Otis Air National Guard Base and the Massachusetts Military Reservation
Published September 30, 2008
Otis Air National Guard Base
Otis Air National Guard Base is named for pilot, flight surgeon, and eminent Boston City Hospital surgeon, Lt. Frank "Jesse" Otis, a member of the 101st Observation Squadron who was killed on Jan. 11, 1937 when his Douglas O-46A crashed while on a cross-country training mission.
In 1938, the landing field area at Camp Edwards was named Otis Field in memory of the Boston flying physician. Ten years later the base was renamed Otis Air Force Base in his honor. Until 1973, it was the largest Aerospace Defense Command base in the world and is the only base named for a doctor.
Massachusetts Military Reservation
In 1977, Otis AFB was officially redistributed with the establishment of boundary lines which divided the complex into several installations, all within the confines of the original base. Established was Otis Air National Guard Base, Camp Edwards, and the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Cape Cod. Together they form the Massachusetts Military Reservation.
In 1978, the active duty Air Force returned with the construction of the Pave PAWS radar near the Cape Cod Canal. The 6th Missile Warning Squadron and the 2165th Communications Squadron were activated on October 1, 1979. The 2165th was responsible for all communications and electronics maintenance. The facility was originally named Cape Cod Missile Early Warning Station, and became operational on April 4, 1980. The station's name changed to Cape Cod Air Force Station on January 5, 1982. The 2165th would exist as a tenant unit until 1986, when both squadrons merged into one.
The 6th Space Warning Squadron has the distinction of being the first Pave PAWS installation in the U.S.A. "Pave" is a program name for electronics systems. "PAWS" stands for Phased Array Warning System. The primary mission of the 6 SWS is to provide accurate and timely missile warning and space surveillance data to U.S. and allied decision makers for the safety and security of North America. Cape Cod AFS is the only land-based East coast radar site in the United States with this mission.
The secondary mission is to track Earth-orbiting objects, including high interest items such as the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle, any object that deviates from its known orbit, or any new orbiting objects.