Laurel Army Air Field
Laurel Army Air Field (1940-1946) - A World War II U.S. Army Air Field (AAF) established in 1940 near Laurel in Jones County, Mississippi. Named Laurel Army Air Field. Closed in 1946 and returned to civilian control. Now Hesler-Noble Field.
The civilian Laurel Airport opened in April 1940, built by the Works Project Administration (WPA). The U.S. Army Air Corps signed an agreement to lease the Airport in 1940, but the additional military construction required did not begin until mid 1942.
Three concrete runways, several taxiways, a large apron, a control tower and several large hangars were all built. The buildings were mostly built as theater-of-operations type buildings assuming they would only be required for the duration of the war. On 18 Dec 1942, Laurel Army Air Field opened, assigned to the Third Air Force with the 473d Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron as host.
The new field flew antisubmarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico, flying the (Douglas O-38, Douglas O-46 and North American O-47) from November 1942 until March 1943. In Mid-1943 the mission changed to training medium and light bomber crews (B-25 Mitchell, A-20 Havoc) and photo reconnaissance units for deployment overseas.
In early 1944, a phase down of training activity was begun, and plans were made to convert Laurel AAF into a specialized storage facility. Most activities at the airfield were moved to Jackson Army Air Base and Laurel AAF deactivated for a number of weeks.
On 6 Jun 1944 the field was restored to active service under the Mobile air service command. The post was transferred to Air Technical Service Command on 1 July 1944. Laurel AAF was then used as transit base and to process returning aircraft, presumably to de-militarize them and prepare them for storage or for scrapping.
The military field closed on 31 May 1946 and was returned to civilian control.
Now an active General Aviation airfield, Hesler-Noble Field owned by the Laurel Airport Authority.