“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Del Rio in Val Verde County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)

Laughlin Army Air Field

Laughlin Army Air Field Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, October 19, 2019
1. Laughlin Army Air Field Marker

With the need to train more pilots for military service during World War II, the U.S. Army established an air field east of Del Rio in 1942. The region's year-round good weather and vast areas of open ground offered near ideal flight training conditions. On July 2 of that year, the Army activated the field as what the local press called a "jaw-shattering title": The Army Air Forces Transition Flying School, Medium Bombardment. Lt. Col. E.W. Suarez oversaw construction of the base, which was accessible by U.S. Highway 90 and by the Southern Pacific rail line. Col. George W. Mundy became the base's commanding officer on December 26, 1942.

Earlier in 1942, Del Rio native and Army pilot Lt. Jack Thomas Laughlin died in military action, becoming the first pilot from the community killed in World War II. He was shot down over the Java Sea while flying a B-17. Local citizens and U.S. Congressman Charles L. South petitioned the Army to name the base for Laughlin, which the Army agreed to in 1943. Laughlin's widow and the young daughter he never met attended the field's dedication that year, and Maj. Gen. Gerald C. Brant delivered
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a dedicatory speech.

Instructors at the field trained experienced pilots on the Martin B-26 medium bomber, which was also known as the Marauder, the Widow Maker and the Flying Prostitute. Laughlin pilots went on to fly missions in both the European and Pacific theaters of the war. The Army closed the base at the end of the war but reopened it as Laughlin Air Force Base in 1952.
Erected 2006 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 13491.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Air & SpaceWar, World II. A significant historical date for this entry is July 2, 1942.
Location. 29° 22.071′ N, 100° 47.924′ W. Marker is near Del Rio, Texas, in Val Verde County. Marker is at the intersection of U.S. 90 and Liberty Drive, on the left when traveling west on U.S. 90. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Del Rio TX 78840, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 6 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lt. Jack T. Laughlin (here, next to this marker); Military Aviation in Val Verde County (here, next to this marker); Rudolf Anderson, Jr. (a few steps from this marker); San Felipe Independent School District (approx. 5.1 miles away); San Felipe High School (approx. 5.1 miles away); U.S. Army Camel Corps (approx. 5.1
Laughlin Army Air Field Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By James Hulse, October 19, 2019
2. Laughlin Army Air Field Marker
The Laughlin Army Air Field marker is the first marker from the left in this group of four markers.
miles away); Val Verde County (approx. 5.2 miles away); Camp Michie (approx. 5.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Del Rio.
Also see . . .  Laughlin Army Air Field History. TSHA Texas State Historical Association (Submitted on September 14, 2020, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 15, 2020. It was originally submitted on September 14, 2020, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 144 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on September 14, 2020, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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May. 28, 2023