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See my first blog post on Adair AFS  click here for that post

The 26th Air Division was initially activated at McGuire Air Force Base (AFB), NJ in 1948.  It’s responsibility was air defense of the eastern U.S., North Carolina to New York.  It was located at Mitchell AFB, Long Island, NY, then at Syracuse Air Force Station (AFS), Syracuse, NY. It became the first Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) unit and its area of responsibility (AOR) expanded from the Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico and to the central U.S.  Due to re-organization and re-adjustment of air defense capabilities the 26th Air Division, then located at Stewart AFB, Newburgh, New York, then was administratively transferred to Adair AFS, Corvallis, OR on April 4, 1966.  This move caused the deactivation of the Portland Air Defense Sector and the Reno Air Defense Sector.

Photos of four commanders of HQ 26th Air Division, with their names, titles, and years of service: Col. R. Rhynard, Col. T. Popovich, Col. V. Garrison, and Col. H. Downing.
A display of three U.S. Air Force base commanders of the 4625th Support Squadron: Lt. Col. Harold L. Brown (1966-1968), Lt. Col. Alvin L. Wimer (1968), and Col. Carl H. Leo (1968-1969).

The 26th Air Division had the responsibility of defending the U.S. West Coast from San Francisco, CA to the top of Oregon, east to Idaho, Nevada and Utah.  The threat at the time was heavy bombers coming from the Soviet Union.

 

List of subordinate units of the 26th Air Division from 1966-1969, including various fighter-interceptor squadrons, radar squadrons, and air brigades with their respective locations in OR, CA, ID, and NV.

In late 1968 rumors began on the possibility that Adair AFS will close down. The threat from the Soviet Union was no longer heavy bombers but Inter-continental missiles and SAGE was not able to detect missiles. Defense and political leaders were not forthcoming about closure, at least initially.  By February 1969, Senator Mark Hatfield was able to learn that Adair AFS, among other Air Force installations, was being “studied.”  Other state representatives were sure that Adair AFS would stay open, at least for 5 more years.  That was soon laid to rest.  By April, 1969, it was finally announced that Adair AFS would close by September, 1969.  Talk of how best to utilize Adair AFS after closure began.  That will be the topic of another blog.

On August 1, 1969, Col Harry L. Downing, at the time the Vice Commander of the 25th Air Division, McChord AFB, Tacoma, WA, was brought down to replace retiring Col. Wayne E. Rhynard, with the sole purpose of closing the operations of 26th Air Division at Adair AFS and transferring the division and operations to Luke AFB, Phoenix, AZ.  Col. Carl H. Leo, Chief of Operations at Adair AFS, was tasked with closing the base itself. Base shut-down operations continued into the early 1970s.

On Monday, September 15, 1969, Col. Harry Downing pushed the button that stopped operation of the powerful SAGE computers, thus taking the operations at Adair AFS offline.