Jeff Karpiak Photograph Collection

Throughout World War II, military air bases in Alaska provided a vital link in the route ferrying aircraft, troops, and materials from the continental United States to the Pacific Theatre of operations. At the end of World War II, as one of the northernmost military air posts in the country, Ladd Army Air Field, located outside the town of Fairbanks, Alaska, was strategically positioned to play an important role in the Cold War, being mere minutes away by jet from the Siberian coast of the Soviet Union. Renamed Ladd Air Force Base in 1947 when the United States Air Force was formed as a separate service, the field became the Northern Sector headquarters for the newly formed Alaskan Air Command, whose mission included air defense of Alaska, regional support for Strategic Air Command (SAC) and North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) operations, strategic reconnaissance, and arctic research.