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Viewing 8 items for Eagle Pass Army Air Field; Eagle Pass, Texas, USA

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History of Eagle Pass Army Air Field


Eagle Pass Army Air Field

Eagle Pass Army Air Field was located 11 miles north of Eagle Pass, Texas.

Conceived in the vigor of this country at war and raised like the phoenix from the dust of mesquite-covered Texas plains along the Rio Grande, Eagle Pass Army Air Field stands now, eight months after it sent its first cadets into the air on training flights, a potent symbol of America's campaign against tyranny.

When the first class of aviation cadets--it was officially known as Class 43-A--arrived at [embryo] flying school in November, 1942, there was talk of having to travel the last 50 miles to Eagle Pass by way of ox cart and raft. Geographically isolated the field was--and is. But that very fact was a cornerstone for the sound morale and healthy spirits which prevailed then, in November, 1942, and which prevail now.

Eagle Pass Army Air Field was new in November, although some of the personnel had been here since the previous month. It was painfully young, and was afflicted for a while with growing pains.

Construction workers had not yet finished grading and surfacing the streets, which were little more than wide, shallow ditches. The main hangar was not yet complete; and the recreation all--now the field's pride and joy--was still a-building. Water was scarce almost to the point where a rationing program was needed. The chlorinating plant was unfinished, and pure water was imported and stored in lister bags hung on various barracks. The men could drink if they were able to find a lister bag with water left in it and had a cup to drink from.

But these inconveniences were minor and temporary. Superficially, the first class of cadets, as well as the rest of the personnel, had a difficult time for the first month or two. Forget that. The men who were here then and who are here now have forgotten it. Life at the newly-created Eagle Pass Field struck deeper and beyond physical discomforts. A kind of "in the same boat" philosophy came into ascendancy, and the officers, cadets and enlisted men functioned together as smoothly as the engine, [propeller] and rudder of an AT-6. Everyone from Colonel to buck private took pride in achievements--achievements which were becoming more numerous and more significant.

Aviation Cadet Class 43-A buried itself in the task of learning to become expert pilots of the slim, silvery advanced trainers. Planes took off at sunrise and came down at sunset, punctuating the Texas sky with their cheerful growl throughout the day. All day, that is, until night flying was begun; and then it was all day and most of the night.

Thanksgiving Day came, and Christmas, with no snow, ice or cold weather--strange winter holidays, these, to the men of Eagle Pass, most of whom have homes in the North.

Then, suddenly, it was January 14, graduation day for Class 43-A. That was the day when Eagle Pass Army Air Field's first cherished cadets put on their white gloves and marched in four ranks to the Post Theater for the graduation ceremonies which saw them receive their bright silver Wings and brand new commissions as officers.

That was the day, too, when the field paused momentarily in its labors and straightened its back to consider the good work of the previous two months. And it was good work; the class was graduated in its entirety. Every cadet who came to Eagle Pass in November left in January with his wings and gold bars. Class 43-A had successfully completed its training.

Graduation ceremonies on January 14 were held in the morning. In the afternoon, cadets of Class 43-B, upperclassmen now, where making echoes in the sky. Life and training was going on. That was typical of Eagle Pass.

Next in the recorded annals was the formal dedication of the field on February 16, 1943. Another class of cadets was graduated that day--Class 43-B--and its members sprouted their wings to stage a sparkling aerial revue in which they machine-gunned an oil-soaked cardboard replica of an Axis train carrying pictorial effigies of Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini. Satisfactory clouds of black smoke pillared into the air, and everybody loved the exhibition--including the newsreel cameramen who were there.

Another memorable day came early in May when Staff Sergeant Fred Ray proudly produced a colorful new lawnmower and began cutting the grass around Post Headquarters--the first grass on the field. It had been planted in late winter, and no one believed it would grow. But there [it] was in May, green and pleasant, getting its first haircut. Work was suspended for several minutes while everyone watched the mowing operations.

All this has been Eagle Pass, big events and little ones. The field works now with a smooth routine. Graduation ceremonies have begun to assume an aura of tradition, and have come to be the occasion of the month. Eagle Pass Army Air Field has renounced ists swaddling clothes and donned its long pants. Dedicated to the idea of victory, it has taken a vital place in this nation at war.

Movietone Newsreel

The dedication ceremony mentioned above was indeed captured by Fox Movietone News. You can view the actual clip at University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections. The Eagle Pass segment starts at about 6 minutes 25 seconds into the movie. You can also view the actual script and cameraman's "Dope Sheet" about this episode.

Source: Transcribed from Army Air Forces Collection, "Eagle Pass Army Air Field: Class 43-F and 43-G, Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas" (item 000483), AAF Collection, http://AAFCollection.info/items/list.php?item=000483 (accessed 23 January 2014), 1943, page 6.

Source: Movietone newsreel from "Fox Movietone News, Vol. 25 No. 50, Friday Feb. 26, 1943," University of South Carolina. Moving Image Research Collections. http://digital.tcl.sc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/mvtnwarfilms/id/6859 (accessed January 24, 2014).

Source: Location and map from Wikipedia contributors, "Eagle Pass Army Airfield," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Eagle_Pass_Army_Airfield&oldid=568841621 (accessed January 23, 2014).

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1

Eagle Pass Army Air Field; Eagle Pass, Texas, USA

Eagle Pass Army Air Field Click for Details
Class 43-F and 43-G, Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas

Class book for advanced pilot classes 43-F and 43-G at the Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas. Army Air Forces Advanced Flying School (Single Engine).

2

Eagle Pass Army Air Field; Eagle Pass, Texas, USA

Eagles, The Click for Details
Class 43-H, Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas

Class book for advanced pilot class 43-H at Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas.

3

Eagle Pass Army Air Field; Eagle Pass, Texas, USA

Eagles, The Click for Details
Class 43-I, Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas

Class book for advanced pilot class 43-I at Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas.

4

Eagle Pass Army Air Field; Eagle Pass, Texas, USA

Eagles, The Click for Details
Class 44-A, Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas

Class book for advanced pilot class 44-A at Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas.

5

Eagle Pass Army Air Field; Eagle Pass, Texas, USA

Eagles, The Click for Details
Class 44-C, Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas

Class book for advanced pilot class 44-C at Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas.

6

Eagle Pass Army Air Field; Eagle Pass, Texas, USA

Eagles, The Click for Details
Class 44-D, Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas

Class book for pilot class 44-D at Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas.

7

Eagle Pass Army Air Field; Eagle Pass, Texas, USA

Eagles, The Click for Details
Class 44-E, Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas

Class book for pilot class 44-E at the Eagle Pass Army Air Field.

8

Eagle Pass Army Air Field; Eagle Pass, Texas, USA

Eagles, The Click for Details
Class 44-F, Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas

Class book for advanced pilot class 44-F at Eagle Pass Army Air Field, Eagle Pass, Texas.

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Curator: Mike Voisin

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Revised: October 17, 2015
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