Randolph Air Force Base, located between IH-35 and I-10 on the northeast part of San Antonio, is part of the San Antonio Metro area. Randolph AFB is known as “the Showplace of the Air Force” because of the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style in which all structures, including hangars, were constructed. A huge Spanish style water tower sits on top of building 100, which houses the 12th Flying Training Wing headquarters. A symbol of the base, this structure bears the nickname of “the Taj” because of its appearance reminiscent of the Taj Mahal.
The idea for Randolph AFB began soon after the establishment of the Air Corps Act in 1926, which changed the name of the Army Air Service to the Army Air Corps. Dedicated on June 20, 1930, Randolph Field initially served a flying training base and continues in this mission today. The base is named after Captain William Millican Randolph, a native of Austin, who was on the base naming committee at the time of his death in a plane crash.
Randolph AFB began to grow in size and importance in 1943 with the establishment of a flying school. The base graduated more than 15,000 during WWII. After the war ended, so did the high number of graduates and by the 1970s, about 400 pilots were graduating each year.
In 2005, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) issued a report requiring relocation of installation management functions and the establishment of Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA). On October 1, 2010, JBSA formed with the merging of US Army Fort Sam Houston, and two US Air Force bases – Lackland AFB and Randolph AFB – creating the largest single Department of Defense installation and making San Antonio known as “Military City USA.”
The three major units at Randolph Air Force Base are:
- 12th Flying Training Wing – equips and trains aviators and supports worldwide contingency operations; operates parallel runways on both sides of the main installation facilities; conducts 24-hour flight training operations.
- 359th Medical Group – outpatient-only medical treatment facility; provides medical care, physiological training, health promotion, and public health support to the military community.
- 902nd Mission Support Group – the focal point for all base activities, serves and supports the 12th Flying Training Wing and its mission partners, as well as more than 24,000 retirees living locally.
Randolph AFB is one of the few bases in the Air Force that does instructor pilot training. Current aircraft used for training include the T 1A Jayhawk, the T 38C Talon, and the T 6A Texan II. In addition to Americans, students include those from many NATO countries. Additionally, the 12th Flying Training Wing provides air transportation and immediate response emergency airlift in the C-21A Lear jet.
The base serves as headquarters of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). Also held at Randolph is the Joint Undergraduate Navigator and Electronic Warfare Officer Training.
More than 30 Department of Defense units such as Air Force Personnel Center and the Air Force Recruiting Service serve more than 15,000 people on the base and more than 24,000 Air Force retirees in the local area. Randolph Air Force Base affects the city of San Antonio in many positive ways, adding to the appeal of this area for many families.
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