%> Nevada Riches: The Land and People of the Silver State
Nevada Government & Politics
World War II & Post-War

Las Vegas Army Air Field (Nellis)

Giant Nellis Air Force base had its beginning in 1941.  Then, it was called the Las Vegas Army Gunnery School.  The main mission of the gunnery school was to train young soldiers, who would be working from American B-17 Flying fortress bombers, to shoot down attacking enemy planes.  Between 1941 and 1945, when the base closed for a time, nearly 55,000 men received machine gun training.

Soldiers and sailors often wrote letters home to share their new experiences with family and friends.  One soldier named Johnny, stationed at the Gunnery School in 1942, shared his excitement about taking his first flight.  He wrote that it was windy and compared the gunnery practice to "shooting a .22 off a bucking horse at a `Bull Durham' sack."  Many of the soldiers who had trained at the Gunnery School returned to make Las Vegas their home after the war ended.

Photo Credits:
1: Nevada Historical Society
2: Nevada State Museum and Historical Society