NATTC – Naval Air Technical Training Center, Memphis, Tennessee (PDF)



52 pages
It was on the sultry Summer afternoon of June 17, 1942, that a small group of Naval officers broke ground for the project now known as the Naval Air Technical Training Center. A torrid Southern sun beat down on that desolate Shelby County weedpatch in a corner of West Tennessee as Lt. Comdr. Leonard Kirby, USNR, the station’s first commanding officer, turned the first spadeful of dirt in soil where once the Army had taught pilots to fly for World War I. Almost miraculously thereafter, the station came into being, labeled for the moment the Naval Training School (Aviation Maintenance). Temporary headquarters were set up on the thirteenth floor of the towering Sterick Building overlooking the heart of downtown Memphis. An intensive campaign was launched to recruit the personnel for the ship’s company. The enlistment drive met with instantaneous success. Construction likewise moved ahead with surprising speed. Indeed, so rapidly did the giant new naval activity take shape that its commissioning date was advanced to September 23, far ahead of schedule, and the training of Bluejackets in its three great schools was actually under way in early October. Lt. Comdr. Kirby gave way to a new commanding officer, Capt. Norman R. Hitchcock, USN, and took an important assignment in the farther waters of the turbulent South Pacific. Under Captain Hitchcock, the first graduates completed their courses in November and left to take places on Freedom’s fighting fronts flung far across the Seven Seas. When Captain Hitchcock, himself already a veteran of the Pacific fray, received in turn the call that was to carry him across the Atlantic to still another combat zone, Commander A. R. Buehler, USN, stepped up to commanding officer from executive officer, a post he had held since his own transfer to shore duty from active participation in the original invasion of Africa. The months brought maturity to NATTC in a multitude of ways. New Bluejacket arrivals found a steady, comfortable, healthy station with an alert, industrious crew. The Marines began to land, as did the WAVES and the Marine Women Reservists, all quickly making niches for themselves in the life within the Center as they were absorbed into the major schoolsthe Aviation Machinists Mates’ School, the Aviation Ordnancemen’s School and the Aviation Radiomen’s School. Its original conception and scope vastly enlarged as the exigencies of global warfare impelled an increased output of trained Naval personnel, the Naval Air Technical Training Center stands today as a little city, complete in itself, offering every facility to the Navy man, the WAVE or the Marine who happens to be stationed here. The Center’s complement numbers well into five figures, its physical environment is both attractive and utilitarian, and it is doing a job of which the nation might well be boastful. Weekly, in graduating classes that run into the hundreds, it is sending efficient, determined air crews to man the planes with which the Navy is contributing its full share toward the winning of the war. That it will continue to do, until the forces that threaten civilization shall have been blasted from the surface of the earth.