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Orange County Army Air Field
 
In 1923, aviation pioneer Eddie Martin built a private landing strip and founded a flying school on land owned by The Irvine Company. In 1939, the Airport became a publicly owned facility through a land swap between The Irvine Company and the County of Orange. Located five miles south of downtown Santa Ana, when it was taken over by the Army Air Forces as a training base. It also served as base for Navy blimps. In the postwar years it became John Wayne International Airport
Source: World War II Sites in the United States: A Tour Guide and Directory by Richard E. Osbourne
History
By Justin M. Ruhge
Goleta Valley Historical Society

In 1942, the 4th Air Force, which was responsible for protecting the U.S. homeland, took over the Orange County Airport for use as a dispersal field. In early March 1942, the Field was turned over to the War Department by the County on a lease of $4,141 per year for 140 acres contiguous to the Airport for a new hangar and barracks and concrete revetments for aircraft protection. The County had already leased the 138-acre airport to the government.

For a while the field served as the headquarters for the 4t Fighter unit of the Western Defense Command. Its 332nd Fighter Squadron of the 329th Fighter Group flew offshore patrols using sixteen P-38 pursuit planes. On June 15, 1943 the Orange County Municipal Airport was redesignated the Orange County Army Air Field. The 332nd Fighter Squadron was disbanded at Santa Ana on March 31, 1944. The parent organization, the 329th Fighter Group, was headquartered at Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale California from 1942 through March 31, 1944. On April 18, 1946 the Field was placed on the war surplus list. In May, the County again operated the Airport.

Eventually this field became the Orange County John Wayne International Airport.

References: The SAAAB Story by Edrick J. Miller, 1981.

Updated 18 Apr 08


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