Marker Monday: Fairmont Army Air Field (1 and 2)

Fairmont Army Air Field

Location: Rural Road H, Fairmont, Fillmore County, Nebraska; 40.597152, -97.59451

Marker Text: 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.

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.

 

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