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Salinas Army Air Base
 
Located three miles southeast of Salinas, this was a subpost to Fort Ord during the war. It was a processing center and a training field for Army pilots in reconnaissance and observation duties in small planes. The Air Transport Command also used the field and had an air freight terminal here.

Source: World War II Sites in the United States: A Tour Guide and Directory by Richard E. Osbourne
 
 
A Martin B-10M used by the 82d Observation Squadron at Salinas Army Air Base (Bill Larkins)
 
History of Salinas Army Air Base
By Justin M. Ruhge
Goleta Valley Historical Society
 
Efforts to build a new airfield at Salinas to replace the first field dedicated in 1929 began in January 1940. Interest on the part of the Chamber of Commerce started the process of planning the lead to engineering drawings and a bond election for funding of $185,000 by June. The Army agreed to lease the land and to authorize the use of WPA funds for construction. Work began on October 1940. $310,000 was appropriated for the main runways. All buildings except for the hangar had been completed by the end of December 1940. Four two-story barracks and two one-story barracks plus a control tower, administration building, mess hall and classrooms were some of the buildings ready to occupy in 1941.
 
The base was to be the home to two observation squadrons, one existing at Hamilton Field north of San Francisco and the other to be formed at the Salinas Base.
 
The Salinas Municipal Airport became a 4th Air Force base January 20,1941. The first commander was Captain W. C. Sams who flew to the Salinas base from Hamilton Field. The airmen arrived a week later and began to organize and settle into the facilities that had just been completed. The first flying cadets arrived in May of 1941. The first training aircraft arrived at the end of May. In August 1941 a medical detachment was activated at the Base. The first P-38s arrived in August to be used by a coastal patrol group stationed there.
The first edition of The Observer, the base newspaper, was published on November 21, 1941. Much of the final construction on the base was not completed until April 1942.
The Salinas Army Air Base was also used to train bomber pilots flying out of Hammer Field on the TP-70Bs.
The Base was used at the end of the war as a processing-out station. Fremont Peak Radar training site was near by, as was a radio range station, and small arms range. The Salinas Rodeo Grounds were used to gather Japanese-Americans prior to relocation to permanent camps further inland.
In 1946, the Base was closed and 900 acres was transferred to the City of Salinas. Many of the buildings were demolished or sold and moved. The original old American Legion Airport became part of the Santa Lucia Elementary School and the Sherwood Gardens Shopping Center. The main runway became West Laurel Drive.
 
Units Stationed at Salinas AAB During World War II
 
451st Army Air Force Base Unit (Processing Out)
69th Observation Group, 3 October-December 1941
115th Observation Squadron, O-38
70th Observation Group (After April 1943, 70th Reconnaissance Group) March-15 August 1943
26th Observation (After April 1943, Reconnaissance) Squadron
112th Observation (After April 1943, Reconnaissance) Squadron
116th Observation (After April 1943, Reconnaissance) Squadron
123rd Observation (After April 1943, Reconnaissance) Squadron
71st Observation Group, 21 December 1941-18 August 1942, 19 October 1942-24 January 1943
17th Observation Squadron
25th Observation Squadron
82nd Observation Squadron
102nd Observation Squadron
110th Observation Squadron
128th Observation Squadron
77th Observation Group, 2-17 March 1942
5th Observation Squadron
27th Observation Squadron
113th Observation Squadron
120th Observation Squadron
125th Observation Squadron
128th Observation Squadron
312th Bombardment Group (Dive) 15 August-24 October 1943
386th Bombardment Squadron
387th Bombardment Squadron
388th Bombardment Squadron
389th Bombardment Squadron
360th Fighter Group, P38 Lightning, 22 September 1943-11 January 1944
371st Fighter Squadron
372nd Fighter Squadron
373rd Fighter Squadron
446th Fighter Squadron


Updated 20 April 2008


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