World War II
Foster Air Force Base was established as an advanced single-engine flying school for fighter pilots six miles (10 km) northeast of Victoria, in the spring of 1941. A local funding campaign led by E. J. Dysart the previous spring had raised some $17,000 to locate the base at Victoria, Texas on a 1,000-acre (4.0 km2) site as an economic asset. Subsequent government construction cost more than $4 million. Leases were formally approved by the War Department on 4 March 1941, with construction beginning on 14 April 1941 by American-Friedman-Bitulithic Associates.
The airfield was activated on 15 May 1941 by the Air Forces Training Command. The mission of the new airfield was the training of aviation cadets in the advanced phase of flying training. Foster was assigned to the AAF Gulf Coast Training Center, with the Army Air Force Pilot School (Advanced Single-Engine) activated (phase 3 pilot training). In this phase, the cadets flew fighters and fighter-bombers. Pilot wings were awarded upon graduation and were sent on to group combat training by First, Second, Third or Fourth Air Force. Graduates were usually graded as Flight Officers (Warrant Officers); cadets who graduated at the top of their class were graded as Second Lieutenants.
The initial class of cadets arrived in September 1941 and served under Lt. Col. Warren R. Carter, the first commander. WACs began to arrive the following May. Cadets used the North American AT-6 Texan and Curtis P-40 Warhawk trainers to drill in aerial gunnery, though actual practice took place on ranges located on Matagorda Island and Matagorda Peninsula. In addition to these bombing ranges on Matagorda, at least ten auxiliary landing fields and a sub-base (Aloe AAF, built in 1943 5 miles southwest of Victoria) was controlled by Foster for emergency landings and aircraft overflow.
The field was formally dedicated to 1st Lt. Arthur L. Foster on Sunday, 22 February 1942, who was killed along with Maj. Lee O. Wright in the 1030 hrs. crash of a Curtiss JN-6H, AS-44806, ~2 miles (3.2 km) E of Brooks Field, Texas on 10 February 1925. Foster's widow, Mrs. Ruth Young Foster, of San Antonio, Texas, unveiled a plaque that read "Dedicated to the memory of Lieut. Arthur Lee Foster, a pioneer in aviation who gave his life teaching others to fly."
On 8 January 1943, the War Department constituted and activated the 77th Flying Training Wing (Advanced Single-Engine) at Foster and assigned it to the AAF Central Flying Training Command.
Many pilots returning from overseas service were taught to become aerial gunnery instructors at Foster Field. In addition to the pilot training mission, Foster also served as a medical evacuation facility for injured veterans. There were several housing facilities located on the base.
On 1 January 1945 the 2540th Army Air Forces Base Unit took control of the ground station administrative functions. As World War II wound down Foster Field took control of several smaller facilities as they were being closed. On 1 September 1945 the mission at the airfield changed from pilot training to becoming a separation station. Foster Field itself was inactivated on 31 October 1945, being placed in standby status. On 15 November the facility was completely closed and eventually the Foster Field site returned to its prewar owners, the Buhler and Braman estates.
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