Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Stockton Field
(Sharpe General Depot Field Annex, Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex, Stockton Armory, Stockton Combined Support Maintenance Shop, Stockton Army Aviation Support Facility, Organizational Maintenance Shop 24)
Stockton Field control tower under construction circa 1941.


History (2006)
by Daniel M. Sebby, Military Historian, California Military Department

Prior to Army use, the Site was used primarily for agricultural purposes. Aviation first became prominent when the land owner, Wilbur Salmon, began allowing pilots to land in his pasture east of his pig run in 1925. City fathers became interested and improved the field, eventually culminating in the formal dedication of Stockton Municipal Airport on 7 May 1927. The Site was a part of the farmland allocated to the airport. The City of Stockton continued to expand and purchase surrounding tracts of land until August 1940, when the U.S. Army took control of the field.

The Site was one of several facilities that were subordinate to the Sharpe General Deport, later known as Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex. The other facilities were located at the Port of Stockton, Alameda, Rio Vista, Tracy, and Rough and Ready Island. Sharpe General Depot Field Annex originally was the cantonment area of the U.S. Army Air Corps' Stockton Field, home of the "Air Corps Advanced Flying School." In the months preceding World War II, the U.S. Army entered into the first of many lease agreements with the City of Stockton (on 15 August 1940) to construct and operate an Army training facility and airfield at Stockton Municipal Airport.

Stockton Field was initially garrisoned by the 68th Air Base Group (Special) under the Air Corps Advance Flying School. Between 1940 and 1945, Stockton Field served as a training installation under the West Coast Training Center (later Western Flying Training Command) headquartered at Santa Ana Army Air Base. In May 1944, all of the facility was consolidated into the 3033rd Army Air Forces Base Unit. Given the airfield's proximity to logistical facilities under the Army Air Forces and Army Service Forces, the Site soon became a logistical hub for the U.S. Army in general and the Army Air Forces in particular. This resulted in an increased number of transport aircraft passing through Stockton Field. On 2 March 1945, the final class of aviation cadets completed their training, and Stockton Field was transferred from the control of the Western Flying Training Command to the Air Transport Command. With this transfer, the 3033rd AAFBU was redesignated as the 591st AAFBU.

In October 1946, Stockton Field was declared surplus to the needs of the government. As 1,044.18 acres were in the process of being transferred to the War Assets Administration for disposal, 71.36 acres, consisting of a major portion of the former cantonment area including housing, storage facilities, and a sewage disposal plant, were leased to U.S. Army's Stockton General Depot located to the south in nearby Lathrop.

The City of Stockton and the County of San Joaquin resumed operating the former Stockton Municipal Airport on 16 December 1946 under a joint (interim) license. On the 1,044.18 acres of leased land (950 acres of which comprise the airport now under license) there were approximately 175 buildings, including 50 airport-related structures which were included in the above described license. The buildings were primarily the Quartermaster 700-series and 800-series type construction with concrete foundations, wood floor, composition roof, and wood lap siding.

On 29 January 1947, the 71.36-acres of former Stockton Field retained by the U.S. Army was officially named the "Stockton General Depot Field Annex," then renamed "Sharpe General Depot Field Annex" in 1948, when Stockton General Depot was redesignated as Sharpe General Depot. The U.S. Army, with the exception of the Sharpe General Depot Field Annex, left Stockton Field by 31 January 1948; the same date that the City of Stockton and the County of San Joaquin jointly assumed administration over the airport (Stockton Record 1964).

Sharpe General Depot Field Annex was formed from two parcels of land adjacent to the southwest portion of the current Stockton Metropolitan Airport. Sharpe General Depot Field Annex was operated by the U.S. Army as a separate, self-contained military post under Sharpe General Depot. With the rapid expansion of depot operations and facilities that occurred with the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, Sharpe General Depot Field Annex's name was changed to Sharpe General Depot Troop Field Annex to reflect its support mission. During this period, the Site was used primarily for family housing, recreational, and other support facilities for Sharpe General Depot. One of the tenants was the 164th Field Artillery Battalion, California Army National Guard, who occupied a small part of the Sharpe General Depot Troop Field Annex until the new National Guard Armory was built on State-owned land south of the Site in 1952.

On 8 July 1957, the City of Stockton transferred half of its interest in the Stockton Municipal Airport by Grant Deed, and San Joaquin County assumed administration over the airport (subject to certain reservations, restrictions and conditions according to the "Agreement" with the United States of America dated 23 December 1948 (Appendix A).
The end of the Korean War caused more mission changes at Sharpe General Depot and the Sharpe General Depot Troop Field Annex. In 1958, the Sharpe General Depot received a Fourth Echelon Air Maintenance Support mission on U.S. Army aircraft within the Sixth U.S. Army Area. The Site then served as home to the Sixth U.S. Army Aircraft Field Maintenance Activity operated by Detachment 3, 6932nd Service Unit. This unit provided maintenance support to U.S. Army rotary and fixed wing liaison aircraft in the Sixth U.S. Army area and Buildings 1000, 1001, and 1003. The Site also was the home of the 30th Engineer Group (Topographic) and the 521st Engineer Company (Topographic, Aviation).

During 1959 and 1960, construction of a new airstrip, hangar and shop at Sharpe Army Deport curtailed the military's use of Stockton Airport. In June 1961, the Aircraft Field Maintenance Activity was transferred to Fort Ord, California. By July 1962, the Army Material Command was established with several sub-commands, including the Supply and Maintenance Command. This brought about another name change when Sharpe General Deport became Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex.

On 11 July 1964, Stockton Municipal Airport was officially renamed the Stockton Metropolitan Airport, reflecting its changing role as a civil airport. Thirty new family housing units were also built in 1964 at Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex, resulting in the closure of family housing units at the Site.

In the last months of 1965, support to Army Aviation expanded again as a result of the U.S. Army's role in Southeast Asia. As the Vietnam War continued, so did Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex's mission. In April 1966, the first units of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 56th Quartermaster Depot began to arrive at the Site, followed by units of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 58th Field Depot in July.

By 1966, the Headquarters Commandant of Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex had the responsibility to command troops assigned to Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex. This included the supervision of all attached and tenant units, Special Services, Annex Services, Education Center, Officer Open Mess and Non-commissioned Officers Club, including support for Reserve, National Guard and Transient Units.

In January 1967, an Army Clothing Sales Store was transferred from Sacramento Army Depot and reopened in Building T-88 at the Site. A Branch Exchange of the Presidio of San Francisco was also established in Building T-137. On-post housing at Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex was limited, causing 44 sets of "inadequate quarters" to be established at the Site, whereby old barracks buildings were converted into "apartment-type quarters" with two apartments upstairs and two downstairs. To further accommodate the increase in soldiers now stationed at Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex, the Site now provided many additional services such as laundry, dry cleaning, and medical facilities.

In the early 1970s, the need for soldiers garrisoning Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex also decreased as military positions were converted to Civil Service positions. Due to the shift in staffing, Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex determined that it no longer needed the Field Annex site and began the process of disposing of the Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex.

Sharpe Army Depot Field Annex was vacated in 1973, ending the U.S. Army's presence on the field with all of the land and buildings reverting back to the County. The only military presence that has remained on Stockton Metropolitan Airport is the California Army National Guard's Armory, Field and Combined Support Maintenance Shop, and the Army Aviation Support Facility located just south of the Site.


History (2005)
by Justin Ruhge
On a rainy winter day, the U.S. Army Air Force arrived in Stockton to take over a small flying field flanked by a lone adobe hangar. This field was built in 1932 by WPA workers and funds. It was December 5, 1940 that the first troops which formed the nucleus of the Air Force's Advanced Flying School at Stockton field disembarked from a convoy of Army trucks. Tents were set up for housing and construction began. By December 10, a headquarters was established and by January 2, 1941, 90 cadets and 25 second lieutenants had arrived. Basic and Advanced flight instruction started on the same day with eight AT-6s. Stockton was one of three advanced training fields in California; the others were located at Victorville and Mather Air Force Bases. In addition to the Stockton Field, auxiliary fields were set up at Kingsbury Auxiliary Field No. A1; Tracy New Jerusalem Auxiliary Field No. A3; Modesto Auxiliary Field No. A4; Tracy Auxiliary Field No. A5; and Franklin Auxiliary Field No. A6.

The Field was dedicated on January 11, 1941 and designated by the War Department as Stockton Field. The first advanced flying school on the West Coast had become a reality.

Five weeks after the arrival of the first class of cadets, the population of Stockton Field had been raised to 1,300 with 177 officers. Three Air Corps squadrons were organized - the 68th Air Base Group to operate the post and school and to furnish the principal officers and all the flying instructors, and the 80th and 81st School Squadrons to provide men to overhaul and maintain the planes.

Post construction as well as flight instruction continued at a fast pace. Sixty-two aircraft arrived to fill out the flight line. These were Vultee BT-15 Basic Trainers and North American AT-6C Advanced Trainers. The first graduation was held on March 14, 1941 when 25 2nd lieutenants and 90 cadets received their diplomas.

On April 28, 1941 Stockton Field received its full complement of commissioned officers, cadets, enlisted men and civilian employment. On November 5, 1941 twin-engine Curtiss AT-9 Trainers arrived from Barksdale, Louisiana and courses in the operation of medium bombers were added to the curriculum. By the end of the year, aerial traffic had outgrown the original
capacity of the field and three 800 by 4,600-foot runways were completed at a cost of $650,000. In addition some 60 buildings were completed to house the thousands of personnel needed to operate Stockton Field.

The school eventually graduated an average of 200 cadets every eight weeks. The last group of cadets was graduated on March 2, 1945. Eleven of the 36 pilots participating in Colonel Jimmy Doolittle's historic air raid on Tokyo on April 18, 1942 were graduates of the Advanced Pilots Training School at Stockton Field. A pilot who was shot down on the raid parachuted to safety in Japan. He was rescued at the end of the war when Americans captured a Japanese prison camp in which he had been held for three years.

At the end of 1945, the field was turned over to the Air Transport Command that operated the Field until 1948 when it was returned to the City of Stockton. The City slowly converted the property to a number of commercial uses including developing a portion of it into the Stockton Metropolitan Airport. Many new facilities were constructed and most of the original Army buildings were removed.
References: A Camera Trip Through Stockton Field, A Picture Book of the Field and its Activities, 1942; Stockton During World War II, a Newsman's Reminiscences, by Mel Bennett in the July 1984 Issue of Stockton Legionnaire; The Higgin Museum; the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library. Stockton, San Joaquin County.
Addition Online Histories
Constructing Quartermaster Building Book
Images of Stockton Field
US Army Corps of Engineers St. Louis District Archive Search Reports
Stockton Field
Stockton Field Annex, Sharpe Army Depot
War Assets Administration WAA-1005 Report
Advanced Flying School Yearbook, Class 42J
Digital Images
A Camera Trip Through Stockton Field


Stockton Armory, Combined Support Maintenace Shop and Army Aviation Support Facility
Stockton Armory and the former Organizational Maintenance Shop 24. The Stockton Combined Support Maintenance Shop is in the background.

Extract, Final Inventory and Evaluation of National Register of Historic Places Eligibility of California Army National Guard Armories, Sacramento District US Army Corps of Engineers (2002)

History: Charles Weber, a German immigrant, founded Stockton in 1849 when he acquired more than 49,000 acres of land through a Mexican land grant. The town of Stockton sprang up as a stopover point for gold seekers from around the world. Weber chose to honor Commodore Robert F. Stockton by bestowing the community with his name. On July 23, 1850, the County Court incorporated the City of Stockton, whose charter from the State of California dates from 1851.

The CA ARNG expanded its air facility after a groundbreaking ceremony on July 31, 1972. Located at the Municipal Airport, the addition will include a 140- by 201-foot hangar, and several 50- by 100-foot helicopter pads. The new helicopter facility brings the CA ARNG occupancy at the airport to more than 48 acres (Stockton Record 1972).

Description: The Stockton armory on South Airport Way includes an expansive combination of buildings that cover approximately 50 acres. The setting around the armory and associated support facilities consists of a municipal airport to the northeast and undeveloped land and moderate industrial facilities elsewhere. Constructed in 1964, the Stockton armory (Figure 9) does not appear consistent with one of the nine CA ARNG standardized building plan types designed by the Office of the California State Architect that prescribed much of the form and style of armory construction since the early 1940s. Spread over a large area, this CA ARNG facility includes an armory, an OMS, the northern California Direct Support, General Support facility, and an Air Guard building.

The primary form of the armory is the central, wide, two-story, rectangular assembly hall with full-length, integrated, single-loaded offices on the north and south elevations. The assembly hall and offices are oriented east-west with a low-pitched gable-end roof with overhanging eaves that are covered with asphaltic composite material. The seven-bay structure consists of steel-framed clear span with structural piers that are encased in concrete. The framing is set on a polished concrete slab foundation with poured-concrete walls that are scored into large squares on the exterior.

The entry facade is located on the west gable-end in the single-story office wing that parallels this end of the assembly hall and extends beyond the north and south elevations of the primary unit. This wing is dressed with a concrete aggregate, and has a flat roof with overhanging eaves on all elevations. The main entry to the armory is two pairs of metal frame, fully glazed pedestrian doors that are separated by a fixed glazed panel. Single pedestrian doors appear on both the northern and southern elevations of the entry wing. A single-story concrete addition with a flat roof and overhanging eaves is located at the southeast corner of the assembly hall and office unit.

Approximately 30 offices, classrooms, and storage areas occupy the first story of the north and south office wings. On the second level, the corridors are open on the wall facing the assembly hall, creating the look of full-length balconies. However, the western half of the north wing has apparently been converted into offices from what was originally designated as a firing range and retains the concrete wall separating this area from the assembly hall. The entry wing has approximately 20 rooms that are designed and constructed similarly to the primary office sections.

The Direct Support, General Support (DSGS) facility is located to the southeast of the armory. The DSGS is essentially a rectangular, multi-story structure that has a stepped roof form reflecting the three different heights of the building's horizontal bays. The rear element, which dominates the roofline, is a two-story maintenance bay with a low-pitched side-gabled roof. There are eight metal roll-up doors spaced along the east elevation and single metal roll-up door and pedestrian doors on both the north and south elevations. This largest bay is used for maintenance on large vehicles and heavy equipment. The tall single-story, concrete, central bay has a metal roll-up door on the west elevation and is divided into several rooms that are used for servicing components or small equipment. The westernmost single-story, flat roofed, concrete wing has a variety of doors that provide access to the office corridor and several special-purpose maintenance rooms.

The remaining associated maintenance and support facilities of the Stockton armory are scattered across an array of spacious lots that are subdivided by courses of fences and gates. Located to the southwest of the armory is the single-story, rectangular, gable-end, SCSMS class-nine building. Farther beyond the southwest corner of the primary building is the large, two-story, concrete, gable-end OMS structure. Located to the east of the DSGS building is the two-story, concrete, gable-end, Allied Trade building. The latest addition to the Stockton armory is the 1970s-era Army Aviation Support Facility, located to the east of the primary building. The AASF is essentially a large, flat-topped hip roof with two stepped down, smaller integrated wings. The Stockton armory, DSGS building, and associated structures appear to be in good overall condition.

Evaluation: The Stockton-Airport armory does not meet the definition of a significant resource type. This location essentially serves a support function for the CA ARNG as one of two locations that repair combat-related equipment and vehicles. This is not a historically significant association within CA ARNG history, and therefore the property is not eligible under Criterion A. No historically significant persons are known to be associated with this property, and therefore the property is not eligible under Criterion B. The architecture in the compound is generally unremarkable, consisting of shop buildings whose architecture minimally reflects their function, and one atypical armory building that is not individually architecturally significant. Thus, neither the compound nor any of its individual buildings are not eligible under Criterion C. There is not identifiable research potential that would assist in an understanding of the CA ARNG's history, and therefore the property is not eligible under Criterion D.

Aerial view of California Army National Guard facilities at Stockton Airport. The Armory, OMS and CSMS are on the lower left. The AASF is in the center.

GlobalSecurity.org History (2011)

The California Army National Guard [CAARNG] Stockton Complex is situated in central California in the southern portion of the city of Stockton, within Congressional District #11. The Stockton Complex facilities (armory, OMS #24, CSMS, and AASF) are located adjacent to the Stockton Municipal Airport. Stockton was incorporated in 1850 and is the seat of San Joaquin County. The city is also a deepwater port at the head of navigation on the San Joaquin River. The local demographics provide an adequate recruiting population. The installation makes a positive contribution to the local economy in terms of salaried jobs and purchases.

Additionally, the installations support full-time personnel including recruiters, 5 Area coordinators, OMS personnel at the armory, and personnel at the CSMS. The three Area coordinator maintenance technicians provide facility maintenance support to all northern California sites. There are Chinook (CH-47) helicopters assigned to Company G. An additional CH-47 helicopters were assigned to Company G in fiscal year (FY) 1999. Company B has Iroqouis (UH-1) helicopters assigned to its unit. Additional UH-1s are also assigned to Company D.

The Stockton Complex (armory, organizational maintenance shop [OMS], combined support maintenance shop [CSMS], and Army aviation support facility [AASF]) of the California Army National Guard (CAARNG) was constructed in phases from the 1950s through the 1980s. The armory, OMS, and CSMS are located on the western half of the site, with the AASF located on the eastern portion. The site is situated on a 55-acre parcel for all assigned units and operations.

The California Army National Guard [CAARNG] aviation units are based at the Mather Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF) located at the former Mather Air Force Base (AFB) in Sacramento, the AASF in Stockton, the California Aviation Classification Repair Depot (AVCRAD) in Fresno, and the Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC) in Los Alamitos. All sites include hangar facilities, aircraft parking aprons, and armories.


Extract, War Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities, December 1945


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Updated 8 February 2016