Sixty miles to the southeast of Kansas City, nestled among the wooded, rolling hills of West-Central Missouri, and two miles south of Knob Noster, is the bustling community of Whiteman Air Force Base and its more than 8,800 military members, Department of Defense civilians and Air Force family members.
Today, Whiteman is the home of the 509th Bomb Wing, which operates and maintains the Air Force's premier weapon system, the B-2 bomber.
The challenges and demands of this unit's mission are many and varied. Yet, Whiteman's people meet those challenges and demands daily with great pride and professionalism which have been a proud tradition for many years.
Whiteman's proud heritage dates back to 1942. U.S. Army Air Force officials selected the site of the present-day base to be the home of Sedalia Army Air Field (Sedalia is one of Whiteman's neighboring communities, some 20 miles east of the base), and a training base for WACO glider pilots, who saw action in World War II. In fact, the pilots of one former unit assigned to the base -- the 314th Troop Carrier Group -- participated in the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, and the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
Following the end of the war, the airfield remained in service as an operational location for Army Air Force C-46 and C-47 transports. In December 1947, the base was inactivated, but Sedalia Army Air Field was not forgotten.
With the birth of the U.S. Air Force as a separate, independent service in 1947, and the subsequent formation of Strategic Air Command, the site of the former airfield was considered for other Air Force missions. There was even a time in the late '40s that it was looked at as a possible site for the "West Point of the Air," the U.S. Air Force Academy.
In August 1951, SAC selected the base to be a site of one of its new bombardment wings, with both bombers and tankers assigned to the unit. Construction of facilities to support SAC's first all-jet bomber, the B-47, and the KC-97 aerial refueling tanker (the forerunner of SAC's all-jet tankers, the KC-135 and the KC-10) began in early 1952. In October 1952, SAC activated the 340th Bombardment Wing at the redesignated Sedalia Air Force Base.
In October 1955, the members of the bomb wing saw their base's name change to Whiteman Air Force Base, in honor of 2nd Lt. George A. Whiteman, a Sedalia native. Whiteman was one of the first American airmen killed in combat during World War II, when his P-40 fighter, the "Lucky Me," was shot down as he attempted to take off during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
From 1955 to 1960, the 340th BMW played a key role in SAC's mission of strategic deterrence. Its men and women were on the front line of the nation's strategic defense -- a force for peace that helped preserve America's freedom and safeguarded the world from another world war.
However, as Whiteman entered the '60s, its mission shifted from aircraft to SAC's newest weapon system, the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile. In June 1961, Air Force officials selected the base to be the location of SAC's fourth Minuteman missile wing -- the 351st Strategic Missile Wing.
The new missile wing was activated in February 1962, and continued its deterrent mission until July 31, 1995, when the wing and its missiles were inactivated under provisions of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Whiteman's current mission -- the B-2 -- is a dramatic leap forward in technology and represents a major milestone in the U.S. bomber modernization program. The B-2 brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses.
phone numbers: Commercial (660)687-1110 or
address: Whiteman AFB, MO 65305
3,347 active duty; 1,144 reservists; 4,300 family
members; 1,957 civilians
officer family units; 714 enlisted family units; 135
unaccompanied personnel units (660)687-4421
lodging: 31 temporary lodging units
Support Center: (660)687-7132
school on base run by Knob Noster R-8 School District
Care: Center for 162; 23 approved homes
care: Clinic. Appointments
(660)687-2242; benefits (660)687-4350; Tricare
Whiteman Air Force Base - Missouri
has a medium size commissary - (660)687-5655,
a medium exchange, and one shoppette (660)563-3003. Recreation at Whiteman Air Force Base - Missouri
includes arts and crafts, bowling, library, auto hobby,
recreation center, theater, golf, gym, tennis, swimming,
outdoor activities, camping, fishing, and stables.