December 7, 1941  -  Pearl Harbor bombed.

April 15, 1942  -  U.S. Navy Site Selection Board met in Ottumwa with Mayor David Nevin and H.A. Brown, Chairman of the Ottumwa Airport Commission.  Navy Site Selection Board consisted of: Captain I.M. McQuiston, USNR; Lt. Comdr. Frank E. Weld, USNR; Lt. K.P. Coykendall, CEC, USNR.  In their findings the board considered Ottumwa well suited to primary training.

July 9, 1942  -  Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox announced approval of Ottumwa as a site for a Naval aviation base.

July 13, 1942  -  Contracts let for building of the base.

July 25, 1942  -  Lt. Comdr. Hugh C. Wilson arrived in Ottumwa to take charge of construction of the base.

August 6, 1942  -  Ground breaking for U.S. Naval Reserve Aviation Base.

August 13, 1942  -  U.S. Navy takes possession of 1,440 acre tract of land for the air base.

September 8, 1942  -  Lt. Comdr. D.D. Gurley arrived in Ottumwa to take charge of the base.

September 13, 1942  -  First enlisted men, CPO Hudson and CPO Skillman reported to the base.

September 16, 1942  -  Two U.S. Navy N3N-1 aircraft are assigned to NAS Ottumwa, but are kept at the Ottumwa Municipal Airport pending completion of the airbase.

January 5, 1943  -  Name of the base officially changed from U.S. Naval Reserve Aviation Base to U.S. Naval Air Station.

January 23, 1943  -  Lt. Comdr. D.D. Gurley lands first Navy airplane, an SNJ advanced trainer, at the base.

March 10, 1943  -  First group of twenty-one cadets arrived at NAS Ottumwa, from Iowa City Pre-Flight School.

March 11, 1943  -  Sixty more cadets arrive from NAS Olathe, Kansas.

March 13, 1943, Saturday  -  Base commissioning ceremony in front of the new Administration Building, making NAS Ottumwa part of the Primary Training Command.

March 14, 1943, Sunday  -  Flight training begins.  110 hours are logged in first day of operation.

March 19, 1943  -  Captain Bradford E. Grow assumes command of NAS Ottumwa.  Commander Gurley becomes station executive officer.

March 26, 1943  -  First class of six cadets graduate.

May 30, 1943  -  First contingent of 10 U.S. Navy WAVES arrive.

Two week period ending June 10, 1943  -  2,208 training flights flown.

July 5, 1943  -  NAS Ottumwa “open house”.  30,000 civilians tour the new base.

Two week period ending August 19, 1943  -  7,696 training flights flown totaling 11,247 training hours.

November 6, 1943  -  Captain Kenneth B. Salisbury assumes command of NAS Ottumwa.  Captain Grow is detached to take command of an aircraft carrier.

Two week period ending November 25, 1943  -  14,539 training hours flown.

June 6, 1944  -  D-Day

August 10, 1944  -  Student officer group arrives.

April 12, 1945  -  President Franklin D. Roosevelt dies.

May 7, 1945  -  V-E day.

August 14, 1945  -  V-J day.

September 22, 1945  -  Flight training declared officially “secured”.  Station Flight Log shows ...

     Pilot Training Operations: 925 days     Training Flights: 397,214

     Training Hours Flown: 605,553, an average of 1,000 hours per flying day

     Student Pilots: 6,656     Students That Completed Course: 4,626

September 24, 1945  -  Flight training officially ended.  Naval planning directive of this date, to go into effect November 1, 1945, ordered NAS Ottumwa to maintenance status with only minimum personel and equipment in force.

"In operation for 925 days, 397,214 training flights, either solo or dual, had been recorded in the station log.  Reporting for flight training were 6,656 trainees, or which 4,626 completed the course and transferred to intermediate training.  Of 450 cadets still aboard, 200 were transferred to the naval air station at Norman, Oklahoma.  The rest chose to be discharged."

December 7, 1945  -  Pre-flight students arrive.  In 1946, training changes to a Mid-Shipmen program.

May 20, 1947  -  "The Secretary of the Navy directed that, within the period 1 June - 1 August 1947, the U.S. Navy Pre-Flight at NAS Ottumwa, Iowa, be relocated and re-designated U.S. Naval School, Pre-Flight, NAS Pensacola."

July 1, 1947  -  Preparations are underway to move pre-flight to Pensacola, Florida.

October 2, 1947  -  Last U.S. Navy airplane leaves Ottumwa.

October 20, 1947  -  The city of Ottumwa gains access to the naval air station property through a government lease.

September 16, 1957  -  A Deed of Release and Surrender grants the city of Ottumwa ownership of the base property.

Footnote - The base headquarters continued to be utilized by the Airforce and Army reserve then finally by the police department for urban assault training thru 1984. 


Official program for NAS Ottumwa commissioning ceremony, March 13, 1943; Robert Mikesh collection

Book “U.S. Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Aviation, Volume 1” by Wayne H. Heiser

Book “Iowa Takes To The Air, Volume 3” by Ann Pellegreno

Book “Carrier On The Prairie” by E.M. Cofer

Book “United States Naval Aviation 1910-1970”; NAVAIR 00-80P-1; Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) and Commander Naval Air Systems Command; Department of the Navy; 1970

Booklet “Station History, Ottumwa Naval Air Station”, 1945

Ottumwa Courier, March 13, 1943; Robert Mikesh collection