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NATTC, Norman, Oklahoma
The base is gone now, decommisioned. The University of Oklahoma has erected a huge facility to the west, and most of the buildings we came to know have been razed - the barracks, the chow halls, the swimming pool - all gone. What I'm attempting to do here is to show where those buildings were and what their functions were.

I have no Norman photos. Send me your photos of the NATTC Norman Navy experience by email or snail mail, and if they're of general interest, I'll scan and post them with credits, then return them undamaged. Also, send me your recollections of the NATTC Norman Navy experience, and if the contribution is relevant and I have room, I'll post them.




Location of buildings Key to building function
NATTC building layout Key to building layout
In the image on the left, I've color-coded most of the buildings according to their use - dark blue for barracks, red for chow halls, dark green for school buildings, yellow for recreation, orange for admin, violet for medical/dental, light blue for warehousing, and light green for maintenance. Click on either of the images to see a much larger image.



Here are a few memories I have of NATTC Norman:

We arrived by train in the middle of the night (isn't that ALWAYS the case?). To our horror, we discovered that this being very early Saturday morning, there would be a general base Captain's inspection about 0830, and we couldn't get out of it. Naturally our dress blues were dirty and wrinkled, our polished shoes were scuffed, and our white hats were dirty. There was no way we were ready for inspection, and as relative boots, we were terrified we'd be gigged for having scroungy uniforms.

I recall instructors projecting aircraft silhouettes for us to identify in fractions of a second. Not Migs or Yaks, but Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs. Shades of WW2, this in 1954!

When we washed our whites and hung them on the lines outside the barracks to dry, they'd soon be covered by the blowing red dust of Oklahoma, and we had to wash them again.

When you walked to chow, you had to keep a sharp lookout for the prisoners being marched to chow by Marine guards. If you got too close, the Marines would fall you in with the prisoners, and you wouldn't be released until you got back to the brig.

There was a really great hobby shop on the base, with provisions for model building or working on cars. Who had time for that kind of thing? The school was only eight weeks long!

There was also a great indoor swimming pool, where we learned to jump into the water from 35 feet up and to tie knots in our dungaree trousers and fill them with air to keep afloat. We also swam evenings for fun and exercise.

There was a hangar on the base with a bunch of old Corsairs parked outside. We were supposed to learn to turn up the engines, but we never got to do that for some reason.

We wondered how they got those Corsairs on the base. There was no runway evident.

There was another Naval facility a few miles to the north, NAS Norman, but we didn't even know it existed, and didn't learn of it until many years later.

There was an SB2C Helldiver on display on a concrete pad at the south end of the base near our barracks.

At the very southern end of the base there was a low climbable fence and a field, and in this field was an aircraft boneyard full of hulks including F6F Hellcats, F7F Tigercats, TBM Avengers, and others I don't recall. It was interesting climbing through these hulks looking for personal items.

I received Christmas leave while at Norman. When I returned, several sailors and myself were dropped off by a taxicab at the front gate. Only after the taxi left did we learn the gate was unmanned and locked. We had to scale the fence and wade through heavy snow to get back to our barracks. We've heard of people going over the fence, but it's usually in the other direction.

I'd joined the Navy planning to become either an Aviation Machinist Mate to work on engines or an Aviation Structural Mechanic to work on structures. Instead my Navy instructors pressured me to become an Aviation Electronic Technician because of the need for techs in the fleet. My concept of electronics at the time was dirty colored waxed paper tubes beneath a sheet metal chassis. Nevertheless, I agreed, and this turned out to be a pivotal decision. I went on to ATA school, loved electronics, and the decision impacted my entire life positively.




Earle Mitchell USN/USNR (retired) recalls "I went thru boot at Bainbridge, MD in 1955 and then to Norman. Also, we actually turned up a couple of F4Us (landing gear was removed and the struts were in cement). Fond memories of drinking 'near beer' in OK City."



I had an interesting telephone conversation with Dave "Dub" Wilson, who went through NATTC Norman in 1954, same as I did, but surprise, surprise - he went there AFTER he'd been sent to his first duty station in Guam. Following ANP school, he proceeded to AD school at Memphis. Dave made AD1 shortly before completing his enlistment, and went on to work at Douglas-Tulsa. He told me something I hadn't known - he says Ollie's Restaurant in the terminal building at the Norman airport (now civilian, but used to be NAS Norman northside base in the old days) has photos and documentation regarding NATTC Norman. We've visited Norman twice, but I never thought to look there. To see more photos and details, you can visit Dave's web page at http://www.aviationdave.wordpress.com by simply clicking here.

Dave and wife Sara
A young Dave Wilson in uniform with wife Sara.
Click on the small image to see a larger image.



Robert Andrews reports by email: I finally got a picture of my graduating class in Norman Scanned, and a copy of the certificate. It was a long time ago, but still very special to me. I think often of the fine people of Oklahoma partially right now. We were just a bunch of kids right out of boot camp. The folks of Norman treated us as family. A gal took me home for Sunday dinner and then to church in the evening. As mentioned before a man gave a buddy and me a couple of tickets to a OU game. We could get in free at the time but where these tickets sat us was mid field. I remember we went to the roller rink a lot on off time. I have never had better pecan pie, and the Dr Pepper never tasted like it did out there again. In the bottom row I'm the second in from the right.

Editor comment: Sailors this early in their Navy careers seldom had cameras, so this is one of the few photos we have. And I'm guessing that building 77 sign in the background indicates the photo was taken in front of the military admin building. Note the small sign above the door, instructing students to use the rear entrance. And I see that Robert Andrews was an Airman, not a lowly Airman Apprentice, kind of unusual for ANP school, where most students were fresh out of boot camp.

Robert Andrews group
A young Robert Andrews with his shipmates.
Click on the small image to see a larger image.
Robert Andrews graduation certificate
Robert Andrews' graduation certificate. I don't recall seeing one before. I wonder if I got one?
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JC Marion reports by email: Some memories of ANP school at Norman - We had a harness on and were connected to a track on the ceiling above the swimming pool. To recreate the sensation of hitting the water on a parachute landing we had to unhook the D-ring, throw the harness over one shoulder and swim to the side. Another excercise was keeping ten men afloat on a six man raft.

Late in 1958 there was a tornado alert and the shelter looked like a subway station without tracks. I didn't want to go in because I had never seen a tornado before (being from NY City). The prisoners in the brig were marched with white hats turned down, with a sing song cadence call. All EM's were instructed to turn their backs until they passed. If you didn't or made fun of the cadence chant, you were put in line and marched off to the brig.

We had a huge snowfaii in early Jan of 1959 and the gas heaters located near the ceiling on each end of the barracks spewing out flame was a scary sight in those 20 year old wooden structures.

The planes were out in the middle of nowhere. They had a yellow line around the front, and if you set foot inside you had to drop to your knees and recite ten times loudly "I'm dead - I was killed by a prop!" Overnight fire watch out there was spooky.

One weekend we went to OKC and went to a place called Kotch's Dance Hall (not sure of the spelling). The first thing we saw inside was a clothes line down the middle of the floor. We were told is was Whites on one side and Indians (called "injuns", certainly not Native Americans) on the other. So as wise assed NYers we immediately cut the line. It took about 10 seconds for us to be thrown out. And the "injuns" were not too happy with us either.

I found OKC to be the most segregated city I had ever seen at that time.

I too made the move from Norman to AT school in Memphis (old Wing 5) but I washed out after 22 weeks. I wasn't That far from completion, in fact they gave me three chances, BUT. I had two choices - San Diego or Norfolk. I stayed on the East Coast and wound up on the flight deck of the USS Forrestal. Three years later I mustered out as ABH2 and entered the civilian work force.

ANP school in Norman was certainly different and it is long gone, but as they say the memories linger on.




John Sanders shared with us this copy of The Airman, the newspaper for NATTC Norman, Oklahoma dated April 6, 1959. One article features Bill Haley and the Comets, who were to play there Wednesday night. It is ironic in that when I reported to NAS Cecil Field on August 19, 1955, Bill Haley and the Comets played in the chow hall that night or soon thereafer.
The Airman
John Sanders saved this copy of The Airman. I hadn't known NATTC had a newspaper.
Click on the small image to see a larger image.



Dave Stevenson sent me a photo and several old, yellowed, brittle copies of the NATTC newspaper, The Bullhorn, a publication which apparently predated the NATTC newspaper above. So much information! The pages are large, requiring they be scanned and spliced, so I had to be VERY selective. By the time you read this, I will have sent them back, so if you want to see more, Dave has them.
The Bullhorn
The front page of Bullhorn for Thursday, December 13, 1945.
Click on the small image to see a larger image.
Base Tour
A full-page promotion for a base tour. Unfortunately,
they've cut off the barracks buildings to the east.
Click on the small image to see a larger image.
Aircraft on ramp
Recognize the photo? It's the one they used in the base tour
graphic above. Taken in 1945, it shows Hellcats, Corsairs,
Wildcats, and I believe those are Kingfishers in the background.
Click on the small image to see a larger image.
NATTC history 1
A pictorial history of NATTC Norman.
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NATTC history 2
Continuation of the pictorial history of NATTC Norman.
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Yvonne O'Connor, daughter of Leo E. Rasch, sent me his graduation certificate from AOM school, Norman, July 15, 1944. She also sent copies of the Camp Ward Anchor League, January 31, 1944, which has in it the roster of company 1063-43.
Graduation cover
The cover page of the graduation program for July 15, 1944.
Click on the small image to see a larger image.
Page 2
The program list of events.
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Honor men
A list of honor men. The Navy typically recognizes those graduating with the highest grades in their class as honor men.
Click on the small image to see a larger image.
Anchor League cover
The cover page of the Anchor League pamphlet.
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Page 2
Page 2 of the Anchor League pamphlet.
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Page 3
Page 3 of the Anchor League pamphlet, which lists the entire membership.
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Ron Phillips shared his copy of "On The Beach In Oklahoma", a 31-page booklet produced by the NATTC Welfare department in 1944. Recall that young sailors, typically 17 years old, graduated from restrictive Navy boot camp discipline and gloried in the relative freedom of NATTC Norman, Oklahoma. They considered themselves "Old Salts", and when given liberty tended toward bars, tatoo parlors, and seamier establishments. The booklet shared by Ron Phillips was an attempt by the Navy to show young sailors there were other attractions available within the granted 50-mile liberty radius. We regret we cannot post the entire 31 pages of the booklet, but we will post a few. Phillips went through AMM "A" school in 1943, in time to participate in WWII.
On The Beach In Oklahoma
Cover of the 31-page booklet.
Click on the small image to see a larger image.
Map of Norman, OK
A map of Norman, Oklahoma, page 6.
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Some Oklahoma benefits
The USO, trains, and taxis. Wow, look at those 1944 prices!
Click on the small image to see a larger image.



Marcia Johnson emailed to say her Mother was a Navy Nurse at Norman and her Dad was a Naval Corpsman for the Marines in the South Pacific, and was stationed at Norman after the war in 1945. She attached photos of their wedding December 8, 1945 in the new chapel there (Sorry we didn't have space for all the photos).
Dorothy Staves Doroty Vernor Ralph Vernor
Left: Dorothy Alice Staves, Navy Nurse.
Center: Dorothy Alice Vernor at age 95.
Right: Ralph Vernor, Navy Corpsman (we see he's a Chief Petty Officer).
Click on the small image to see a larger image.



Some Historical Information:

Approximately 25% of Navy enlisted personnel have trained at NATTC (Naval Air Technical Training Command) Norman, Oklahoma's AN(P) (airman prep) school. Students fresh from basic training at Great Lakes and San Diego were given a thorough indoctrination in naval aviation, preparing them for either more advanced service schools or for fleet aviation duties. NATTC Norman was first established in May, 1942, but was decommissioned after WW2. It was reactivated in January, 1952. The course of instruction was typically eight weeks long, and was designed to prepare a trainee for advancement to AN (Airman). Sometime approximately 1961 the base was finally given over to the University of Oklahoma.

Don't go back, as I've done - it's pretty sad. Better to remember NATTC Norman as it was.




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