Marker Monday: Bruning Army Air Field
Rural Nebraska 4, Bruning, Thayer County, Nebraska;
View this marker's location: 40.321558, -97.44751
Bruning Army Air Field, located northeast of here, was one of eleven army airfields in Nebraska during World War II. Construction began in September 1942 on 1,480 acres of farmland, for which the government paid twelve landowners $73,400. The field was activated on March 18, 1943. It eventually included 1,720 acres, 234 buildings, and three 6,800-foot runways. By December 1943 nearly 500 civilians and 3,077 military personnel worked there.
Bruning initially provided training for the 456th, 449th, and 487th Heavy Bombardment Groups, flying B-24 Liberators. The 449th moved directly from Bruning to Italy, where it flew 245 group missions, losing 101 planes, 388 men killed in action, and 363 men as prisoners of war.
In 1944 the field was home to P-47 pilots from the 23rd Fighter Squadron, later sent to Europe, and the 507th and 508th Fighter Groups, which flew in the Pacific. The field was declared surplus by the War Department on November 21, 1945, and transferred to the state of Nebraska in 1947. Bruning was maintained as a state airfield until 1969. The site has reverted to agricultural uses.