From the archives: A reporter’s reaction to the name ‘Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’

Editor’s note: Wright Field and Patterson Field were merged into a single installation as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Jan. 13, 1948. In recognition of that 75th anniversary, we went into the archives for stories about reaction at the time.

One writer from The Dayton Herald wasn’t impressed, and wrote this snarky reply on Jan. 23, 1948 that we’ve republished today.

Purely for confusion’s sake, let’s puzzle here upon the historic nomenclature of what is now (but for how long?) known as the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

This parcel of dirt, clay and bristles of grass northeast of Dayton has been the watering place for military airmen and their skyborne steeds nigh on to 30 years.

During this time, the layman has never quite ascertained the correct way to refer to it.

Title ‘Redecorated’

The men attached to the bureau for the manufacture of red tape in Washington have spent odd moments redecorating its title.

The latest change occurred a week ago.

Then it accepted its now official name, having switched from the Air Force Technical base.

Before that — way, way back before November of that dim, lost year. 1947 — it had been called the “Army Air Force Technical Base.”

The Department of the Air Force ordered the “Army” dropped out of the title when it was created a department along with the Army and Navy under Secretary of De Forrestal.

Wilmington, Too!

The field at Wilmington also has undergone this titular face-lifting. Its name has been changed by the department from “Clinton County Army Airfield” to “Clinton County Air Force Base.”

For purposes of procurement, Wright and Patterson Fields were still referred to as separate entities after the land assumed the name of the AAF Technical Base on Dec. 15, 1945. This reference also encompassed the field at Wilmington and the Army’s holdings at the Vandalia airport.

A peek at musty records today revealed the original government field on the present site of the wit base bore the name, “Wilbur Wright Field.” Yet the name was supposed to honor both brother-inventors.

“Wilbur” Dropped

Later the “Wilbur” was dropped to take care of Orville Wright

Wilbur Wright Field, paradoxically, was situated on what is commanly known as Patterson Field or Area C. It’s been supposed the confusion — begetters in Washington received overtime for throwing portions of the alphabet (areas A, B, C) to contribute to the confusion.

Wilbur Wright Field, born in 1917, added a name within a name in 1918 when it housed the Fairfield Depot. References to the depot and field were frequently mixed.

In 1931, the war department established a policy of naming its his fields after dead war heroes. Justly enough, it was decided Stewart Patterson, who died an air hero’s death, should receive such recognition.

A Monumental Job

But the namers did a monumental job of twisting things here.

What was Wilbur Wright Field became Patterson Field. That was the time “Wilbur” was dropped and what was left of the title attached to the present location of Wright Field, sometimes called Area B. Whew! Just like that.

This reference lasted for quite a spell. Then came World War II and everything else changed, so it hardly seemed fitting to let the names of alt fields stagnate.

So in 1945, that esoteric label “Army Aid Field Technical Base” came into being.

Bought By U. S.

In the meantime, the field had picked up the Air Materiel command, known at other times as the Air Technical Materiel Command, Area A, or as just “that big flat building on the way to Springfield.”

Incidentally, if any fellow historians care by now, the land of many names was purchased by the government from the Miami Conservancy.

Originally, it began its experiments at the old McCook Field, which kept its name a long, long time. We doubt very much if the *Wright-Patterson Air base” expects to stand as long as this did.

And while digressing, recall the variability of the name of the home for veterans out Gettysburg avenue-way.

Someone claims it’s called Veterans Administration now, which you couldn’t prove by us. We can still recall when it went through the “Soldiers Home,” “Veterans Administration Home” and the “Veterans Center” phases.

Wonder how you get into that bureau of names. We’ve a good one to call it.