Lackland Air Force Base

San Antonio, Texas


Original Gateway sign and early parade, Lackland AFB, Texas

Lackland Air Force Base was established on June 26, 1942, when the War Department separated part of Kelly Field and names it San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center (SAACC) to support the war effort.

From its inception, SAACC witnessed rapid growth and transitioned from a former field training and bombing range through a variety of missions: the hub for flying training, site for the officer training and commissioning orientation, a staging area for all veterans returning from WWII for reassignment or separation, and eventually, established as the basic military training center for officers and enlisted personnel entering the Army Air Forces.

Unfortunately, the acronym SAACC ("sack-c") evolved into the less affectionate name of "sad sack" which underscored the makeshift and haphazard configuration of the base. Coupled with numerous name changes, a significant identity crisis emerged for base personnel.

Fortunately the base's downhill reputation was checked in 1947 when it was renamed Lackland Air Force Base in honor of Brigadier General Frank D. Lackland. Brigadier General Lackland, a former Kelly Field Commander, had originally proposed and campaigned for an aviation and cadet reception center on this site. Honor as the "Gateway to the Air Force" was secured.

Lackland established itself as a cohesive training base and formalized training evolved to support the Air Force Mission: " To Fly, To Fight, To Win." The basic training and commissioning programs inspired Air Force pride. A technical training group was established to oversee the many courses now taught at on base.
The Korean and Vietnam Wars severely tested Lackland's capacity to train new recruits and satisfy mobility demands. Training populations in the 1950s soared to 55,000 with only a maximum capacity of 25,000. Rapidly built wooden structures, built in 1941, to include the "Mobilization Open Bay" (MOB) dormitories, burst at the seams and forced the mass erection of a tent city. Temporary facilities, to include the "I" dormitories, were hastily erected as a quick fix to house the new recruits. Base operating support requirements force reactive planning, which often resulted in inadequate implementation.

During Vietnam, resourceful leaders split training shifts, increased flight sizes, and compressed training from 30 to 24 days to satisfy the urgency for military readiness. Training requirements also expanded to include teaching English to allied military members from foreign countries.

As a result of the contingencies of the 1950s and 60s, construction of permanent facilities, to include the 1,000 person steel and brick Recruit Housing and Training (RH&T) facilities for basic military training, cemented Lackland's training responsibilities. During the 1990s, Desert Storm revalidated our training value. Also, from the Cold War demise, base realignment and closure (BRAC) actions relocated several specialized training programs at Lackland.

In 1992, Lackland celebrated its fiftieth anniversary and also opened the doors for IAAFA's people and its training mission in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. Air Education and Training Command emerged in 1993 under Air Force reorganization and relocated OTS to Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

Lackland AFB exists today with the 37th Training Wing as the host installation command, flanked by the largest Associate, the 59th Medical Wing (i.e. Wilford Hall Medical Center). Fifty years later, our focus on producing the world's best-trained warriors is razor sharp.

Source: 37 CS/SCBB Lackland AFB Heritage