By Larry Billinger

During my childhood trips from Salina, KS to Victoria, KS, I often gazed at the lonely aircraft hangars on the Kansas prairie north of I-70 near Walker, KS. Intrigued, I’d listen to my father’s stories about these relics. He’d vividly describe racing cars on the deserted runways with friends from Victoria High. Consequently, this story anchored in my memory, and as I matured, I embarked on an online journey to uncover more about this prairie gem.

Tucked away in America’s heartland, in Ellis County, Kansas, lies the remnants of the Walker Army Air Field. Today, overshadowed by modern infrastructures, this once-bustling base symbolizes America’s wartime determination.

Genesis of an Airfield

As World War II raged, America urgently needed to ramp up its air defenses. Consequently, this led to Walker Army Air Field’s creation. Operational by September 1942, this sprawling 1,456-acre airfield served as a strategic point, located 12 miles east of Hays and merely a stone’s throw from Victoria, KS.

The B-29 Superfortress and Walker’s Role

In the thick of the war, the B-29 Superfortress emerged as a game-changer. Interestingly, Walker was among a select few fields primed for this behemoth, primarily due to the extended runway requirements.

Furthermore, the bombardment groups from Walker etched their mark in the Pacific. Specifically, the 462nd Bomb Group led intense campaigns against the Japanese.

Global Operations

As the theater of war shifted, so did Walker’s role. While some of its alumni headed to India, others ventured to the Mariana Islands, primarily Saipan. By mid-1945, the tide of war began to turn, and Walker stood ready to welcome its returning B-29s.

After the War

The end of the war signaled a new era for Walker. Inactive by January 31, 1946, its bustling lanes fell silent. Though a 1947 auction transferred its ownership, the legacy of Walker persisted.

Today’s Legacy

Today, nature has claimed much of Walker. However, it remains cherished by many. For instance, Facebook groups celebrate its legacy, while places like the Forsyth Library at Fort Hays State University ensure its memories are preserved for future generations.

In conclusion, the physical markers of Walker Army Air Field might be waning, but its rich history in American military lore is undeniably immortal.

  1. “Walker Army Airfield (Kansas).” Wikipedia. Last modified date, Wikipedia
  2. Travel Kansas. “Walker Air Base Display.” Accessed date, Travel Kansas
  3. User-provided information from the plaque about Walker Army Air Field.
  4. Walker Army Airfield WW II B-29 Training Site | Facebook

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