Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC), formerly named Phelps Collins, began its recorded history in the early 1900's. Before that time, Indians and local residents picked blueberries in the flat area known as the "Seven Mile Plains". With the onset of air travel, area developers saw the potential for a landing strip and plans began for Michigan's first state owned airport. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) cleared and prepared the site for aircraft use. In 1931, Governor William M. Brucker accepted the site during the dedication ceremony. The airport was named after Phelps Collins, a WWI ace from the Alpena area, who was killed in action while serving in the French Escadrille.
The first military to use of the site was the 1st Pursuit Group from Selfridge Airfield; and they housed 500 personnel at the Alpena County Fairgrounds. This marked the beginning of the site as a training base.
In preparation for WWII, 400-500 Selfridge men trained at Phelps Collins with a compliment of 35 Seversky P-35's The next year they brought P-40 Warhawks and the first P-38's Lockheed Lightning fighters.
WWI and WWII highlighted the need for training sites; and resulted in two major construction projects, the first in the 1940's for $5M and second in the 1950's for $2.5M. The facility could now house and feed 2,500 personnel. The Army Air Corps was the primary user of the site until the late 1940's when the Air National Guard (ANG) took it over. Several improvements were made and the facility was instated as an ANG Permanent Field Training Site (PFTS). In the early 60's, a tower and new hangers were built. During that period, the Air Defense Command Detachment from Wurtsmith AFB, Oscoda Michigan, had 60 persons permanently stationed in Alpena until 1972 at which time their unit was deactivated. The Grayling Air to Ground Range became part of the base property around the same time.
In 1991, the base was renamed Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, to align the name with the base mission of "combat training".
The first seven military personnel transferred from the Grayling Army Air Field in 1953. With the addition of numerous missions through the years, the employee number has grown to over 200 combined military and civilian personnel.
ANG units from all over the United States come annually to train. In addition to Air National Guardsman, other users of the site include Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines.
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