Historical marker points to birthplace of 507th

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Donald Klinko (ret.)
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing
Editor's Note:  The 507th Air Refueling Wing celebrates its 40th anniversary in May 2012.  In recognition of this milestone, we are reprinting the following story from the October 2004 issue of the On-final newsletter.

En route to a history conference at old Fort Robinson, Neb., in April 2004, my wife Joann was driving as we crossed the Kansas/Nebraska border.  I noticed a sign for the small town of Bruning, and shortly afterwards a historical marker sign pointing down a gravel road. Then I remembered.  "Turn here," I told a very perplexed Joann. About a mile down the gravel road, I found what I was looking for.

The 507th Fighter Group was activated with personnel and equipment at Bruning Army Air Field, Nebraska, on Oct. 20, 1944. Bruning AAF was an established P-47 training base by that time, and since that training was actually beginning slow somewhat, the 507th Fighter Group took many of the field's experienced instructor pilots and maintenance personnel as a leadership cadre.

New pilots and support personnel underwent extensive training at Bruning AAF until Dec. 15, 1944, when winter weather forced the group to move its training operations to Dalhart AAF, Texas.  By then, though, the 507th Fighter Group had become a cohesive unit, and all of our World War II brethren remember Bruning AAF as the birthplace of their unit, the place where they came to know and trust the men with whom they deployed to combat in the Pacific Theater.

As the photographs show, the airfield is entirely derelict now. The property owner informed me that although it was used as an uncontrolled "crop duster" and general aviation field for some years after World War II, the runway hadn't seen an aircraft in about 40 years.

Judging from the present condition of the remaining structures, most probably won't last much longer. Even so, visiting the site where the 507th first came together as a combat unit 60 years ago was a meaningful side trip for this old 507th troop.