The Norman Transcript


October 6, 2013

Memories of Naval bases fading with time



Many a Norman resident learned to swim at the north base pool, the south base pool and some indoor pools on the south campus. The old Building 92 on Constitution Street was home to many city parks and recreation programs. My brothers and I learned to wrestle on Navy surplus mattresses stored beneath a stage there.

A field trip in the woods on the OU Golf Course grounds will reveal a number of Navy building remnants, including the Officer’s Club.


There has been talk of a fundraiser to rehabilitate the Building 1005, known as the Optimist Gym building, just east of the Cleveland County Family YMCA. That facility has been used by thousands of local kids, OU students and others.

In a storm, the building creaks and rain usually finds its way to the floor. It was built as a hangar but used more as a drill hall.

One base commander put down a wooden floor for basketball, but burst pipes put an end to that.

A historic photo shows dozens of the Navy’s trainer aircraft packed into the building to ride out an Oklahoma storm. Ironically, about half a century later, crews took over the building to film part of the movie “Twister.”

All told, 74,332 airmen graduated from the training center, the Naval Air Station graduated 6,284 pilots and the Gunnery School in Lexington trained 13,484 ordinance men.

Andy Rieger


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