By L. Cunningham, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 15, 2019
In the early 1940's, President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived at the Martin Bomber plant located on then Fort Crook, currently Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. He was accompanied by Nebraska Governor Dwight Griswald, Glenn L. Martin, and G. T. Willey (plant manager.) The President got in an open car and made an hour-long tour of the assembly plant to examine in detail the process of building the B-26. (Courtesy Photo)
President George W. Bush, Admiral Richard Mies, left, and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card conduct a video teleconference Tuesday Sept. 11, 2001, at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Photo by Eric Draper, Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library
Former President of the United States, Williams Jefferson Clinton is escorted by Brig. Gen. Gregory H. Power, former 55th Wing commander at Offutt AFB, Nebraska upon his arrival on Dec. 8, 2000. President Clinton is one of many president who visited Offutt AFB over the years.
U.S. President Barrack Obama shakes hands with Airmen from Team Offutt after landing at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Aug. 13. The president was on base briefly before heading to Iowa. (Photo by Josh Plueger)
Presidents Day, celebrated the third Monday of February, was originally established in 1885 in recognition of our first president, George Washington, born Feb. 22, 1732.
Eventually it was moved as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971, which made it a combined a celebration of all presidents. However, the only presidents born in the month of February are President George Washington, President Abraham Lincoln, President William Harrison and President Ronald Reagan.
Additionally, although Presidents Day is one of 10 U.S. legal federal holidays, it is not a public holiday in all the states. At least sixteen states celebrate this day and another fifteen states still observe it as Washington’s Birthday. To my surprise, I discovered nine states do not observe the holiday at all.
Then I found myself thinking of all the presidents of this great nation of ours, how many have been to Offutt?
After extensive research and combing through photographs on the internet, I discovered fifteen of our nations presidents have been to Nebraska. The oldest scanned image I saw was of President William McKinley in October of 1898 attending what looked like a fair in Omaha. Other photographs depicted presidents on their campaign trail, placing a wreath on a memorial, throwing out a ball during the College World Series, attending a special event in the Omaha or Lincoln area, or they were just passing through.
Out of those fifteen, I only found seven presidents who visited Offutt.
The first was President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the early 1940s. He stopped by to tour the Martin Bomber Plant. President Lyndon B. Johnson visited the Strategic Air Command Headquarters in Sept. 29, 1964, and President Jimmy Carter did the same on Oct. 22, 1977.
Then there was a span of twelve years before the next president visited. The president to break the drought was President George H. W. Bush who visited in 1989 and 1990.
President Bill Clinton barely made it as he landed here at Offutt on Dec. 8, 2000, less than two months before his term ended.
Probably the most publicized of all the presidential visits was on Sept. 11, 2001. President George W. Bush made a critical visit to U.S. Strategic Command in response to terrorist attacks.
The last president to land here, and visit with Offutt’s Leadership and some of its wingmen, was President Barack Obama, who landed here Aug. 13, 2012, and Jan. 13, 2016.
*After some input from our social media followers, we can now add President Taft, Truman, Ford and Kennedy, bringing the total to 11.*