An MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper taxi to the runway in preparation for take-off on Creech Air Force Base, Nev., June 13, 2014. The aircraft are flown under the 432nd Wing which trains pilots, sensor operators, and other remotely piloted aircraft crewmembers, and conducts combat surveillance and attack operations worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen/Released)
Airmen from the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron prepare an MQ-9 Reaper for flight during Combat Hammer May 15, 2014, Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nadine Barclay/Released)
Staff Sgt. Vanessa, 42nd Attack Squadron sensor operator, front, and Capt. Andrew, 18th Reconnaissance Squadron pilot, follow a vehicle with a remotely piloted aircraft in a flight training simulator May 28, 2014. The two-person crew was selected to fly the 65th air combat patrol, an initiative set by then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Dec. 23, 2009 (Last names have been withheld for security purposes). (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adawn Kelsey/Released)
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds begin their demonstration by flying over the crowd during Indian Springs Appreciation Day March 11, 2014, at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adawn Kelsey/Released)
Staff Sgt. Trung, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, reports a munitions load to the munitions operations center at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., May 12, 2014. The 432nd Maintenance Group ensures that Airmen, MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft, ground control stations, Predator Primary Satellite Links, and a globally-integrated communications network are fully capable to support aircrew training, combat operations, operational test and evaluation, and natural disaster support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. C.R./Released)
Creech Air Force Base arose from a small training site that grew in the aftermath of the brutal Dec. 7, 1941, aerial attack on Pearl Harbor, an event that thrust America and the newly organized U.S. Army Air Forces into World War II. Envisioned as a simple sub-post "tent city" military training camp, by March 1942 three graded-earth landing strips with taxiways were in place and additional plans underway to construct more permanent fixed facilities that included an auxiliary landing field for the parent Las Vegas Army Air Field. In the following seven decades the installation's roles and missions focused on such a sudden call to duty--preparing Airmen for direct combat and support as part of an unwavering service to the nation.
Built one mile northwest of the community of Indian Springs, Nevada, the sub-post was known as the Indian Springs Airport. Before the end of 1942, the Army had a contract for regular facilities there. By February 1943 the camp saw use as a divert field and as a base for air-to-air gunnery training. Later that summer, after the establish¬ment of a four-engine ground training school for B-17 co-pilots, the airport's full complement of aircraft included 29 B-17s, 18 TC-26s and six AT-61 trainers. In early 1945, as World War II began to wind down, so too did the missions at Indian Springs, and at year's end the installation was in stand-by status with maintenance by a small housekeeping staff. As part of the post-war drawdown, both Indian Springs Airport and Las Vegas AAF (today's Nellis AFB) inactivated in January 1947.
Along with Las Vegas AAF, Indian Springs Airport reopened in January 1949 after the birth of an independent Air Force and the onset of the Cold War. Assigned to Air Training Command, the major command redesignated the field Indian Springs AFB as the site prepared for the arrival of its first permanently assigned Air Force unit in 1950. A renewal of airpower innovation and tactics in the new service during the Korean War left its mark on Indian Springs AFB. In July 1952, the base transferred to the Air Research and Development Command and realigned under the Air Force Special Weapons Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After the 3600th Air Demonstration Team "Thunderbirds" moved to Nellis AFB in June 1956, the Indian Springs airfield became their primary air demonstration practice site.
In 1961, control of the installation at Indian Springs shifted to Tactical Air Command. The base's myriad of roles throughout the 20th century belied its size and resources. A successive string of host and tenant organizations, ranging from groups to detachments, provided support to on- and off-site missions. Critical but little known responsibilities included support to the Continental Nuclear Test Program and service as a key staging base for the delivery of testing materials to the Soviet Union for joint verification tests. The base's proximity to such remote but essential locations led to the arrival of its most distinguished visitor on Dec. 8, 1962, as President John F. Kennedy arrived at Indian Springs AFB before proceeding by helicopter to the Nevada Test Site for an inspection of those facilities.
On April 13, 1964, the Air Force redesignated Indian Springs AFB as Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field and assigned it to Nellis AFB. During this era the base had two enduring and well known roles. It provided range maintenance for sections of the huge Nellis Test and Training Range. Concurrently, it served as a recurring host base for deployments by Airmen and aviators from all the services in search of realistic, less constrained field training. Despite these vital and persistent contributions to critical missions and the development of air superiority, the base acquired no singular operational mission of its own. A detachment of UH-1N helicopters in the 1970s and 1980s constituted the only aircraft unit assigned to the installation.
Following the inactivation of Tactical Air Command in 1992, Indian Springs AFAF fell under the new Air Combat Command. A new era began on Dec. 13, 1996, with the first flight of the RQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft at the airfield. In a defining moment of history, on the Nellis AFB Range, the Predator conducted the first successful firing of a Hellfire missile in February 2001. This transformation of a reconnaissance platform into an offensive weapon would, in a few short years, transform Indian Springs from a center of support to a center of operations reaching far beyond the horizons of the Nevada desert.
On June 20, 2005, with the transfer of the remotely piloted aviation mission to Indian Springs growing rapidly, the U.S. Air Force redesignated Indian Springs AFAF as Creech AFB in honor of Gen. Wilbur L. Creech. Naming the installation for Gen. Creech, commander of Tactical Air Command from 1978-1984 and a veteran of more than 275 combat missions in Korea and Vietnam, was all the more fitting given his unofficial title as the "father of the Thunderbirds." A fearless pioneer, and commander of the Skyblazers Aerial Demonstration team that preceded the Thunderbirds, Gen. Creech became a Thunderbird pilot and senior mentor.
The shifting of a global remotely piloted aviation mission to Creech AFB, to include aircrew training and the supporting, directing and coordination of combat sorties halfway across the world, continues to the present. On March 13, 2007, the arrival of the first MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft at Creech marked another milestone in the base's growing fleet of remotely piloted aircraft. The U.S. Air Force provided for direct leadership of these missions on May 1, 2007, with the activation of the 432nd Wing at Creech. Activation of the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing on May 15, 2008 formally recognized the full spectrum of these operations.
Creech AFB also continues to serve as the aerial demonstration training site of the Air Force's Thunderbirds, and to engage in daily overseas Contingency Operations as the home base of remotely piloted aircraft systems which fly missions across the globe.
The 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing "Hunters" consist of combat-ready Airmen who fly MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft in direct support to the joint forces war fighter. The RPA systems provide real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and precision attack against fixed and time-critical targets. The "Hunters" also conduct RPA initial qualification training for aircrew, intelligence, weather, and maintenance personnel. The wing oversees operations of the 432nd Operations Group, 432nd Maintenance Group, 732nd OG, 11th RS, 15th RS, 17th RS, 18th RS, 20th RS, 22nd RS, 30th RS, 42nd Attack Squadron, 867th RS, 432nd Operations Support Squadron, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 432nd Maintenance Squadron, and 432nd Aircraft Communications Maintenance Squadron.
The base also houses the operations of the 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron and 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron, along with those of the Air Force Reserve's 78th and 91st Attack Squadrons, and Nevada Air National Guard's 232nd Operations Squadron, and various other Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units around the country. The missions of these and other tenant units are supported by the 799th Air Base Group, a geographically separated unit of the host 99th Air Base Wing at Nellis AFB.
The 799th Air Base Group "Diamondbacks," consists of the 799th Air Base Squadron, 799th Security Forces Squadron, and the 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron. These squadrons provide critical support functions including base security, civil engineer capabilities, force support, logistics readiness, communications, and medical support.