Anyone who has served in the US Air Force knows where Offutt Air Force Base is. The Bellevue, Nebraska, base is synonymous with the Strategic Air Command. SAC served as the United States’ strategic defense mainstay for more than 40 years. SAC was formally started in 1947 and lasted until 1992, when times changed and it was replaced by the Strategic Command (made up of mainly Air Force and Navy personnel). STRATCOM is still headquartered in Bellevue.
SAC played a critical role during the Cold War, which started right after World War II and lasted until the fall of communism in the late 1980s.
For those of us who served in the Air Force and had the opportunity to be assigned to SAC, it was an honor. SAC was THE command. SAC was responsible for the bulk of the nation’s nuclear fleet – air launched and missile-based.
I served for 5½ years of my 8 1/2-year career at Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. I served in a variety of roles – missile security, bomber and weapons support, as well as administrative. I made Staff Sergeant and Tech Sergeant during my time there. North Dakota may not be Number 1 on many people’s “wish lists,” but GFAFB was a great place to be stationed.
SAC’s history is recorded and proud displayed at the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Ashland, Nebraska (about halfway between Omaha and Lincoln on Interstate 80). The museum was relocated and renamed in 1998, after having been located outdoors near Offutt. The move was good for the aircraft, which had become weathered and were in jeopardy of being junked.
Visitors can get a great look at the history of SAC at the museum, along with other aircraft, space vehicles and exhibits.
The museum recently erected a B1A “Lancer” near the main entrance. It welcomes visitors and sends an immediate reminder as to the important role SAC played in the defense of the United States.
A B-52 stands on alert in the large display hangar. Several planes, dating from World War II, are on display.
The BUF (Big Ugly “Flying” – we are somewhat a family site) stands out. Its large wingspan engulfs much of the display space.
Standing next to the bomber is a Security Police display. The SP is dressed for winter at a northern tier base. The mukluks on his feet, coupled with the snow pants and parka strive to keep him warm in temperatures that commonly dropped below zero with the air and even colder with the wind chill.
Some people have debated if he’d wear his blue beret. Some have said he’d have his snow cap on. I usually opted for the beret, unless it was too cold. But, I’ve never been one to have too warm of hats on my head.
His uniform is completed with his ammo belt, ammo pouch, handcuffs and radio. His loyal M-16 is at his side.
More aircraft are on display from SAC bases. They include: B-47 Startojet, B-29 Superfortress, B-58 hustler, B-36 Peacemaker and FB-111.
The museum has a section set a side that specifically recognizes and honors SAC veterans.
A memorial has these inscribed words, “Peace is our profession,” in front of a set of American, state and POW/MIA flags.
A display recognizes the SAC Elite Guard. These folks were responsible for providing security in secured locations at Offutt.
The museum has an old Thor missile in front, but nothing yet for a Minuteman missile. Hopefully, they will have one in the future, so that part of SAC can be honored there, also.
Since SAC was the basis for the creation of the museum, leaders are considering a name change – one that would include SAC’s involvement. As the museum works on this, we SAC veterans can always relish the fact that we played a part in winning the Cold War.
If you are in Nebraska, you should make the trip to the SAS Museum to view the history of SAC, as well as other important air and space craft.
For more information, please visit the museum’s website at www.sasmuseum.com.