Nebraska Historical Marker: Fairmont Army Air Field (1 and 2)

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Aerial view of Fairmont Air Base, A.A.F. (Nebraska State Historical Society)

Location

Marker 360: Near intersection of U.S. 81 & Rural Road H, Fairmont, Fillmore County, Nebraska View this marker's location 40.597152, -97.59451

Marker 381: Intersection of U.S. 6 and Rural Road 15, 1 mile east of Fairmont, Fillmore County, Nebraska View this marker's location 40.638250, -97.559423

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Marker Text

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Marker 360: Near intersection of U.S. 81 & Rural Road H

Marker 360: Construction began on the Fairmont Army Air Field September 17, 1942. Located east of here, it was one of eleven built in Nebraska during World War II. The 1,980-acre field began as a satellite of the Topeka Army Air Base. Early in 1943 the name was changed to Fairmont Army Air Field. A short-lived training school gave way to the 451st Bombardment Group, which arrived in September 1943. Other groups were the 485th, 504th, 16th, 98th, 467th and 489th. Hangers of various sizes housed B-24s, B-17s, and B-29s. Extensive concrete runways and other structures were built. The field had barracks for nearly 6,000 officers and enlisted men. Its 350-bed hospital was the largest in Nebraska. In September 1944 Lt. Col. Paul Tibbets visited Fairmont and selected the 393rd Bomb Squadron of the 504th to join the 509th Composite Group at Wendover Field, Utah. This group dropped both atomic bombs on Japan. The field was declared surplus in the spring of 1946.

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Marker 381: Intersection of U.S. 6 and Rural Road 15

Marker 381: Fairmont Army Air Field, located 3 1/2 miles south, was one of eleven army air force training fields built in Nebraska during World War II. The 1,980-acre field provided final training for the 451st, 485th, 504th, and 16th Heavy Bombardment Groups before they proceeded to the European, Mediterranean, or Pacific Theaters. The 98th, 467th, and 489th Bombardment Groups returning from Europe trained at Fairmont for possible service in the Pacific. The groups flew B- 24, B-17, and B-29 bombers. The rapid influx of construction workers and military personnel needed to build and operate the field brought housing shortages, as well as an economic boost, to Fairmont and other nearby communities. Area residents welcomed the servicemen and tried to make their stay more pleasant, often inviting the soldiers into their homes. Some servicemen met their future wives while at Fairmont, and returned here after the war to raise their families. Fairmont Army Air Field was de-activated in October 1945 and declared surplus in the spring of 1946. Part of the field is now operated as the Fairmont State Airfield.

Further Information

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Bibliography

Marker program

See Nebraska Historical Marker Program for more information.