Located about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles near Victorville, the base originally known as Victorville Army Airfield was activated Oct. 1, 1941 to train pilots and bombardiers. The first class of cadets graduated on April 24, 1942. By the following year, more than 1,000 pilots had completed training there.
After World War II, all flying operations were discontinued as part of a nationwide demobilization. The training base was placed on standby status and used to store surplus B-29s, AT-7s, and AT-11s, beginning in 1945. During this storage period, the U.S. Air Force was created September 18, 1947 as a separate service. By 1948, the last of the stored aircraft had been relocated.
Following the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, the base was reopened by the USAF and renamed George Air Force Base. The name honored Brigadier General Harold H. George, a World War I fighter ace who later directed air operations in the Philippines as a member of General Douglas MacArthur's staff. He received the Distinguished Service Medal from MacArthur for his work directing air operations in defense of the fortified islands at the entrance to Manila Bay. He traveled with MacArthur to Australia, where Gen. George was killed in an airplane accident near Darwin on April 29, 1942.
On July 1, 1950, the first Fighter Interceptor Wing, flying F-86 Sabres, was stationed at the newly reopened base. November 15, 1951, Tactical Air Command took control of the base, which then included the 131st and 146th Fighter Bomber wings.
Later, under the 831st Air Division, the 35th Tactical Training Wing provided combat training for North Atlantic Treaty Organization (primarily West German) pilots. George AFB also provided forces in support of the 26th North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) region from 1966-1990. The installation continued training pilots to support tactical fighter operations as well as providing training for air crews and maintenance personnel.
Fighter pilots trained in many aircraft at George over four-plus decades. In addition to the F-86, they trained on the T-33, F-100A, F-100C, F-104C, F-105G Wild Weasel, F-4C Wild Weasel and F4G Advanced Wild Weasel. In fact, George AFB was at one time known as the "Home of the Wild Weasels." The reference is to an aircraft capable of detecting and destroying the enemy's controlling radar defense network. The Wild Weasels won the motto "first in, last out," during their support of strike missions over North Vietnam.
The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission announced George's closure in 1988. George AFB was officially decommissioned in December, 1992.