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Willow Grove JRB Final Closure

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chankel

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The airfield shut down on 31 March 2011; VR-64, VR-52, and a C-12 detachment were transferred to McGuire Air Force Base. As of 2011 Horsham Twp and other municipalities in the area voted not to keep the airfield open, so runways will no longer be maintained.

Currently, the 111th Fighter Wing and 103rd Fighter Squadron, previously operating A-10 Thunderbolt II's, has lost all its aircraft to other ANG Squadrons under BRAC; the unit will take on a new role (so far undecided as of this writing) in the near future. The unit will no longer operate aircraft. Thus tower, aviation, and ground support frequencies (crash/fire, EMS, SP) are no longer applicable, although the National Guard gate is still under guard at night.

Final closure of NAS JRB Willow Grove as an active regular military installation will occur 15 September 15, 2011. The Pennsylvania Air National Guard is expected to take custody, and the facility will be designated Willow Grove Air National Guard Base. A handful of National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers will remain, and the Air Force will maintain administrative offices on the property (and maintenance responsibilities, according to my source). The surplus land containing the runways will be turned over to Horsham Township for redevelopment; Horsham and other adjoining townships in Montgomery and Bucks Counties are currently debating the nature of this redevelopment
 

krokus

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I was stationed at WG for my last duty station in the Navy. As one of the base cops, and one of the Ground Electronics techs, I got to see most parts of the base.

It is a shame to see a place with so much aviation history close. At least I am still in touch with some of the friends I made there, including the volunteer fire company I was a member of.
 

BillVette

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I miss the base...I have lived in the area ( Southampton/ Warrington) for all most 60 years. I went by the base on Saturday night and said to my wife how dark it is now along rt 611. Sad, it made for some great photos. With the closing of Johnsville and Willow Grove it's so quiet now......
 

kh11

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Many an afternoon was spent as a little kid with my Dad parked in our station wagon in the viewing area off 611, watching the touch-and-goes, with a Lafayette air band radio glued to my ear. Neptunes, Corsairs, Skyhawks, Dragonflies, C-118s, Stoofs - an endless parade. I saw the Blues go from Phantoms to Skyhawks to Hornets at shows there.

I had the privilege of flying in for a WG show as crew on MAAM's Neptune years back, and rode in the TACCO seat while we did the fake "bombing run" during the show, with the fuel bombs being set off next to the runway.

I worked for ten years at NADC/NAWC as well, and as sad as I was to see that go, WG hurts even more.
 

BillVette

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Many an afternoon was spent as a little kid with my Dad parked in our station wagon in the viewing area off 611, watching the touch-and-goes, with a Lafayette air band radio glued to my ear. Neptunes, Corsairs, Skyhawks, Dragonflies, C-118s, Stoofs - an endless parade. I saw the Blues go from Phantoms to Skyhawks to Hornets at shows there.

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I remember going to Bazarr and getting pizza and a Matchbox car for my son to watch the "airplanes" while my wife was grocery shopping... we parked next to the recruiters office. He just turned 40 on 9/2... LOL Great memories "parking" and watching the planes on a Friday night date in high school ...God am I old!!!!!
 

kh11

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I remember going to Bazarr and getting pizza and a Matchbox car for my son to watch the "airplanes" while my wife was grocery shopping...
Funny, I was actually going to mention Bazaar in my post too. There was a hobby store there, and it was almost obligatory to go and pick up a new kit there after we were done plane spotting. I specifically remember picking up an early C-130 kit because the airlift wing at the Grove was flying them (in their 'Nam-era camo paint schemes).
 

BillVette

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Funny, I was actually going to mention Bazaar in my post too. There was a hobby store there, and it was almost obligatory to go and pick up a new kit there after we were done plane spotting. I specifically remember picking up an early C-130 kit because the airlift wing at the Grove was flying them (in their 'Nam-era camo paint schemes).
Allied Hobbies, small but had a good selection of everything. Years later our family owned Southampton Hobbies on 2nd Street Pike in Southampton.
 

chankel

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The National Guard compound on the County Line Road site of the installation is still active, as are the Air Force admin offices. Also, the radar tower at the end of the old runway on the 463 side is still active. I suspect the AF will be maintaining it. Since it is now mostly under the control of the PA National Guard the old JRB sign has been removed (that would make a great souvenier) to places unknown and hopefully a new sign will be up soon. One source reported that one of 3 national portable disaster hospitals is stored on base for deployment if needed. Unknown if that asset is really there and if it is controlled by DHS, FEMA, DOD, or USPHS disaster medical units.

In the mean time, the Navy gate is closed but the "Navy Installation" sign is still present along 611/Easton Road. A guard force, probably from DPS or DOD police, controls the gate to the right of the former main gate. The approach lights are still in place but with the runways declared OOS (that sad big yellow X) no idea how long it will be before the lighting is sold for scrap. Bits of control tower antennas and work platforms are stored near one of the old maintenance buildings on the 611 side, along with a partially covered Vought F7U Cutlass - it may be for the DVHAA museum. Nearby there is one remaining A-10 Thunderbolt in gray paint parked in the open. For goodness sakes, put it in a hangar until it gets transferred to another aviation unit!
 

krokus

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The air search radar has been maintained by the FAA, for a number of years. I don't see that changing.
 

kh11

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Nearby there is one remaining A-10 Thunderbolt in gray paint parked in the open. For goodness sakes, put it in a hangar until it gets transferred to another aviation unit!
That's probably a "gate guardian" and may be slated for the museum. There was at least one A-10 that had been displayed inside the base over on the Air Force side, along with a P-3 that was near the NEX parking lot.
 

WatnNY

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Hey Mike, I remember you and I having quite a few conversations in the past about freqs and such in the Horsham area...hope you're doing well. It is sad to see the base go....
How are you doing!? I do remember all of our old conversations and I still have some of the messages saved with frequency info!

I haven't been down there since July of 2008 when they booted me out ("Nooo! I don't wanna go!")

Mike
 

aquadan005

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I remember going to Bazarr and getting pizza and a Matchbox car for my son to watch the "airplanes" while my wife was grocery shopping... we parked next to the recruiters office. He just turned 40 on 9/2... LOL Great memories "parking" and watching the planes on a Friday night date in high school ...God am I old!!!!!
My Dad served in the Navy in Korea, he had a pass to get on base. Every other month we would go up to the base first stop the PX, next stop the barber shop. If I was lucky he'd run in to someone he knew and get chatting and I'd get to watch planes come and go. The best part was when we would leave the base and the guard on duty would "snap to" and salute him on the way out.
Last stop on the way home was Bazarr, that place was a childs fantasy place!!
 

chankel

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Bazaar of All Nations Documentary | Facebook

Someone is working on a documentary about the Bazaar of All Nations. I remember going there as a lad as well...at the risk of dating myself. However, never knew about Willow Grove and Johnsville during their heydays, but did move closer to Willow Grove around the time the 111th FW was still flying A-10's. It reminded a bit of living in the Baltimore Metro area, as the National Guard at Warfield ANGB / Martin State Airport often flew A-10's around Harford and Baltimore county.
 
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