Barksdale Field – A Camera Trip Through Barksdale Field (PDF)




32 pages

The History of Barksdale Field ……. In Peacetime and wartime Barksdale Field has played on important part in the combat training program of the Army Air Forces. Located four miles southeast of Shreveport, Louisiana, the field was dedicated February 2, 1933, and from then until 1942 it was the world’s largest air base. It was named for Lieutenant Eugene Hoy Barksdale, World War I flyer from Mississippi who lost his life August 11,1926, while flight-testing an Army plane near Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio. Barksdale covers 26,886 acres of land five miles wide and nine and one-half miles long donated by the City of Shreveport, which expended a bond issue of $1,650,000 for its purchase from 800 owners. Suiting the architecture to the locality, French Colonial design was employed and a year after construction was started, in March 1931, one of the most beautiful Army installations in the nation rose from the cotton plantations. Before dedication of the field $3,500,000 had been invested, subsequent peacetime and wartime improvements revising this figure upward. Following arrival of the 20th Pursuit Group from Mather Field, California, late in 1932, aerial activity increased through the years until it reached its zenith during World War II with the training of combat crews. In 1935 the Third Attack Group was assigned to the field and combat activities were placed under the Third Wing of the GHQ Air Force, with the base planes organized to fly to any point in the nation within a few hours in the event of any emergency. Outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 was followed by rapid expansion of Barksdale’s training facilities and replacement of some of the pursuit and attack units by light bombardment crews, the 20th Pursuit Group moving to California early in 1940. Navigation, single-engine pilot, twin-engine pilot and bombardier schools were added, but after the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941, the schools were transferred and the field returned to the combat command, training bombardment crews for their part in the AAF’S global warfare. First base commander was Major Millard F. Harmon (Lt. Gen. Harmon, former AAF chief of staff and AAF leader in the Solomons campaign), who arrived on July 1, 1932. Other distinguished commanding officers from the field’s dedication until World War II have included: Major Gen. Gerald C. Brant, former AAF commander in Newfoundland;, Major Gen. Lewis H. Brereton, World War II commander of the AAF in China, India, Burma and the Middle East; Col. Charles T. Phillips, missing in action in the North African campaign; Col. Robert E. M. Goolrick, Col. Ira A. Rader and Col. William B. Wright, Jr. Barksdale Field is ideally equipped to meet the spiritual and physical needs of personnel stationed here, with its splendid non-sectarian chapel, hospital and recreational opportunities. Hangar 9, focal point of off-duty-hour activities, has ten bowling alleys, a gymnasium, long-distance telephone exchange, and in this building are held the weekly boxing cards, as well as numerous dances and shows. A golf course, recently enlarged to 18 holes, swimming pools for officers and enlisted men, volley ball courts and Softball diamonds offer ample facilities for outdoor athletics.