By February of 1943, the Kingman Army Airfield was an established training facility and military base but expansion and additions were ongoing. On the third of the month an aircraft recognition and sighting department was added. On the 6th a Sperry Lower Ball Turret was installed to enhance the B-17 gunnery training. By the 15th the commissary was open for business.
In rapid succession a photo lab was added, a quartermaster warehouse and distribution center was completed, and the first air to air combat class commenced. By the first of March the airfield was a beehive of activity as the aircraft available for training now included 15 AT-6As, 3 P-39s, 13 B-17Fs, 14 AT-23B’s, 18 AT-23As, and numerous other aircraft. The goal of making the Kingman Army Airfield “the best gunnery school in the country” was well underway.
Every aspect of training as it pertained to aerial gunnery was available by the beginning of summer. By this time the base had become a city unto itself with a gas station, library, two chapels, butcher shop, recreation hall, and organized ball teams that played through the region.
Dusty, sleepy, little Kingman was forever transformed. A shortage of ammunition for skeet shooting led to procurement from area residents as well as emptying local stores. The saloons and bars were a sea of uniforms, the streets became parade grounds, and GIs became an integral part of the communities fabric with inclusion in everything from Sunday dinners to teaching kids to roller skate.
On the 16th of May, Kingman, Oatman, and Chloride became the target for a bombing run. Utilizing cardboard bombs, all three communities served as training grounds for crews that were about to be transferred to the European theater.
As a military installation USO tours were now regular features. On April 13th, Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna, and Frances Langford flew in to entertain the troops. On June 5th, the Three Stooges arrived.
On April 15th, the permanent steel frame control tower was completed. The tower, one of only two remaining in the United States, still cast its shadow across the airfield.
On May 13th, the airfield suffered its first casualty. Private Charles DiGiorgio of the Ordnance Department was fatally injured in a training accident at the airfield.
The second death occurred five days and the circumstances behind it remain a mystery. On May 18, the body of Private First Class Woodrow Sells was discovered on the eastbound tracks where he had been struck and killed.
On June 20th a collision in Kingman on Route 66 between a construction dump truck and a military deuce and a half resulted in the injury of four airmen and one civilian. This resulted in the establishment of a military police presence to augment the local law enforcement in Kingman for traffic control.
On July 5th, the airfield experienced its first aircraft accident. The crash landing of the AT-18 killed the co-pilot, Benjamin Horsley.
July 13th was a day of celebration at the airfield and for the city of Kingman. Major Robert Morgan and his decorated crew made a war bond stop in the legendary Memphis Belle.
A new chapter for the airfield commenced on August 26, the date the cornerstone was laid for a USO building for the use of “Black Personnel.” The base and its sub bases were segregated.
The year 1944, saw an expansion in classes being taught. Chinese gunners were brought in by rail, and special WASP classes were also initiated.
The year started on a very dark note. On the evening of January 1, a B-17 on a training mission from Kingman Army Airfield disintegrated in mid flight enroute to McClellan Field in California.
The month proved to one tinged with tragedy. Sargent Dennis Pitman, cause of death unknown, was found at the bottom of the “colored swimming pool” on January 4.  
Then, on the 6th, the worst training disaster to date at a military training base occurred at the railroad crossing into the base. The driver returning from a night time training exercise at the gunnery range on the north side of Route 66 jumped the bus into the bath of a high speed freight train. Twenty-eight men were killed and four critically injured.
The month ended with another tragedy. On the 22nd, a “Negro private” threw himself in front of an oncoming train.
The somber year was punctuated with numerous highlights including an awards ceremony at the base for graduates receiving medals for meritorious service in combat. The ceremony was covered by Life magazine.
On May 29th, it was another dark day at the airfield. A rancher discovered the wreckage of Marine Corps Lieutenant Norman Arendt’s plane. He had been reported missing on January 27th.
The last months of the year continued as it began, with tragedy. On October 10, Sargent Amos Strawder died resultant of injuries received in a motorcycle wreck on Route 66.
On November 3, a mid air collision between a B-17 and a P-39 claimed the lives of 15 men. A monument to the tragedy is now found under the control tower.
As the year 1945 kicked off there was little at the airfield to indicate the end for the facility was near. However, at the War Department the decision had been made to begin scaling back operations and, with the cessation of hostilities, to deactivate the field.
The tragedies that marred the base history in 1944 continued into 1945. On January 7, Lieutenant Norman Cross was involved in a four car collision in front of the Beale Hotel on Route 66. On February 23, a P-39 crashed as a result of engine failure. On March 1, Private First Class Charles Power was killed in a motorcycle accident. On June 1, Staff Sargent Howard Ford died as a result of injuries sustained in a head on collision on Route 66 and on June 2 a private at the Yucca field succumbed to an accidental shooting.
The spiral toward closure became noticeable by early spring. On April 19, the last target towing mission was flown. On the 24th of that month it was announced that there would be no further co pilot training courses and on May 17, the first men were discharged based on the point system.
On June 11, Range 1 was deactivated and the announcement of inactive status issued. This was the beginning of the end but it was not the final chapter in the airfield history or its association with Route 66.

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