This weekend we celebrate Veterans Day. This is a day to pause and honor those who have served and salute the sacrifices made by members of the United States Armed Forces, as well as their families.
As home to the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and over 12,000 veterans, Wayne County is especially proud of those who have served to protect our freedom. To help celebrate these brave men and women, let’s take a look at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base – how it was established and has thrived right here in Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base was activated on June 12, 1942, five months after the United States entered World War II, as a Headquarter, Technical School and Army Air Forces Technical Training Command. The following year it also assumed responsibility for preparing Air Corps personnel for deployment overseas. During this time, the base trained pilots for the P-47 aircraft and housed a number of German prisoners of war. It was deactivated in May 1946, once World War II ended.
A campaign to reactivate the base was led by Mayor Scott B. Berkeley, a World War I aviator, and John Lewis, a World War II aviator and prisoner of war, in the early 1950s. Working with U.S. Congressman, Graham Barden of Sampson County, the base reopened as part of the Tactical Air Command and soon became home to the Fourth Tactical Fighter Wing, also referred to simply as The Fourth Wing. The Fourth Wing is famous for shooting down the greatest number of enemy aircrafts in both World War II and the Korean War.
Since its reactivation, the base has been the headquarters of the 482nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the Air Defense Command, the 68th Bombardment Wing of the Strategic Air Command, the 19th “Suitcase” Air Force, and many other units.
The name of the base honors Navy Lt. Seymour A. Johnson, native of Goldsboro, a test pilot who was killed in crash in March, 1941. As of the early 2000s, Seymour Johnson is the only air force base in the world named for a U.S. Navy pilot. The base is also unique in that it enjoys one of the best reputations in the air force for community relations. A huge set of air force pilot’s wings overlook downtown Goldsboro near City Hall, symbolizing the extraordinary relationship between the civilian and military communities.
The Wings Over Wayne Air Show is just another example of this special bond. This biannual event, scheduled in odd-numbered years, brings the two communities together in ways that are hard to define. It has become a part of Wayne County’s, and even the state’s, legacy. This free event is way for the base to show its thanks and appreciation for the ongoing support of the base and its mission. On April 27th and 28th, 2019 the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will highlight the next Wings Over Wayne Air Show. The Thunderbirds are the Air Force’s premier aerial demonstration team, preforming maneuvers and demonstrating the capabilities of these high performance aircrafts. This event draws crowds from all over the state and country, and has a tremendous impact on the local economy. You won’t want to miss this spectacular event, so be sure to mark your calendars.
Once again, to all of our veterans, we thank you for your bravery, sacrifice and dedication. To those currently serving, we thank you! And, just a reminder from all of us in Goldsboro and Wayne County, “We Love Jet Noise!”