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Nebraska Discoveries 4: Historic Fort Crook & SAC Chapel, Offutt AFB

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nebraska Discoveries 4: Historic Fort Crook & SAC Chapel, Offutt AFB

Today I'm sharing some of the history on Offutt AFB.  Unfortunately, everyone can't just get onto Offutt.  You need to have a military ID card to get onto the base freely, or make a friend with a military member who can sign you in as a guest.

As mentioned before, I started using this software to track my runs. The software doesn't seem very stable on my iPhone (probably because I downloaded the free version and they want my money before it works the way I want it to...). So this isn't the most accurate thing out there, but it's fun to give it a go.

So here's a map of the most recent run I performed:


If you choose "view full" in the lower left, then select the satellite map (or Hybrid), you can see that I'm running the perimeter of a large field. This is the parade field of what was formerly Fort Crook, which was the original military installation that is now the home of Offutt AFB. Fort Crook was established in 1888, and was completed in 1894.  Today, many of the buildings surrounding the parade field are from their original mid-1890s construction, including the buildings of "General's Row" which are seen in the background here from the late 1890s:


And here are the same houses today, the same ones as on the left side of the above photo:

Anyhoo, the run around the parade grounds takes me past these houses above, and also past the SAC Chapel seen below.

From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club

As you can see, it clearly wasn't built in the late 1800s. It was built in the late 1950s during the height of the SAC empire.

"Wait...wait...wait! What in the world is SAC?"

SAC = Strategic Air Command. During the Cold War, SAC commanded the air and land arm of the strategic nuclear triad. Since this was two-thirds of the triad, it goes without saying that SAC wielded a lot of power and influence. Learn more about SAC here.

About a year ago, I took a tour of the SAC Chapel while helping a girlfriend search for wedding venues. One of the things Christian military members often struggle with is balancing the commandment "Thall shalt not murder" with having a profession that involves taking other lives if need be. Stepping into the SAC Chapel was surreal to me, since in this case, there is a celebration of the numerous SAC units and its lineage from the birth of the US Air Force: the 8th Air Force. Surrounding the beautiful stained glass windows are prayers asking to protect America's Airmen and memorials to the mighty warriors that have defended America's values.  Some history behind the most prominent of these windows is offered here.  And a nice succinct history of the chapel is also offered here.  I particularly like the last line of the history, "The stained glass windows of SAC's Memorial Chapel depict the duality of its mission — messages of hope and guidance are mixed with the grim imagery of global nuclear warfare."

From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club

Okay, I got a kick out of this one. I have to wonder how many times airmen were alerted during church back in the height of the Cold War.
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club
From 2009 06 02 SAC Chapel and Patriot Club

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