Headquarters, 445th Bomb Group & 703rd Bomb Squadron Training Base
Sioux City Army Air Base, Sioux City, Iowa
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 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). 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