Morón Air Base

Located 37°10′N, 5°36′W in the region of Andalusia in southern Spain, approximately 35 miles southeast of the city of Seville and 75 miles northeast of Naval Station Rota. The base gets its name from the nearby town of Morón de la Frontera. Morón's massive flight line, aircraft refueling system, long runway and prime location on the Iberian peninsula, close to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, means the base was and is a vital link in any operation moving east from the United States. The base was a self-contained residence for airmen serving in the 3973rd CDS. (Thanks to Bill Vickery for most of the pictures of buildings on the base.)

Moron base op units

Moron major units assigned

Moron, Spain

Moron AB began to function as an airfield in 1941 and was established to train fighter pilots for the Spanish Army Air Force. Since then, Spain has used the base for headquarters for a light bomber wing, a fighter wing and the present F-18 squadron and P-3 squadron. Negotiations began between the US and Spain in 1951 and approval for US bases in Spain came as part of the Defense Agreement of 26 Sep 53. In return for basing rights, the US agreed to provide Spain with an air defense force. Built primarily for SAC bombers, Moron was one of three bases built in Spain. It had been established as a Spanish fighter training base in 1941. Construction began in 1953 under the direction of the US Navy and was carefully planned, taking over 3 years to complete.

The first SAC B-47 bomber arrived 13 May 58. Moron’s mission during the 60s was to support the SAC bomber reflex and then KC-97 strip alert tanker missions, Chrome Dome. The base also supported TAC fighter deployments. In 1961 after the Berlin Wall was built and tensions between the US and USSR were high, many (55) National Guard and reserve units were federalized and sent to Europe. One, the 157 FIS from SC., went to Moron AB, Spain until Jun 62 when it returned to the states.

In Apr 66, the base transferred from SAC to USAFE and the 7473 CSS took over as host unit. The mission became communications support, fair weather flying operations by TDY RF-4 and RF-101 reconnaissance units based in Europe. The 67 ARRS supported air rescue missions.

In 69, Moron Air Base became a Dispersed Operating Base with only occasional exercise flying. By 1971 the base was put in a caretaker status with base services contracted out and these services were reduced several times throughout the 1980s.

In 1983, an agreement between Spain and the US allowed 15 tankers to be operated from Moron AB and by 1986 it had become a major peacetime staging base. In Mar 84, Moron AB was selected by NASA as a Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) for the space shuttle program.

In Aug 90, SAC deployed 22 KC-135s and KC-10 tankers to support Operation Desert Shield. In Jan 91, SAC changed Moron AB from refueling to bomber operations for Desert Storm. The 801st Bomb Wg (Provisional) consisted of 24 B-52s, 3 KC-135s and over 2,800 personnel. This was the largest deployed bomber wing during the war.

Moron AB is a limited base - austerely manned, has no permanent operational aircraft but does have facilities for communications, air traffic control nav aids, maintenance, supply, billeting, recreation, messing, transportation, and provides operational support for forces deploying to and from SW Asia.

Disposition: NATO stand-by base, active Spanish Air Force Base

Update: As of November, 2016, Spain has agreed for the Morón base to be a permanent fixture, at least for the foreseeable future. Spain agreed to at least 3000 troops and 40 additional aircraft to be stationed there. The mission of Morón Air Base is to operate and maintain a strategic forward operating base to support the US and Allied air/space power projection, to include transient and aircraft maintenance operations. The installation hosts Air Mobility Command, Air Force Space Command and Air Force Office of Special Investigations units.

View of Moron Air Base ramp from the Tower - March 1963

Photo courtesy of Bruce Aro, 2188th Communications Squadron

 

From Los Toros commentator Steve Marston:

"While the atmosphere in the tower this day in 1963 was relaxed, the ramp was a beehive of activity. It's reflex rotation day

There is a line of alert vehicles in front of the command post. KC-135's waiting with cargo doors open. Three B-47s that have been downloaded and are ready for that all important launch. The base courier aircraft, a C-47, gooney bird waiting patiently for it's next trip to Madrid. The B-47s in the reflex alert area, gleaming white in the Spanish sun, protected by a dozen Air Policemen. The twin round white fighter alert hangars at the end of runway 21.

On the other side of the tower, are three B-52 chrome dome aircraft. Only landing at Moron with a declared emergency, each aircraft would need security protection for their emergency landing and the duration of their visit to Spain. This, on a reflex turn around day, which required sentries for upload/download and weapons convoy operations, would stretch the resources of the CDS Flight on duty to the breaking point.

The command post is visible, the on-scene command/communications van parked in front. A blue metro van with white top, the vehicle was equipped with several vhf radios and working positions, and a huge loudspeaker system on top. It was a beast to drive, and if all the radios were in use the engine rpm had to be kept high.

The alert area access point is faint in this version of the photograph."

 

Three B-52s Down from Operation Chrome Dome

760x525 Moron ramp 3 B-52s down from Chrome DomeMaybe their ash trays were full? Los Toros member Steve Marston believes that may have been the case. So many "emergencies"...

 

Click here to access a whole web page about "Reflex Turnaround Day" by Steve Marston

The Barracks

The Barracks

Note the open windows. Air conditioning was available for officers only.

The BX

The BX

Included food store, barber shop, book store, mail room, etc

The Officer’s Club

The Officer’s Club

The Base Theater

The Base Theater

The Service Club

The Service Club

Library and Service Club

Library and Service Club

The Base Chapel

The Base Chapel

The MMS area 1964

The MMS area 1964

Left: Moron Air Base sign / Right: Central Security Control building. K-9 truck parked on the road as well as Bill Vickery's VW. A KC-135 is in the background.

The Main Gate, flying the Spanish flag as was required

The Aircraft Control Tower

The Aircraft Control Tower

Moron de la Frontera AB 2 runways

15 Comments

  1. Great to see pics of Moron AB. I was the Chief of Supply during Desert Storm…801st Bomber Wing (provisional)..

  2. Oh yes. The drive from Seville to Moron was truly lethal; everybody hated it….especially on those black-black mornings.
    I’d lost track of Dan Spoor; he flew w/me often. (thanx)
    We did indeed have some remarkably “marginal” 0-5’s, 0-6’s and “up” at both Moron and Torrejon. I constantly had to work-around-them in order to accurately report aircraft (and auto) accidents/incidents just as you did. Good to know Dan retired w/a star. Don’t know about McFaddon; but he was a good CC and should have made BG.
    The whole SAC system was always orientated toward looking- good OR hiding s–t from USAF. After Moron became part of USAFE nobody seemed to give a damn!
    Salude
    JFT

    • From Dave Wells January 9, 2016

      HEY – OLD JACK – DIDJA HEAR THAT GENERAL KNAPP WANTED TO KEEP MADRID “SAFE” FROM MENDELL RIVERS, “CONGRESSMAN EXTRAORDINAIRE”… SO HE PLACED THE OLD DRUNK UNDER “ARREST OF QUARTERS”. I USED TO VISIT ROBIN JONES THE GENERAL’S “AIDE” AND WHEN I ASKED “WHAT WERE THE ORDERS IF RIVERS TRIED TO LEAVE?”… ROBIN SAID THAT THE EXTRA-BIG AP WOULD HAND HIM ANOTHER BOTTLE OF JACK DANIELS AND SAY “STAY SAFE SIR” – AND SHUT THE DOOR IN HIS FACE”!
      AND, YOU’VE GOT AT LEAST 2 OF MY FRIENDS IN YOUR NECK-OF-THE-WOODS… OLD DAN MOORE WAS AT SAN PABLO WHILST WE LANGUISHED 40 MILES AWAY – AND PASTOR JERRY BULLOCK OF SAN MARCOS HELD MY HAND AT HQS/AF/IGS, 1970-72 WHEN I TOOK THE 1972 BUDGET CUT “VOLUNTARY” EARLY RETIREMENT BECAUSE I COULDN’T (ENJOY?) STAFF WORK COMPARED TO BEING A FIELD COMMANDER (1958-70). I WAS A “REGULAR OFFICER”, AGE 40 WITH 18 YEARS “COMMISSIONED” AND 6 “ENLISTED” (JOINED NAT’L GD AT AGE 15), KOREA ’50.

      I HOPE TO SEE WANDA AND YOU AT THE AFA FOR OUR REUNION… WE INCLUDE FIREMEN – SO WHY NOT PIPELINE PILOTS WHO SERVED SAC, 16th AF AND THE 3973d COMBAT DEFENSE SQUADRON’S “LOS TOROS”!!!
      ***VIVA MORON DE LA FRONTERRA, VIVA SEVILLE, VIVA ESPAGNE… CON MUCHO GUSTO y VAYA CON DIOS, SIEMPRE… SU AMIGO… SENOR DAVIDO POSOS (EL VIEJO!)

      • From John Taylor January 10, 2016

        To “El Viejo”. 🙂 🙂
        I didn’t know Moore,Bullock or any other “pastors” (not being a “churchy” kind of guy). Or do you mean Dr. Dan Spoore? As you know he and I were good friends.
        Also thanx for the invite; but I sold my little 4-place Cherokee a couple of years back (flunked FAA eye exam) and I refuse to fly “cattle-car” airlines!
        “staff work”? I couldn’t agree more; that’s also why I retired. I was “promoted” out of my Sqdn and the cockpit “up” (?) to 12 AF Hdqtrs,TAC. I could have stayed on a couple of more years as a staff-weenie; but no thanx. Plus; I could see I’d lost the “personality” game for 0-6. In addition, TAC had a nasty habit of encouraging early-retirement through remote/unaccompanied assignments. So I put in my papers and have never looked back!

        Cheers
        JFT

        • To John Taylor from Dave Wells January 10, 2016

          NO, NO… MY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR DOC DAN SPOOR AND WIFE JAN AND FIVE (5) KIDS HAD ONE BEST FRIEND = CAPT “WOODY” BAILEY, THE BASE “TOP SECRET CONTROL OCCIFER” WHO WAS CAUGHT PLAYING “BOND, JAMES BOND!” ON WEEKENDS IN PORTUGAL!
          DIDJA KNOW DAN BECAME THE ASTRONAUTS’ FLIGHT SURGEON AND RE-TIRED AS A MAJOR GENERAL? 1965, HE AND JAN INTENDED TO LEAVE THE AF AND TURNED-DOWN A “REGULAR” COMMISSION… BUT – WHEN THEIR PARENTS CRITICIZED THEIR HAVING THE FIFTH BABY IN ONLY 7 YEARS… THEY GOT PISSED-OFF AND STAYED IN. HQS USAF REFUSED TO RENEW THE “REGULAR” OFFER… BUT SENT DAN TO AN “IVORY TOWER MEDICAL COURSE AT HAAHVAARD AND HE GOT TO RETRIEVE THE ASTRONAUGHTIES ON THEIR SPLASH-DOWNS!

          “SAFETY-WISE” WHEN I SERVED AS THE EXEC (NO DEPUTY C.O.) OF THE 19TH AFRES ON OLD CAPE COD – IN 1962 I WAS APPOINTED “RECORDER” ON A F.E.B. TO PRESENT THE COMPLAINTS AGAINST CAPT SID SOKOLOW OF THE 19TH. SURPRISINGLY BACK THEN THE AF MANUAL ALSO PROVIDED FOR THE RECORDER (PROSECUTOR) TO ACT “EITHER/OR” AND “AND” AS DEFENSE COUNSEL! > TO MY GREATER SURPRISE (AND PERSONAL PRIDE) – SID REQUESTED THAT I DO MY BEST TO DEFEND HIM IN WHAT SID CALLED “A LOSING CAUSE”! I PRESENTED THE NASTY COMPLAINTS AND SHOWED THAT THEY WERE “NIT-PICKING”! > SID LOST AND REMAINED A FRIEND FOR MANY YEARS…
          OTHER FRIENDS LET ME FLY THEIR KC-97 TO MARCH AFB AND LATER THEIR KC-135 IN SPAIN AND FINALLY THE BASE “GOONEY” 3 TIMES TO SAIGON, PHU CAT AND DUC LAP! WHOOPE…

          OFF WE GO – PARTNER – INTO THE WILD BLUE YONDER… GOD BLESS… OLD DAVE

  3. I missed a photo of Lily Phaup’s & Bill Vickery’s office where I kept my “Solex” motor bike between trips to Madrid and Torremolinos! Would have liked a photo of the 12 officer houses and 24 senior NCO’s houses on the east perimeter next to the corn field and donkeys! I remembered when 16th AF C.O., Gen Knapp told Colonel McFadden he didn’t like our white & green new paint on all our buildings and to repaint everything… but “Our Jim” refused to obey and waste time and money! He also covered my ___ on several “P.C.” issues with 16th AF and the OSI so that Chief Vickery and I came out with commendations + promotions. (No photos of our butts are available!)

    • David A Wells? Rings a far distant bell. Cop, base supply, what? I was flight std and fly safe guy. I greeted Gen Knapp w/Col McFadden that day. Over??

      • Reply to John Taylor per email from Dave Wells on 1/8/16:
        DEAR “WICKED WANDA” – PLEASE ADVISE OLD JACK TAYLOR THAT I WAS THE CHIEF COP WHO RODE MY SOLEX WITHOUT NO STINKING HELMET (“WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING HELMETS!”) BECAUSE IT WAS A RELATIVELY SHORT RIDE FROM MY “DUPLEX” (SHARED WITH DOCTOR CAPTAIN/MAJOR GENERAL DAN SPOOR & WIFE JAN AND THEIR 5 KIDS… DAN BECAME THE ASTRONAUTS “FLIGHT SURGEON”) TO THE BDCL ORFICE THAT LILY PHAUP AND CMSGT WILD BILL VICKERY SHARED WITH ME 1963-65…
        ALMOST EVERY JAMES N. MCFADDEN STAFF MEETING CAPTAIN TAYLOR WOULD REMARK ON MY SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE TO THE BASE AIRMEN WHO WERE REGULARLY KILLING THEMSELVES (ALMOST NIGHTLY – IT SEEMED) IN CHEAP VWs, AUSTIN HEALEY SPRITES OR
        MG-A CONVERTIBLES. MY TYPICAL RETORT WAS THAT I LIKED FEELING THE WIND IN MY HAIR!

        *SEEING THE BASE THEATER AGAIN REMINDED ME OF THE DAY I FOLLOWED NUMB-NUT GENERAL DELMAR WILSON INTO THE LOBBY FOR AN ORI BRIEFING… AND THE DIRTY-OLD SEDUCER STOPPED, PULLED-OUT A LONG BARBERS’ COMB AND DID HIS “DO” IN THE REFLECTION OF THE GLASS OVER A MOVIE POSTER… WE HAD A “FAMOUS?” RUN-IN AT A
        16TH AF COMMANDERS’ CONFERENCE WHEN HE TOLD US “NO MORE SERIOUS INCIDENT REPORTS (FWD TO SAC HQs) AND NO MORE ARTICLE 15s, ETC”. SO HE COULD WIN THE SAC MANAGEMENT AWARD! I STOOD-UP AND BASICALLY TOLD HIM HE WAS NUTS – THAT 16 CENT BEER AND A GIRL FOR $1 SPELLED “TROUBLE”… AND LIKE THE MARINES – WE NEEDED A FEW GOOD MEN… AND THAT OFTEN HAPPENED AFTER A GOOD-OLD ARTICLE 15!!! COLONEL MCFADDEN CONGRATULATED ME ON MY “CAREER DEATH-WISH” AND PROTECTED ME FROM “THE WRATH OF DELMAR” AND SOMEHOW SECURED MY PROMO TO MAJOR (+ ASSIGNMENT TO MINOT AFB, NORTHERN NORTH DAKOTA!!!)

        MUCHAS MEMORIES, MUCHISIMA GRACIAS y VAYA CON DIOS – STAFF SGT/LT COL DAVE WELLS

      • Dear Wanda,

        I think I should have sent my post to you! Thank you so much for putting this together. It is a treasure!

          • Dear Wanda,

            Are you still working on the Base history? I’d love to know more about the construction. Do you know who the company was that contracted with the Navy to build the Base?

            Many thanks!

            Amy Worth

            • Thanks for your interest, Amy. I’m sorry but I don’t have any more information about the construction of the base. I included on this website all the information and photos that were sent to me. Other than that, I don’t know anything about it.

    • Dear Dave,

      I really enjoyed looking at the photos in your website. My Uncle Peter Rein worked on the construction of the base. He met his wife working there and they had a long and happy marriage. Over the years, we visited his family in Seville many times. Do you have any information on the construction of the base? I believe that he was in charge of procuring supplies and building materials for the base construction. Many thanks for any information that you might have. The photos are a treasure! Warm regards, Amy Rein Worth

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