History of Laughlin Army Air Field ……. What was once a portion of one of Southwest Texas’ largest ranches is now the site of the Army Air Forces’ first pilot school for B-26 Marauders – the world’s fastest medium bomber and one of the deadliest planes in combat. Construction of the field started in mid-1942 and the first men moved into barracks in late December of that year. Originally intended to be a school for bombardiers, the field was activated on October 29, 1942 as the Army Air Forces Bombardier School, Del Rio, Texas, with Lt. Col. E. W. Suarez commanding. Headquarters were first set up in offices at the United States Federal Building in Del Rio during October with a small number of officers, enlisted men and civilian employes assigned. Movement to the field was effected late in December. On December 26, 1942, command of the post was assumed by Col. George W. Mundy, the present commanding officer. Already selected as the first Marauder pilot school to be established in the world – on February 2, 1943, the field was re-designated the Army Air Forces Transition Flying School, Medium Bombardment, later to be changed to Army Air Forces Pilot School ( Specialized 2-Engine ), its designation today. Flying training started early in February, 1942, shortly after the arrival of Lt. Col. James E. Roberts, first Director of Training. Early in March, 1943, through the efforts largely of Colonel Mundy, the Commanding Officer, the pilot school was named Laughlin Army Air Field by the War Department. It was so named in honor of the late Lt. Jack Thomas Laughlin, of Del Rio, who was killed in action in the Far East on January 29, 1942. On March 28, 1943, impressive dedicatory ceremonies were held at which Maj. Gen. Gerald C. Brant, Commanding General of the Army Air Forces Gulf Coast Training Center, was principal speaker. The late Lieutenant Laughlin’s widow, parents and daughter were honor guests. The field is now turning out large classes of expert Marauder pilots every nine weeks. Students at Laughlin Field are commissioned officers who have already earned their wings at advanced flying schools throughout the country. Their training at Laughlin Field consists of both flying and ground school.