In the fall of 1941, a group of Kingsville civic leaders decided that the city's desirable climate and scarcely populated area would be very suitable for a military airfield, much like the one in Corpus Christi. The city leaders wasted little time in making their belief known to the Department of Defense.
The Kingsville group picked out several good sites for airfields and presented them to Navy leaders at NAS Corpus Christi. Among the most impressed of the Navy staff was CAPT Alva Bernhard, who at the time was NAS Corpus Christi’s Commanding Officer.
While the Navy made no immediate promises to the Kingsville group, that all changed on the morning of 07 Dec. 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. CAPT Bernhard, foreseeing an immense training buildup that would overtake NAS Corpus Christi’s capacity, immediately selected a site in Kingsville and put his plans into high gear for procurement and construction. The farmland site of 3,000 acres was soon purchased from the B. O. Sims family.
The Navy planned on building a combination of two fields with barracks and other Station activities in a central location, thus saving on construction time. Quarters “Q” on the airfield (now Qtrs. A) was the only existing building on the land to escape demolition when the Navy took control of the land. The house formerly belonged to the Sims family and the Navy decided to keep the house intact for use as a residence for airfield commanders.
The base opened July 4, 1942. With the attack on Pearl Harbor still fresh on their minds, a large crowd of Kingsville citizens came to witness the commissioning ceremony that day. The field was dedicated to the pilots who would train here and play an important role in winning the war. CDR D. S. McMahon assumed command of the airfield.
Over the next three years, Kingsville Field played a vital role in training Navy and Marine Corps aviators for the fleet. In addition to jet fighter training, pilots received training in carrier dive bombing tactics, anti-submarine warfare, and cockpit gunnery and artillery at both North and South Fields.