Donaldson Air Force Base

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Donaldson Air Force Base is a closed facility of the United States Air Force. Currently an active airfield known as Donaldson Center Airport, the former Air Force Base is located south of Greenville, South Carolina.

Donaldson was initally known as Greenville Army Air Base and was used by the United States Army Air Force's Third Air Force as a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber training airfield during World War II. Renamed Greenville AFB following the establishment of an independent U.S. Air Force in 1947, and later renamed Donaldson AFB, it was home to C-124 Globemaster II transports and called "The Airlift Capital of the World" for its role in the Berlin airlift, Korean War, and Cold War, being assigned to both Tactical Air Command (TAC) and the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). It was closed as an active USAF installation in 1963, and its flying unit, the 63d Troop Carrier Wing, reassigned at Hunter Air Force Base, Georgia.

[edit] History

Originally named Greenville Army Air Base when opened in 1942, and later Greenville Air Force Base in 1947, the base was renamed in March 1951 as Donaldson Air Force Base in honor of Captain John Owen Donaldson, (1897–1930). Donaldson spent his boyhood in Greenville, South Carolina, attending Greenville High School, Furman University and Cornell University before joining the Royal Flying Corps and (after April 1918) the Royal Air Force in World War I. He became an ace, with eight victories, and was decorated by the United States, Great Britain and Belgium. Becoming an air racer after the war, Donaldson was killed on 7 September 1930 after winning the American Legion Air Race in Philadelphia when his plane spun out of control.Historic plaque, Donaldson Center, Greenville, South Carolina, erected by the Donaldson Development Commission, 2004 He had won the Mackay Gold Medal for taking first place in the Army's transcontinental air race in October 1919.The National Cyclopedia of American Biography, vol. XXIV, p. 226.

[edit] World War II

In the early 1940s, the War Department selected Greenville, South Carolina as the site for a new Army airfield to support the buildup for World War II. The airfield was completed in May 1942, and in June, Greenville Army Air Base was officially activated as a B-25 Mitchell medium twin-engine bomber training base.

Greenville AAB was assigned to the III Bomber Command of Third Air Force. The 342d Army Air Force Base Unit was assigned as the host unit for the airfield. The 342d provided such as logistics, maintenance, facilities, security and general administration. Issaqueena Bombing Range was established on and near Lake Issaqueena in the Clemson University Experimental Forest about 27 miles to the west. Greenville AAB also controlled Coronaca Army Airfield, now Greenwood County Airport, as a sub-base for its training mission.

The operational training unit (OTU) at Greenville AAB was the 334th Bombardment Group, being assigned on 16 July 1942. Its flying squadrons were the 470th, 471st, 472nd, and 473d Bombardment squadrons, flying B-25 Mitchell medium bombers. The 334th's mission was to provide flying training to personnel and bomber crews.

The 334th was inactivated on 1 May 1944 with personnel and equipment being reassigned to the 330th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Replacement Training Unit/Medium Bombardment). On 1 January 1945, the 330th was redesignated as the 128th Army Air Force Base Unit in conjunction with the base's reassignment to First Air Force.

The 56th Combat Training Wing became the overall commanding unit at Greenville AAB on 1 May 1945, being reassigned from Morris Field, North Carolina which was closed. Its mission was to perform training and processing of bombardment replacement crews for overseas duty and the training of permanent party instructor personnel with the view of qualifying all personnel assigned for overseas duty.

[edit] Capri's

Pizza came to Greenville due to the influence of Donaldson Air Force Base. Julius N. "Cap" Capri of Altoona, Pennsylvania, was placed in charge of all civilian mechanics at the base, then called Greenville Army Air Base.
He noticed that many young men from the northern states were seeking good Italian food in Greenville, with little success. Mama Capri began making pizzas in her kitchen once a week for the “Yankees” at the base. Her workload became enormous. After World War II, "Cap" Capri remained in Greenville, and his family opened a log cabin restaurant, Capri's, on Augusta Road.
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