WWII Historical Marker unveiled
By Nathan French
One of the biggest events of the 20th century, World War II was the broadest and most destructive war of all time. It divided nations, redefined international alliances, devastated populations, ethnic groups, and economies; and ushered in the era known as the Cold War. From 1941 to 1945 Americans, particularly Texans rallied to supply unprecedented levels of manpower and equipment all the while making great sacrifices to support the wartime effort.
Dallam and Hartley counties were not absent in this wartime effort. A training site was opened in Dalhart in 1942. Dalhart Army Air Field opened in May of 1942 with cadets attending the U.S. Army Air Forces Glider School. Cadets honed their skills from takeoff, flight while in tow, and recovery techniques; all above the Dalhart area and the Texas panhandle. DAAF’s training mission changed in March 1943 when the Glider School was transferred to Lubbock. The air field’s new assignment was the training of B-17 bomber crews as replacements for losses suffered from raids in the European Theater of Operations. However, changing combat needs late in the war once again changed DAAF’s mission. Changes in strategic bombing needs brought several bombardment groups (B-29s) who trained at the air field for deployment in the Pacific. One of these groups, the 393rd bomb squadron, 504th bombardment group served as the core of a unit trained to drop atomic bombs on Japan in 1945.
In a little more than three years, the Dalhart community and greater Dallam and Hartley county areas were greatly impacted by the evolving demands of the U.S. war effort. Although DAAF closed in December of 1945 it served as an integral training post and played a big part in World War II. To pay homage to the contributions of the Dalhart Army Air Field, a marker was unveiled at Friday’s Dedication Ceremony at the Veteran’s Memorial located in the 7th Street City Park.
The ceremony was presented by the Dallam County Historical Commission, Hartley County, City of Dalhart, and the Texas Historical Commission. The marker was funded by the Hoblitzelle Foundation of Dallas. The dedication of the marker began with the Presentation of the Colors by the Boy Scouts of America, Troop #101 Honor Guard. A welcome was presented by Dallam county Judge David Field, followed by remarks by officials and several veterans, a presentation of proclamation by Dalhart mayor Kevin Caddell, and the event closed with the unveiling by numerous officials and Billie Harruff, widow of Dalhart Army Air Field Veteran Chuck Harruff.