Childress Army Air Field, a World War II bombardier-training school under the Central Flying Training Command, occupied an area of 2,474 acres 2½ miles west of the Childress city limit. Construction of the field was announced on May 2, 1942, and began immediately thereafter. An activation ceremony was held in October, and Col. John W. White assumed command on November 24. The first class of cadets began training in February 1943 and graduated in May. Members of this class were dubbed the "Valentine of Steel" class, in reference to a dummy bomb that Mrs. White decorated as a Valentine to Hitler. Subsequent classes arrived at three-week intervals through the rest of the war and participated in an initial training program of eighteen weeks, later increased to twenty-four. Those who completed the work were designated flight officers or commissioned as second lieutenants. The base produced the first classes qualified in both precision bombing and dead-reckoning navigation. In 3½ years Childress graduated thirty-five classes of bombardier-navigators; its 4,791 graduates made a tenth of the total World War II air force bombardier production. The first "All-American Precision Bombing Olympics" was held at Childress in May 1943 with seven air fields participating. Such meets were held there and at other training bases at three-week intervals thereafter until April 1944. A special practice feature was skip-bombing on Lake Childress. A redeployment program for veteran bombardiers was instituted at the field to give retraining in line with development of bombing techniques. The War Department also established a prisoner of war camp at the base. Childress was renamed the 2,512th Army Air Forces Base Unit on July 1, 1944. After the field was closed on December 21, 1945, it was given to the city and transformed into a municipal airport.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
Lana Payne Barnett, and Elizabeth Brooks Buhrkuhl, eds., Presenting the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Lan-Bea, 1979). Jeff S. Henderson, ed., Childress, Texas: the Crossroads of Hospitality (1961).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
James L. Colwell,
“Childress Army Air Field,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 18, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
December 1, 1994