Walla Walla Army Air Base
Walla Walla Army Air Base (1942-1947) - A World War II U.S. Army Airfield was established in 1942 near Walla Walla, Walla Walla County, Washington. First named Walla Walla Army Air Base after the location. Declared surplus in 1947 after the end of WWII. Also known as Walla Walla Army Airfield, now known as Walla Walla Regional Airport.
Just 2 days after the 7 Dec 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Army Air Corps officials announced that seven sites had been selected for new air bases expected to cost about $12,000,000 each. The seven sites selected were Syracuse NY, Richmond VA, Rapid City SD, Columbus OH, Greenville SC, Nashville TN, and Walla Walla WA. The War Department later announced that the cost of the Walla Walla base would be more than $7.5 million to build an Army Air Corps training airfield around the existing municipal airport at Walla Walla.
The existing 200-acre municipal airport was used as a nucleus for the base, which ultimately comprised 2,164 acres of land. Over 300 buildings were constructed and equipped to house, feed, and train approximately 6,000 personnel. The base was activated on 19 Jun 1942 but the men were quartered at the county fairgrounds pending the completion of the barracks. Ltc Earl T. Vance was the first base commander.
The 91st Bomb Group was the first Army Air Forces group to utilize the Walla Walla base. The 91st had initially trained in Florida, and upon arrival trained in B-17 Flying Fortress four-engine bombers. The 91st went on to distinguish itself in combat over Europe.
Late in 1943, the airfield lay idle when the Second Air Force withdrew its B-17 training operation. In April 1944, the Fourth Air Force took charge and established a training base for B-24 Liberator bomber crews.
During the war years, it is estimated that more than 8,000 officers and men were trained at this base producing some 594 heavy bomber crews.
After the end of the war, manpower at the base was reduced to a minimum level and despite repeated assurances from the Army that the base would remain open, closure seemed inevitable. On 9 Oct 1947 Military and local officials came to an agreement that the base would be declared surplus and the city/county would apply for an interim permit to take over operation of the field as a city/county airfield on 30 Nov 1947.
Note: Before the end of the war the base was referred to as an Army Air Base but after the end of the war it was referred to as an Army Airfield.
Now Walla Walla Regional Airport.