This collection of photos from Naval Air Station Corpus Christi during World War II shows the American war effort at full speed and the air cadets in training.
The facility covered 20,000 acres (81 km2) and had 997 hangars, shops, barracks, warehouses, and other buildings. It had 800 instructors taking in classes of 300 new cadets every month.
A 980-foot rail-highway bridge and a 400-foot trestle bridge across Oso Bay had been built; a twenty-mile-long railroad was built in thirty-five days. A sixteen-inch cast iron water pipe was laid from Corpus Christi to Flour Bluff.
Eight miles of 100 pair telephone cables for a permanent telephone system were laid in ten days. Completed only three months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the base became a crucial source for planes and aviators.
During the course of World War II more than 35,000 aviators earned their wings there including future President George H.W. Bush, who graduated in 1943 just days before his 19th birthday. In 1944, the base was the largest naval aviation training facility in the world.
In 1942, Office of War Information photographer Howard R. Hollem visited the famous military base and documented Navy cadets and members of the National Youth Administration as they assembled, repaired, and trained with various aircraft and war machines.
The base was just one of the military marvels that popped up when WWII began to take shape and the United States edged closer to entering the fray. Within months of the base’s June completion, Pearl Harbor was attacked and the country was plunged into war.
In World War Two the program took ten months to graduate; today it takes eighteen months, mostly due to the increased complexity of aircraft.
(Photo credit: Howard R. Hollem / Library of Congress)