This Week In AFLCMC History - November 7 - 13, 2022

  • Published
  • By Air Force Life Cycle Management Center History Office
7 Nov 1940 (Hill AFB)

Hill Field (today Hill AFB) was formally activated, opening its gates for operations after months of construction. Named for an Air Corps Material Division pilot, Maj Ployer P. Hill (1894-1935) - who had lost his life at Wright Field while testing the Boeing Model 299 (which would develop into the B-17 Flying Fortress) - the work on Hill Field had commenced earlier that year. By the end of WWII, more than 20,000 civilian and military personnel were employed at the new air depot, having supported the war effort with maintenance and supply missions.

8 Nov 2001 (Tinker AFB)

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau Wynn and several hundred people gathered in the Tinker AFB Officers’ Club to honor the “Rosie the Riveter” women of World War II. During the war, more than 300,000 women worked in the US aircraft industry, like Tinker AFB’s first all-female engine crew pictured here working on a North American B-25 Mitchell in 1943. Before the war, around 1% of American aviation technology workers were women - but by the end of the war that number had risen to around 65% of the aircraft industry’s total workforce. Women’s enormous and successful participation in the war effort, across various industries, helped to open career fields for future generations of women.

9 Nov 1923 (Wright-Patterson AFB)

The War Department gave final approval for the round-the-world flight of its four newly-constructed Douglas World Cruiser single-engine biplanes. Secretary of War John Weeks said the official purpose of the flight was to demonstrate the feasibility of intercontinental flights in various world climates, with the actual military journey set to begin 6 Sep 1924. Modified from the Douglas DT torpedo bomber, the World Cruisers were in part manufactured in Dayton, and tested there at McCook Field. Although only two of the four planes made the round-the-world flight successfully, the 175-day journey represented the world’s first aerial circumnavigation of the globe. Of the two surviving aircraft, the Chicago and the New Orleans, both spent some time at Dayton, and are now at the National Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica, California.

10 Nov 1943 (Wright-Patterson AFB)

Army Air Forces (AAF) Nurses Training Detachment No. 6 was activated at Patterson Field to provide basic military training for nurse recruits.  These women were part of a special effort to prepare additional nurses for World War II. Ultimately, more than 59,000 American nurses would serve in the Army Nurse Corps, including a number of specially-trained flight nurses - who were at great risk during the war. The first American woman to die in combat during WWII, Aleda E. Lutz, was a flight nurse. All in all, 201 Army nurses died in the war, including 17 flight nurses.

11 Nov 1918 (Wright-Patterson AFB)

The fighting of World War I formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918—an event first commemorated as Armistice Day, then changed to Veterans Day in honor of all who served in the military. At the end of the war, Wilbur Wright Field’s population was 1,900 persons. McCook Field’s population totaled 58 officers, 267 enlisted men, and 1,915 civilian employees. By this point, the U.S. had 8,403 aircraft - 4,865 were in the U.S. and 3,538 were in use by the American Expeditionary Forces. 

12 Nov 2008 (AFLCMC)

Speaking to an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, 22nd Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley discussed two then-recent reviews of the acquisition system sponsored by the Air Force. The reviews were meant to provide “actionable recommendations” to improve the Air Force’s acquisition functions, which had been under scrutiny following a string of successful industry protests of major contract awards, such as those for the KC-X and the CSAR-X. Some changes to come out of these reviews were an increased requirement for risk assessments, analysis and detailed reporting before major milestone decisions, and thousands of authorizations for new acquisition positions.

13 Nov 1981 (Digital Dir./Hanscom AFB)

A major milestone of the HAVE QUICK and E-3A AWACS Programs was achieved with the first flight of an E-3A AWACS aircraft equipped with a production HAVE QUICK ship set. HAVE QUICK is the codename for a frequency-hopping radio, like the HAVE QUICK radio pictured here, that the U.S. Air Force has utilized since the early 1980s - after it became clear in the 1970s that military communications were be-coming easier and easier to intercept with cheap, commercial technologies. By using a complex frequency hopping system linked to a pseudorandom number generator, the current HAVE QUICK II Electronic Counter Counter-Measure provides much more secure, anti-jamming communications to personnel.

Native American Heritage Month: Wright-Patterson AFB

As the last Ice Age waned about 15,000 years ago, the land in Southwest Ohio now occupied by Wright-Patterson AFB was at the very southern edge of the ice sheet. As that melted and retreated, Ohio was left with rolling hills, fertile soil, and the last of the megafauna, like mastodons and mammoths, ground sloths and giant beavers, and saber-tooth cats and dire wolves. These conditions drew the first humans to the area: Paleo-Indian nomadic hunters. As their prey moved on and went extinct, so did these first peoples. The Archaic culture of hunter-gatherers replaced them for almost eight millennia before the Christian Era.

From about 800BC-1200AD, more settled tribes collectively called the Woodland Indians engaged in agriculture and established villages. The Adena peoples occupied the Dayton/Miami River Valley area for almost 1,000 years until approximately 100 AD. They grew crops like squash and sunflowers and made pottery. However, their lasting legacy can still be seen today in the conical burial mounds found in the region and in several spots on base property.

The largest burial mound is on Area B, visible to the right of the gas station as you enter from the National Road Gate. A cluster of smaller mounds can be seen at the Wright Brothers Memorial that overlooks Huffman Dam and Area A. The subsequent Hopewell Indians had a more complex culture and settlements and built more elaborate earthworks, such as the Serpent Mound. They, too, declined and the semi-agrarian Fort Ancient people moved into the area. Sometime in the 17th Century, almost all of the prehistoric tribes vacated Ohio for reasons unknown to archaeologists.

The arrival of Europeans pressured the Native Americans along the East Coast to move westward. The Miami (for whom much in the area is named) and Shawnee tribes settled in the Wright-Patt area in the 1700s, establishing villages, farming, and engaging in extensive trade at a time when Ohio was so heavily wooded that it was said you could cross the territory from tree to tree without ever touching the ground. These tribes were constantly engaged in fights with encroaching British and French, as both allies and enemies. Various treaties subdivided the future Ohio into Indian and settler lands, though the latter continued to push past established boundaries, exacerbating conflicts and bringing in a military presence at various forts for protection.

In the aftermath of the American Revolution, former colonists pouring into the area was the catalyst for the final forcible removal of Native tribes from the area. While Shawnee leaders Blue Jacket and then Tecumseh made a last effort to unite tribes to fight for their homelands, their defeat by future president William Henry Harrison in 1813 all but ended the Native American presence in Ohio. The remaining tribes all moved west-ward.