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The Military Mural

Our main project for 2012 was the Military Mural, located at 108 E. Concho in downtown San Angelo. Three different themed panels make up the entirety of the Military Mural-Fort Concho, San Angelo Army Air Field, and Goodfellow Air Force Base. We hope you enjoy viewing, reading, and hearing about the military history of our town.

Military Mural: Fort Concho

Fort Concho was established as a United States Army post in November 1867 with five companies of the Fourth Cavalry. It replaced Fort Chadbourne, which was closed the same year due to a chronic shortage of water. The new post was first named Camp Hatch and then Camp Kelly. In March 1868, it was named Fort Concho after the Middle and North Concho rivers, which converge in San Angelo to form the Concho River. During its 22-year existence as an active Army post, Fort Concho mainly served to maintain trade routes and to protect frontier settlers, stagecoaches, wagon trains and the U.S. Mail.

Fort Concho was home to both cavalry and infantry, and 50 percent of the enlisted soldiers were black. The Indians called them "buffalo soldiers" because of the color and texture of their hair. Two of the commanders are pictured in the mural. Col. Ronald MacKenzie was appointed colonel of the 24th U.S. Infantry regiment in 1867. He is considered by many as the dominant figure in the history of Fort Concho. Due to a previous battle wound that cost him the first two fingers of his right hand, the Comanche nicknamed him "Bad Hand." Col. Benjamin Grierson commanded Fort Concho's regimental headquarters for the 10th U.S. Cavalry, known as the Buffalo Soldiers, from 1875-1882. Their Coat of Arms is painted between the two mounted soldiers.

Three well-known Indian chiefs are included in this mural as testament to their leadership roles in trying to thwart the westward push of the settlers. Lone Wolf was a principal chief of the Kiowa and led fierce raids into Texas in the early 1870s in reaction to massive encroachment on their lands and the slaughtering of huge buffalo herds. Victorio was a warrior and chief of the Chiricahua Apache in what is now New Mexico. He was a marauder and was chased across Texas and New Mexico for years before finally being surrounded and killed in October 1880 by Col. Joaquin Terrazas, noted Indian fighter and leader of the Chihuahua state militia. Quanah Parker was a Comanche chief and a leader in the Native American Church. He was also the last leader of the powerful Quahadi band before they surrendered in the Battle of the Great Plains and went to a reservation in Indian Territory in 1875. He was the son of Comanche Chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, kidnapped daughter of Silas M. Parker, one of the founders of Fort Parker. Cynthia and her brother, John, were captured and their father was killed when the Caddo and Comanche Indians attacked and overran Fort Parker on May 19, 1836. She was about nine years old.

The handgun pictured is the Army model 1873 Colt .45 single-action revolver known as the "Peacemaker." This six-shooter was usually issued to the mounted cavalry soldiers, and it made a huge difference in their fighting effectiveness. The Peacemaker became the standard sidearm of the postwar military, the Texas Rangers, and the majority of cowboys across the plains.

The model 1873 "Trapdoor" Springfield was the first standard-issue breech-loading rifle adopted by the U.S. Army. It shot a .45-caliber lead bullet backed by 70 grains of black powder. This was a powerful weapon, but was also prone to the spent cartridge jamming in the breech during rapid-fire conditions.

Fort Concho's cannon is also represented in the mural, though artillery was often of limited use in fighting the Indians. The rough West Texas terrain coupled with the elusive fighting style of the Indians made a heavy piece of ordnance difficult to use effectively during battle situations. More commonly, the cannons were used in post ceremonies, like the morning and evening salute.

Military Mural: San Angelo Army Air Field

Construction of Carr Field Municipal Airport near Lake Nasworthy began in 1940, but was not yet completed by the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. San Angelo immediately began successful negotiations with the military to convert the airfield into an Army Air Forces bombardier training base. Military construction crews took over the job of completing the airport in May 1942.

The San Angelo Army Air Field was activated on June 1, 1942, under the jurisdiction of the Army Air Forces Training Command. The hangars, barracks, warehouses, hospitals, dental clinics, dining halls, chapels and maintenance shops represented in this mural were mostly constructed of wood, concrete, brick and gypsum board. A modified 20th Army Air Forces emblem is painted in the upper-right corner of the mural.

The buildings took some months to finish, so it wasn't until Jan. 8, 1943, that the 34th Flying Training Wing and the San Angelo Army Air Field Bombardier Training School were activated. The training school emblem, featuring the Warner Brothers' Bugs Bunny character riding astraddle a bomb, and the Army Air Force AT-11 advanced twin-engine training aircraft are featured in this mural. Col. George Palmer, the commander through the entire bombardier training period, and the Bugs Bunny logo are painted as they appear in the graduation program for the first class of bombardier graduates from the San Angelo school, Class 42-17. Records show that 5,381 men were trained here to be bombardiers.

Bombardier trainees received about 35 flying hours of certification training with the Top Secret Norden bombsight. They practiced dropping at least 20 of the M38A2 inert 100-pound bombs per month, averaging about 200 practice bombs during their 260 total hours of training over the 12-to-18-week course.

This mural shows the cadets arriving and departing at the Santa Fe Train Depot, studying in ground school classes, loading and unloading the bombsight from the aircraft, and aiming through the Norden eyepiece. The mural also depicts how the classified bombsight may have been secured to and from the aircraft by crewmembers under arms.

There was already a shortage of pilots by the fall of 1942, so the Army Air Forces directed aviator Nancy Harkness Love to recruit women to ferry planes for the Air Transport Command. Twenty-five thousand women applied for the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron program and more than 1,100 women aviators flew every aircraft the USAAF had, including trainers, cargo planes, pursuers and bombers. Love is featured in this mural leaning against a transport aircraft with the Women Air Force Service Pilots logo featuring the Walt Disney gremlin, Fifinella, painted above her left shoulder.

Soon after the end of WWII on Nov. 30, 1945, the flag over San Angelo Army Air Field was lowered for the last time. City officials eventually worked out a transfer deal that allowed them to reclaim the original Carr Field acreage, as well as almost all of the government-built buildings and airfield improvements. During this transition, the city renamed the airfield Mathis Field in honor of Lt. Jack Mathis, a bombardier who received the Medal of Honor posthumously for heroic actions during a mission over Germany in March 1943.

Military Mural: Goodfellow Air Force Base

With so few mountains and clouds, San Angelo was a great place to train people to fly. Pilots called it "Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited," or CAVU, and it had a direct influence on the formation of Goodfellow Air Force Base. CAVU was also used as the title for Class Yearbook publications.

In 1940, more than a year and a half before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, San Angelo learned that the U.S. military wanted to build a pilot-training base in Texas. City officials volunteered to put up the land and the utility tie-ins so that the base could be built here. Thus, the special relationship between the city and the base was forged and still exists today.

The history that unfolded over the next seven decades is captured wonderfully in this magnificent mural. In the center is the image of Lieutenant John Goodfellow, for whom the base is named. Lt. Goodfellow was a native of San Angelo and a World War I aviator who was killed in action while flying a deep reconnaissance mission behind enemy lines over France in September 1918.

The colorful airplanes in the mural depict the different training aircraft used at Goodfellow. On the left, the blue-and-yellow BT-13 was nicknamed the "Vibrator" because of the effect it had on the pilots and students who flew it. The stunningly yellow T-6 "Texan" was painted that way to make it easy to see and avoid. The trainer version of the B-25 medium bomber was used in the multiā€engine training program at Goodfellow and was the last trainer to be used at the base.

Pilot training at Goodfellow came to an end in September 1958, when the base converted to intelligence training-known today as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, or ISR training. The mural is rich in images relating to the ISR mission. At the bottom left, three images feature cryptologic linguist training, what used to be called imagery training, and general intelligence training. On the right side are antennas and four linguist students seated at consoles. The students are wearing Army, Air Force, Marine, and Navy uniforms because Goodfellow provides ISR training for all the services. Beneath the linguist students is an aircraft engulfed in flames, signifying Goodfellow's fire training mission for firefighters of all the services.

Below the image of Lt. Goodfellow are six emblems, each representing a different period in the history of the base. The current emblem-the yellow shield on the right-belongs to the 17th Training Wing, the host unit on the base since 1993. The 17th has a long and storied history that includes the famous Doolittle Raid of World War II, nighttime interdiction missions in Korea, B-52 missions over Vietnam, and U-2 reconnaissance missions as part of Operation Desert Storm.

At the bottom center of the mural are images of PAVE PAWS and Airman First Class Elizabeth Jacobson. PAVE PAWS was a radar site near Eldorado, Texas, that watched the Gulf of Mexico for submarine launched ballistic missiles. Goodfellow provided logistical support for the radar site until it closed in the mid-1990s. Airman Jacobson was a security forces member of the Goodfellow team who was killed in action in Iraq in 2005. The main entrance to the base has been named in her honor.

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