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Home > Military Resources > U.S. Military Bases > Ellsworth AFB
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U.S. Air Force

Ellsworth AFB, SD

Ellsworth AFB, SD 57706  |  Base Operator: DSN: 675-1110, (605) 385-1110

Ellsworth AFB: Overview

Ellsworth AFB is home to the 28th Bomb Wing (28 BW) of the Air Combat Command’s Twelfth Air Force. The mission of the 28 BW is to overwhelm the opposition with devastating and decisive air power. This is achieved by employing the B-1B Lancer, which is a high-speed bomber capable of carrying a heavy internal payload. The B-1B was designed to penetrate enemy airspace at a low-level speed of nearly Mach 1, which makes it an extremely difficult threat to counter.

Due to the outbreak of World War II, Rapid City Army Air Base was established as a bomber training installation for the crews of the B-17 Flying Fortress. Following WWII, the installation served a short stint as a weather reconnaissance and fighter squadron base. Once the United States Air Force was established as a separate service, it changed the name of the installation to the Rapid City Air Force Base and made it the home of the 28th Bombardment Wing (28 BMW). In 1953, the base was named in honor of Brigadier General Richard E. Ellsworth who was tragically killed in a plane crash when returning from an exercise in Europe. General Ellsworth was the commander of the 28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. Over the years, Ellsworth AFB has remained a bomber base, although it also served a second role as a missile base during the Cold War.

Ellsworth AFB: Education

Pursuing a college degree while stationed at Ellsworth AFB is a smart decision to make. Attending an online school is equally as smart, since you have the opportunity to receive a quality education though a program that will follow you no matter where you are. In other words, if you go on TDY or if you PCS, you don't have to delay your degree progress. You may want to request information from a number of these schools. Start by clicking the "Find A School" button below:

Ellsworth AFB: Location

Ellsworth AFB is located in the western part of South Dakota. It is west of the Badlands and is on the eastern edge of the Black Hills, which contains the Mount Rushmore National Monument. Rapid City is only about 10 miles to the west of the base, but the nearest community is actually Box Elder, which is just south of Ellsworth. Other cities located in the area include Rapid Valley, Sturgis, Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Gillette, WY, Douglas, WY, Pierre, Torrington, WY, Scottsbluff, NE, Casper, WY, Sheridan, WY, Dickinson, Miles City, MT, Cheyenne, WY, and Glendive, MT.

Ellsworth AFB: Interesting Facts

  • The base was temporarily deactivated after WWII until the USAF reestablished it as a bomber base in 1947.
  • President Dwight D. Eisenhower personally led the ceremony to dedicate the base to General Ellsworth.
  • Following the Cold War, the missile sites at Ellsworth were turned over to the National Park Service and are now part of the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.
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