On Aug. 24, 1992, Homestead Air Force Base was obliterated. Like much of the surrounding communities, Homestead AFB was ravaged by the full fury of Hurricane Andrew, leaving the military base in complete ruin.
By the time base personnel and aircraft had been evacuated, Hurricane Andrew had grown to a category five storm. A small squad of mission-essential commanders and support personnel weathered the storm in the alert facility on base.
Once the storm passed, military personnel organized one of the largest clean up and salvage operations in military history. A reconstitution team rode out the storm at an off-base location, then returned to base and started initial clean up and security tasking. On Friday, Aug. 28 1992, Homestead Air Force Base partially re-opened.
Although the air traffic control tower was destroyed by the hurricane, a mobile control tower was set up and the base began receiving relief supplies for both the base and the surrounding communities. Members of the 482nd Fighter Wing also helped the community by distributing food and supplies.
The 482nd had to temporarily relocate their F-16A and B model aircraft to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, which housed the aircraft and essential personnel until April 1993. Then in April 1993, the 482nd relocated to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, for one year.
All the while, Homestead AFB was on the Base Closure and Realignment Commission’s initial base closings list. Regional closure hearings were held in Orlando, Florida, in May 1993. When the listing was finalized and sent to President Clinton, Homestead the Air Force Base was no longer slated for complete closure. In March of 1994, the base reopened as an Air Force Reserve facility and was renamed Homestead Air Reserve Base.
Today, Homestead Air Reserve Base continues to be an important part of modern wars and humanitarian missions, supporting Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and Haitian earthquake relief also known as Unified Response. The base is also home to an air show which draws over 400,000 people a year, and serves as a host to several tenant units. Customs and Border Protection, Coast Guard, Florida Air National Guard, and Special Operations Command South all have a contingent of personnel operating on base.