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Pease Air National Guard Base

Pease Air National Guard Base
Part of New Hampshire Air National Guard (ANG)
Portsmouth / Newington / Greenland,
New Hampshire, USA
F-16s Virginia ANG with KC-135R New Hampshire ANG
Pease ANGB is located in New Hampshire
Pease ANGB
Location of Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire
Type Air Force Base
Site information
Owner United States Air Force
Controlled by New Hampshire Air National Guard
Site history
Built 1930s
In use 1951--present
Garrison information
Garrison  157th Air Refueling Wing
Airfield information
Elevation AMSL 100 ft / 30 m
Direction Length Surface
ft m
16/34 11,321 3,451 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2007)
Aircraft operations 51,673
Based aircraft 107
Sources: airport website[1] and FAA[2]

Pease Air National Guard Base is a FB-111 to the B-2 Spirit. Pease AFB was closed in 1991 pursuant to BRAC action, with the 509 BW transferring to Whiteman AFB, Missouri. In 1983, investigations had shown soil and water contamination with degreasers and JP-4 jet fuel, and in 1990 the base was put on the National Priorities List of superfund sites. As of 2015, after 25 years of the Pease Development Authority’s work, Pease International Tradeport has 275 businesses employing close to 10,000 civilian workers.

Pease continues to be home to the New Hampshire Air National Guard's 157th Air Refueling Wing (157 ARW), an Air Mobility Command gained Air National Guard unit currently flying the KC-135R Stratotanker air refueling aircraft and since 2009 the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, an active duty United States Air Force "associate" unit to the 157th. The 157 ARW was a former tenant activity at Pease AFB and remained at the installation following the BRAC-directed closure of its Regular Air Force activities. The current base population is 380 full-time military personnel with a monthly surge of up to 950 military personnel.


  • Location 1
  • History 2
    • Base closure 2.1
  • Environmental issues 3
  • Pease Development Authority 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Pease Air Force Base occupied 4,100 acres (1,700 ha) of land in total with roughly 40 percent in the city of Portsmouth and 60 percent in the town of Newington and a small amount of golf course acreage also in Greenland in Rockingham County, in the Seacoast Region (New Hampshire).[3] Pease Air National Guard Base is approximately 220 acres (89 ha) in size and currently includes 40 facilities. It is 55 miles (89 km) north of Boston and 3 miles (5 km) south of Kittery, Maine.


Pease Air Force Base started as the 300-acre (120 ha) Portsmouth Municipal Airport in the 1930s. With the onset of World War II, the U.S. Navy used it for its base location. The U.S. Air Force assumed control in 1951, when the installation was selected for development as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base. Purchase of additional land for expansion of the base started in 1952 and was completed in 1956. Ground breaking for the new SAC facilities took place in 1954, and the first B-47 Stratojet bombers arrived in 1956. Renamed Portsmouth Air Force Base, the installation formally opened on 30 June 1956. In 1957, it was renamed as Pease Air Force Base in honor of New Hampshire native Captain Harl Pease, Jr. who posthumously earned the Medal of Honor for heroism during World War II.

Pease AFB was home of the 100th Bombardment Wing and from 1958 onward the 509th Bombardment Wing,arriving from Walker AFB, New Mexico as successor to the famed 509th Composite Group of World War II that had executed the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and transitioned to the B-47 and KC-97 mid-1950s. Their mission was strategic warfare in the event of war. From 1956 until its closure in 1991, Pease Air Force Base maintained a combat-ready force for long range bombardment and nuclear strikes. B-47 Stratojet, B-52 Stratofortress, and FB-111 Aardvark bomber aircraft, KC-97 Stratofreighter and KC-135 Stratotanker air refueling aircraft and C-97 Stratofreighter, C-124 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, were all based at Pease AFB at varying times.

In 1966 the New Hampshire Air National Guard relocated the 157th Military Airlift Group (157 MAG) from the deactivating Grenier AFB in nearby Manchester, New Hampshire, to Pease AFB. Operating the C-97 Stratofreighter, the group transitioned to the C-124 Globemaster in 1968 and to the C-130 Hercules in 1971. The mission of the group was changed in 1975 when it was designated as the 157th Air Refueling Group (157 ARG) and transitioned to the KC-135A. The 157th later transitioned to the KC-135E and currently flies the KC-135R. With the introduction of the USAF "objective wing" concept into the Air National Guard in the early 1990s, the 157 ARG was redesignated to its currenttitle as the 157th Air Refueling Wing (157 ARW).

The 100th Bombardment Wing was converted in June 1966[4] to a strategic reconnaissance wing and transferred to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. This left the 509th Bombardment Wing as the principal host wing for Pease AFB. The 509th was phased down for inactivation in 1965, but, cognizant of the historical significance of the 509th in SAC, the wing converted to the B-52D and KC-135A and was redesignated as the 509th Bombardment Wing, Heavy in 1966. From 1 April to 1 October 1968 and from 26 March to 20 September 1969, more than one-half of the wing was deployed in Southeast Asia. The 509th supported SAC combat and contingency operations in Southeast Asia with KC–135A aircraft and crews from 1966 to 1975, and with B–52D aircraft and crews from 1966 to 1970. By 1 December 1969, the wing had transferred all its B-52D aircraft to other SAC units in preparation for transition to the FB-111A. Redesignated as the 509th Bombardment Wing, Medium, the 509th had no bomber aircraft from November 1969 until 1970, but continued KC-135 refueling and alert operations and performed FB-111 ground training. The wing resumed flying training with the FB-111 in December 1970 and assumed FB–111 alert commitments from 1 July 1971 until September 1990. During this time, the 509th won the SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition and the Fairchild Trophy in 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1983 and the Sanders Trophy for best air refueling unit in 1982.

Base closure

In December 1988, Pease AFB was one of 86 military installations to be closed as part of the Secretary of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure process. In 1989, 3,461 active-duty military, 741 civil service workers and 347 non-appropriated fund employees were employed at Pease AFB. Of the total active duty personnel, 49 were assigned to the Air National Guard. It is estimated that the base created a total of 2,466 secondary jobs within the local communities. Military personnel began leaving the base in June 1990, and Pease AFB officially closed on 31 March 1991. The 509th BW transferred its FB-111 aircraft to Tactical Air Command and its KC-135s to other SAC units. The wing was then administratively moved to Whiteman AFB, Missouri, on 30 September 1990, but not manned until April 1993.

On October 2, 2009, the 64th Air Refueling Squadron was activated at Pease as the 157th's active-guard associate. This was the first time that an active duty Air Force unit had returned to Pease since the active Air Force closed the base in 1991.

Environmental issues

Aircraft maintenance operations at Pease AFB generated hazardous waste, including spent degreasers, solvents, paint strippers, jet fuels, and others, which contaminated soils and groundwater. Environmental investigations began in 1983 under the Air Force "Restoration Installation Program". In 1990, Pease AFB was placed on the National Priorities List of Superfund sites.[5] The site's contamination is addressed in twelve long-term remedial phases,[6] mainly soil excavation and disposal, vertical containment walls installed in the subsurface and groundwater extraction wells, soil vapor extraction and air sparging to treat petroleum and solvent contamination, and where groundwater extraction and treatment efforts are uncertain (zone 3) improvement thereof and wellhead preparing treatment capability for the Haven water supply well. At two sites a permeable reactive barrier was installed to intercept and destroy the groundwater contamination (sites 49 and 73). The groundwater is monitored long term and its use is restricted.[6]

In June 2014, Portsmouth shut down Haven Well, a water well serving Pease International Tradeport, after Air Force tests showed perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) 12.5 times higher than the EPA’s Provisional Health Advisory. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was also found, but below the health advisory level.[7] The Air Force had tested the well in advance of an EPA requirement beginning in 2015.[8] In 2015, the CDC announced blood testing of 500 people exposed to this contaminant from the Haven Well, thought to stem from the Air Force using firefighting foam.[9] In July 2015, the preliminary average of the first 98 blood tests was higher than the national average. The EPA ordered the Air Force to "design, install and operate a groundwater treatment system for the Haven well" that will "at a minimum restore contaminated groundwater in the Pease aquifer to levels less than the PHA for PFOA and PFOS" within 420 days or about 14 months. EPA predicted the contamination to continue to migrate toward the Harrison, Smith, Collins and Portsmouth No. 1 wells, which are known as the "southern well field" at the tradeport. The Air Force used the firefighting foam in 19 other areas, which have not been tested yet. Andrea Amico, a Portsmouth mother, had "pushed the state to test everybody who was exposed to the contaminated water". She applauded the order and deplored the Air Force’s "lack of transparency".[7] In mid July the New Hampshire State Department of Health and Human Services announced it was "exploring all measures to reopen testing for anyone exposed to contaminated water" at Haven Well.[10] Exposed firefighters began filing workers compensation claims with the city.[11] Mothers whose children were exposed to contaminated water at a daycare center and who developed elevated PFOA levels have spoken out.[12] Parents worry about potential risk for cancer and fertility issues. The city of Portsmouth requested the two other wells be treated.[13] On September 25, the Air Force announced they are “pursuing options” to treat all three city-owned wells.[14]

The Air Force has been testing 82 former and active installations nationwide for perfluorinated compounds (PFCs).[15] In 2015, PFCs were found in groundwater at Naval Air Station Brunswick and well water at Grissom Air Reserve Base.

Pease Development Authority

Base sign in 1987

In 1990, the bulk of the Pease AFB, other than property retained by the Air National Guard, was transferred to the Pease Development Authority for reuse as a civilian airport and commercial center. The base closure caused a regional economic crisis, that hit harder than the Great Recession.

A former weapons storage area in Newington, with frontage on Great Bay, was turned into a National Wildlife Refuge.[7]

Renamed Pease International Tradeport, an airport opened for civilian use in 1991 and became an FAA-certified airport under FAR Part 139 in October 1992. The air traffic control tower has been staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The airport has all new airfield facilities and pavements, including an ILS approach to both runways. Domestic and international terminal passenger service by the third iteration of Pan American Airways lasted until the airline's demise. At present, Pease is served by occasional charter airline flight operations. Pease has a Foreign Trade Zone with access to the East Coast and international trade corridors by land (Interstate 95), by direct air cargo from Pease, or by sea via the Port of New Hampshire in Portsmouth. The airport's main 11,300-foot (3,400 m) runway has been handling air cargo. A new international/domestic passenger terminal has Federal Inspection Service including US Customs, agriculture and immigration.[16]

As of 2015, at its 25-year anniversary, nearly 300 economically diverse businesses employing just under 10,000 workers have settled in the Tradeport, and another 4,000 people outside the tradeport support those businesses.[7]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "157th Air Refueling Wing".

  1. ^ Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, official site
  2. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for PSM (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2008-06-05
  3. ^ Howard Altschiller (29 June 2015). "From ghost town to boom town". Foster's Daily Democrat (NH) (Local Media Group, Inc.). Retrieved 2 July 2015. 
  4. ^ Srtaegic Air command Marvin T. Broyhill, n.d.
  5. ^ 55 Fed. Reg. 6154
  6. ^ a b "Pease Air Force Base". EPA New England. 11 April 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c d Jeff McMenemy (July 9, 2015). "EPA orders Air Force to treat contaminated wells at Pease". Seacoast Online (NH) (Local Media Group, Inc.). Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  8. ^ McMenemy, Jeff (June 23, 2014). "Water contamination shuts down well at Pease". Portsmouth Herald (NH) (Local Media Group, Inc.). 
  9. ^ James A. Kimble (3 June 2015). "CDC to perform more blood tests in connection with Haven Well contamination". Union Leader. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  10. ^ Jeff McMenemy (July 15, 2015). "State wants to reopen Pease blood testing". Seacoast Online (NH) (Local Media Group, Inc.). Retrieved 20 July 2015. 
  11. ^ Jeff McMenemy (July 29, 2015). "Firefighters seek workers' comp due to Pease well water". Seacoast Online (NH) (Local Media Group, Inc.). Retrieved 31 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Jeff McMenemy (August 24, 2015). "Worried moms speak out on blood test results". SeaCoast Online (NH). Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  13. ^ Jeff McMenemy (13 September 2015). "Resident calls for more blood testing at Pease". Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  14. ^ Jeff McMenemy (September 25, 2015). "Air Force will not dispute EPA order". Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  15. ^ Associated Press (19 September 2015). "Grissom officials: Well tests show no chemical pollution". LIN Television Corporation. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  16. ^ Pease ANGB, not dated
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989
  • George Adams, former Sgt 509 FMS, Pease AFB (1987–1990)
  • Jim Rusch, CMSgt USAF (Ret), 509 MMS, Pease AFB (1981–1989)

External links

  • NPL Site Narrative for Pease Air Force Base. US EPA National Priorities List, 1990
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