Westover Air Reserve Base
Though its title today includes “reserve,” the renowned 70-year-old air base carries tremendous economic and community partnering strengths in Western Massachusetts. Reduced in size in 1974 following the Vietnam War drawdown, Westover Air Reserve Base has entered the 21st century as a larger installation than when the Air Force Reserve first took over operations nearly 40 years ago. More than 5,500 service members of all four branches of the military serve at the base. This means that community outreach has expanded accordingly: From the US Marines Toys for Tots program, to the base hosting the Springfield Police Academy classes and graduations and, in far more serious circumstances, designating an old runway as a sprawling FEMA distribution point for the entire New England area. Emergency management operations culminated with a major National Defense Medical System exercise held in October 2012.
Just during 2013, the Westover Fire Department has been instrumental in helping surrounding communities with firefighting. The department responded to five mutual aid requests, including a major marina fire and fire near a mountain. Forty-five Hampden and Hampshire county communities use the base structural fire training area. Westover firefighters also assisted the state department of fire services by hosting five firefighting classes on base.
Younger generations regularly get a sneak peek of the base during the annual Youth Outreach event which includes aircraft tours, team-building exercises, and rocket launches from the base ellipse. The new century has ushered in robust economic numbers. The base has consistently brought in more than $200 million annually to the economic engine of western Massachusetts, injecting $225 million into its economy in fiscal year 2013. Similar to an active-duty installation’s base community council, the volunteers of the not-for-profit Galaxy Community Council strengthen community ties with the base – as well as morale for the troops – with their financial and manpower support of Westover’s annual Family Days and its most recent two-day 2012 Great New England Air Show, during which more. than 210,000 people streamed into the 2,500-acrebase. Just 10 miles to the west, Barnes Air National Guard Base leaned on Westover in the summer of 2013 as runway construction forced the relocation of its fleet of F-15 fighter jets. With mere weeks to prepare, senior Guard and Reserve leadership integrated more than 200 maintenance guardsmen and added 12 F-15s to a portion of the flight line. Training flights continued through the summer and fall with minimal mission disruption. Literally next door to the base, the Westover Metropolitan Development Corporation shares a runway with Westover. WMDC oversees a portion of the former B-52 alert area which houses Westover Metropolitan Airport and the Massachusetts State Police elite helicopter unit. The full-service aircraft control tower is open 16 hours a day and oversees some 40,000 military and civilian flight events each year (approximately 60% military and 40% civilian).
Westover Public Affairs