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San Antonio Randolph Air Force Base History


Randolph Air Force Base, in San Antonio’s northeast quadrant just to the southeast of Universal City, houses several headquarters, including the 12th Flying Training Wing, Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Personnel Center and Air Force Recruiting Service. It is also home to the 502nd Security Forces and Logistics Support Group. For a full list of mission partners at JBSA, visit

JBSA-Randolph is known as the “Showplace of the Air Force” because of the consistent Spanish Colonial Revival architecture style in which all structures, including hangars, were built. With its distinctive architecture, the wing’s headquarters has come to be known throughout the Air Force as “the Taj Mahal” or simply “The Taj.”

Construction of Randolph AFB began in November 1927. Randolph Field, a historic district located within Randolph AFB, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2001. Today, JBSA-Randolph trains pilots on the T-6A Texan II, T-38C Talon and T-1A Jayhawk.


The need for an additional aviation training field became evident soon after 1926’s congressional passage of the Air Corps Act, which changed the name of the Army Air Service to the Army Air Corps. Gen. Frank P. Lahm, placed in charge of all aviation training, set up an Air Corps Training Center with headquarters at Duncan Field, next to Kelly Field in San Antonio, but soon realized that even those two fields could not handle the increasing demands. In 1927, the city of San Antonio bought a 2,300-acre tract preferred by Lahm and gave it to the Air Corps. Randolph’s construction began there, and the facility was dedicated on June 20, 1930, as a flying training base. It continues this mission today.

The field bears the name of Capt. William M. Randolph, adjutant of Kelly Field’s Advanced Flying School and a member of the naming committee for its new sister operation, though he did not survive to see its completion. He died in the takeoff crash of his AT-4 at Gorman Field, Texas, on a return flight to Kelly. In his memory, the other committee members gave his name to the new field, which was dedicated as Randolph Field on June 20, 1930. The Air Corps Training Center moved its headquarters from Duncan Field to Randolph on Oct. 1, 1931, and began a training regime so exacting that it became known as the “West Point of the Air.” After the Air Force became a separate service Sept. 18, 1947, Randolph Field was officially renamed Randolph Air Force Base on Jan. 14, 1948.

In 2001, Randolph Field was named a National Historic Landmark and makes up a historic district within JBSA-Randolph.

In 2010, under orders from the Base Closure and Realignment Commission, installation support functions at Fort Sam Houston, Randolph AFB and Lackland AFB were combined under a single organization to form Joint Base San Antonio, the largest joint base in the Department of Defense.

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