Sampson Air Force Base
Sampson Air Force Base (1950-1956) - A United States Air Force base established in 1950 at Seneca Lake, Seneca County, New York. Initially created as Sampson Naval Training Station in 1942 during World War II and named after Rear Admiral William T. Sampson. The Naval Station closed in 1946 after the end of the war. The site was transferred to the USAF in 1950 during the Korean War and renamed Sampson Air Force Base. Closed in 1956 after the end of Korean War.
Sampson Naval Training Station was built during World War II by the US Navy as a recruit training base. Construction was approved on 14 May 1942 and the first Navy recruit arrived on 17 Oct 1942. Construction was completed in 270 days at a cost of $56 million.
The station was closed on 31 May 1946 after having trained 411,429 naval recruits during the war. After the Navy left, the property was used as a 2 year junior college and youth camp from 1946 to 1949.
Sampson Air Force Base
In 1950 the North Korean Communists invaded South Korea and the U.S. military responded with force. The resulting Korean War caused a large buildup of all U.S. armed forces and forced the fledgling U.S. Air Force to create additional boot camps for new recruits. The USAF primary recruit training facility at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, could not handle the huge number of new recruits and two additional recruit training bases were created, one at Parks Air Force Base in California and the other in New York at the former Sampson Naval Training Station. On 14 Nov 1950 the U.S. Navy turned the Sampson base over to the U.S. Air Force and, after being rehabilitated, it reopened as a recruit training base for the Air Force and was renamed Sampson Air Force Base.
On 1 Feb 1951 the first flight of new recruits began 8 weeks of basic training. During the operation of the recruit facilities at Sampson AFB the length of basic training varied from as little as two weeks to as much as 14 weeks before 8 weeks became the norm.
In addition to the new recruit facilities, the Air Force built a 5,000 foot north/south runway, a control tower, fire station and aircraft parking ramp on the east side of the base next to the Seneca Army Depot.
Sampson Air Force Base closed on 12 Apr 1956 after having trained more than 300,000 airmen.
The General Services Administration (GSA) took control of the property and sold off many of the buildings. In 1960 the majority of the land was sold to New York State and the property became Sampson State Park.
A few of the block warehouse buildings remain. The original main gate shack is still at the entrance to the park. The old brig/stockade building is now the Sampson Memorial Museum complete with aircraft displays honoring both the U.S. Navy period and the U.S. Air Force period.
Visited: 21 Jun 2016