Louisiana Locations

Copyright © 2002-2009, Scott D. Murdock
This report contains the former Bellevue Nike Site trip report.
20 Dec 2009 - Added additional photos, upgraded existing photos.

This report captures various minor visits I made during and shortly after my assignment at Barksdale AFB.  These are Louisiana locations, unless indicated otherwise.  There are a few outliers from Arkansas, Mississippi, and even one from Alabama.  These were random visits, that were not part of an organized trip.

861st AAF Specialized Depot

I served on the board of examiners of the Louisiana Quality Awards, and this required trips to Lafayette and to New Orleans.  On 12 Oct 1997, I searched for the former depot in New Orleans.  Based on the address, 7200 N. Peters Street, I believe it was in this industrial building, at 29-56-48, 90-00-19.

Arcadia Radar Bomb Scoring Site

Based on a real property map, I attempted to find this former RBS site.  I saw no distinct signatures of the site, which was leased in 1970.  I don't know how long it remained in use.  As close as I can tell it was in this general area, approximately 32-36-20, 92-50-12.  This attempted visit was made on 12 Oct 1996.

Barksdale Family Housing Annex

Back in 1941, civilian war worker housing was constructed in Bossier City, under the Lanham Act.   It was referred to as Barksdale Homes, or simply as defense housing.  In 1947, Barksdale Homes was transferred from the National Housing Authority to the Air Force (or Army Air Forces, depending on the exact date).  It was was used as family housing by Barksdale AFB for some years before being declared excess, and disposed of, in 1960.  The housing buildings stood until some time in the early 1990s, but were gone when I visited the property in May 1997.  

Barksdale Nike Site BD-10

On 25 Nov 1995 I made my first visit and photographed the control site with several buildings and one radar tower extant. The launcher site was gated and locked.

On 17 May 1996 I photographed the control site and the launcher site from the air. 

In Jun 1997 I explored the control site enjoying a look at the radar tower and other buildings. I also made a quick drive-through of the launcher area.  As you can tell from the clouds in this photo, I was trying to get in and out before a thunderstorm hit.  I took a quick look at the warheading building, glanced at one of the small protective positions behind a firing area, and noted a new firing range using one of the berms.

On 18 Apr 1998, I took a guided tour of the former Bellevue Nike Site, now the Bossier Parish Community College Criminal Justice Institute (CJI).  My host was the Dean of the CJI, Milton Rawls (an Air Force veteran).  Also with us was Bill Shield (an Air Force retiree), who arranged this tour on my behalf (Bill’s wife is second in command at the CJI).

The control site (BD-10C), located at 32-40-20, 93-31-18, is used for administration, classrooms, and dorms for the CJI. The original Army buildings still serve with some modifications, but the look is vintage Nike.  One 40-foot radar tower still stands, and is used for rappelling training. A second metal tower and two concrete radar towers were removed several years ago.  The original water well was replaced only a few years ago by local water service. The original flagpole was a creosote-soaked wooden pole, and blew down in a storm a few years ago. In its place a new metal pole proudly flies a large United States flag. Carpet covers most of the floors, but in part of one building the original floor tiles are visible.

The launcher site (BD-10L), located at 32-40-28, 93-30-35, is used for tactical and firearms training. This site had aboveground launchers:  three separate bermed areas, each subdivided by a smaller berm into two launching bays. Each of these six bays was home to two missile launchers.  The guard shack still stands, as does an administrative building.  The missile assembly building is used for storage. One of the berms surrounding the warheading building serves as a backstop for a small arms range. The warheading building itself (4-ton overhead hoist still in place) is used for forced-entry tactical exercises.  One of the three former launcher areas is used for small arms firing -- the two bays providing excellent locations for Hogan's Alley and Running Man ranges!

Barksdale Nike Site BD-50

I drove up to the control site and the launcher site on 25 Nov 1995.

For comparison with the BD-10 aerial photos, here are BD-50C and BD-50L as seen from the air on 17 May 1996.

Camp Claiborne

This is possibly one of the original gates to this large W.W.II Army post.  A historical marker gives historical highlights.  I looked for, but did not find, Claiborne AF Range, which occupies part of the former Army camp. Visited 11 Feb 1996.

Camp Shelby East Air-to-Ground Range, Mississippi

From the range's main tower, I watched F-16s pop flares, drop practice bombs, and strafe with 20mm cannons.  The Mississippi Air National Guard operates this range, which I visited as part of a work project on 7 Nov 1995.

Chennault AFB

This was Lake Charles AAFld during W.W.II, a 3AF base.  Reactivated in 1951, as Lake Charles AFB, under SAC.  Redesignated Chennault AFB in 1958, and inactivated in 1963.  It is an industrial airpark, with the former SAC 100-man "molehole" alert facility looking much like they did when the base was active. I noticed several hangars (including a double-cantilever hangar at the far end of the row in the photo), maintenance docks, and the control tower. Visited 1 Sep 1995.

Craig AFB, Alabama

Craig Field was an advanced flying school in W.W.II.  It became Craig AFB in 1948, and was inactivated in 1977.  Driving down the road from the main gate, it still looks like an Air Force base.  A T-33 stands guard, near a W.W.II chapel. These old administrative buildings have seen better years. A water tower and shop buildings still stand as Air Force reminders.  A curious feature of Craig is a pond in the center of the base, serving as a buffer between the administrative portion of the base and the flightline area. The flightline itself is a controlled-access area, but I could see the control tower and a few hangars. Visited 16 Mar 1997.

De Ridder AAB

This 3AF field was constructed in 1941 and still serves as a local airport, with a few reminders of the Army Air Forces visible.  It supported Camp Polk. Visited 1 Sep 1995.

England AFB

Alexandria AAFld, under 2AF, supported Camp Claiborne and Camp Beauregard.   Declared surplus in 1946, it was reactivated in 1950 and became Alexandria AFB.   This TAC base was redesignated England AFB in 1955.  It was inactivated and excessed in 1992.  I noted a radar site and a USAF-marked railroad engine.  A truck driving school uses part of the flight line.   These photos are from a personal visit in Feb 1995.  In Jan 1996, I visited England AFB again.  This time, I rode there from Fort Polk in a humvee, part of my duties observing the JRTC exercises.  The Army uses part of the former Air Force base in the JRTC scenarios.

Esler Field

This field supported Camp Claiborne and Camp Beauregard under 2AF, but by war's end it was under 3AF.  It still serves as a general aviation airport. Visited 11 Feb 1996.

Fort Polk

I had the opportunity to spend time at Fort Polk in Nov 1995 and Jan 1996, observing Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) exercises.  From atop of a W.W.II-vintage artillery observation post, I watched Enlisted Terminal Attack Controllers (ETACs) call in air strikes on targets 1.5 - 2.5 miles away.  I watched A-10s and F-16s drop H.E. and cluster bombs, fire rockets, pop self-defense and illumination flares, and fire their 30mm and 20mm cannons.  We rode around the exercise area in humvees, and I had an aerial tour of the fort's maneuver area in an Army UH-1B Huey helicopter.  Much of the activity was at night, so I learned to use (and appreciate) night vision goggles.

Goodwin AF Auxiliary Field, Arkansas

Under the name Eldorado, this was a 3AF field in W.W.II.  ATC gained it as Goodwin Airfield in 1948.  It became Goodwin AF Auxiliary Field in 1949.  I haven't learned when it was inactivated.  It remains in use as an airport. Visited Apr 1995.

Harrell Field, Arkansas

This was a contract flying school, operated by Wiggins-Marden Aero Corp. from 1942 to 1944.  It is still an active airport. Visited Apr 1995.

Hope AAFld, Arkansas

This airfield, with its interesting pre-war hangar, supported the Southwestern Proving Ground. Visited Apr 1995.

Lake Charles AFS

This long-range radar site was an off-base annex of Barksdale AFB.  I managed to visit twice, first while it was still active, then again after the site was shut down.  This installation was activated in 1955, and served as a long-range radar site from about 1958 until about 1961.  Except for a small 1.22-acre parcel containing the GATR building, the property was disposed of.  A gap filler radar site then operated on this remaining 1.22 acres until about 1963; the property was reported surplus in 1965 and disposed of in 1966.  In 1972, part of the former property was reacquired.  A new search radar was installed, and operated until 1996.  This third version of the site consists of about the center one-third of the original property.

On my first visit, on 1 Sep 1995, the enlisted QAE was kind enough to show me around.  The search radar is the centerpiece of the small site, with an administrative building and several other recreational and support buildings still in use.   The former AF property to the west of the current site is now home to a plastics company.

My second visit to the facility was 8 Sep 1997 -- just days after the radar was removed, and the tower dismantled.  The tower components were about to be shipped to another AF location for reuse, leaving the concrete foundation behind.  The former GATR and GFA site is just east of the current property, and the fence cuts right across the road.   The former GATR and GFA building has been converted to a residence.  It was sad to see the site ending its career.  On this visit, my host was the civil service caretaker, who had served at the site for many years as an enlisted technician, and as site manager of the contract operation. The portion of the site to the west of the Air Force fence looked much as it had two years prior.

Leesville Landing Strip

Located in this approximate area, Leesville listed as an Army landing strip in 1944 AAF airfield directories. Visited in Jan 1996.

Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant

On a 17 May 1996 recon flight, our path took us directly over part of this recently-closed ordnance plant.  I was busy using map, GPS, and compass to guide us to Nike site BD-10, so I didn't have time to take photos.

Mansfield AAFld

Mansfield AAFld was a 3AF auxiliary to Barksdale Field in W.W.II.  After the war, it was again assigned to Barksdale under the training command.  It became De Soto Parish AF Auxiliary Field in 1948.  In 1952, it was listed as an inactive SAC installation.   It is now a small general aviation airport, with a T-33 on static display and a flightline that looks deserted. Visited 13 Aug 1994.

Natchitoches Airport

This small airport was an emergency auxiliary field for 3AF in W.W.II. Visited Jan 1996.

Peason Ridge Bombing Range

The Army's Peason Ridge Training Area is a short distance north of Fort Polk.   Records indicate that in approximately 1954, the Air Force constructed a three-tower bombing range here.  I visited this property during a JRTC exercise in Jan 1996, so I didn't have free access to the range area.  I was told there is a large pile of scrap bomb debris on the property.

Shreveport Municipal Airport

This airport was used by 3AF from 1942 to 1944, as an auxiliary to Barksdale Field.   It also had Navy use during W.W.II.  I noted different types of hangars, and a terminal building on the quiet airport. Visited Aug 1994.

Slack AF Depot

This was originally a W.W.II Army facility known as Shreveport Holding and Reconsignment Depot or Shreveport Quartermaster Depot.  It transferred to the Air Force in 1948, becoming Slack AF Depot.  It was sometimes also called Slack AF Storage Site.  Declared excess in 1960.  It is now an industrial park, with vintage warehouses and other buildings mixed with newer construction. Visited Aug 1994.

Texarkana AFS, Arkansas

The housing area is still a residential area, photographed in Apr 1995.  I revisited in May 1997 and took the other photos seen here. This long-range radar site was activated in 1955, and disposal started in 1969.  The search radar continued in use by the FAA until at least 1977.

Texarkana Field, Arkansas

This airport saw W.W.II use under Air Transport Command.  Some sources show it assigned to Stuttgart AAFld.  I noted the airport sign, and from inside the terminal I had a good view of the flight line. Visited Apr 1995 and May 1997.