Based in Texas: World War II Military Sites

Stephanie Brown, Reference Archivist

black and white photo of about 136 military officers in uniform sitting in elevated rows posing for the picture. In the background, there is one long, one-story building on the left.
Photograph of Officer’s Communication Class #14 at Camp Hood (now Fort Cavazos), January 1943. Military Places collection 2019/053-8. Click image for larger version.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the United States officially entered World War II and the size and number of military posts in Texas grew in support the war effort. The state’s central location and temperate climate made Texas an ideal place for airfields, training facilities, and naval stations. There were more than 150 installations across the state, and more than 1.5 million military personnel came to Texas during the war. (More than 750,000 Texans served in World War II.)

black and white photo spread of soldiers training on various military equipment.
Photo spread from Picture Parade of Fort Bliss, Texas, showing anti-aircraft training at Fort Bliss during World War II. Military Places collection 2019/053-6. Click image for larger version.

Military installations in the state included 65 Army airfields, 35 Army forts and camps, and seven naval air stations and bases. Built in 1848, El Paso’s Fort Bliss expanded to one million acres during WWII and became an artillery training facility. Sheppard Field (Sheppard Air Force Base) near Wichita Falls trained glider mechanics and B-29 Superfortress flight engineers while Pampa Airfield in the Texas panhandle trained more than 6,000 aviation cadets and 3,500 mechanics in just three years. Beginning in 1942, up to 100,000 troops learned anti-tank, field artillery, and infantry tactics at Camp Hood (now called Fort Cavazos) in Killeen.

Cover of booklet titled Camp Hood, Texas with orange background behind image of soldiers on the ground in a village with the name Gestapo on one building.
Cover of booklet titled Sheppard field, Texas and a black and white image of a mechanic posing in front an airplane propeller.
Cover of booklet featuring a the cartoon face of a man peering down at a card with the text in a written font that reads, Strictly G.I. is intended to give you an idea of what Pampa Army Air Field looks like to enlisted men and incidentally, G.I. stands for government issue. At the bottom is the sketch of barracks and a tower.

Booklets published for new soldiers arriving for training in Texas at what was then Camp Hood (Fort Cavazos), Sheppard Field (Sheppard Air Force Base), and Pampa Airfield. Military Places collection, 2019/053-6. Click image for larger version.

Texas facilities provided nearly every type of training from artillery and anti-tank warfare to flight training and infantry tactics. The only all-female air training facility in the United States was at Avenger Field in Sweetwater. Flight training focused on cross-country flying for Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) who would be ferrying every type of military aircraft, including Texas-made B-24 bombers, P-51 Mustangs, and the P-38 Lightning.

Colorful postcard with a B-24 bomber airplane flying toward the left with a tag hanging from the nose that reads, "Bound for Tokyo." There is a yellow map of Texas with some cities labeled. The card says Howdy! from deep in the heart of Texas. There is a red heart behind the word heart.
Postcard illustrating a B-24 Bomber bound for Tokyo, Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Texas Postcards, 1997147_02aac. Click image for larger version

Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, called the Navy’s University of the Air, was the largest naval aviation training site in the world covering approximately 20,000 acres. Naval, Marine, and Coast Guard cadets received flight training and enlisted personnel were trained for aviation duty with the U.S. Naval fleet. The naval air station was commissioned in 1941 to increase the number of training facilities capable of meeting the new demand for pilots. The station was expanded in 1942 to construct additional airfields through a deed of cession legally transferring the title of property from the State of Texas to the United States Government.

Left: Letter attached to the Deed of Cession to a tract of land to be used for auxiliary landing fields at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, August 24, 1942, Texas Secretary of State Statutory Documents Section deed files, 307-283, 63-57 . Right: Letter to Texas Governor Coke R. Stevenson from the Department of the Navy requesting a cession deed for Ward Island in Nueces County adjacent to NAS Corpus Christi, 307-283, 63-64. Click image for larger version.

Deeds of cession allow the U. S. government to acquire land for federal use and are filed in the Texas Secretary of State’s Office. Without these documents, the U.S. military would not have been able to establish airfields, camps, and bases in the state and prepare Americans for service in World War II.

black and white photo of aviators gathered
black and white image of a portion of Texas Gulf Coast featuring Corpus Christi Bay and auxiliary air stations.

Photograph of aviators at a mission briefing and a map of the Texas coast with NAS Corpus Christi and its auxiliary air stations. NANews Report, undated, Military Places collection 2019/053-4). Click image for larger version.

The Texas State Library and Archives Commission holds records from state government agencies as well as manuscript and photograph collections that document World War II-era military installations in Texas. These records document the creation of the military bases and the types of activities performed by the people who trained and worked at these facilities during the war. Types of records include photographs, booklets published by the United States military, maps, deeds of cession and supporting documents filed with the Texas Secretary of State, and correspondence from Texas Governor Coke R. Stevenson’s records.

On the left above is a letter from the War Department and on the right an affidavit signed by the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson. The Stimson letter related to the Deed of Cession for land for use in connection with a Radio Range Beacon Site in Potter County. Documents like these are part of the Texas Secretary of State Statutory Documents Section deed files, 307-283, 63-54. (Click image for larger version.)

black and white drawn map of Corpus Christi, Texas with locations of NAS Corpus Christi and its auxiliary air fields.
Map of Corpus Christi, Texas, with locations of NAS Corpus Christi and its auxiliary air fields. Military Places collection, 2019/053-4.

For more information about the collections at TSLAC, contact reference archivists and librarians at or 512-463-5455.


Texas Historical Commission, Texas in World War II brochure

Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (

Home :: Fort Bliss, Texas (

History – National WASP WWII Museum (

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