The Detour Tour

Copyright © 2002-2009, Scott D. Murdock
14 Dec 2009 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.

This was a TDY from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, to Lackland AFB, Texas.  I spent a month visiting Wilford Hall Medical Center each day, receiving radiation treatment for cancer.  Sort of a detour along life's path.  This was no vacation, but it wasn't going to keep me from my appointed rounds.  I spent my free time each day doing research, and made a few road trips as well.  (Eight Fifteen years later, I'm cancer-free, thank you!)

Sunday, 30 Oct 1994

This auxiliary field was known first as Crawford Auxiliary Field #3, then Blackland Auxiliary Field #3, when it supported Blackland AAFld during W.W.II.  It was declared surplus in 1945, and transferred to the War Assets Administration in 1947.  However, in 1949, it came back into service as Blackland AF Auxiliary Field under James Connally AFB, and served until sometime after 1957.  It is still an airport, Valley Mills Municipal (9F1), at 31-37, 97-26.  The runway is sod, with tires marking the boundaries.

Friday, 11 Nov 1994

Garner Field was a contract flying school operated by Hangar Six, Inc. for the Army Air Forces during W.W.II.  Current use is Garner Field (UVA), at 29-13, 99-45.  I had seen Garner earlier in the year (See "Let the Games Begin") but I had not seen any of the auxiliary fields.  So, I spent some time criss-crossing the countryside finding them.

Garner Auxiliary Field #1, at 29-11-45, 99-49-45, has reverted back to farmland.

Garner Auxiliary Field #2, at 29-16-45, 99-38-30, is also now farmland.

Garner Auxiliary Field #3, 29-14-30, 99-33-00, is farmland once again.

Garner Auxiliary Field #4, 29-21-15, 99-37-00.  If you guessed farmland, you are correct.

Rector Municipal Airport was leased as an auxiliary field to Hondo Air Base in the 1950s.  By the time of my visit it was farmland, at 29-18, 99-09.

Saturday, 12 Nov 1994

These days, Matagorda Island State Park uses the property formerly called Matagorda Island Dock Annex, PLPE, by the Air Force.  Located at 28-26-18, 96-25-07, this installation has also been known as Water Transportation and Receiving Station, Port O'Connor Water Transportation Dock Annex, and Matagorda Island Water Transportation Docks Annex.  It was a companion property to the facilities out on Matagorda Island, since there is no bridge or causeway from the mainland to the island.  Everything has to go out by boat or by air.  The property still serves the same function it did in W.W.II, although for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department instead of the Air Force.  I had been to the dock annex earlier in the year, but this time I boarded the Matagorda Ferry and rode out to the island!

The boat ride took us to the dock facility on the island itself.  While most of my fellow travelers headed for the beach, I instead chose to head for the abandoned runways and lonely buildings of Matagorda Island AF Range, PLPL, at 28-19-30, 96-27-50.  I walked most of the runways, updating my USGS topo map as I went.   (Ah, those days before we had TerraServer!)  I found the foundation of a hangar, and several original Army Air Forces buildings from the W.W.II era remained standing and in use.  The island does have problems with alligators and snakes.   I only saw one rattler, and I must have used the wide-angle lens for this photo because it seemed much larger in person.  In addition to the airfield, the island also had bombing targets located to the south.  At one time it was home to a radar bomb scoring site, although I don't know the exact location of their facility.  The Matagorda Island range complex was operational from approximately 1940 (sources give conflicting dates) until about 1975.  Over the years, Foster Field, Randolph AFB, Carswell AFB, Bergstrom AFB, Chennault AFB, and Barksdale AFB all had one or more turns at owning this off-base installation.  By some accounts, this was a favorite vacation and hunting spot for high-ranking generals and other VIPs. 

Wednesday, 30 Nov 1994

The Corsicana airport was a W.W.II contract flying school under the name Corsicana Field.  Now called C. David Campbell - Corsicana Field (CRS), at 32-02, 96-24, it is a quiet general aviation field.  Operated by Air Activities of Texas, this field was home to elementary pilot training from 1941 until 1944.

Rich Field, in Waco, was a W.W.I flying field.  It also saw some military use in W.W.II.  Now it is a developed area at 31-32-30, 97-11-15.