MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — With tensions rising in Ukraine and the Middle East, leaders in Mississippi County, Arkansas, are giving the Department of Defense a rare opportunity.
Tuesday, the Mississippi County Quorum Court passed a resolution supporting the reactivation of the former Eaker Air Force Base, putting the Department of Defense and the Air Force on notice.
“It’s exciting from the standpoint of what it would mean to the community and not just Blytheville but all of Northeast Arkansas,” said Barrett Harrison, president of the Arkansas Aeroplex, which was at one time Eaker Air Force Base.
It’s been thirty years since B-52 bombers rumbled off this airstrip as part of the Strategic Air Command’s Cold War readiness. Barrett said the Aeroplex could easily again serve the needs of the military.
“Here’s an asset ready to go, a two-mile long runway, three hundred feet wide that will handle any aircraft there is in the world. It used to be an alternate landing site for the Space Shuttle,” Harrison said.
County Judge John Nelson said the idea took hold when Russia invaded Ukraine and gained traction when violence flared in the Middle East.
“That’s when we thought, ‘We need to hurry and get this to the authorities that might be interested in expanding,'” he said. “And we would welcome them to come back to Mississippi County in whatever fashion or capacity they wanted.”
During the Cold War, Eaker was home to B-52 SAC crews who would make concrete fortresses like this home.
When the Cold War was no longer considered a threat, the base closed, and thousands left with it.
Now, the Aeroplex is home to several industries as well as an effort to tell of Eaker’s role in keeping the peace through the National Cold War Center and the complete restoration of this SAC “alert” bunker.
“It’s terribly important, and it’s not being done anywhere in the United States, and what better place to do that than on a SAC base,” Harrison said.
Judge John Nelson said the county is working with lobbyists in Washington to get the word out on the county’s resolution.