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Dover Air Force Base in Dover, DE

Dover Air Force Base: Protecting the Skies and Honoring the Fallen

Located in the heart of Dover, Delaware, Dover Air Force Base stands as a crucial military installation tasked with defending our nation’s skies and providing vital support to military operations around the globe. This article dives deep into the history and important aspects of Dover Air Force Base, shedding light on this strategic military hub.

Topic 1: Information

Size and Facilities:

Covering approximately 3,900 acres, Dover Air Force Base is home to a range of facilities and services vital for supporting its military operations. The base boasts an extensive runway system, with the primary runway measuring a whopping 12,900 feet in length, accommodating a wide variety of aircraft.

Other facilities on the base include hangars, maintenance areas, air traffic control towers, on-site medical facilities, and housing complexes for military personnel.

Mission and Units:

As a key transportation and logistics hub, Dover Air Force Base is responsible for the movement of personnel, equipment, and supplies across the globe.

It serves as one of the busiest aerial ports in the Department of Defense, with its aerial port squadron managing critical air transportation operations. Dover Air Force Base is also home to the 436th Airlift Wing, which operates the mighty C-5M Super Galaxy, one of the largest military transport aircraft in the world.

The base is further supported by the 512th Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit that shares responsibilities in providing airlift capabilities.

Topic 2: History

Establishment and Expansion:

Dover Air Force Base traces its roots back to 1941 when it was initially built as a municipal airfield during World War II.

In 1943, the U.S. Army Air Corps took control of the airfield, renaming it Dover Army Airfield. The facility was then used primarily as a training center for bomber crews until the end of the war.

Following the war, the United States Air Force assumed control of the base in 1947 and renamed it Dover Air Force Base. Over the years, the base’s infrastructure was continuously upgraded and expanded to meet evolving military needs.

Evolution of Mission:

In the 1950s, Dover Air Force Base became a vital strategic location for airlift and transport operations. With the introduction of the C-5 Galaxy in the late 1960s, Dover’s role as a key player in rapid global mobility was solidified.

The base played a pivotal role in supporting military operations during the Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, and subsequent conflicts around the world. Additionally, Dover Air Force Base has earned a reputation as the U.S. military’s premier mortuary facility, providing dignified and respectful handling of fallen service members.

Honoring the Fallen:

The Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs at Dover Air Force Base is internationally recognized for its specialized commitment to the return and identification of fallen U.S. military personnel.

This facility, staffed by dedicated and compassionate professionals, ensures that fallen heroes are treated with the utmost respect and reverence. The dignified process of receiving, preparing, and safeguarding fallen service members before they are returned to their families is an essential mission of Dover Air Force Base.


Dover Air Force Base stands tall as not only a critical military installation but also a symbol of honor and respect for the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Its rich history and vital role in the nation’s defense cannot be overstated.

As a beacon of strength, Dover Air Force Base continues to protect the skies while paying homage to those who have fallen in service to their country.

Topic 3: Mission

Mission: Protecting the Skies and Delivering Global Capabilities

Dover Air Force Base is dedicated to its mission of protecting the skies and delivering global capabilities through its core functions of airlift, aerial port operations, and mortuary affairs.

This section delves deeper into these vital aspects of the base’s operations.

Airlift Operations:

A critical component of Dover Air Force Base’s mission is its airlift operations.

The 436th Airlift Wing, the host unit at the base, operates the mighty C-5M Super Galaxy and the agile C-17 Globemaster III. These aircraft offer unparalleled capabilities in airlifting personnel, equipment, and supplies across vast distances, enabling rapid global mobility.

The C-5M Super Galaxy, the largest aircraft in the Air Force fleet, has the ability to transport nearly any type of cargo, including oversized and outsized cargo. With a colossal payload capacity of up to 281,000 pounds, this strategic airlifter can deliver essential equipment and supplies to remote locations around the world.

The C-17 Globemaster III, on the other hand, is highly versatile, able to operate in diverse airfields and transport troops and cargo with ease. These versatile aircraft allow Dover Air Force Base to fulfill its crucial role in providing rapid global mobility, ensuring that military personnel, equipment, and supplies are swiftly and efficiently transported wherever needed.

Aerial Port Operations:

At the heart of Dover Air Force Base’s transportation capabilities lies its bustling aerial port operations. The 436th Aerial Port Squadron plays a pivotal role in managing and coordinating the movement of personnel and cargo to support military operations across the globe.

This squadron operates around the clock, ensuring the seamless flow of personnel and supplies. The aerial port squadron’s responsibilities include cargo processing, in-transit visibility, fleet management, and passenger services.

Skilled personnel work diligently to ensure that cargo is properly documented, prepared, and loaded onto aircraft. They meticulously track and monitor shipments, ensuring real-time visibility along every step of the transportation process.

Additionally, the squadron facilitates the movement of military personnel, arranging travel accommodations and providing passenger services to ensure a smooth and efficient journey. Dover Air Force Base’s state-of-the-art facilities, including extensive hangars and maintenance areas, play a crucial role in supporting aerial port operations.

These facilities allow for the efficient maintenance and servicing of aircraft and help ensure the readiness of the aerial port squadron to handle any mission.

Mortuary Affairs:

In addition to its role in maintaining the nation’s defense readiness, Dover Air Force Base is internationally recognized for its commitment to the dignified return and identification of fallen U.S. military personnel.

The Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs serves as the focal point for this vital mission.

This facility, staffed by highly trained and compassionate professionals, ensures that every fallen service member is handled with the utmost respect, reverence, and professionalism. With meticulous attention to detail and unwavering dedication, the Carson Center team performs the solemn task of receiving, preparing, and safeguarding the remains of fallen heroes before they are returned to their families.

The process begins with the arrival of the fallen service member at the Dover Port Mortuary, a solemn and dignified moment where family members have the option to be present to witness the transfer. The remains are then carefully prepared for burial, with specialized embalming techniques utilized to preserve the body for any necessary viewing or family ceremonies.

The fallen service member is then dressed in their uniform with the utmost care and dignity. Dover Air Force Base’s commitment to honoring the fallen goes beyond the meticulous handling of remains.

The base also provides comprehensive support to the families of fallen service members, including grief counseling, memorial services, and assistance with funeral arrangements. The compassion and support provided to families during these difficult times are a testament to the base’s commitment to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.


Dover Air Force Base stands as a beacon of strength, prepared to protect the skies and deliver global capabilities. Through its airlift operations, aerial port functions, and mortuary affairs mission, the base plays a vital role in supporting military operations around the world while paying tribute to the fallen heroes who have given their lives in service to their country.

With its rich history, extensive facilities, and dedicated personnel, Dover Air Force Base remains at the forefront of defending our nation and upholding the principles of honor, respect, and duty.

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