The Handbook of Texas is free-to-use thanks to the support of readers like you. Support the Handbook today.

Font size: A / A reset

Support Texas History Now

Join TSHA to support quality Texas history programs and receive exclusive benefits.

Become a TSHA Member Today »

Galveston Army Airfield

Maury Darst General Entry

Galveston Army Airfield, a World War II military installation on Galveston Island, originated in 1941, when the federal government made plans to expand the Galveston municipal airport to accommodate army aircraft. In 1942 the United States Army Corps of Engineers, using funds made available by Congress through the Civil Aeronautics Authority, constructed three 6,000-foot-long, hard-surface runways at the airport. In January 1943 the field was officially activated, and by March 1943 it was under the command of Maj. Henry C. Coles, one of several commanders during its history. The installation cost $7 million and at its peak had some 2,500 personnel. Early in its history the airfield was used as headquarters for planes flying antisubmarine patrols. Air-crew training was also conducted there. As the war continued, the base gained importance, and a number of heavy bombardment units and fighter planes were stationed there. During 1944 the field was used as an instructors' indoctrination center to train overseas veterans as military instructors. In February of that year more than 2,000 troops were stationed at the base. In 1945 the airfield served as headquarters for a fighter-gunnery base of the Second Army Air Force. Aircrew training continued there until the end of the war. By October 1945, however, most of the aircraft had been transferred to other stations, and deactivation of military activities at the airfield had begun. Galveston Army Airfield was officially deactivated on November 15, 1945. The city of Galveston, which had retained ownership of the property, secured landing rights there, and the Galveston municipal airport has operated at the site since the military base closed.

Galveston Daily News, November 15, 1945. Galveston Tribune, November 15, 1945.

Time Periods:

  • World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Maury Darst, “Galveston Army Airfield,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 08, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995