a journey to remember . . .

 Marianna Army Air Field
Advanced Single
Engine School
Marianna, Florida


WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna William Tillery, 2001




William Tillery, 2001


By William W. Tillery

The Southeast Army Air Force Training Command, (one of three Army Air Force Training Centers) Headquarters Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Alabama. Southeast AAF Training Command, with bases as far west as North Dakota, extended to South Florida. Most of the Army Airfields were located in Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Tens of thousands of WWII pilots, bombardiers and navigators were trained at these airfields. They came from all walks of life. Starting in 1941, several thousand British cadets trained for the RAF. In the beginning, young men accepted for pilot training were sent

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna S.E. Army Headquarters
Headquarters Southeast Army
Air Force Training Center
Maxwell Field, Montgomery Alabama, 1945
to a cadet classification center for induction. This is the first arduous but rewarding step on the road to their Army Air Force wings. In the next step, the candidate is transformed from a

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna AT-6
AT-6 in flight

civilian into an AAF cadet. Within the next few days the cadet will be classified by aptitude tests for pilot, bombardier or navigator training. Upon completing training at one of the specialized schools he will receive his wings and become a flight officer.  Then he is ready to join the United States air armada in combat.

After completing the tests in the Classification Centerthe men are assigned to pre-flight. Pre-flight training programs

were classified into three major fields — athletics, military, and academic. Upon completion of the grueling nine weeks of pre-flight training, cadets were sent to a primary flight school. Here they
continued the same training as in pre-flight but more intense. In primary, they were introduced to flying. Most of the flight instructors were civilian pilots. In primary flight school the cadets learned if they had the inherent ability to fly. After twelve hours grueling of dual flight with a flight instructor, came the day to solo. Cadets had made countless take-offs, landings, and many different

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna AT-6 taking off
AT-6 taking off
maneuvers with his instructor observing each one. The day the cadet was scheduled to solo, he was tense but eager to take-off. He was eager to prove he was worthy of the training he had

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna  3 AT6s

3 AT-6s Flight Echelon

 received in pursuit of his wings. The student cadet had done everything his instructor called upon him to do. Most of the cadets, after soloing, went to basic flight training, however some washed out. Those cadets who washed out could go on to bombardier or navigator school.

Basic flight starts by the cadet being introduced to a more powerful aircraft and a more demanding flying techniques. On the flight line after sundown they e prepared for night flying. Basic instrument flying, together with day and night cross-country

flying,is part of basic flight training. On cross-country flights the cadet put to use the navigation skills he had learned in the classroom. Phase by phase the cadets were being molded into competent aviators.
The next and final phase of his flight training was Advanced Flying. Marianna Army Air Field was a typical AAF Advanced Single Engine School. Marianna, Florida was chosen in early 1942 as one of many Army Air Forces training bases. In the beginning the Army acquired the city of Marianna airport with its dirt runway and approximately 2000 adjacent acres of cotton, corn and peanut fields. Afterward, these fields were transformed

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna E-6b
into Marianna AAF. With the land secured, the Army Corps of Engineers drew up plans while the contractors started construction. The main base, auxiliary fields and runways were started in late April 1942. Within six months the Marianna AAF had started its first pilot training class.

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Headquarters Bldg
These Headquarters buildings were among the first
to be completed, and occupied by newly arriving
Army Air Force support personnel.
 So rapid was the construction that by August 1942 the landing fields were near completion. At the same time, quarters and other buildings were completed. Officers and enlisted men moved in as they finished. They came by truck convoy and troop train from other Southeastern Army Air Force Training Centers. Among these officers and enlisted men were Training Instructors who started classes in all phases of flight training: r Flight Instructors, Academic Instructors, Link Instructors and Aircraft Maintenance. Not only did training go on in the classroom,
there was on-the-job training for personnel in many areas. This was the beginning of Marianna AAF - ready to take its place among the many other Army Air Force Training Bases. By year's

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Link Trainer Dept
Link trainer department

These are scenes in one of the three Link Trainer buildings at Marianna AAF during WWII. Each of the three buildings had eight trainers at full mobilization. In 1943 and 1944 these twenty-four trainers were operated sixteen hours a day. Top left: Link Instructors conducting an exercise in simulated instrument flying. Top right: A Link Instructor briefing a Cadet on instrument flying procedures. Bottom left: WACs performing routine maintenance on a Link trainer. Bottom right: Weather Men preparing to check the ceiling and winds aloft.
end the sky around Marianna AAF was full of training aircraft. This intense pilot training continued until mid 1945 when the end of the war could be predicted. The first few hours of advanced flying was devoted to transition and formalization. During this time the cadets are introduced to retractable landing gear, constant speed propellers, and hydraulic flaps while flying a faster and heavier airplane. In the advanced phase the cadets were introduced to Link Trainers which simulate the airplane. In the Link Trainer the cadets were taught instrument procedures which were later practiced in the aircraft under the hood. The first night cross-country flight was always looked upon as a challenging mission by the cadets. Flying took up only part of a long and grueling day. The cadets finished out the day by participating in classroom, drilling, and athletics. By taps, most of the cadets were in the sack. All other officers and inlisted men were required to take part in classroom, drilling, and athletic endeavors. Staying active, they did a better job. This astounding
accomplishment, completed within a few months, was repeated hundreds of times throughout the United States. 1942 was the year that the Army Air Force came of age. Within a year the tide of war had shifted in favor of the allies. This was due to the predominant allied air power over the axis and Japan. Along with pilots, bombardiers,

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna AT-6 being refueled
AT-6 being refueled

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Flight Line 2001
Flight Line Street 2001
and navigators, air crewmen, aircraft mechanics, radio technicians and other ground support personnel were trained at these bases. The support personnelincluded civilians and military men
and women working around the clock to keep the aircraft flying. This dedication to service and country kept the flow of trained military personnel to the theaters of war around the world. These highly trained military support personnel were locked into their respected positions. Very few were rotated to advanced bases overseas, because it took too long to train a replacement.

Those young men and women took their assignment with sober determination — never looking back. They kept their eyes focused on the goal — winning the war. Those young men and women did an outstanding job of keeping the aircraft flying. As new air bases were completed and activated, men were transferred from established bases. These well qualified men would train recruits to do the job and task that lay ahead. An aptitude test was given to determine the appropriate assignment. Mostly, an attempt was made to put people in jobs comparable to their civilian occupation. By taking advantage of their civilian training the Army Air Force saved time and resources in crosstraining. Looking back
WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna  Consolidated Mess
Consolidated mess no. 2

These were familiar scenes around the two consolidated mess halls at MAAF. Thousand of GIs were fed three meals a day and a midnight meal for men going on or off duty at that time. Here many GIs from outside of the South ate their first Georgia ice cream [Grits] and came in contact with those pesky gnats. Top left: This was a familiar scene in and around scullery peeling potatoes. The Army seems to never run out of potatoes and the peeling went on around the clock. Top center: A KP caught napping. Bottom left: A scene like this chow line was a daily event prior to meal time. The GIs in the line were known as "Chow Hounds". Bottom right: Mess Sergeant, mess cooks and KPs are preparing the next meal.
with pride on my four plus years service in the Army Air Force, I can say for certain that the men and women that I was associated with in the Army Air Force Training Command were hard working service personnel. They were committed to doing the very best job in training a complete aviator. These young men and women were also devoted to the Air Force and its commitment to send into battle the very best pilots in the world. In my opinion that was what we did. At times the demands were great, but these service men and women stayed the  course. They saw the victorious conclusion of World War II over the most hideous enemiesin

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Main Gate 1945
Main Gate 1945
Through this gate passed eager young men and women to train for their duties as the Army Air Force's finest aviators and ground support personnel.

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Main Gate 2001
Main Gate 2001

all of recorded history. State-side service men and women II have not received their just recognition of a job well done during WWII. This is not intended to detract from brave deeds in battle. I had many friends as well as a brother who went into battle around the world on land, sea, and in the air. They deserve all the accolades that have been bestowed on these valiant men and women throughout the war years.




The Chapel

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Bride and Groom
Bride and Groom

 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Chapel 1945
Chapel 1945

 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Chapel 2001
Chapel 2001
 The Chapel was a familiar scene of religious activities on Sundays as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas and other religious holidays. These religious activities were attended by men and women of all religious persuasions. The Chapel also was the setting for many weddings of newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenants and their sweethearts.


 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Control Tower 2001
Control Tower 2001

Post Operation as viewed from the ramp. The duties that were carried out by Post Operation were hosting transient aviators and servicing their aircraft. Arraignments were made for overnight stays and taxi service was provided for aviators and crew members. Gathering and issuing weather reports was part of the daily routine at Post Operations as well issuing VFR and IFR clearances to pilots. The Tower was part of Post Operation. It, too, issued VFR and IFR flight

 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Control Tower 1945
Control Tower 1945
clearances in close cooperation with Operations. The Tower directed aircraft traffic on the ground and in the air as well as giving take-off and landing instructions. These operation duties, as well as many post duties, were carried out day and night 365 days a year.

The Base Hospital
 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Hospital in 1945
Hospital in 1945

 The Hospital was well equipped and staffed with highly trainer Doctors and Nurses. GI's were trained as orderlies and kept the hospital as though it was getting ready for an IG inspection. The hospital had very good medical technicians for they were forever giving shots! Medical and Dental doctors were ready for any emergency from an acheing tooth to an emergency appendectomy.

 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Military Dentist
The yanks are coming!! Does it hurt?

 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Wounded with Nurse
Wounded with Nurse

The WACs are Here

 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna WACs on Parade
WACs on Parade
  In 1943 a detachment of WAC's arrived in Marianna and were assigned to MAAF where they were well received by GI's. Within a few days after arrival, a contingent of WACs were assigned to the Link Trainer Department. At that time the Link Department had started expanding its operation to twenty-four trainers and needed more personnel to train as instructors. Without delay we  started training the WAC's in the techniques of simulated instrument flying. They applied themselves and learned fast. In a short time we had most of
them instructing student pilots. These girls were American's finest daughters, sincere and dedicated to the war effort. They proved themselves over again and again during their tour of duty with the Link Department and I am proud to have known these young ladies.

The Ramp

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna The Ramp 1945
The Ramp 1945
 The east side of the field and ramp as seen from tower. After a flight, the plane parked on the ramp. The crew chief and his maintenance crew swung into action. First the crew chief checked the aircraft's log for maintenance discrepancies written up by the pilot. Crew members trained to work on various aircraft systems would then proceed to  correct any malfunction that was noted in the log or observed
observed during the inspection. Early each flying day a member of the aircraft's maintenance team was assigned to run up and shut down the aircraft's engine. This pre-flight assured that the plane was ready for flight. GI,s living in barracks near the flight line didn't need an alarm clock to awaken them, that was taken care of with the roaring sound of 75 to 100 AT6 engines early the morning.

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna The Ramp 2001
The Ramp 2001

Rest and Relaxation

 The PX was the place where off duty service personnel could relax while having a snack and a beer or two. The PX carried a full line of necessities. A restaurant in the same building was always busy around payday.

Picnicking, swimming and fishing at nearby Blue Springs was a favorite place for off duty GIs to relax. In 1945 when the war was coming to an end and GIs had more leisure time, it was spent at Blue Springs and the Caverns Golf Course.

 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna R&R at Blue Springs 1945
R&R at Blue Springs 1945

 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna R&R at Blue Springs 2001
R&R at Blue Springs 2001

 The theatre was a place to relax in dreamland for a few hours where first-rate movies were shown nightly. From time to time USO shows were scheduled at the theatre with dancers, comedians, magicians, ventriloquists, and vaudeville acts. These USO shows with their enthusiastic and dedicated troupers were a morale builder for all who attended.



Thank you for your interest in the "Marianna Revisited" page. I hope this will renew some old memories of WWII for those who were stationed there. For those not acquainted with the mission at Marianna Army Air Field during WWII, I hope you will be enlightened.

Revisited in 2001

Shortly after WWII, Marianna AAF was re-opened as a United States Air Force Contract Primary Flying School. In 1951 Graham Aviation School started training Air Force primary students and continued to train students until 1961. During this time the base was much like it was at its closing after the war. After closing Graham Aviation the base began to decline. Buildings were sold off and many were left to rot. One must remember that the buildings were temporary and weren't intended to last for many years.

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Hanger Door Tracks
Old Hangar Door Tracks, 2001

It was over twenty years ago when I made my last trip back to what was once Marianna AAF. At that time there were very few landmarks recognizable; today there are even less. Of the war years there

 WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Headquarters Bldg 2001
Headquarters Bldg 2001

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna Headquarters Bldg 2001
Headquarters Bldg 2001
are only two recognizable buildings standing, the Headquarters and Chapel. The Headquarters building has been refurbished, but bears some resemblance to the building as it looked during the war. The Chapel has been remodeled but looks much the same as it did many years ago.

For many years The State of Florida has been operating Sunland as an institution for the mentally impaired. Sunland takes up most of the original Marianna AAF, however only two original buildings are left and being used, the Headquarters building and Chapel. Sunland Administration, superintendent personnel and business offices occupy the old headquarters building now. At this time Sunland's residents are using the Chapel for worship services.
Sunland's perimeter is fenced, with the fence parallelling the Greenwood to Marianna highway from the Greenwood Gate to the main entrance to Marianna Industrial Park. Then parallelling the road into the Park and along the length of the old flight line, back to the Industrial Park's Greenwood Gate on the Greenwood Marianna highway. Inside the Industrial Park are a number of buildings along the old Marianna AAF flight line area occupied by industry. None of these appear to be any of the buildings used during the war. As for the tower, it is not the one used

WWII Kilroy Was Here Marianna  Industrial Park Entrance Sign
Industrial Park Entrance 2001
during flight training at Marianna AAF. I found no trace of the three Link Trainer buildings that were across the street from the flight line. I was hoping that I could identify the area where they were, since I spent many hours in them. There were lots of pine, and oak trees and undergrowth along the fence that seems unkempt. I believe it was in this area where two of the link trainer buildings stood.

See patches from Graham Air Base

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