Friday, January 25, 2013

A History of George Field Part II

Part II of the History of George Field taken from the Program Insert on November 4, 1984 at the dedication of the marker erected by the Historical Society:

"The “Battle of George Field” was the name applied to the period beginning May 21st, 1943, when the entire command fought the flood waters. It was impossible to get to either Lawrenceville or Vincennes from the airfield except by boat. The flood threat imperiled  Vincennes, and countless farm families in Illinois were isolated when the levee broke on the Wabash River. Victory over the flood was celebrated at the Field with a holiday on June 12, 1943.

From its opening in the Spring of 1942 and through more than three years of great activity, classes graduated, anniversaries were commemorated, and the citizens of the local area were invited to the annual Open Houses. Both communities of Vincennes and Lawrenceville had responded by creating housing for off- base living, and all citizens of the areas were interested in the operations of the Field.

In August 1944, there was a large increase of cadets in training. George Field changed from an Army Air Force Pilots School to a Transportation Carrier Command School. The final review under Col. Edwin B. Bobzein and his staff occurred on August 4, 1944, the day the last class of pilots graduated.

Soon after the successful operation of D-Day, rumors were heard that George Field would close. This rumor was true, and such plans developed in early 1945. Vincennes University was granted the use and supervision of housing units for G.I. students; the land was leased to area farmers. Lawrenceville then made application to the War Assets Administration to acquire George Field. An application dated May 4, 1948, signed by Stoy Fox, Mayor of Lawrenceville, resulted in the “transfer of George Field to the city of Lawrenceville, Illinois, as per application, and acceptance of this was dated 5-2-48 (sale date.)” Document 6923671.

After November 16, 1948, when the deed to the Field was acquired by the city of Lawrenceville, the Field was called the Lawrenceville Municipal Airport. The lease money from the land was used by Lawrenceville to maintain the airport; this use of land lease money has been continued to the present.

By June 14, 1964, negotiations created a locally controlled operation known as the Bi-State authority. This Bi – State Authority was the only one in the United States composed of a committee across state lines operating a common facility. The Lawrenceville Municipal Airport was given a new name; after June 14, 1964 it was called the Lawrenceville – Vincennes Municipal Airport.

On February 20, 1980, the name of the field was changed again, this time to Mid- America Air Center with a secondary name of Lawrenceville – Vincennes International Airport. It is still controlled by the Bi-  State Authority. The housing was torn down when no longer needed, and industry had been sought over the years to make this facility something of an industrial park.

At present two industries operate on the grounds. The airport is actively used by both small and larger aircraft and as a training area by Vincennes University in its pilot training programs. At one time several commuter services were offered, but they are no longer available. It is hoped that good use of the facilities can be developed in the future.

 George Field has served its country well.”

Reminisces of events concerning George Field from the speech Stoy Fox made at the Dedication  will be published in the April Newsletter for Society members...If you have not paid your membership dues, please do so now, so your name can be placed on the membership mailing list.  ($25 individual; $35 family- annual dues.  See Publication page for printable  membership form--click 'publications' on top right hand corner of blog page to print it out.)  Don't forget business meeting at the Museum 7:00 pm MONDAY Night! Jan 28,2013