The History is on the Wall

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas— Faces from the past look back at onlookers from a military mural in downtown San Angelo as the sun glares down and illuminates the past service members forever imprinted on the wall. One could almost hear the rumble of the planes suspended in the misty clouded background.

It’s heritage month for Goodfellow and the San Angelo community gave the perfect contribution to our heritage with a mural.

“Several people on the board agreed that it was time to do a military mural,” said Susan Morris, the leading woman on the town revitalization program and Historic Murals of San Angelo Project. “The town needed something to recognize the years of military that have played such a big part in San Angelo.”

Prior to the United States entering World War II, the Roosevelt administration had the idea that we needed to expand the military’s air power. They were going to produce more airplanes and pilots, which would mean they would need a place to train pilots somewhere with CAVU, a term used for Ceiling And Visibility Unlimited or a clear day, like West Texas with it’s clear skies and open land.

“The department announced they were going to build a flight training base somewhere in West Texas,” said John V. Garrett, the 17th Training Wing historian. “When the city father of San Angelo heard that they made an offer to the Army Air Corps at the time, if they’d build a base here they’d get 640 acres for a dollar a year and free utility connections.”

The mural depicts the beginnings of the Air Force in San Angelo with the San Angelo Army Air Field with historical aircraft and buildings, like the AT-11 Bomb Trainer and the Sante Fe Orient Depot with crowds of GI’s waiting for the train to San Angelo.

Cartoon figures like Bugs Bunny wear old leather aviator helmets and goggles. Even a cartoon sprite called Fifinella that served as the official mascot at that time for Women Airforce Service Pilots is painted under San Angelo Army Air Field.

“The mural depicts the three military posts in San Angelo beginning with Fort Concho, Goodfellow and the Bombardier School at Mathis Field,” said Garrett. “The mural also depicts the three missions, flying, intel, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and fire protection and some of the heroes of Goodfellow.”

The mural shows the past of Goodfellow, the beginning of the Air Force and beyond.

“I think what it shows is how much support there is for the base,” said Garrett. “The murals are an expression of it. These three murals really honor everyone who’s serving here.”