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Bucholz Army Airfield
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Airport type Military
Operator United States Army
Location Kwajalein
Elevation AMSL 9 ft / 3 m
Coordinates 08°43′12″N 167°43′54″E / 8.72°N 167.73167°E / 8.72; 167.73167
Direction Length Surface
ft m
6/24 6,668 2,032 Asphalt

Bucholz Army Airfield (IATA: KWA, ICAO: PKWA, FAA Location identifier: KWA) is a United States Army airfield located on Kwajalein Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. Its position is ideal for refueling during trans-Pacific flights, and the airport is available to civilians through Air Marshall Islands and United Airlines.

Since the entire Kwajalein Island is a military base, non-military passengers on commercial flights are transported to and from the neighboring island of Ebeye, the civilian population center of Kwajalein Atoll.

Airlines and destinations[]

Airlines Destinations 
Air Marshall Islands Airok, Bikini, Elenak, Enewetak, Lae, Likiep, Majkin, Majuro, Woja, Wotho
United Airlines Chuuk, Guam, Honolulu, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Majuro


30th Bombardment Group B-24 Liberators at Kwajalein Airfield, 1944

Bucholz Army Airfield was initially built by the Japanese in 1943 as part of a large naval base. It came under heavy air attacks in late 1943 to neutralize the island. The atoll was assaulted by American forces on 31 January 1944. Employing the hard-learned lessons of the Battle of Tarawa, the United States launched a successful twin assault on the main islands of Kwajalein in the south and Roi-Namur in the north. The Japanese defenders put up a stiff resistance though outnumbered and under-prepared. The determined Japanese defense left only 51 survivors of an original garrison of 3,500.

After the seizure from the Japanese, Kwajalein was developed into a major American base and staging area for further campaigns in the advance on the Japanese homeland. After repairing and expanding the Japanese airfield, the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) moved Headquarters, Seventh Air Force from Nanumea to the airfield in April 1944, and moved the B-24 Liberator-equipped 11th Bombardment Group from Tarawa and 30th Bombardment Group from Abemama to Bucholz at the beginning of April. From Kwajalein, the heavy bombers struck at enemy targets in the Marshall Islands.

Along with the heavy bomber groups, the USAAF reassigned the F-5 (P-38 Lightning)-equipped 28th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron to Kwajalein to fly long-range photographic missions over the Marshalls and reported directly to Headquarters, Seventh Air Force.

The USAAF combat units remained until fall, 1944 until being moved forwards into the Marianas, being assigned to airfields on Guam and Saipan. The United States then used Kwajalein as a maintenance and supply hub, supplying forward bases with supplies and equipment.

After the war, the United States used Kwajalein as a main command center and preparation base for Operation Crossroads and an extensive series of nuclear tests (comprising a total of 67 blasts) at the Marshalls' atolls of Bikini and Enewetak. Later, in the 1950s and 1960s, Bucholz became part of the Atomic Energy Commission Pacific Testing Area.

Although the Marshall Islands was officially granted independence from the United States, and became an independent republic in 1986, Kwajalein atoll is still used by the United States for missile testing and various other operations. Although this military history has deeply influenced the lives of the Marshall Islanders who have lived in the atoll through the war to the present, the military history of Kwajalein has made tourism almost non-existent and has kept the environment in relatively pristine condition. American civilians and their families who reside at the military installations in Kwajalein are able to enjoy this environment with few restrictions.

As of 2009, Bucholz Army Airfield is still operated by the United States Army. All civil and military operations require 24 hours' prior permission.

See also[]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links[]

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