Remembering the War that Saved the World

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.

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The Vision

Never Forget

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 center will tell the story of the brave men and women who guarded the fragile peace between two powerful nations.

Phase Development

airtraffic control tower
front of airplane
takeoff runway

History of the Base

  • BLYTHEVILLE AFB OPENED

    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.

    Photo of military personnel in front of Blytheville Air Force sign.
  • "Alert Mission" Developed

    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.

    United State Air Force Bomber Plane dropping bombs above the clouds.
  • Strategic Air Command

    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.

    United States Air Force fighter planes in attack formation in the sky.
  • Renamed Eaker AFB

    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.

    United States Air Force planes on the landing strip at the base.
  • Cold War Ended

    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.

    The crowd at the Berlin Wall in Germany the day it fell.

New BAFB Exhibit

Now Open

Expanding the vision: The first phase of The National Cold War Center will tell the story of the war that saved the world.

Come explore BAFB history and its impact on people and community on Tuesday - Saturday from 9:30 am - 5:00 pm.

Address: 3711 Idaho Street, Blytheville, AR 72315

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News & Updates

  • The National Cold War Center Honored with Arkansas Delta Byways Innovation Award

    BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. – The National Cold War Center was honored with an Arkansas Delta Byways Innovation Award on May 2 for its inventive efforts in promoting tourism in the Arkansas Delta. Arkansas Delta Byways presented the Innovation Award to the ...

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  • Ready Alert Facility Restoration Ground-Breaking Event

    BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. - The National Cold War Center broke ground today on an extensive restoration and structural stabilization of the Ready Alert Compound on the grounds of the former Blytheville Air Force Base. The groundbreaking marks the beginning o...

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  • Joseph Alley named National Cold War Center Exhibition Manager and Coordinator

    BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (March 14, 2022) – The National Cold War Center has named Joseph Alley as Exhibition Manager and Coordinator. Upon joining the National Cold War Center staff on March 28, Alley will oversee the day-to-day management of the center...

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  • Designation Bill Introduced in U.S. House

    WASHINGTON (KAIT) - A bill that would name the former Eaker Air Force Base in Blytheville as the National Cold War Center was filed this week in the nation’s capital. According to a media release from Arkansas’ congressional delegation, Reps. Ri...

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  • Cotton, Boozman Bill

    Cotton, Boozman Bill to Designate National Cold War Center in Blytheville Washington, D.C. — Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) introduced a bill that would designate the center at Eaker Air Force Base in Blytheville, A...

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  • A Big Step Forward

    On November 11, 2020, the newly developed BAFB Exhibition will open on the Arkansas Aeroplex in Blytheville, Arkansas, completing the first phase in creation of The National Cold War Center. The small center, honoring the vast history of the former E...

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Phase Development

1

Blytheville Air Force Base Exhibit

Opening of the first major on-site exhibit and welcome area for operations of The National Cold War Center project. Open since 2020. Major fund development is launched with individuals, corporations and grantmakers.

2

The Work Continues

The National Cold War Center works to stabilize and renovate the Ready Alert facility, while finalizing architectural exhibit designs, securing static aircraft for display, and continuing an aggressive capital fund drive.

3

The National Cold War Center Opening

Doors will open to the center that honors and remembers the war that saved the world. On-site experiences including a Welcome Center, self-guided tours, Alert Tower, B52 bombers. Cold War Legacy Gallery, and more.

Regional Tourism

  • Home of Johnny Cash

    Come visit the childhood home of American music icon Johnny Cash and see the restoration efforts that have preserved the story of the nation's largest farming resettlement community.

    Birth home of Johnny Cash
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  • US HWY 61 Arch

    The Blytheville Arch is a gateway between Arkansas and Missouri on Highway 61. The concrete horseshoe arch reads "Entering Arkansas" on one side and "Entering Missouri" on the other.

    A guy on a motorcyle riding under the US Hwy 61 Arch.
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  • Delta Gateway Museum

    Housed in the historic Kress Building in the heart of Blytheville’s Commercial Historic District, this regional heritage museum illustrates broad historical themes in one of the world’s most fertile agricultural regions.

    The store front of the Delta Gateway Museum
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  • Greyhound Bus Depot

    The Blytheville Greyhound Bus Station is located in Blytheville, Arkansas. It is a single-story island-type station with rounded corners, and projecting canopies on either side.

    The store front of the Greyhound Bus Depot
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  • Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge

    Big Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a true oasis of bottomland hardwood in an agriculturally developed area.

    mockingbird on tree branch
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