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
Source: World War II Sites
in the United States: A Tour Guide and Directory by Richard E.
A Martin B-10M used
by the 82d Observation Squadron at Salinas Army Air Base (Bill
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
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.
Stationed at Salinas AAB During World War II