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Residents in Limestone are marking the 25th anniversary of the closure of Loring Air Force Base.
Loring was an important Strategic Air Command, or SAC, base from the late 1940s to the end of the Cold War.
It served as the proving ground for anti-missile air defense strategies, such as Operation Headstart, detailed in a 1959 Department of Defense film: “From a pool of 24 B-52 bombers and 12 KC-135 tankers, Headstart dispatches planes on airline type schedules with a combat-ready bomber taking off every six hours and flying a set route of about 20 hours duration.”
But the perceived need for these kinds of bases waned with the dismantling of the Soviet Union, and Loring was closed in 1994.
Its loss was a major economic blow to northern Maine, described by residents as the equivalent of losing an entire town overnight.
In its heyday, Loring was home to about 9,000 military personnel, including families, and it employed about 1,000 civilians from the surrounding area.
A weekend of events centered around the Loring Military Heritage Center was planned to mark the base closure. It included tours of the old facility, reunions and a B-52 flyover at 2 p.m. Saturday.
This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.
Related: The former Loring Air Force Base in Limestone