The Wings of Change
The Army Air Force Experience in Texas During World War II
Military History - World War II
6 x 9, 232 pp.
56 B&W Photographs. 6 Maps. Bibliography. Notes.
Pub Date: 04/21/2003
Military History of Texas Series
  cloth
Price:        $29.95

978-1-893114-35-7

Published by State House Press

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The Wings of Change

The Army Air Force Experience in Texas During World War II

Thomas E. Alexander
Foreword by Billy J. Boles USAF (Ret.)

On the brink of World War II, Texas was still largely a rural state, a closed society. Few chose to leave, and even fewer outsiders found any reason to enter. A frontier morality dictated adherence to strict moral guidelines regarding temperance, frugality, tolerance, fidelity, and moderation. Cultural activities and educational opportunities were limited.

The state’s economic situation was dire as a result of the Great Depression and persistent drought. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, needing to put unemployed men back to work and at the same time begin preparing for a looming war, called for building more than fifty thousand new military aircraft and training more than thirty thousand pilots to fly them.

And that’s when Texas began to change. In the next few years, sixty-five army airfields would be located in Texas, more than in any other state. Some citizens may have been troubled initially at the prospect of uniformed strangers trooping down their streets, perhaps up to all manner of nefarious deeds. Those concerns, however, were all but obscured by the reality of federal dollars flowing into citizens’ pockets long empty and civic coffers all but bone dry.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, a surging spirit of patriotism universally overcame any shreds of lingering doubt about the need not only to have the bases close by but to welcome military personnel to the community with open arms.

The air force had come to Texas in a big way, and changes, as well as the wings of thousands of airplanes, were in the air, from Dalhart to Laredo and from El Paso to San Antonio.

THOMAS E. ALEXANDER is the author of two other books on Texas military history, volumes one and two of The Stars Were Big and Bright: The United States Army Air Forces and Texas During World War II. Volume I received the San Antonio Conservation Society 2001 Book Citation. Alexander, who received his flight training in Texas, served as a captain in the air force and as a major in the Illinois Air Guard. He lives in Kerrville, Texas, and previously was owner/operator of Alexander Cattle Company and executive vice president/marketing for Neiman Marcus in Dallas.

What Readers Are Saying:

". . . a clear, concise, well-written, and enthusiastic history." --Military History of the West

"I recommend this book not only for the historian or aviation enthusiast but for anyone who enjoys good stories about real people and places." --East Texas Historical Journal

"This book will please both the military historian and the student of Texas history. . . . an enjoyable read and a useful reference for the student of Texas history, or of World War II history in general." --The Journal of America's Military Past

"This is an excellent book. . . . It belongs in all public libraries and secondary-school libraries." --Review of Texas Books

"I thoroughly enjoyed reading the accounts. . . . I strongly recommend The Wings of Change." --T. Lindsay Baker, WTHA Year Book

“Five Stars!!!!! Expertly written by Thomas E. Alexander (a former Air Force Captain and Major in the Illinois Air Guard), The Wings of Change: The Army Air Force Experience In Texas During World War II is a superbly presented military history of how sixty-five Army airfields came to be located in Texas during the years of World War II. From an economic influx that helped spur the state's lift out of the Depression, to the local residents adaptation to living with Army Air Force soldiers, The Wings of Change blends history, black-and-white photography, and historical insights to accurately portray the manifold changes that the Army Air Force brought to Texas. The Wings of Change is a welcome and original contribution to Aviation History and Military History reference collections.” --Midwest Book Review

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