Ardmore Air Force Base
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The 772nd, 773rd, 774th and 775th squadrons of the 463rd Troop Carrier Group had their own barracks, administrative offices (orderly room), and a squadron operations office. The 775th, previously at Sewart AFB, Tennessee, was only active at Ardmore from May 1956 to the summer of 1957 when it was deactivated. The number of personnel in the squadrons varied but usually consisted of around 90 to 135 enlisted personnel and 16 to 37 officers. The operations building was located at the edge of the parking apron and contained the air operations office, supply, briefing room and radio-radar maintenance shop.
Initially, each squadron had 16 Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcars" and several smaller staff aircraft. Seventy-five percent of the aircraft were operational at all times, with the other planes in for repair, maintenance or line-service. Two hangers (101 and 102) on the far north flight line remained from WWII. A portion of the south one (102) was used as a theater prior to completion of the new base theater. Minor repairs were done by the 463rd Maintenance Squadron. Forty-eight Lockheed C-130A "Hercules" transport aircraft eventually replaced the C-119s. The first C-130A delivered to the USAF, December 7, 1956, the "City of Ardmore", landed at AAFB, December 9, 1956. Five men, including the pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator and crew chief (load-master), made up the flight crew of the C-119. A comparable crew component flew in the C-130A.
The squadron was made up of the Operations Section (pilots, navigators); Maintenance Section (line maintenance personnel, flight maintenance personnel, crew chief and flight engineers); Supply Section (personal equipment, parachutes and clothing) and Communication Section (radio-radar operators and communication maintenance specialists).
The 16th Troop Carrier Squadron, (Assault, Fixed Wing), the only assault squadron in the 18th AF, flew nine "hand-built" Chase YC-122 tactical assault aircraft, the only aircraft of its type in the USAF and world. They were parked on the south, east-west oriented parking apron of the base. The 16th had their own Flight Operations Building and maintenance personnel.
After activation July 8, 1955, the 309th Troop Carrier Group (Assault, Fixed Wing) received and flew the first Fairchild C-123B aircraft ordered by the USAF. The 309th consisted of approximately 140 officers and 440 airmen, most of who were from the deactivated 16th Troop Carrier Squadron (July 8, 1955). Operational buildings for the 309th consisted of nine canvas-lumber structures, three for each squadron, located adjacent to the operations building of the 16th TCS. The 309th and its 53 C-123Bs were deployed to Dreux, France, May 15, 1956, introducing the C-123B to Europe.
Headquarters for the 463rd Troop Carrier Group was located in the General Headquarters Building across the street east from Wing Headquarters. The Headquarters Squadron was composed of approximately 10 officers, 30 NCOs, and 18-20 civilians.
Weather information was furnished by Detachment #11 of the 25th Weather Squadron, 2nd Weather Group of the Air Weather Service. The 25th Weather Squadron was attached to the 18th Air Force, Tactical Air Command. Six observers and two forecasters worked the weather station which was on duty 18 hours a day.
The control tower directed air traffic on and around the base. The tower was initially operated by personnel of the Airways and Air Communications Service out of Tinker Air Force Base, OKC. The detachment was known as the 3rd AACS Mobile Detachment, comprised of six tower operators and three maintenance personnel. They were on temporary duty prior to completion of the 84' control tower when a permanent AACS tower crew was assigned. The tower was in continuous operation.
The Ardmore Army Air Field air traffic control building of WWII was used until the new tower was completed in 1955. It was located across the street south of the new tower. The building also served as pickup and departure terminal for Central Airlines who provided civilian and military personnel transportation to Dallas and Oklahoma City where connection with other airlines was available. The Municipal Terminal building now occupies the area.
Fourteen two-story dormitories (215 feet x 36 feet, 8-inches) of similar design provided housing for the on-base NCO personnel. Eleven of these were located on the southeast corner of the base; the other three were located across the street east of the officer dormitories. Each had 47 rooms with an occupancy of 141 airmen. The dormitories not occupied by the 772nd, 773rd, 774th and 775th were used as needed by other groups and squadrons (456th TCG, 309th TCG, 16th TCS and 419th TCG) assigned to the base at various periods plus visiting airmen. Two L-shaped dorms and a rectangular two-story dorm (Bachelor Officer Quarters and Visiting Officer Quarters) were located southeast of the hospital area. They each would accommodate approximately 104 men (52 rooms). The Officer's Club was located just west of the dormitories.
The base Ground Control Approach system (GCA) became fully functional May 24, 1955. It consisted of two mobile trailers, one housing the diesel power units; the other contained the antennae's, radar scopes and other equipment. The unit was manned by three skilled radar operators, three apprentice operators, and five maintenance personnel. The GCA arrived January 1, 1955. A full complement of personnel arrived May 1, 1955. Various tests and trials were performed before full Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) landings were initiated. The units cost approximately $294,000. The GCA personnel were under command of the 1984th Airways and Air Communications Systems Detachment of the 1984th AACS Squadron, Tinker AFB, OKC. GCA was available to the pilot when the ceiling was 2,000 ft. or below and visibility was limited to five miles or less. If the ceiling was below 600 ft. and visibility was limited to one to two miles, the pilot was required to use the system. He could be guided to land with a 300 ft. ceiling and one-half mile visibility. If landing conditions were still unsatisfactory at that altitude, he must land elsewhere.
The 463rd Installation Squadron, Installation Engineers, was responsible for planning and programming construction on the base. If approved by local base authorities, the detailed plans, costs, etc. are passed upward through the proper authorities for final approval and appropriation of funds. The process usually took two years of advance planning to request funding from higher headquarters.
As part of the Maintenance and Supply Group, the Maintenance Squadron occupied five buildings with the repair and fabrication shop located on the SE corner of the main building area of the base. It conducted an ongoing training program for specialists needed in the various shops and departments. Major repair, such as engine overhauls or change-outs, was done at depots such as Tinker Air Depot, OKC. Maintenance and Supply Group was made up of three officers, 19 NCOs and five civilians. The Maintenance Squadron included nine officers, one CWO, 186 NCOs and six civilians.
The smallest squadron on base was the Communication Squadron. However, it had one of the most important functions on the base. They operated the telephone dial exchange, the teletypewriter network, Western Union and wire section. The building had the highest security requirement on the base due to teletypewriter connection with air force commands. They also had responsibility for installing and maintaining the inter-communication network for the entire base. The squadron consisted of two officers, one CWO and 55 NCOs.
The Communication Squadron building, constructed of a red-tile block, was located east of the main entrance about midway between the entrance and the control tower. It was at the same area where the Headquarters' Building of WWII was located. The base service station was across the street on the corner just south of where the WWII chapel was located. The 463rd base chapel was across the street south of the service station. The Exchange National Bank annex was located in the communication building for the convenience of base personnel.
Initially, the Base Exchange was located in one of the new mess halls until the BX building was completed. The Base Exchange was operated for the benefit of the individual soldier, airman and their dependents. It was located across the street south of the first Non-Commissioned Officer's club which occupied a portion of the Mess and Administration building.
The C-119 Flight Simulator was located in the small building between Wing Headquarters and the Training Aids building. Flying personnel were assigned to the Simulator school for one week during which each pilot received three hours of simulator flying and one hour of ground school per day. Most simulator flights, take-offs and landings were under simulated emergency conditions including bad weather and engine loss. The instructor gave a complete briefing including flight planning and weather conditions before each simulator mission. A C-130 simulator was available when that aircraft replaced the Flying Boxcar. Prior to completion of the base chapel, religious services were held in one end of the building.
The Air Police Squadron was responsibility for base security and enforcement of all rules governing base occupants. Headquarters for the squadron was located about a block east of the main gate across from the Gymnasium. Approximately 50 NCOs and two officers made up the squadron.
The Food Service Squadron was responsible for fulfilling the daily nutrition needs of the airmen who were billeted on the base as well as off-base airmen and civilians during performance of their jobs while on base. They were responsible for operation of the mess halls as well as procurement of food. A cold storage building for storage of perishable products was located on the southwest area of the base. The squadron was comprised of one officer and approximately 80 NCOs.
The Supply Squadron was one of the larger support units on the base. It consisted of eight officers, 120 NCOs and 56 civilians. This unit was responsible for all supplies needed to keep the planes flying and the base functioning.
The Motor Vehicle Squadron had responsibility for maintenance and repair of all military vehicles operating on the base. The maintenance shop and motor pool were located in the south-central portion of the base. The squadron normally consisted of two officers, one WO and 80 NCOs.
Detachment #1, 3rd Aerial Port Squadron was responsible for loading and off-loading of all equipment, freight, etc. on aircraft and ground vehicles. Comprised of one officer and 20 NCOs, the unit was indispensable in operation of the base.
The 4454th USAF Hospital Unit helped maintain healthy troops, provided appropriate inoculations, dental needs, pilot medical examinations and dependent health care. Personnel included approximately 18 officers, 54 NCOs and six civilians. The Tactical Infirmary associated with the hospital consisted of one officer and 16 NCOs.
The 20 hospital buildings of WWII in the northwest corner of the base had not been removed. They were refurbished and served again as the hospital unit. These included a steam plant, ambulance port, eight wards, outpatient clinic, hospital administration office, flight surgeon's office, infirmary, dental clinic, four dormitories, hospital mess, storehouse, medical office, px-hospital warehouse, and two outside latrines.
Transportation to and from Ardmore was provided by the Jordan Bus Company. Taxi service from Ardmore at $4.00 to $5.00 was available and allowed inside the base. A Base Bus Service on the base operated from 0800 to 1700 hours. Round trip time for the route was around 30 minutes.
There was no family housing on base other than two duplex units and a single family unit located south of the hospital area. These were for the base commander and upper echelon officers. Pecan Acre, a 75-capacity trailer park for privately owned trailers was located mid-way between the hospital area and the two north hangers. During the activation period, three private housing additions were built in Ardmore that were primarily occupied by base personnel. These included the Brantley, Stromberg and Broadlawn developments in northwest Ardmore. The Stromberg and Brantley additions were severely affected when the base closed. A government sponsored 750-unit housing project near the base was in an advanced planning stage when the decision to close the base was made.
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