From Farm Land to Navy Air Field
On July 4, 1942, the same day the city of Kingsville was celebrating its own birthday, (P-4) Naval Air Auxiliary Station (NAAS) Kingsville Field was commissioned, becoming one of seven auxiliary air stations for Naval Air Technical Training Command (NATTC) headquartered at NAS Corpus Christi. Others fields included NAAS Chase Field in Beeville, and NAAS Cabaniss, NAAS Waldron, NAAS Rodd, NAAS Cuddiby, and NAAS Corpus Christi. At the time, NATTC was the largest naval air training activity in the world.
The air station was constructed under a tight schedule as the war in eastern Europe continued to escalate. The bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, prompted the Navy to purchase the land for the air station, and within five months the field was commissioned. Many of the structures were designed as "temporary" buildings with no plans of keeping the facility alive once the war was over.
Over the next three years, NAAS Kingsville Field played an important role in training Navy and Marine Corps aviators and aerial gunners for the Fleet.
Kingsville Field 1940s Timeline
July 23, 1942: Recruit training added to command mission due to overcrowding at Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes, Ill.
Nov. 1, 1942: First gunnery department crew reports aboard.
Nov. 4, 1942: LCDR Troy Thweatt assumes command of NAAS Kingsville Field.
Dec. 7, 1942: Enlisted aviation personnel become the first aerial-free gunners to enroll in classes at NAAS Kingsville. The two-week course included primary instruction in trap and skeet shooting, and machine gun stripping, firing, and sighting. A similar school was created for aviation cadets.
Jan. 15, 1943: Seaman Guard organized to take care of all security guard duties on station.
April 1, 1943: The Bureau of Naval Personnel decides to move the Free Gunnery Training Unit from Corpus Christi to Kingsville.
June 30, 1943: Training Squadron 14C begins operations.
June 30, 1943: Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox visits the air field.
July 7, 1943: President F.D. Roosevelt and Mexican President Manuel Ávila Camacho visit Kingsville Field.
Jan. 5, 1944: Station Chapel is named in honor of NAAS Kingsville’s first command chaplain, LT J. William McFall, who served on board from Dec. 28, 1942 to May 17, 1943. He was killed in action on Dec. 12, 1943, while serving in the Pacific.
Feb. 16, 1944: CDR H. C. Doan assumes acting command of the air field from LCDR Troy Thweatt.
June 4, 1944: CDR H. V. Morrison assumes command of the air field from CDR H. C. Doan.
Sept. 15, 1946: Navy places NAAS Kingsville Field in caretaker status. Land is leased to the city of Kingsville and Texas A&I College.
June 13, 1949: Advanced Training Unit SIX formed at NAS Corpus Christi for the purpose of furnishing jet transitional training for newly designated Naval Aviators. Advanced Training Unit SIX would later become Training Squadron 22 (VT-22).
July 25, 1949: Training Unit SIX moved from NAS Corpus Christi to NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Fla.