Fort Fisher Air Force Station


Fort Fisher Air Force Station

Fort Fisher Air Force Station was a US Air Force installation located on the Atlantic coast near Kure Beach, North Carolina. Its primary mission was as a radar complex. It closed in the late 1980s.

History

During the Civil War, Fort Fisher was a Confederate stronghold. It fell to Union forces on January 15, 1865.

In late December 1940, a new military facility was built as an Army anti-aircraft artillery training facility. It was named Camp Davis, and was manned by about 20,000 officers and men. Camp Davis was attached to the First Army, Fourth Corps Area. It was an expansive facility consisting of more than 3,000 buildings on convert|45538|acre|ha|0|lk=on with access provided by newly-built railroad spurs leading into the camp.

Camp Davis was different from most military installations by having its firing ranges outside of the boundaries of the main post. In total five ranges were set up outside of Camp Davis for conducting live anti-aircraft training. These ranges were spread out along the southern coast of North Carolina at Sears Point, New Topsail Inlet, Maple Hill, Holly Shelter, and Fort Fisher.

The Fort Fisher range ultimately became the main range for Camp Davis and the installation was given the name Fort Fisher Army Air Field (AAF). Because of the new range's prominence, it was deemed necessary to make the range a self-sustaining post. This called for the construction of 48 frame buildings, 316 tent frames, showers and latrines, mess halls, warehouses, radio and meteorological stations, a post exchange, photo lab, recreation hall, outdoor theater, guardhouse, infirmary, and an administration building. In addition to these facilities, the site featured a 10,000-gallon water storage tank, a motor pool, a large parade ground, and three steel observation towers along the beach.

One of the more prominent features of the range was a 2,500 ft. unpaved runway. From a historical standpoint this is unfortunate as a section of the earthworks for the fort's land face, known as Shepard's Battery, were leveled to make the runway. The Army was well aware of the historical significance of the old fort, but the necessities of the war outweighed historic preservation. [North Carolina Office of Archives and History "Fort Fisher During World War II." North Carolina Office of Archives and History web site, accessed 21 January 2008. [http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/fisher/ww2/ww2.htm] ] Today, the parking lot and visitor center for Fort Fisher sit on the remains of the runway.

In 1944 the anti-aircraft training facility was transferred to another base and Camp Davis was closed. At the time of its closure, Fort Fisher AAF had grown to include an 80-seat cafeteria, a 350-bed hospital and dental clinic, and covered an area of several hundred acres.

The Air Force retained part of Fort Fisher AAF, renamed it Fort Fisher Air Force Station (AFS) and transformed it into a radar facility. It was in this role that the base operated for most of the Cold War, being logistally supported by nearby Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina. It operated in this capacity from about 1955 until its closure in 1989. [Murdock, Scott D. "Trip report - Kitty Hawk at last: Saturday, 6 May 2006" Airforcebases.net, accessed 21 January 2008. [http://www.airforcebase.net/trips/kitty/kitty.html] ] During this time it was home to the 701st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron.

After its closure, a portion of the base was returned to the state of North Carolina which turned much of it into a recreation area and historic site. The Air Force, however, decided to retain the housing complex for the base and turn it into a recreation area known as Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area. This facility is currently supported by Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. Besides being a recreation area, the Fort Fisher site is used by the National Guard as a training area and also hosts the Annual Seafood,Blues and Jazz Festival.

References

External links

* [http://www.ftfishermilrec.com Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area web site]
* [http://www.geocities.com/naforts/nc.html Information on Fort Fisher's military uses]
* [http://ils.unc.edu/parkproject/visit/fofi/home.html North Carolina's Fort Fisher Recreation Area web site]


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