Fort Richardson, AK HistoryFort Richardson was built in 1940 on what is now Elmendorf Air Force Base. Richardson became the headquarters of U.S. Army Alaska (USARAK), a subordinate of the U.S. Army Pacific Command (USARPAC), in 1947. In 1950 it moved to its present location 5 miles northeast of Anchorage. Richardson and Elmendorf became Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in 2010.
Richardson was named for Brigadier General Wilds P. Richardson, a graduate of West Point and a military pioneer explorer who served 3 tours in Alaska from 1897-1917. He oversaw the construction of Fort Egbert and Fort William H. Seward and acted as the head of the War Department's Alaska Road Commission from 1905-1917. Under this title, he surveyed and built early railroads, bridges, and roads, including the Valdez-Fairbanks trail in 1904. This was renamed the Richardson Highway after him.
The Task Force 1-501 was expanded to include an airborne infantry battalion after the September 11 attacks and was the only airborne battalion in the Pacific Theater for over a decade. The Task Force was deployed to Afghanistan from 2003-2004. Fort Richardson's largest tenant is the Alaska National Guard. There are over 5,400 soldiers stationed here and 1,200 Army and DoD civilian employees, on post or in nearby housing.