Vision: The National Cold War Center, located on Eaker Air Force Base, will be recognized as a major tourist attraction in Arkansas that will provide an immersive and authoritative experience in informing, interpreting and honoring the legacy of the Cold War.
Through public and private donations, The Cold War Center has already raised over $300,000 towards making this vision a reality. We need your help and support to fund the next phase of development.
Phase I: Study, Research, and Evaluation (COMPLETED)
Phase II: Blytheville Air Force Base Exhibition Opening (Open Campaign with a $30,000 goal)
Phase III: National Cold War Center Opening
Bronze Level: $1,000
Silver Level: $2,500
Gold Level: $5,000
Platinum Level: $10,000
Diamond Level: $20,000
For assistance with Diamond and Platinum levels, please contact one of our donor specialists:
Liz Smith: [phone redacted] | [email redacted]
Mary Gay Shipley: [phone redacted] | [email redacted]
Barrett Harrison: [phone redacted] | [email redacted]
Mission: The National Cold War Center is a non-profit organization that, inspired by the setting of a retired U.S. Air Force base, shares the importance of the Cold War -- a unique superpower rivalry that prevailed between the U.S. and Soviet Union from the end of World War II until the collapse of the U.S.S.R. -- exploring its military strategy, its impact on the country and its effect on world relations. As a destination for the region, the nation and the world, the Center expands understanding through the innovative presentation of facts, captivating experiences and tours of original U.S. Air Force facilities.
Blytheville Air Force Base (Strategic Air Command) Alert Facility Complex
The Cold War Center Vision
For those Americans not alive during the Cold War, it’s difficult to imagine living under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation. But that was the reality of the Cold War – a time we cannot afford to forget. That is the purpose of the National Cold War Center, to create a place where these historical events will never be forgotten and the human experiences will be preserved for and shared with generations to come. The museum, will tell the story of the brave men and women who guarded the fragile peace between two powerful nations.
History of the Cold War
The Cold War was a 45-year period of ideological conflict, tension and competition between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies. On top of its long duration, the Cold War cost the United States $8 trillion dollars. From shortly after World War II until roughly 1990, there was an ongoing rivalry between the two superpowers that resulted in psychological warfare, espionage, costly defense spending and a terrifying nuclear arms race. The face-off pitted the forces of freedom against the spread of Communism. Although there was never a direct military engagement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, there were decades of military buildup. Both sides possessed massive nuclear arsenals capable of wiping out one another many times over. The Cold War spread to every region of the world, as the U.S. sought to contain Communism. There were numerous crises that threatened to escalate into nuclear war, including the Berlin Blockade, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Soviet-Afghan War. Thankfully, direct military action between the two adversaries never occurred, but the Cold War dramatically shaped the course of history for a U.S. air force base in Blytheville, Arkansas. U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev declared the official end of the Cold War in 1989.
Blytheville Air Force Base Role in the Cold War
Blytheville Air Force Base opened in 1942 as Blytheville Army Airfield, a World War II pilot training facility. The Strategic Air Command (SAC) program was established in 1946 to oversee the Army Air Force’s long-range bombing forces and to conduct long-range offensive operations in any part of the world. That same year, the Blytheville base was designated a Strategic Air Command operation. In 1957, plans were developed for an “alert mission” that would allow bomber crews to become airborne within 15 minutes and able to quickly strike the Soviet Union, providing a true deterrent to military aggression by the Communist nation. By April of 1958, the Tactical Air Command at Blytheville Air Force Base began its conversion to the Strategic Air Command alert mission. SAC created the 4229th Air Base Squadron to facilitate the operational control of the base at Blytheville. The new SAC alert facility would include a bomber alert crew readiness building and an alert apron where aircraft could be constantly on standby. With the completion of a weapons storage facility and the arrival of B-52 bombers and KC135 jet tankers, the mission would be at full operational strength by 1962. The SAC alert mission would continue operations at Blytheville Air Force Base for the next 28 years – through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and the “new” Cold War weapons build-up in the 1980s. By the time the base was renamed Eaker Air Force Base – after World War II General Ira Eaker – in May of 1988, the Cold War was winding down. The mission of SAC was beginning to wane as tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union eased due to new communications and cooperation between the two countries. With the signing of the Treaty of Conventional Forces in 1990 and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty a year later, the Cold War was officially over. By September 1991, the Strategic Air Command mission would be inactivated, thus retiring the B-52 fleet and effectively ending air force activity at Blytheville/Eaker Air Force Base.
Cold War Center Project Highlights
The National Cold War Center will feature a restoration of the Alert Facility complex, static military aircraft displays and an interpretive history museum. Visitors will experience the tensions of a possible inbound Soviet missile and an emergency war order to send nuclear-armed aircraft on a bombing mission. They will get a sense of the constant state of readiness in the maximum-security bunker, and the shear power of the weaponry on the B-52D bomber. This will be the only museum in the country dedicated to the Cold War years and the one restored facility that can tell the story of a time when Strategic Air Command crews like the one in Blytheville kept an uneasy peace, protecting the lives of millions of Americans.
You’re Making the Center Possible
The mission of the National Cold War Center is to depict and interpret the history of the Cold War and daily life of the Strategic Air Command. With the still-standing alert facility as the linchpin, the museum is expected to be the premier Cold War facility in the U.S., attracting thousands of visitors year-round. The museum project will be divided into three phases.
Thank you for your generous contribution to the future of The National Cold War Center. Your financial support ensures that Blytheville Air Force Base’s valuable historical role during the Cold War era will be preserved and shared with future generations.
- Stefano Buday
- Ken and Michelle Perrin
- Allan Schur
- Carol Sawdye
- Joseph Basinger
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