Vintage color photos show WWII air cadets in training at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, 1942


This collection of photographs from Naval Air Station Corpus Christi during World War II shows air cadets in full motion the American war effort and training.

The facility covered 20,000 acres (81 km) and contained 997 hangars, shops, barracks, warehouses and other buildings. In this 800 instructors were taking classes for 300 new cadets every month.

A 980-foot rail-highway bridge and a 400-foot trestle bridge were built across Oso Bay; A twenty-five mile long railroad was built in twenty-five days. A sixteen-inch cast iron water pipe was laid from Corpus Christi to Floor Bluff.

Eight miles of 100 pairs of telephone cables were laid for a permanent telephone system in ten days. Completed only three months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the base became an important source for aircraft and aviators.

During World War II, future President George H.W. Bush, who graduated in 1943, a few days before his 19th birthday. In 1944, the base was the largest naval aviation training facility in the world.

In 1942, Office of War Information photographer Howard R. Holem toured the famous military base and documented naval cadets and members of the National Youth Administration as they assembled, repaired and trained with various aircraft and war machines.

The base was one of the military marvels that popped up after WWII took shape and the United States got closer to entering the fray. Within months of the base's June completion, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the country plunged into battle.

The program took ten months to graduate in World War II; Today it takes eighteen months, mostly due to the increasing complexity of the aircraft.

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