The History-Lovers Guide to Fallon’s Military Past

16 Oct 2023
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Our town holds a fascinating military that spans almost a century— from humble beginnings as a naval air station during World War II to a modern-day role of premier training ground for the United States Armed Forces, Fallon’s military heritage has left an indelible mark on not only the town, but the entire nation. In this blog post, we’re exploring its captivating military history, as well as significant milestones and the enduring impact this journey has had on the region.

Beginnings & Tides of War

In 1942, the United States entered the action of World War II, waging a fierce war in the Pacific Ocean, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. Fearing a Japanese attack, the Army Air Corps started construction on four airfields as part of the Western Defense Command— the formation responsible for the defense of the United State’s Pacific coast. In 1943, the Navy assumed control of the base, at that point just two 5,200-foot long runways stretching across the arid desert of Nevada used as a central hub for training operations. Eventually construction began on other facilities— including barracks, hangars, and target ranges— as Naval Auxiliary Air Station Fallon (N.A.A.S.) was officially commissioned. Just as the project was nearing completion and training was at a high point, Japan surrendered, thus ending the war. With no true purpose, N.A.A.S. and its operations slow to a resounding halt, going from “reduced operation status” to “maintenance status” to “caretaker status.” From 1946 to 1951, the base was used as a Bureau of Indian Affairs facility.

Mid-Century Missions

In 1951, the Korean War breathed new life into the base. The Navy reassumed control of its facilities, designating it as an Auxiliary Landing Field for N.A.S. Alameda California and eventually reestablishing N.A.A.S. Pilots once again soared across dusty plains in high-tech jets and other aircraft, the base growing to become one of the top training sites for Navy and Marine Corps pilots. In 1958, the airfield became known as “Van Voorhis Field” in memory of a Fallon native who posthumously received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in World War II.

Tech and TOPGUN

The latter half of the 20th century was an exciting time for N.A.A.S.— following global advances in technology, the base was outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, including an electronic warfare range, a new training center and hangars, and more. It quickly became the top authority for integrated strike warfare tactical training and development, as well as the best training ground for trainees going through their inter-deployment training cycle. In 1972, the base was upgraded to a major aviation command, marking the official commission of Naval Air Station Fallon.

There you have it— the history of Fallon’s military legacy! Did you learn something new? Head on over to the rest of our blog for new fun facts, guides, and more.



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