Korean War Era at Brookley Field

Turn back time with this photo of women in uniform at Korean War-era Brookley Army Air Field.

black and white photo of women in uniform at the Brookley Army Air Force Field
Photo courtesy Azalea City News Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama

In the 1950s, by the time of the Korean War, about 120,000 women from the United States and 5,000 from Canada were on active duty. They acted as healthcare providers or volunteered for service in various women’s organizations. American women enrolled in organizations such as the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Women in the Air Force (WAF), Navy Women’s Reserves and Women Marines, with some operating at Brookley Air Force Base. Canadian women, including those pictured to the right on board a plane at Brookley, served in Canada’s equivalent branches. Out of the six aeromedical evacuation units located in the United States responsible for air evacuation during the Korean War, one was located at Brookley Air Force Base.

Brookley Air Force Base Timeline

1938: The Army Air Corps takes over the 1,000-acre site, former home of Mobile’s first municipal airport, Bates Field, and establishes Brookley Army Air Field.

1944: Brookley becomes a prominent Army Air Forces supply base for the Air Material Command in the southeastern United States and the Caribbean.

1948: Following the war, the base was renamed to Brookley Air Force Base (AFB).

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1960: Rumors of Brookley’s closure begin to surface — by this year, it had over 13,000 employees.

1964: The Secretary of Defense announces the closure of Brookley Field.

1969: Brookley AFB closes. It was the largest base closure in U.S. history up to that time and wiped out 10 percent of jobs in the Mobile workforce.

By the Numbers

129,000 The approximate number of people from the state of Alabama who served in the Korean War.

$1.8 million The cost of Brookley expansion in 1952, adding 39 acres and a new role in the Air Force purchasing program.

$95 million The amount in annual payroll that Brookley AFB provided to the local economy at the time of its closure.

2002 The year that the Korean War Memorial opened in the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park.

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