The station was established in March 1942 as Sioux City Army Air Base (AAB) and was a major training center during World War II under II Bomber Command for crew members of B-24 Liberators and B-17 Flying Fortresses. During the 1950s, the airfield was an Air Defense Command (ADC) fighter-interceptor base. Beginning in 1956, the ADC flying activity was reduced and Sioux City became an ADC command and control station for Ground Control Intercept (GCI) Radar Stations in the Midwest, later becoming a Direction Center (DC-22) for the ADC Sioux City Air Defense Sector and later the 30th Air Division. In 1968 ADC closed it's facilities, with the Iowa Air National Guard becoming the host unit at the base.
World War II
The construction of Sioux City AAB began in March 1942, about three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Opened on 5 July 1942, it became a major training center during World War II, initially for B-17 Flying Fortress, and later B-24 Liberator groups. The base performed primarily Phase III advanced group training, and once completed, the groups were deployed overseas to either the Eighth Air Force (ETO), or Fifteenth Air Force (MTO) for combat operations.
The host unit at the base was the 354th Army Air Force Base Unit, and the major training organization was the 393d Combat Training School (later redesignated 224th Combat Crew Training School in 1944). At its peak, (October 1943) there were 940 officers and 5,183 enlisted men either assigned or attached to the base. The major training activities at Sioux City included aerial gunnery, bombardment, navigation, formation flying, and other related courses.
Initially training at the field was intended to prepare an entire bomb group for overseas combat (OTU - Operational Training Unit). After July 1943, sufficient Bomb Groups had been formed and trained, and the base switched to training individual crews as replacements or additions to various bomb groups (RTU - Replacement Training). Hollywood actor, pilot and Army Air Force Captain (later Colonel) James Stewart was posted to Sioux City with his squadron in 1943, where he and his crew completed their initial B-24 Liberator qualification prior to deployment overseas.
The training of B-17 crews continued until May 1945. Around that time, the field received a new mission which required the conversion of the facilities for B-29 Superfortress training.
The base was transferred to the 17th Bombardment Operational Training Wing and began the transition to start B-29 training. By early June, there were ten B-29's on the field. The new training program was short lived, however because in August 1945 it was canceled. With the end of World War II, the former training base switched to becoming a processing center to discharge personnel out of the service and back into civilian life.
With its mission completed, Sioux City Army Air Base closed in December 1945.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
445th Bomb Group
The 445th Bomb Group boarded a troop train in Salt Lake City, UT and made the journey from the desert Southwest to the lush farmlands of Iowa and Sioux City Army Air Base, arriving on the evening of July 7th. In short order the Group was functioning in spite of Iowa's heat and humidity. The Group was fortunate to be able to occupy the former Wing Headquarter's building at that unit had been transferred to Boise, Idaho.
The end of the Group's training was nearing, but not before further drastic changes were made. Three of the Squadrons were sent to satellite fields. The 700th Bomb Squadron was stationed at Mitchell, South Dakota. The 701st Bomb Squadron was delighted to find its new home was scribner, Nebraska, which was a unique field in that the field and building were expertly camouflaged. It was quite difficult to locate the Base from the air. Watertown, South Dakota was the new home base for the 702nd Bomb Squadron. The Group Headquarters and 703rd Bomb Squadron stayed at Sioux City Army Air base.
Along with moving the Squadrons to their respective satellite fields, there were a number of personnel changes. One of the most notable characters to join the unit was the actor Jimmy Stewart. Stewart had been a B-17 instructor pilot at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho. When Stewart was about to be finally sidelined because of an injury, fate interveened - he was offered the position of 703rd Bomb Squadron Operations Officer. Stewart quickly proved himself an able leader and was soon appointed as the new 703rd Squadron Commander. The new Group Intelligence Officer was Capt Donald S. Klopfer, of the New York Publishing Firm, Random House, and partner of Bennett Cerf. Major Carl Fleming replaced Capt O'Brien as 700th Bomb Squadron Commander. Switches were made in various other Squadron Intelligence Officer positions, as well as Squadron Administrative Officers and First Sergeants. Capt Taylor Minga became the new Group Chaplain and 1st Lt Leland Simpson the new Group Bombardier.