The Norman Transcript

Columns

October 6, 2013

Memories of Naval bases fading with time

NORMAN — As the years quickly pass, memories of Norman’s Mount Williams are already beginning to fade.

At a Chamber of Commerce breakfast this week, a speaker talked of spending much of his childhood digging slugs out of the dirt backstops that served sailors at the two Navy bases here.

Looking around, it was obvious many in the room had no clue about what Dan Stroud was talking about. The mounds — one on the north base north of Robinson Street and the other on the south base near where the National Weather Center now stands — are gone now.

When the University North Park commercial development was envisioned, the university promised to put up a monument noting Mount Williams and its role in Norman’s history. (J.W. Williams was the base’s first commander, and the north base backstop was built with dirt scraped when the base was constructed here in 1942.)

———

The Navy opened the two bases after the U.S. entered World War II. The Naval Flight Training Center was a flying school for combat pilots heading to World War II. The 19 cadets in the first class took their first flights in September 1942.

The Naval Air Technical Training Center trained mechanics and machinists on the South Base. A 400-bed hospital also operated there, and a Naval Air Gunners school opened east of Lexington.

About 2,000 workers were hired to put up the temporary buildings, streets and other amenities for the small cities that sprung up. Construction began in April 1942.

The bases were closed after the war but reopened between 1952 and 1959 to support the Korean War effort.

Seventeen auxiliary airstrips around central Oklahoma were often utilized for touch and go for the pilots.

———

Like the dirt backstops, most of the base’s “temporary” buildings have been taken down. The latest casualty was a large office building just south of the OU Golf Course clubhouse. It most recently housed OU social science departments while work was being done on Dale Hall Tower.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Don’t let moderation confuse you

    Jeb Bush’s recent compassionate comments on immigration show how far apart he is from the far right of the Republican Party....

    April 20, 2014

  • Priest’s execution should spur action

    In the hierarchy of saints, martyrs are on the highest rung of the celestial ladder, at least for me....

    April 20, 2014

  • Settlers found opportunities in red dirt fields

    There are few constants in families where the teenagers and soon-to-be teenagers outnumber their parents. One things holds true at my home: Nobody gets out of bed in the morning before dear old Dad....

    April 20, 2014

  • NRA members need to step up

    Please, Mr. Bloomberg, leave the checkbook open, but step away from the podium. Your efforts to curb gun violence and improve safety are notable. The National Rifle Association thanks you....

    April 19, 2014

  • First, do no harm — to your bank account

    After being sued by the Wall Street Journal, the government finally released its Medicare reimbursement data last week. It included the less-than-stunning revelation that 28 of the 100 doctors who received the largest payments in 2012 were ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Reading between the lines

    Reading is such an improbable idea — a miracle, really. Yet simple squiggles on a page, arranged just so, can convey ideas that change the way we think or introduce to us characters we love for a lifetime. In celebration of reading — and ...

    April 15, 2014

  • CCFI tackling area’s child abuse problem

    Editor, The Transcript: To those of you who are reading this editorial, I assume you care or at least are entertained by the opinions of others. It is my hope and desire that when you read this editorial, you will care about the facts. ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Does Oklahoma need advice from Texas?

    Does Texas have a lock on “brilliant minds”? The names of Texans like Congressman Louie Gomert, Sen. Ted Cruz and that other guy ... I can’t think of his name ... oh yeah, Rick Perry come to mind very quickly. Add to that infamous list ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Why Comcast-Time Warner deal makes sense

    Say this about the deal announced Thursday for Comcast to buy Time Warner Cable: It’s big. Big price tag of $45 billion. Big combined subscriber base of 30 million households. And big risk of a veto from government antitrust regulators....

    April 12, 2014

  • Solid evidence within ice record

    In his November 10 Letter, Gary Reynolds misstated information in the October 27 op-ed by Catherine Hobbs, “New report says global warming is “unequivocal.” Mr. Reynolds incorrectly stated that Dr. Hobbs cited evidence from the 2007 UN ...

    April 12, 2014