The California State Military Museum recently posted a compact, but detailed, history of Beale Air Force Base (known at different times as: Camp Beale, Beale Air Force Military Reservation; Camp Beale Military Reservation; Air Force Facility S-2; Marysville Armored Training Camp; Beale Triangular Division Camp; and Beale Bombing and Gunnery Range).
The facility is named for Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a prominent surveyor, rancher, explorer and military leader who supplied the U.S. government with information about California during the mid-1800s. He later became a diplomat, serving as Ambassador to Austria-Hungry.
Camp Beale was established in 1942 as a training base for the 13th Army Armored Division. The nearby mining town of Spenceville was rebuilt as a mock German Village used by Beale soldiers to learn urban combat techniques. During World War II the facility also housed a German POW camp, chemical warfare school and military hospital.
In 1948 Camp Beale became Beale Air Force Base whose initial mission was to train bombardier-navigators. In subsequent years the base was home to various commands and aircraft, such as jet trainers (T-38), strategic bombers (B-52), airborne tankers (K135) and reconnaissance planes (U2 and SR71).
Today Beale is a part of the Air Combat Command (the merger of the Strategic Air and Tactical Air Commands) which supplies air combat forces to commanders in war zones.
PHOTO CREDIT: Some 48,000 people attended an Open House at Beale Air force base on May 7, 1976. In the foreground is the Lockheed U2 and to the right is the SR71 "Blackbird" reconnaissance aircraft. Sacramento Bee photograph