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Lowry Air Force Base
Part of Air Training Command Emblem.png Air Training Command (ATC)
Located in Aurora and Denver, Colorado
Lowry Air Force Base-March-1987.jpg
Lowry Air Force Base and nearby residential areas in March 1987
Type USAF base
Coordinates Latitude:
Location code

GNIS: 2089348[1]
FFID: CO857002413000[2]

USAF: 08007F[3]
Built 1937-1941
In use 12 Dec 1938 – 30 Sep 1994
Demolished numerous buildings
Lowry Campus
City & County of Denver and City of Aurora[citation needed]
Controlled by United States Air Force
Garrison Lowry Technical Training Center

Lowry Air Force Base (Lowry Field 1938-1948) was a United States Army Air Forces and USAF training base during World War II and the Cold War (e.g., USAF Academy from 1955 to 1958). The military installation land is now commercial and residential property (Lowry Campus) with many of the military buildings still in use such as 2 hangars used for the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, another hangar for the Big Bear Ice Rink, a dormitory for the Logan School for Creative Learning,[4] base housing for the Stanley British Primary School, and other buildings for the Community College of Aurora.[5] A dormitory and a former medical building on the east end of the base are owned by the state as part of the Higher Education and Technology campus. The last remaining military facility at the former Lowry base[citation needed] was the DFAS Finance Center (6760 E Irvington Place), which had its own USAF Base Facility identifier in 2004 (08002D).[3] The Lowry Community Master Association (LCMA) is located at 7581 E Academy Blvd,[6] the former hangar with the name "Lowry Air Force Base" and which also has suites for Martifer Solar USA, Mor Beverage Corp, Montessori Casa International, and Extra Space Storage.[7]

Lowry Air Force Base is located in Colorado
Lowry AFB shown with 2 Titan I launch complexes and missile plant PJKS


The City of Denver, Auraria, and Highland was chartered as the 1859 territorial capital after the start of the 1858 Pikes Peak Gold Rush; and the 1887 Fort Logan was established in the modern Denver Metropolitan Area. East of the state capital, military training at Montclair, Colorado, began at the future airfield when the 1887 Jarvis Hall Military School opened. Montclair was incorporated into Denver in 1903 and Jarvis Hall burned down in 1904.

Agnes Phipps Memorial Sanatorium[8]
A tuberculosis hospital was established in 1904 at 520 Rampart Way[8] (cf. "East 6th Avenue and Quebec Street") by Lawrence C. Phipps, Sr., and in the 1930s the sanatorium included 17 buildings designed by the Gove and Walsh firm and subsequently used on the Army airfield for which Denver purchased the hospital after a 1935 municipal bond vote.[9]

"After several fires at Chanute Field, Illinois and deterioration of the buildings",[10] a 1934 Air Corps announcement solicited a replacement training location and Denver submitted a bid.[9] On 27 August 1937, the Denver Branch, Air Corps Technical School, was formed with Departments of Photography and Armament and on 4 October 1937,[citation needed] the WPA began converting the sanatorium grounds into a Colorado military airfield.[9] In February 1938 the airfield being installed adjacent to Fairmont Cemetery was assigned to the Air Corps Technical School headquartered at Chanute,[citation needed] and "the Denver branch of the Army Air Corps became an Army post of 880 acres."[11]

Lowry Field

Lowry Field was named on 11 March 1938 for 2d Lt Francis Lowry, the only Colorado pilot killed in WWI combat; and the paved runway opened on 4 April[12] (1st used by a B-18 Bolo.) The sanatorium's main building became the Army post's headquarters, and the largest single barracks (3,200 men) was completed in mid-1940.[12] The "Northeast-Southwest runway was completed in 1941" and the same year,[13] the United States Army Air Corps moved a Clerical School to Fort Logan from Lowry Army Airfield.[14][15] Beginning July 16, 1940,[16] the 1st class of the AAF bombardier schools was at Lowry and used the nearby bombing and gunnery range through 14 March 1941[17] graduating 3 classes of instructors who opened the Barksdale Field bombardier school.[18]

Fourth Technical Training District

Technical Training Command's "Fourth District" was headquartered "at Denver, Colo" on 5 March 1942[19] (designated Western Technical Training Command 31 August 1943) and construction of a cantonment at the Lowry Auxiliary Landing Field ("Lowry Field Number 2") "began on 5 May 1942" where armament training commenced 6 July 1942.[20] Circa January 1943, Lowry's courses for "communications, engineering, armament and photography aviation cadets" transferred to Yale University which was the lead for contract facilities.[19]

Lowry training for Boeing B-29 Superfortress pilot qualification and for B-29 operational crew readiness began in 1943, and the base had a July 1943–Jan 1944 clerical school. In 1944 expansion of Lowry's airfield was planned[19] and Lowry gained B-29 Flight Engineer training.

Lowry transferred under Technical Training Command in mid-October 1945 (Air Training Command on 1 July 1946) and by the end of 1945, Lowry's separation center was processing an average of 300 discharges a day. The nearby WWII bombing range transferred from "Buckley Field by authority of Tech-Division Air Training Command… to Lowry A.F.B. on 20 September 1946".[21] In July 1947, formal courses in Intelligence Training were established at Lowry for combat reporting, photographic intelligence, prisoner of war interrogation, and briefing and interrogation of combat crews.

USAF base

Lowry Air Force Base was designated on 24 June 1948 and on 26 August 1948 established all Lowry training organizations under the 3415th Technical Training Wing (redesignated "Lowry Technical Training Center" on 1 Jan 1959). Lowry provided Operation Hayride emergency response for people and livestock threatened by eighteen December 1948-January 1949 snowstorms from Utah to Kansas (e.g., a C-47 of the 2151st Air Rescue Unit delivered 115 blankets and 30 cases of C rations on 4 January to 482 people at Rockport, Colorado.) [22] By 25 August 1949, the 3903rd Radar Bomb Scoring Squadron had a unit at Lowry[23]—Detachment A operated SAC radar station (call sign "Denver Bomb Plot") on the hill at Buckley for Radar Bomb Scoring of simulated nuclear attacks on Denver[citation needed] (e.g., for the 1955 Bomb Comp).[1] In 1959 the unit with 4 trailers,[24] after being designated Detachment 1, 11th Radar Bomb Scoring Squadron; moved to La Junta Bomb Plot at the WWII La Junta Army Airfield.

In 1951, plans called for the headquarters of Technical Training Air Force to be at Lowry[25] and after expansion at the beginning of the Korean War, Lowry courses included couphotography, armament, rocket propulsion, electronics, radar-operated fire-control systems, computer specialties, gun and rocket sights, and electronically operated turret systems. The 3415th Wing formed a Guided Missiles Department on 7 June 1951[citation needed] and from 1952 – 1955, Lowry functioned as President Eisenhower's Summer White House. In July 1954 USAF officials named Lowry as the interim site for the USAF Academy military installation to be built at Colorado Springs[citation needed] and beginning in September 1954, the 3415th TTW moved intelligence, comptroller, and transportation training programs to Sheppard AFB. On 11 July 1955, the first class of 306 USAFA cadets was sworn in at Lowry.

In 1956 Lowry's bombing range support ended when the bombing range mission was terminated[26] and Lowry's first general courses for missiles were developed.[25] Courses were for Falcon, Rascal, Snark, and Navaho missiles and in 1958, Nuclear Weapons Training. Also early in 1958, the USAF concluded that the new NORAD headquarters (different from the planned nuclear bunkers for NORAD and the Denver ADS) should be relocated from Ent AFB to Lowry AFB (CO Springs' Chidlaw Building became the new NORAD HQ).[27] In 1960, Lowry was the 3rd ranked technical training base of ATC.[10]

ICBM headquarters and training

The Air Force Ballistic Committee formed in 1955[28] approved the former bombing range on 13 March 1958 for the first Titan I ICBM launch complex (the Titan missile plant was built at Waterton Canyon.) The 703d Strategic Missile Wing was activated on 25 Sep 1958 and redesignated the 451 SMW on 1 Jul 1961, at the same time the 848th and the 849 SMS were redesignated the 724th and 725 SMS. Construction on all nine silos at the three launch complexes for the 724 was completed by 4 August 1961. On 18 April 1962, Headquarters SAC declared the 724th SMS operational, and 2 days later the first Titan Is went on alert status. A month later, the sister 725th SMS (initially designated the 849th SMS) declared it had placed all nine of its Titan Is on alert status, which marked a SAC first. Both the 724th and 725th Strategic Missile Squadrons formed components of the Lowry-headquartered 451st Strategic Missile Wing.[29] Lowry's personnel course moved to Greenville AFB by early 1961.[10]

By 1962, Lowry's Department of Missile Training was graduating over 1,000 trained missile specialists per year,[citation needed] and the "Tactical Missile School at Lowry" (e.g., for Matador missile training) in January 1962 "was located in the Black Hangar."[30] On 25 June 1965, the 724th and 725th Strategic Missile Squadrons were inactivated,[31] and the last missile supported by Lowry was removed on 14 April 1965.[32]

Air Intelligence Training Center

The Armed Forces Air Intelligence Training Center was established at Lowry effective 1 July 1963 with student training beginning on 17 July[citation needed] (by 14 March, "the Defense Department had assigned responsibility for all DOD air intelligence training and advanced training in photographic, radar, and infrared interpretation to the Air Force.")[25] In 1965, all Lowry AFB flying activities[specify]

moved to nearby Buckley Air National Guard Base.  Ten courses from Amarillo AFB were planned to be moved to Lowry in mid-1968,[25]:159 and Amarillo's 3320th Retraining Group for convicted airmen moved to Lowry 1 July-1 September 1967.  In 1974, the Air Staff approved Lackland AFB's Special Treatment Center to transfer to the 3415th Special Training Group at Lowry AFB.

Construction began in 1970 for enlisted and officer billeting facilities to replace World War II vintage barracks, five 1,000-man dormitories and completed by 1974, a 187-space mobile home park. Other added facilities included a youth center, a child-care center, a chapel (in addition to the 1941 chapel), and a new Airmen’s Open Mess. In 1976, the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (formerly Air Force Accounting & Finance Center) & the Air Reserve Personnel Center opened in the Gilchrist Building (Building 444).

USAF School of Applied Aerospace Sciences, Lowry

In 1972, the 3415th Technical Wing[citation needed] became the USAF School of Applied Aerospace Sciences, Lowry. The Department of Aerospace Munitions Training continued missile training and in 1978 was redesignated the 3460th Training Group. In 1980 Lowry acquired a Davis-Monthan AFB B-52D and stabilized[specify]

another B-52 for training ALCM and SRAM loading procedures.  New courses in the 1980s included flight line and in-shop avionics maintenance courses for the F-4 Phantom II, F-111 Aardvark, F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon (e.g., communications, flight controls, navigation, weapons guidance, and electronic countermeasures & warfare systems).  In 1982, Lowry's 1941 Eisenhower Memorial Chapel (cf. the Eisenhower Chapel at Fort Knox[33]) was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.

LGM-118 Peacekeeper ICBM training began at Lowry in 1985, and after Lowry became the primary training center for USAF space operations, Undergraduate Space Training's 1st graduation was in 1987. Lowry also handled ground & armament training for several interceptor models, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and the B-1 Lancer. After being considered for closure in 1978 and since "Lowry lacked a runway"[10] (closed July 1966),[12] Lowry AFB was designated for closure by BRAC 1991. The 3400th Technical Training Wing inactivated on 27 April 1994, and the base officially closed on 30 September 1994. The National Civilian Community Corps used Lowry facilities from 1994 until 2004; and Space Systems Support Group Detachment 1 "located at the former Lowry AFB" in March 1995 moved to Peterson AFB.[34] The Bonfils Blood Center "became the first commercial tenant at Lowry" in the former commissary during September 1995, and the site development company was presented facility and real estate awards in 1997[35] (asbestos was remediated from the Formerly Used Defense Site[36] of "1,866 acres"—remediation at buildings included Building 402:PCBs, 606: groundwater, & 1432: soil[2]).

Buckley Annex

The Buckley Annex was the remaining military installation after the "Whole Base Transfer" of Lowry AFB in 2006,[37] the year the USGS listed the closed Lowry AFB in the Geographic Names Information System.[1] In 2007, the annex of 70 acres (28 ha) with DFAS & ARPC[38] was planned for closure.[35] The last remaining Air Force facility at Lowry was the Air Reserve Personnel Center,[39] which BRAC 2005[2] moved to Buckley AFB in August 2011. The Buckley Annex' Whole Base Transfer was in 2012, and the "final stages of cleanup" of the base and annex were underway in February 2013.[37]

Assignments and major units

  • Air Corps Technical School, 27 Aug 1937
  • Air Corps Technical Training Command, 26 March 1941 (AAF Technical Training Command on 15 March 1942)
  • AAF Training Command, 31 July 1943 (Air Training Command on 1 July 1946)
  • Air Educational and Training Command, 1 June 1992 – 27 April 1994
Major units

  • Denver Branch, February 1938
  • 3415th Technical Training Wing, 26 August 1948-
redesignated 3415th Technical School, USAF
Lowry Technical Training Center, 1 January 1959
USAF School of Applied Aerospace Sciences, Lowry, 1 August 1972 – 1 April 1977

  • 331st Twin Engine Fighter Training Group, 24 October 1943 – 1 January 1944
  • 322d Troop Carrier Wing, 12 Jun 1947 – 27 June 1949
  • USAF Technical Gunnery School, 12 October 1950 – 1 January 1960
  • USAF Academy, 14 August 1954 – 19 July 1959
  • 703d Strategic Missile Wing, 25 September 1958 – 1 July 1961
Redesignated 451st Strategic Missile Wing, 1 July 1961 – 25 June 1965
  • USAF Intelligence Training Center, 1 July 1963 – 27 April 1994
  • 3400th Technical Training Wing, 1 April 1977 – 1 January 1978; 1 November 1979 – 27 April 1994

External images
Carillon & hq structures
redevelopment map
Lowry Business Park sign


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Lowry Air Force Base (2089348)". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2013-09-21.  (The GNIS has a 2nd set of coordinates at McMullin Park, and it also lists the Lowry Elementary School--2695987 at 394246N 1045347W.)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2
  3. 3.0 3.1 USAF "Base Facility" identifier (the facility ID for the "DFAS Center" was different: 08002D.)
  4. "The Logan School". 
  5. Community College of Aurora Official Site
  6. Lowry Community Master Association
  8. 8.0 8.1
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Denver Suburbs Multiple Property Submission (Report). National Park Service. "Beginning in 1937, the Works Progress Administration completed one of its largest projects in Colorado, with more than 1,500 workers involved in renovating the 17 existing Gove and Walsh designed sanitarium buildings for the school, constructing infrastructure on the 880-acre campus, and building runways. Four modular hangars disassembled at other posts arrived at the new installation." 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Shaw, Frederick J., ed (2004). Locating Air Force Base Sites: History’s Legacy. Washington DC: Air Force History and Museums Program. "History of the Site Activation Task Force (Lowry) … In 1960, ATC’s ranking of technical training bases was as follows: 1) Keesler, 2) Sheppard, 3) Lowry, 4) Chanute, 5) Amarillo, 6) Richards-Gebaur (base under ADC command jurisdiction), and 7) Greenville (closed in 1965).)" 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Mueller, Robert (1989). Air Force Bases: Lowry Air Force Base (Report). Volume I: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Office of Air Force History. pp. 331–337. ISBN 0-912799-53-6. Retrieved 2013-08-15. 
  13. CH2M HILL (February 2004). Final RCRA Facility Assessment Work Plan (Report). Retrieved 2012-07-19. "1941 – Northeast-Southwest runway completed; Fort Logan accepts relocation of Clerical School from Lowry; Army Air Corps Technical Training Command formed and given responsibility for Lowry Field. … 1941 –…Fort Logan accepts relocation of Clerical School from Lowry" 
  14. Craven, Wesley Frank; Cate, James Lea, eds (1983-Washington) [1949-Chicago]. "Chapter 4: The Development of Base Facilities" (Terry Welshan webpage transcription). The Army Air Forces in World War II. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 1-4289-1587-7. OCLC 9828710. Retrieved 11 February 2013. "To clear Lowry for armament and photographic training expansion, the Air Corps secured Fort Logan, Colorado, and moved its clerical course there in March 1941." 
  15. Kurtz, Paul (25 August 1943). "Sports Stew – Served Hot" (Google news archive). The Pittsburgh Press.,5512087&dq=army-air-forces-clerical-school&hl=en. Retrieved 2013-02-11. 
  16. Arnold, Henry H.--Foreword (June 1944--Special Edition for AAF Organizations) [May 1944]. AAF: The Official Guide to the Army Air Forces. New York: Pocket Books. p. 356. 
  17. "Bombardier Training: …Overview" (transcribed text from various sources, including St. John). Retrieved 2012-07-10. 
  18. St. John, Philip A (April 15, 1998). Bombardiers in WWII. Vol II. Turner Publishing Company. Retrieved 2012-07-10. "Fifty instructors arrived [at Barksdale] from the first three classes at Lowry Field, in February 1941."  (from Volume I--cited by
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Futrell, Robert Frank (July 1947). Development of AAF Base Facilities in the United States: 1939-1945 (Report). ARS-69: US Air Force Historical Study No 69 (Copy No. 2). Air Historical Office. "In January 1939 the new air base at Denver, Lowry Field, was being built.16[p. 5] … In May 1941, for example, Lowry Field received funds to build an airfield--later called Buckley Field--on the bombing range near Denver.170 [p. 60 (pdf 69)] … In December 1942 a contract was executed with Yale University whereby the university lead facilities for the training of the communications, engineering, armament and photography aviation cadets. These detachments were transferred from Scott, Chanute, and Lowry Fields in January 1943.137 [p. 114 (pdf 123)] … In September [1944] three other fields--Lowry, Randolph, and Roswell--were selected for expansion, including a lengthening of runways, a widening ot taxiways, increased maintenance apron space, and a few additional hangars.28"  (pdf p. 179)
  20. Maurer, Maurer. Aviation in the US Army, 1919-1939 (Report). ISBN 0-912799-38-2. 
  21. Inventory Project Report: Findings of Fact (Lowry AFB, A. F. Facility 5-1, Complex 1A (Report). Archived from the original on 2013-09-20.  (The webpage's Site Survey Summary Sheet cites the Summary of LAFB Activities since 1937, Lowry Area History 29 September 1958 to 16 December 1961.)
  22. AFHRA: The USAF and Humanitarian Airlift Operations 1947–1994
  23. Schlupp, Capt John A. (25 Aug 49). "[memorandum for Project Blue Book"]. "Two (2) cys Itr, Det A 39030[sic] Radar Bomb Scoring Sq, Lowry AF Base, 25 Aug 49" 
  24. "Townsfolk Hope to Shoot Down Military's Bombing-Range Plans". February 21, 1995. Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 Manning, Thomas A. (2005). History of Air Education and Training Command: 1942-2002 (Report). A-090203-089. Office of History and Research. p. 146. ASIN B000NYX3PC. Retrieved 2013-09-13. "…a re-organization of internal base structuie. The major change was the replacement of the base unit organization with a base-wing set-up. All ATC bases were to have a wing headquarters with three subordinate groups: training, maintenance, and airdrome. However, in August 1947 this reorganization was deferred until 1948. … 1951 "Plans called for FTAF to be headquartered at Randolph and TTAF at Lowry … Lowry and Keesler developed the first general [missile] courses in 1956, and plans called for other courses to open at Chanute in 1957, Amarillo in 1958, and Sheppard in 1959. … In early 1965, ATC began making plans to close its training activities at Amarillo and…relocate 29 technical courses: 7 to Chanute, 10 to Lowry. 5 to Sheppard. and 7 to Lackland." 
  27. North American Air Defense Command Historical Summary (Report).…4665.10015.0.10346.…0.0…1c.1.11.psy-ab.PtW1PnDduyg&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_qf.&fp=94c1fca23fa8c111&biw=1600&bih=793. [specify] p. 110 ("Location of NORAD" chapter) "USAF concluded that the best location tor NORAD was Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado (which would have quarters vacant because of the move of the Air Force Academy from Lowry to its permanent campus near Colorado Springs). … NORAD made a preliminary reply to the JCS on 31 July. NORAD recommended that the headquarters complex be located in the Colorado Springs area, with either the Air Force Academy site or Fort Carson preferred as the location." (cf. the nuclear bunker candidates for the command post at the nearby Blodgett Peak or Cheyenne Mountain massif.)
  29. 703/451 SMW operational history USAFHRA Sept.1958 – June 1965
  30. "Matador and Mace Tactical Missile Veterans" (military newsgroup). page…last updated June 14, 2010. Retrieved 2013-03-18. "Dennis Schneider Wed, February 8, 2012 2:01 PM I was assigned to the Tactical Missile School at Lowry AFB…in Jan 1962. Upon graduation in June…I received orders assigning us to instructor duty in that very school, which was located in the Black Hangar … at Lowry…from Jan 1962 - Dec 1963…I tought…in the TAC Missile Maintenance training program."  (message 1060)
  31. Titan 1 Missiles Serial Numbers and Disposition including Lowry Missiles
  32. Neufeld, J. (1990). The development of ballistic missiles in the United States Air Force, 1945–1960 (Report). Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-62-5. 
  33. "Eisenhower Chapel (509508)". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  34. "title tbd". Peterson AFB: contractor for Air Base Wing public affairs. March 1995 edition. p. p. 9. 
  35. 35.0 35.1
  37. 37.0 37.1 "Former Lowry Air Force Base, Colo.". Air Force Civil Engineer Public Affairs. 2013-02-06. Retrieved 2013-09-22. "AFCEC has invested $84 million on BRAC cleanup actions at the former installation, and the final stages of cleanup are underway." 
  39. Air Reserve Personnel Center Official Site
  40. AFHRA: Air Force Combat Units of WWII
  41. [full citation needed] This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links

The Neighborhood Network of the Lowry Community

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