School Daze

Copyright © 1999-2013, Scott D. Murdock
23 Jun 2013 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.


1995 was a busy year.  In addition to some local area visits and my New York Reunion Visit, I went TDY to three different schools, courtesy of the Air Force.  (I attempted a fourth, but it was a wasted trip.)  Each trip offered some sightseeing opportunities, and I've lumped them together in this report for convenience. 


Ohio in April

I had the good fortune of attending a one-week course at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.  This was my first time at Wright-Pat, so I had fun seeing the base and visiting the USAF Museum.  I rented a car and used my free time to do a bit of off-base exploring, as well.  I even had dinner with our friends the Merrymans, whom we've known since Bitburg AB, Germany, circa. 1979! 

Sunday, 2 Apr 1995

My flight arrived at the former Dayton AAFld, now the Dayton-Cox International Airport (DAY), 39-53-45, 84-12-30. 

It was early enough in the day to explore Wright-Patterson AFB, ZHTV and ZHTP, and get my bearings before the class.  I quickly learned that W-P is a huge place with two major sections, and (seemingly) dozens of gates.  Getting lost is easy, and asking for directions gets you a lot of "Well, I'm not sure you can get there from here." responses.  I enjoyed seeing the accelerated runway, among the other interesting structures on the base.  The USAF Museum has added a replica of an English W.W.II airfield control building. 

Tuesday, 4 Apr 1995

One of my after-school activities was a drive to Clinton County AFB, now Airborne (ILN) 39-26, 83-48.  I was pleased to drive right up to the former SAC "Mole Hole" alert facility -- locked and unused.  Plenty of USAF-era buildings survive, such as dormitories, maintenance docks, and an elevated water storage tank.  Construction was underway on a second runway to serve the Airborne Express hub.

Wednesday, 5 Apr 1995

Another day, I found Gentile AFS, HUSA, now labeled as Defense Electronic Supply Center, Gentile Station.  I was extremely limited in photo opportunities due to security policies at the site.
(Entrance gate)

(Entrance gate)

(Building)

(Building)

(Elevated water storage tank)

(Elevated water storage tank)

Thursday, 6 Apr 1995

On yet another afternoon I high-tailed it for the site of McCook Field, 39-46-50, 84-11-30.  The site is developed -- if it weren't for a memorial marker I wouldn't have known I was in the right place.  I had to use aerial photos just to figure out where it was situated.

Friday, 7 Apr 1995

On Friday, class ended about noon -- earlier than expected.  My classmates scrambled for the phones to change their departure flights.  I scrambled for a phone to make a reservation at the USAF Museum Research Division!  I was lucky and it was a slow day, so I was invited to stop by.  Great resource, I hope to visit again in the future when I can spend a few days.

Saturday, 8 Apr 1995

My flight wasn't until late afternoon, so I hit the road early and headed east.  My first stop was Rickenbacker AFB, now Rickenbacker International (LCK), 39-48-51, 82-55-56.  There was plenty of ANG presence, as well as multiple civilian users on the baseHangars and dormitories, as well as a water tower and the alert facility, look much like they did in active service.

Then I found Newark AFB, RRTC, at 40-01-15, 82-29-20.  This is one of the smallest AFBs, with one large building dominating the installation.  I was denied entry at the gate -- being active duty wasn't good enough reason to enter, and with no AAFES facilities to visit I was pretty much out of luck.  So, a quick U-turn around the guard shack was the extent of my visit.  This property was originally Air Force Plant #48, and was being prepared for the Air Force Heavy Press Program when it was cut from the plan in 1953.  It was picked up for metrology use in the late 1950s, and after a brief stint as Heath Maintenance Annex, it became Newark AFS.  It was redesignated Newark AFB in approximately 1989, and closed in 1996.

After that, I headed back to Dayton and caught my flight home.


Mississippi in June

Another training course?  Jeez, if I have to.  Drove my own car this time, to Keesler AFB, Mississippi, for two weeks of classroom instruction.  Most people need about eight hours to drive from Barksdale AFB to Keesler -- it took me three days to get there, and two days to return home.  Plus I had a weekend to play while I was there, making this quite a profitable trip.  I even managed to find some time to spend with my brother and his family.

Friday, 2 Jun 1995

Departed Haughton, LA, and headed south.   First stop was Lafayette Airport, a contract flying training school in W.W.II, operated by Lafayette School of Aeronautics.  It is now the Lafayette Regional Airport (LFT), 30-12-30, 91-59-30. 

New Iberia Airfield shows as an Army Air Forces airfield on a 1942 listing.  I've found no other documentation of Army Air Forces use of this airport, however during W.W.II it was improved under the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense (DLAND) program.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I visited Avery Island and toured the Tabasco plant, which was kind of fun. 

Then I pressed on to Houma and found the Holiday Inn as the sun was setting.  Drove 482 miles in 12 hours, 40 minutes.

Saturday, 3 Jun 1995

First stop was the Houma-Terrebonne Airport (HUM), formerly NAS Houma, a Naval Lighter-than-Air (LTA) Station.  I saw the foundation supports for the walls of a huge airship hangar -- I could scarcely believe the hangar had been that large.  Other buildings, such as hangars and munitions igloos, remain from the W.W.II era. 

Also on the airport grounds is the former Houma AFS, LCJK, at 29-33-45, 90-40-30.  This was my first radar station visit, so I gave the search radar tower a puzzled look without realizing what it was.  A height finder tower was nearby, and a school controls the entire compound.  A 27-unit family housing area is about half a mile north of the radar site.

Then on to Baton Rouge and Harding Field, now Ryan (BTR), 30-32, 91-09.  I also took time to tour the destroyer U.S.S. Kidd, which was interesting.

Moving on, I stopped at the former Hammond AAFld, now Hammond Airport (0R9), 30-31, 90-25.  I was impressed by the W.W.II-era control tower, unused and fenced off, but looking good.

The airport is also home to Hammond ANG Comm Stn, KAFF. 

From Hammond, I started working my way toward the Big Easy, and took the scenic route over the Lake Pontchartrain causeway.  This 24-mile bridge is said to be the world's longest.

Once back on land, I fought traffic to the former Kenner-Moisant Airport, which had been used by both the Army and Navy during W.W.II, and is now New Orleans International Airport / Moisant Field (MSY), 30-01, 90-15.

Then I fought more traffic to the former New Orleans AAB, now Lakefront (NEW), 30-02, 90-02.  An Army National Guard aviation installation occupies the former AAF facilities.  By this time it was getting dark, so I found a convenient Howard Johnson's and called it a day.  

Today's jaunt covered 373 miles in 11 hours, 35 minutes.

Sunday, 4 Jun 1995

First stop was the nearby Alvin Callender Field, now NAS New Orleans (NGB), 29-51, 90-00, I enjoyed seeing the aircraft on static display.  There was Naval Air Reserve, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve activity on this active Navy base

Crossing Lake Pontchartrain was so much fun, I did it again, this time going north.   When I was halfway across, I could not see land in front of me or behind me.  The visual effect was like driving across an ocean.

Then I headed to Mississippi and visited Gulfport AAFld, 30-24, 89-04.  Gulfport-Biloxi Regional (GPT) is the current name, and I had flown to and from this airport on a 1982 TDY.  The airfield has a strong ANG presence, in the form of the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC).

Then I headed to Keesler AFB, MAHG, at 30-25, 88-55.  This was my first visit since 1983 -- accommodations in Muse Manor hadn't changed much.  Some old buildings still stand, like rows of W.W.II barracks, and a hangar that was here before this was an Army Air Forces base.

This was a short day -- 162 miles in 4 hours, 40 minutes.  But the three-day trek from home had been 1,014 miles long.

During the week, 5 - 9 Jun 1995

I attended a training class, but I also did some research.  The wing historian, George Cully, was a very gracious host -- I showed up at his office each day on my lunch break, and again for an hour at the end of the day.  He had well-organized files and hard-copy histories of Keesler dating back to W.W.II, and welcomed me to browse them at my convenience.  I gathered considerable information on Keesler and it's off-base and detached installations -- a complicated set of relationships.  Thanks George!

Saturday, 10 Jun 1995

Time for a drive in the country.   First stop, while trying to get my bearings, was the Pascagoula National Guard Armory, located a couple miles west of the airport.

Then on to the former Pascagoula Airport, now Bayou Casotte Industrial Park, 30-22-30, 88-29-30.  A 1943 station list describes this airport as "XC for FTC," which may imply use as a cross country landing field by the flying training command. This was also the location of Keesler Training Annex #2, although I don't know exactly what property this annex occupied.

On to Mobile, Alabama, and Bates Field, now Mobile Regional (MOB), 30-41-25, 88-14-20.  A few buildings, like this hangar, look like they date from Army Air Forces use.

Across town to Brookley AFB, now home to Mobile Downtown Airport (BFM) and a mix of industrial, college, and Coast Guard uses; at 30-58, 88-04.  Note the detail on the vintage hangars.   Some former Air Force dormitories still stand.
(Hangars)

(Hangars)

(Hangars)

(Hangars)

(Hangars)

(Hangars)

(Ships and gantry)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Building)

(Building)

(Building)

Heading toward the Gulf, I crossed the causeway to Dauphin Island.   Fort Gaines was a masonry coast defense fort, which had two gun batteries, Battery Stanton and Battery Terrett.  Signs explained the fort itself and Battery Terrett for tourists.  The fort offers a view of the former radar site next door. 

The former Dauphin Island AFS, FBBH, 30-15-00, 88-04-40, was easy to find, right next to the historic fort.  The search radar tower houses a visitor center for the Sealab Educational Facility.  A few of the Air Force buildings are still in use by the Coast Guard, and others support the educational facility. 
(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Buildings)

(Radar tower)

(Radar tower interior structure)

(Radar tower interior structure)

(Radar tower interior structure)

(Radar tower interior structure)

(Radar tower interior structure)

(Water storage tank and pump house)

Much of the former Dauphin Island Family Housing Annex, FBBJ, 30-14-51, 88-04-49, is a Coast Guard recreational facility.

Driving inland, I visited Saint Elmo Airport (2R5), 30-30-10, 88-15-25, which saw use as an auxiliary field to Anniston AAFld in W.W.II.  It was later given a second career as an auxiliary to Keesler AFB, 1969 - 1974.

Back in Mississippi, I stopped at the former Keesler Dock Annex, now a Seafood Museum, Farmers Market, and bisected by the "new" highway.  This was the Point Cadet Coast Guard Air Station before the AF picked it up in 1950.  It remained an annex of Keesler AFB until 1966.  A single hangar is still nicely maintained, just to the north of the highway, 30-23-30, 88-51-30.  The hangar was wide-open and empty when I visited, and I was told it is used for a farmers market.

This day trip was a mere 254 miles, in 9 hours, 35 minutes.

Sunday, 11 Jun 1995

Local ops today.  Putted around the local environs, finding East Falcon Park Family Housing.

North of town, I located the former Keesler Rifle Range #1, now farmland, at 30-28-45, 88-51-39.  An unusual monument, in a fenced field, was shown on a W.W.II map, and guided me to the approximate area of the firing range.  This former Mississippi National Guard firing range was adopted for AAF use in 1942, and supported Keesler Field until 1944.

I visited the gate of the current Keesler Small Arms Range Annex, MAWU, 30-31-30, 88-58-45.   The AAF acquired this range in 1943, as Rifle Range #3.  It eventually became Keesler's only range, remaining in active use.

Back near the base, Keesler Training Annex #1, MAYA, is active and now called Thrower Park Housing.  A building remains from the former radar-training mission.  This property was transferred from the Veterans Administration to the USAF, via the GSA, in 1952.

The former Keesler Training Annex #3, MAYC, is now the Naval Home, 30-23-15, 89-01-00.  Originally a civilian school, the Gulf Coast Military Academy, the property was acquired by the USAF in 1951.  This installation was home to Headquarters, Technical Training Air Force from 1951 until probably 1958.  At a later time it was redesignated and hosted a communications engineering and installation group.   The property was transferred to the Navy in 1972 or 1973.  Some older buildings remain, although newer construction covers most of the site.

The Maltby Hall facility is still active, in the area called Maltby Hall Housing.  You have to leave Keesler AFB to get to this facility.  The property lines touch at one corner, and I don't know specifically if this property was ever an annex, or has always been part of the base proper.

Last stop of the day was the active West Falcon Park Family Housing.

During the week, 12-16 Jun 1995

Again, I pored through Keesler history documents at lunch and after class -- by now, people in the Wing HQ building assumed I worked there.  I also met with Keesler's Real Property Officer and the NCOIC of the Drafting Section, who kindly provided information and let me peruse layout drawings.

Saturday, 17 Jun 1995

School's out!  First order of business, find the Keesler Petroleum Products Storage Annex, PIN 1283, 30-24-20, 89-02-15.   Located on Bayou Benard, near Gulfport AAFld, it has reverted to commercial / industrial use.  The photo shows the approximate site, I don't have vintage photos or plans to confirm the layout.

Next stop was Hancock County Bombing Range, now Stennis International Airport (HSA), 30-22-30, 89-27.  This airfield supported a W.W.II bombing range to the west of the airport.  The "International" part of the name didn't seem fitting for this quiet little airfield.

Heading north on the Interstate, I vectored to the former Stone County Airport, now Dean Griffin Memorial (MS06), in search of the Wiggins Radio Beacon Annex, YYHG, 30-50-31, 89-09-29.  The airport employee pointed me right to it; long abandoned but still surrounded with barbed wire and U.S. Government warning signs.  The rectangular property, just a few acres, had two tall wood poles that held a radio beacon antenna.  This NAVAID annex was under Keesler AFB from 1967 to 1973.

On to Hattiesburg AAFld, now Bobby L. Chain Municipal (HBG), 31-16, 89-15.  This was a 3AF base in W.W.II, associated with the Army's Camp Shelby.  At different times, it was listed as a sub-base of either Key Field or Laurel AAFld.

Then Laurel AAFld, now Hesler-Noble Airport (LUL), 31-40-30, 89-10-30.  This base listed first as 2AF, then 3AF, and was associated with Camp Shelby.  As W.W.II ended, it became a surplus aircraft storage area.

I had previously visited Columbus AFB, but today I wanted to find two of its auxiliaries.  Starting with the active one, I found Columbus Auxiliary Airfield, SHTQ, (IMW8), 32-56-30, 88-34-30.  I couldn't see the airfield from either of the locked gates, but the signs told me I'd found the right place.  This was originally a Navy field, established in 1978 as an outlying field to NAS Meridian.  It transferred to the USAF in 1990.

Then I found Columbus Auxiliary Field #9, now Columbus-Lowndes County (UBS) and a nice little general aviation airport; 33-28, 88-23.  This was an auxiliary to Columbus AAFld during W.W.II.  The airport served again, 1969 - 1973, when Del Rio Flying Service provided T-41 flying training under USAF contract.

By now sundown was rapidly approaching, so I made it as far as Meridian and stopped for the night.  Drove 484 miles, in 11 hours, 40 minutes.

Sunday, 18 Jun 1995

West on I-20 to Forest, and Montgomery Airport (2M4), formerly Forest Auxiliary Field #3, 32-21, 89-29.  This was an auxiliary to Key Field in 1942, and by 1943 it was an auxiliary to Jackson AAB.   It was also a CAA intermediate field, Site 46, FV-AG.

Continuing on to Jackson, and Campbell Airport (MB0), formerly Robins Field, 32-26-45, 90-06.  This airport was a W.W.II contract flying school, operated by Mississippi Institute of Aeronautics, Inc. from 1940 to 1944.

By then it was time to find another radar station, so I stopped in Crystal Springs and asked for directions.  Got lucky first try, and just outside of town I found the Job Corps Training Center, formerly Crystal Springs AFS, 31-58-45, 90-20-40.  Security is tight at such places, so I was not allowed inside the gate.  Some vintage buildings were visible from outside the fence. 

Homes in the neighboring Crystal Springs Family Housing Annex were occupied and looked well-maintained, at 31-58-45, 90-20-25.

Near the radar station, I noticed the Crystal Springs National Guard Armorywas still in use.

Onward to Vicksburg Airport (VKS), formerly Vicksburg Auxiliary Field #4, 32-14, 90-56.  This was an auxiliary of Jackson AAB during W.W.II.

On the last leg home, I couldn't resist stopping at Monroe Regional (MLU), formerly Selman Field, 32-30-54, 92-02-30.  There were several vintage buildings still standing on this W.W.II navigator school.  A shooting club is using what may have been the AAF small arms range. 

Covered 435 miles in 9 hours.  This 2 1/2 week adventure spanned 2,498 miles.


Washington DC in July

Another opportunity to attend a training class, this one in Arlington, Virginia.  I did not rent a car for this trip, but made use of the D.C. subway system (the Metro) to do some field work.  Class didn't run especially late, the weather was nice, daylight hours were long, and the subway stop was about one block away -- what more encouragement did I need?

Sunday, 9 Jul 1995

I flew into Washington National Airport (DCA), bringing back memories of previous TDYs to the area.  Took the courtesy van to the hotel and studied the Metro (subway) maps.

Tuesday, 11 Jul 1995

After class I went to the Library of Congress.  At this time they had some newer electronic finding aids, but the bulk of older materials were still on cards.  The card catalog rooms alone are larger than most libraries!  It was taking about half an hour to receive a document once you turned in a request form, so I only had time to peruse a couple items.  Fun, and a fascinating building.

Wednesday, 12 Jul 1995

A genealogist in my class announced an after-school trip to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and would anyone care to join?  Heck, that's my kind of invitation.  We went to the main (downtown D.C.) facility.  I didn't accomplish any research, but did find a couple useful books in the gift shop.

Thursday, 13 Jul 1995

I took the Metro to Arlington National Cemetery, then hoofed it up the hill through the cemetery to Fort Myer, 38-52-30, 77-04-45.  It is still an active Army base, and the parade ground area looks much like it did during the acceptance flights of the Wright airplane.  Several historical markers describe early contributions to military aviation.  What a great place to wander and contemplate aviation history

Friday, 14 Jul 1995

My final after-class adventure!  It took a couple of train changes, but I made it to College Park, and had a short walk to College Park Airport (CGS), 38-58-45, 76-55-30.  A small museum on the airport was closed, and I didn't know the airfield layout well enough to find any traces of early military use.  But I bought a few postcards at the FBO.  Then I had the fun of trying to convince a cab driver that there was indeed a National Archives facility in College Park: "No, no, you need downtown Washington!"  Sigh -- by the time I got to NARA College Park, it was too late to check out any materials.   I at least acquired a researcher card and was able to browse some finding aids in the cartographic section.

Saturday, 15 Jul 1995

The trip home was uneventful.  Not a bad little trip, I was quite pleased to visit two historic bases without a car!


Rock Island in July

Monday, 17 Jul 1995

This was a quick turn after the Washington DC trip. I had orders to attend another class, on Rock Island Arsenal at the Army Management Engineering College. I flew into Moline Municipal Airport, after changing flights at Lambert Field MO (and getting an aerial view of Lambert on the approach).

Tuesday, 18 Jul 1995

I rode the shuttle van to the Arsenal and found out the class had been cancelled. Word of this had never filtered down to my command or unit, so I wasted a trip. I called SATO and managed to get return flights in the afternoon.


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