Dobbins Air Reserve Base, located sixteen miles northwest of Atlanta in Marietta, is one of the busiest air reserve bases in the nation. The base’s primary mission is reserve training, and it supports units of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Georgia Air and Army National Guard, U.S. Naval Reserves, and U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. More than 2,500 full-time employees (including civilians) and close to 10,000 traditional guardsmen and reservists are assigned to the base. Its annual payroll exceeds $66 million, and the installation’s real property value is estimated at more than $45 million. The base’s economic impact on the community is an estimated $162 million.
The U.S. government acquired the more than 2,800 acres that constitute Dobbins and the adjacent Naval Air Station Atlanta (later Lucius D. Clay National Guard Center) in 1943 for use by the Bell Aircraft Corporation as a B-29 “Super Fortress” assembly site and pilot-training base. Soon after, a temporary airfield, briefly known as Cobb County Army Air Field, then as Rickenbacker Field, and finally as Marietta Army Air Field, was established in June 1943 and made operational. In addition to Bell’s presence at Rickenbacker, the Georgia Air National Guard’s 54th Fighter Wing, the 116th Fighter Group, and the 128th Fighter Squadron were stationed at the facility by 1946. After Bell Corporation’s operations ended in 1947, an Army Air Forces caretaker detachment maintained the field.
In 1948 the newly created U.S. Air Force assigned reservist training to the field and renamed it Marietta Air Force Base. On February 15, 1950, the base was renamed Dobbins Air Force Base in honor of Captain Charles M. Dobbins of Marietta, who was killed July 11, 1943, when his aircraft was mistakenly shot down by friendly fire as he returned from his third combat mission of the day off the coast of Italy. It was Dobbins’s eighty-eighth combat mission of the war. On April 29, 1950, Dobbins’s brother, Captain Patman Dobbins, his niece, Beverly, and his mother, Ethel Dobbins, formally dedicated the base.
In 1992 Dobbins Air Force Base was renamed Dobbins Air Reserve Base. Today the base is home to the 94th Air Wing, which maintains the base facilities by providing civil engineering, security, and air operations support for army, navy, air force, and marine reservists. The base is also home to the 22nd Air Force, which is responsible for recruiting and training reservists and maintaining subordinate units so that they are ready for combat. In addition, the host base unit provides runway, control tower, weather, and rescue services. Dobbins is known as Air Force Plant Number 6 and is the home of the aeronautical division of Lockheed Martin, designer and manufacturer of the F-22 Raptor, a modern, all-purpose fighter.