, and community center. The Dyess Linear Air Park attracts visitors every year. The museum has an extensive amount of military aircraft on display, with more than 30 aircrafts from the past century. For more information and/or to schedule a tour, call (325) 696-2863.