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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Seymour Johnson Air Force Base

by Eugene Price, 2006"Crew from the 333rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit attempt to load an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile onto an F-15E Strike Eagle at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., Aug. 2, 2012."

Seymour Johnson Field, Goldsboro, was activated on 12 June 1942 as Headquarters, Technical School, Army Air Force Technical Training Command. The following year it also assumed responsibility for preparing Air Corps personnel for deployment overseas as replacements and became the home of the Seventy-fifth Training Wing, which conducted a pretraining school for aviation cadets.

The 326th Fighter Group was assigned to Seymour Johnson in October 1943 and trained pilots for P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft from January 1944 until the end of World War II. The base also housed a number of German prisoners of war. It became an Air Corps separation center in September 1945 and was deactivated in May 1946.

In the early 1950s Goldsboro mayor Scott B. Berkeley, a World War I aviator, and John Dortch Lewis, a World War II aviator and prisoner of war, led a campaign to reactivate the base, working largely through longtime U.S. congressman Graham A. Barden of Sampson County. On 1 Apr. 1956 Seymour Johnson Air Force Base reopened as part of the Tactical Air Command, and in July it became home to the Eighty-third Fighter-Day Wing. The Eighty-third subsequently was designated the Fourth Tactical Fighter Wing (known as the Fourth Wing). The Fourth is famous for shooting down the greatest number of enemy aircraft in both World War II and the Korean War.

Since its reactivation, the base has been the quarters of the 482nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the Air Defense Command, the 68th Bombardment Wing of the Strategic Air Command, the 19th "Suitcase" Air Force, and other units. The 482nd flew F-102 Delta Darts, and the 68th carried B-52 bombers. KC-10 tanker aircraft were also assigned to the base. The Fourth Wing and its predecessor, the Eighty-third, have flown F-86s, F-100s, F-105s, F-4s, and the F-15E. In the early 2000s the 4th consisted of two operational squadrons and two training squadrons, all equipped with F-15E Strike Eagles. The base was also home to the 916th Air Refueling Wing (USAF Reserve), which flew KC-135R tankers. A minimum security federal prison with 500 inmates was assigned to the base in 1991.

As of the early 2000s Seymour Johnson was the only air force base in the world named for a U.S. Navy pilot. Lt. Seymour Johnson, a test pilot, was killed in a crash near Norbeck, Md., on 5 Mar. 1941. After his death, his mother lived in Goldsboro and for many years served as head of the American Red Cross. The base was also unique in that it enjoyed one of the best reputations in the air force for community relations-a legacy of Berkeley, who was mayor of Goldsboro when the base was reactivated. The base housing development and a major thoroughfare leading to the base are named in Berkeley's honor; the Order of Daedalians chapter at the base bears his name as well. A huge set of air force pilot's wings adorned columns overlooking downtown Goldsboro near city hall, symbolizing the relationship between the civilian and military communities.

Additional Resources:

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base: http://www.seymourjohnson.af.mil/

Seymour Johnson NC Historical Marker F-59: http://www.ncmarkers.com/Markers.aspx?sp=search&k=Markers&sv=F-59

Image Credit:

"Crew from the 333rd Aircraft Maintenance Unit attempt to load an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile onto an F-15E Strike Eagle at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., Aug. 2, 2012." Image courtesy of Flickr user CherryPoint. Available from http://www.flickr.com/photos/usairforce/7753432042/ (accessed August 30, 2012).

 

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Comments

Comment: 

I lived on base as a 7 yr to 8 yr old while my dad, a new physician, was serving as a flight surgeon. About 1957 -59. This is also where my dad learned to fly and was flown in B 52s. I have many fond memories of living on base and now I understand why all the housing and buildings seemed new. We spent much time at the officers’ club swimming and at night watching reel movies of the “Three Stooges” while the parents were in the cocktail lounge! I believe there was also a movie theater on base. Can’t forget the occasional breakings of the sound barrier and the nuclear war shelter drills. Oh, and following behind on bikes the mosquito abatement truck! A great place to live as a child in the 50s.

Comment: 

My husband , Ira A. Pigg was stationed at Seymour Johnson 1959-60. Our
daughter was born at the base hospital and we would like to have a photo
of the hospital if anyone has one and would share it. Thank you.

Gwendolyn Pigg

Comment: 

I believe it was in the spring of 1968 when an F-4D was taking off from Seymour and experienced a problem with the plane's elevator control. The aircraft nosed straight up and stalled, crashing tail-first into the runway. Both crew members ejected but since their plane was in an upright position, they ejected horizontally down the runway, killing them both. Can someone please tell me the date of this incident and the names of the two crew members? I assisted with the accident report in a small way. They could not get a camera into the location of another F4's 'elevator rod' so as an Air Force illustrator, I was asked to make a sketch of the problem area. As it turned out, a cotter pin was left off (or slipped off) the elevator rod, causing the plane to nose up and lose all control. Thank you for your help. - An e-mail response would be most appreciated!

Comment: 

Thank you for your inquiry! I've sent you an email with a couple of research options to try in order to try to locate that information.

Good luck in your research!

Michelle Underhill
NC Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

I was assigned to Seymour Johnson AFB in January 1962. I was worried about housing as we had a 9 day old baby. I called Scott Berkley and expressed my concerns. He told me to call him if I had a problem after arrival and he'd either find me a place or we could stay with his family. I couldn't find a place and I did call him. He gave me 3 housing leads and I rented the first one. Reading this article provided some background for me.

Comment: 

I was at SJAFB early 1963- early 1964. Crew chief of 57-771. Was transferred to KWNAS with 482nd detachment

Comment: 

F102's were Delta Daggers not darts. The 106 was the "dart"

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