Scott Air Force Base News

HISTORIC LANDMARKS: Scott showcases airpower legacy

Pictured is a map of historic sites around Scott.
Pictured is a map of historic sites around Scott.

Listed are some of the historic landmarks at Scott.


In 2016, Scott AFB named the Visitor’s Center after former U.S. Senator Alan J. Dixon, who passed away at his Fairview Heights home in 2014. Through the Dixon Visitor’s Center, the former senator continues to welcome those to the very base he championed for throughout his life. After serving in World War II, Dixon became police magistrate of Belleville at the age of 21, sparking his political career.

Dixon served in the state House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the treasurer and secretary of state for Illinois. In 1981, he was elected into the U.S. Senate where he served until 1993. President Bill Clinton appointed Dixon to chair the 1995 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission, where Dixon helped save $19 billion and defended the base’s existence.


Scott’s hospital was opened in 1958 after nearly four years of construction. It was built with reinforced concrete, is fire-proof and tornado-proof, and occupies three acres of land. Later, due to Base Realignment and Closure actions, the medical center was re-designated as an ambulatory care clinic, with emergency services and medical partnerships moving to facilities in the local community.


The current Air Mobility Command Headquarters building was completed in 1972. In 2016, the Air Force announced its history would consolidate with Headquarters Military Airlift Command, thus tracing its lineage back to May 29, 1941, and the Air Corps Ferry Command. This consolidation makes AMC the oldest major command in the Air Force.


The large building west of the parade field is the 375th Air Mobility Wing Headquarters. Originally, it was built as the General Headquarters for the Air Force, but with the breakout of World War II, Scott Field instead continued its role as a training station. The motto of the 375th AMW is “Desuper Adiumentum” or “Help From Above.”


The Essex House was originally constructed in 1939 to accommodate the bachelor officer quarters and messing. It has been both an Officer’s Club and a dining facility.


The A/TA Hall of Fame Walkway showcases extraordinary people who have shaped the concept of Air Mobility. The A/TA memorial makes up the center portion of the walkway, sitting between a section of the Berlin Wall which was unveiled and dedicated in 1991, and a 9/11 memorial which includes a steel beam from the ruins of the original World Trade Center.


Building P-4 is the headquarters for 18th Air Force. This building was originally built as the base hospital in 1939 and was quickly deemed inadequate to support the needs of the WWII Army Air Force. As a result, it was also previously occupied by 23rd Air Force (under AMC) and TRANSCOM.


Today Bldg. 7 houses the Area Defense Council. As the oldest building on the base, it was originally used as a helium storage area, which was used by balloons and airships during its lighter-than-air era. The building, at different times, housed a barber shop, dry cleaner, and a library.


On Oct. 21, 1921, Scott acquired a new mission—that of a lighter-than-air station. Back then, it was common to see huge airships floating across the sky. When one came in to land, nearly 100 men helped to bring it into the airship hangar. This hangar was an immense structure, the second largest of its kind in the world. Its dimensions measured 810 feet in length, 206.5 feet in width, and 178 feet at its highest point. Capt. Hawthorne C. Gray, a pioneer in pushing the ceiling of the earth’s altitude ever higher into the earth’s atmosphere, was assigned to the Scott Airship School in 1923. In Gray’s first attempt on March 9, 1927, he reached an altitude of 28,510 feet which exceeded the existing American altitude record.


Building 1900, which houses U.S. Transportation Command, was completed on Oct. 19, 1991. TRANSCOM is a combatant command whose mission is to coordinate worldwide logistical movement between all branches of the Department Of Defense. This command was created as a solution to logistical problems that were faced during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

BLDG. 1948

This building was part of the base’s growth during the early 1970s. It first housed the old NCO club, then the Dining Hall and then after extensive renovations now houses the satellite pharmacy, the First Term Airman’s Center and part of the 618th Air Operations Center (TACC).


At first, the James Sports Center was simply called the “new” gym after its completion in 1975. However, in 1979 the building was rededicated to the memory of Gen. Daniel “Chappie” James, Jr., who was an eloquent speaker on the subjects of Americanism and patriotism. He was also the first African-American four-star general in the U.S. Air Force and the DoD, and served as the vice commander of then-Military Airlift Command from 1974-75.


Today, the flightline consists of one long runway with a length of 10,000 feet, which wasn’t built until 1941.

The original Scott Field had no runways at all. Instead, planes landed and took off on a landing circle, which was 1,600 feet in diameter with a 65 foot smaller circle made of cinders inside it.

The flight tower was located on the small cinder circle, along with a megaphone, wind vane, and shelters for fliers waiting to take their turns at the controls of a Standard Trainer or JN-4D Jenny aircraft.

In the beginning the Standard Trainer airplane, which arrived unassembled, was used. Later, students flew the Jenny. Early airplanes were made of wood and cloth and were glued and wired together. Flying in those days was quite hazardous, and a number of Scott pilots lost their lives in accidents. Soldiers looked on the light side and enjoyed (or endured) good-natured teasing about their flying exploits.

For instance, Scott Field’s 1918 yearbook makes reference to “Lieutenant Creedon, who made history by making one landing on two roofs!”

Also immortalized in the yearbook were Lieutenant Wheat, who specialized in landing in wheat fields; Lieutenant Niblack, who “scraped every roof in Belleville”; and Lieutenant “Slim” Lycan who “cussed more than he flew.” Despite many challenges in the early years of aviation, Scott successfully accomplished its wartime mission in training over 500 pilots and mechanics by the end of World War I.


▪ Birchard Street: Birchard St. was named in honor of Lt. Gen. Glen R. Birchard, who was Vice Commander of the Military Air Transport Service, or MATS, from 1963-66.

▪ Watnee Street: This street is named in memory of Col. Lloyd H. Watnee. It is quite appropriate that Watnee Street is located across from the old Air Force Communications Command building because Watnee was the first commander of the Army Airways Communications System (1941-43).

▪ Goettler Street: Goettler Street, named after 1st Lt. Harold E. Goettler who was a World War I pilot posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

▪ Martin Street: Martin Street is named in remembrance of Capt. Duane V. Martin who received the Air Force Cross and Purple Heart for extraordinary heroism as a helicopter pilot attempting to rescue a downed USAF pilot in North Vietnam on Sept. 20, 1965;

▪ Pitsenbarger Street: Pitsenbarger Street commemorates the heroism of Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger, who received the Air Force Cross (posthumously) for extraordinary heroism when he sacrificed his life to ensure the rescue of wounded combatants in Vietnam in 1966. His award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in December 2000.

▪ King Street: Chief Master Sgt. Charles D. King posthumously received the Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism as a Pararescue man in recovering a downed USAF pilot in Southeast Asia in December 1968.

▪ Goettler Street: In the course of a mission to drop supplies to a battalion of the 77th Division during WWI, 1st Lt. Harris Goettler’s DH-4 biplane was brought down by enemy rifle and machine gun fire from the ground, resulting in his death. During numerous attempts to air drop critical supplies, showed the highest devotion to duty, courage and valor.

▪ Scott Drive: It was named after Cpl. Frank S. Scott, who was killed in the crash of a Wright Type B aircraft piloted by Lt. Lewis C. Rockwell. Lt. Rockwell also perished in the crash and is the only person an Air Force Base has been named after.