Col. James T. Connally History

Posted on July 7, 2007Comments Off on Col. James T. Connally History

Col. ConnallyJames Connally Air Force Base, near Waco TX was named for Colonel James T. Connally, a resident of Waco. He graduated from Texas A&M in 1932, completed pilot training and got his commission at Randolph Field in 1933.

He flew the air mail as an Army pilot in 1934. In 1941, he accompanied the first B-17s sold to the British. In 1942, he transferred to Clark Field in the Philippines with the 19th Bombardment Group where he won the Distinguished Flying Cross for a mission that destroyed a Japanese tanker ship and rescued 23 stranded US pilots.

He attended the School of Applied Tactics in Orlando, Florida, in 1944 and returned to the Pacific in December 1944. Col Connally was killed on May 29, 1945, while flying as an observer in the lead plane of a flight of 500 B-29s attacking Yokohama. His plane exploded after being hit by anti-aircraft fire. (2)

James Connally Air Force Base, located seven miles northeast of Waco, Texas, was initially a basic pilot-training school. It opened as Waco Army Air Field on May 5, 1942, and became headquarters for the Army Air Forces Central Instructors’ School in February 1945.

The base was inactive from late 1945 to 1948, until it was reactivated as a basic pilot-training school. On June 10, 1949, the name was changed to Connally Air Force Base in memory of Col. James T. Connally, a local pilot killed in Japan in 1945. By 1951 the name had been changed to James Connally Air Force Base.

Pilot training was discontinued in early 1952. Training for all-weather fighter radar observers, and upgrade training for navigators and bombardiers, began in 1951. The Instrument Pilot Instructors School was subsequently moved to the base and trained instructor pilots from many allied nations.

The base also trained already-rated pilots as bombardiers and navigators to provide triple-rated crews for the rapidly growing fleet of B-47s. That program was discontinued in 1962.Undergraduate Nav Training (UNT) was conducted at Connally from the 1950’s until May 1966. (Source: TSHA Online)