LOWRY AFB The History


Training is a necessity for all fields of endeavor. Training soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and a host of international students has been Lowry AFB’s forte for 57 years. Airmen have trained at Lowry since the citizens of Denver first persuaded the War Department to open a technical training base here during the 1930’s, ultimately making available not only the 880 acres of land comprising the original Sanitorium, but also 960 acres six miles to the east as an auxiliary landing field, which became known as Buckley Field, on 19 June 1941. An additional 64,000 acres about twenty miles to the southeast was also acquired to be used as the Armament School’s bombing range for the Armament School which would be transferred to Lowry from Chanute Field. The Denver Branch of the Air Corps Technical Schools was located in the old Sanitorium buildings. Conversion of these buildings into a military facility commenced on 4 October 1937 with the renovation of existing structures and the construction of runways. Captain Stetson served as the Construction Quartermaster and supervised the WPA-era civilian work force. He retained the position of Officer-in-Charge (OIC) until the arrival of Lt. Col. Junius W. Jones who had been the Commandant of the school at Chanute Field. Colonel Junius Jones became the first Commanding Officer of the Denver Training Branch on 7 February 1938. A train pulled into Denver’s Union Station five days later from Chanute Field bringing 300 people and equipment for the Armament and Photographic Departments. Activation ceremonies were held on 26 February 1938 in the Headquarters Building with lunch provided by the Denver Chamber of Commerce for the Air Corps officers. The Photographic Department staff consisted of 54 enlisted men and 6 officers, with 60 students in attendance. The Armament Department had 100 enlisted men and 10 officers, with 170 students. The first of the school’s B-18 Bolo bombers had arrived at nearby Denver Municipal (Stapleton International) Airport. With all the component parts in place the school’s first classes began at 0800 on the morning of Monday, 28 February 1938 with events being somewhat disrupted by one of the Field’s training aircraft dropping the first load of bombs on the auxiliary landing field six miles east of the main base. The first photographic studies class of 10 men, nine Army Air Corps soldiers and a Marine, that began and completed a course at Lowry Field graduated on June 29th, 1938. There was, however, a graduation at Lowry before the photo class. Ten Armament students studying at Chanute Field were caught in the school’s transitioning to Lowry Field. They were sent to Lowry to complete their training. These ten Armament students graduated from Lowry’s Armament School on 19 March 1938. During World War II, Lowry's courses focused on photography, armaments and B-29 crew training. Classes were taught 24 hours-a-day, with 850 graduates each week. By the end of the war, more than 41,000 students per year passed through Lowry's gates. The beginning of the Korean Conflict in 1950 meant a return to a 'round-the-clock, three-shift, six day- a-week training schedule, and new technology meant Lowry was now teaching courses in rocket propulsion and missile guidance. On July 11, 1955 the Air Force Academy was formally dedicated and began operations at Lowry.  The AFA would remain at Lowry until 1958 when its permanent home in Colorado Springs was completed. In February 1987, Lowry graduated its first class of the Air Force's newest major training program, Undergraduate Space Training (UST). Similar to undergraduate pilot and navigator training, UST turns out "space generalists" who then go on to further training in specific space operations fields. Through the years, students at Lowry have studied aerial photography, photography in general, armaments, contracting and other logistical services required by the military, cooking, avionics, electronics, precision measurement (Metrology, PMEL)  and the list runs on. To keep military training cost effective, the military services send recruits to training bases operated by other services. Like other bases throughout the military, Lowry became a multi-service training base. Military leadership knows the value of technical training, yet to keep training cost effective for the government groups students regardless of service for classes. Marine Corps The Marine Corps Detachment at Lowry is perhaps the youngest as well as oldest. The detachment was activated Sept 1, 1979, yet one of the first students to train and graduate exclusively at Lowry was a Marine, Cpl. James F. Dalton. In 1979 there were already a number of Marines studying at Lowry. The Corps established the detachment to formalize the training relationship that existed since 1938.  Marines were ordered to Lowry for a variety of courses such as advanced electronics maintenance calibration, Mark IV transterm systems operations and maintenance, various photography courses, contract administration, and much more, agreed Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Goddard and Sgt Donald Cabral, both assigned to the detachment. Marines began attending precision measuring equipment lab (Metrology) courses here in 1974 under a two year test program. The effort was successful, because Marines continued to study PMEL curriculum until the courses were closed at Lowry. The Corps sent their first students to Lowry in 1975 for the production  documentation apprentice school, and, Marines have been students of the Mark IV transterm systems operations and maintenance school, since it was established in July 1982. PFC Jennifer L. Williams, according to detachment officials, was the final Marine to graduate a course at Lowry.  She was a student of the graphics specialist course. Detachment Commander Capt. Benjamin R. Braden and his staff will formally end Marine operations here June 30, 1994. U.S. Army The U.S. Army has the longest joint training relationship at Lowry — 57 years, since the Air Force was technically part of the Army in 1938, but the Air Force became a separate military service in September 1947. Most recently, U.S. Army Signal School Detachment officials rekindled the training relationship here by establishing the Army Administrative Detachment in 1974, said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Dixon, detachment first sergeant. The name was changed in 1975 to U.S. Army Detachment. At the detachment, the senior Army officer served as commander and deputy director for the Defense Audiovisual Training, School of Applied Aerospace Sciences. Eventually, the senior Army officer’s position was changed to deputy commander of the 3430th Technical Training Group, which in 1978 merged with the 3420th Technical Training Group. The calibrations specialist course moved to Lowry from Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. in 1974. The move brought not only instructors, but a multi-service enrollment to Lowry as well. Three years later, the Army moved their television repair, still photographic, motion picture photographic and audio and television production courses to Lowry from Fort Monmouth, N J. Other changes within Army technical training were in the future. "The Army Signal Corps NCO Academy arrived here in 1983,” said Dixon.  Both the basic and advanced noncommissioned officer courses have been taught here since. These professional military education courses drew students from throughout the Army to Lowry to refine their soldiering skills. Detachment Commander Capt Jeanne E. Lucey and her staff will have completely packed and moved on to Fort Meade. Md., by mid June 1994, said Dixon. U.S. Navy The Navy Unit Lowry was created at the Armed Forces Intelligence Training Center March 17,1964, said YNC S.W. Jenkins. "This was the beginning of the joint training partnership between the Navy and Air Force" at Lowry. Through the years as the scope of the Navy’s role in the Rocky Mountain region expanded, the command's name was changed to Navy Unit Lowry. “From a humble start centered around air intelligence courses,” Jenkins said, “an impressive list of additional courses were brought into the Lowry training scope to complete what became a diverse curriculum." Sailors at Lowry studied advanced electrical-electronic measurements, advanced microwave measurements (Metrology), defense meteorological satellite maintenance intelligence specialist “A” school, broadcast television systems maintenance, graphics, and disaster preparedness.  Also, sailors enrolled here completed biomedical equipment technician basic and advanced courses at nearby Fitzsimons Army Medical Center The Lowry-based Naval Unit has been at Lowry for more than 30 years to administer and assist, where necessary, sailors here for training as well as those under treatment at such military organizations as directed by the chief of Naval Education and Training. The Naval Unit will end its heritage June 30, 1994 when the unit closes. Across the globe Standardizing and consolidating training among the four military services makes sense, but what about United States' Allies? Yes, students from at least 60 nations worldwide have trained at Lowry through the years. Training at Lowry has been afforded students from nations around the world. Some of the nations whose students trained here have gone on to become potential adversaries. The final international student to attend training at Lowry was Egyptian Lt. Col. Mohamed Ahmed. The Egyptian colonel was at Lowry for the ground and weapons safety program management course. Ahmed was at the time a Mirage 2000 fighter pilot. Among the nations to have military members studying at Lowry AFB are: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, People's Republic of China, Columbia, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Germany, Greece, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Botswana, Jordon, Jamaica, Egypt, Burma, Tunisia, Israel, Italy, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Madagascar, Kenya, Bahrain, Cameroon, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Zaire, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Qatar, Solomon Islands, Senegal, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Japan, Kuwait, Bangladesh, and South Vietnam. In 1990 more than 25,000 students from all services and 35 foreign nations attended Lowry's 440 courses. The Lowry Airman in its last issue, April 29, 1994, stated “more than 1.1 million students were trained since 1938”. The following pages are dedicated to Lowry Field’s training activities, i.e., Schools, established in 1937 and continuing through 1994 at what had become known as Lowry Air Force Base. We begin with the first two schools: Armament and Photo. [Material for this page extracted from an article appearing in “The Lowry Airman, 29 April 1994,” authored by TSgt. Doyle Tillman, Contributing Writer; The Pursuit of Excellence (A History of Lowry Air Force Base, 1937-1987); and from the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum Research Library, George Blood, Archivist/Researcher.]
Last Updated: 08/08/2017  05:59
Originally Published: 01/12/2017  08:04
                                  (Additional schools will follow)
Lowry AFB The History


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