Pyote Texas Historical Events Profile and Resource Guide, City or community of Pyote, Texas Historical Events and Facts, Information, Relocation, Real Estate

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Pyote, Texas Historical Events

mid 1940's to 2001
Soon after World War two, the Army Air Corp. brought B-24 bombers to Pyote Air Base in such numbers that when one toped the hill, east-bound, on the Bankhead hiway (Texas/U.S. 80), you could see B-24s parked wing tip to wing tip; as far as the eye could see; in rows that left only enough room between the tail of one and the nose of the other for a truck to pass between.

As a child, traveling with my father in old trucks, it was hard for me to fathom so many big planes in one place, when I was accustomed to our family making a festive occasion of driving out west of my home town of Big Spring, TX, parking the car and waiting just to see the one old twin engine D C -3(?) come in for a landing!

Little did I dream that someone was going down each of those rows; setting charges of explosives in each plane, and loading the material on trucks, bound for smelters that would melt it down into sheets; again to be built into jet planes that would be flown in another, the government called this one a "Police Action"; that would continue to this day, Oct. 15, 2001.

but, at age 70, I can still see the little town of Pyote, Texas, with its one little, not restaurant... CAFE, and the local Drug store, operated by a druggist by the name of Mchugh, whose daughter, Banena McHugh, would one day attend business school with me, more than 300 miles away, in San Antonio.

Submitted by Wm. S. Birdwell
Whitefish, MT 59937

During World War II I was stationed at Pyote Army Air Base, Texas, from September 1944 through February 24, 1945. The base had been built during 1942 or 1943. Originally, it was a B-17 combat crew-training base for Replacement Crews that spent a few months there training before they transferred to combat units overseas. It was a very remote site. I well remember riding the Texas & Pacific railroad train from Ft Worth en route to El Paso. When the train stopped at Pyote, there was only a tiny building which served as the train workers office. All passengers stayed outside in the open air and waited for an Army truck to pick us up. There were no living accommodations for married personnel. Couples lived in Wink, Monahans, Kermit or Pecos. I had permission to live off base with my wife, with a family named Titus in Pecos, Texas. They were wonderful, kind folks. All Army transit personnel were assigned to the 236th AAF Base Unit (Replacement Combat Crew Training (Very Heavy)). The entire base was in the process of changing from training B-17 crews to B-29 crews. One of the requirements to complete our training was to fly a long over-water flight from Pyote to Havana, Cuba and return, which simulated the long over-water flights we were going to experience when we did combat flying from the Marianas Islands to Japan in the Pacific. After the war, the airport was used as a "storage facility" for Army combat airplanes. Eventually, they chopped up new and used airplanes and put them in a smelter which was built on the field. Later the name was changed to Rattlesnake Air Base.
Submitted by Joseph A Simonds

Bomber crew training in World War II
I've never been to Pyote, but I've known the name all of my life. My father flew 35 combat missions in B-17s in World War II, and I know five of his postings as well as my own name: basic training - Miami Beach; radio school - Scott Field (BLV), IL; gunnery training - Tyndall AFB (PAM), FL; crew training - Pyote, TX; combat - Glatton, UK (near Peterborough).

I don't know what the structure of the command at Pyote was, nor what designation of any interim training assignments were, but he ultimately flew in the 750th Squadron, 457th Bomb Group, 94th Combat Wing, 1st Air Division, 8th Air Force. His particular tour in England was from August through December, 1944, so I would think his time at Pyote would have been Spring and early Summer.I don't mean to give offense, but my father's recollections of Pyote were not particularly complimentary. I recall him mentioning hot and cold, and I think insects were involved, and my image was that the place was isolated and stark. But crew training was a matter of getting to know the people with whom you would eventually face the rigors of combat, so I can't help but believe that the surroundings, notwithstanding, the experience at Pyote must have been generally positive.

My father passed away in 1995. For the last 20 years of his life he was involved in various WWII reunion organizations, and, of course, Pyote was mentioned now and again amongst fellow airmen.

I don't know how many crews eventually passed through Pyote, but small town though it may be, it left an impression on its visitors far out of proportion to its size, and even for some of us who haven't even been there, it won't be forgotten for a long time.
Submitted by L. Rodney Peterson

World War II Memories
I recall B-29 bombers on training flights from Rattlesnake Field made wide turns over our home in Penwell. They were returning to base and sometimes tossed out odds and ends on the turn.
I had a horse and rode around the scrub brush countryside picking up their discards such as headphones, bullet casings, and such. They were very low and loud and you could hear them coming. Then, following war’s end, local people bought salvaged nose sections which made dandy green houses for their back yards. I often wonder if any of those greenhouses are still in use?
Submitted by Glenn Elliott, Houston

1942, June 26
I was born in Kermit as Pyote did not have a civilian hospital. My grandpa, also Joe Whitefield, owned the infamous Aztec Cafe. The Fort Worth Star Telegram wrote an article in January of '43 about Pyote and the Aztec as the best steak house in all of West Texas, My dad was a civilian welder at Rattlesnake AFB and my mother was a secretary to Major Tenheuten, the base commander. Maybe he was a colonel. The druggist was McHugh, the railroad station / postman was Dealy, we had the only entertainment and everything was kept lawful according to Sheriff Tom Bowen, his way. I could write a book about Pyote, the rise and fall of Rattlesnake Bomber Base, Oakies passing through on the way to California and New Yorkers stationed in West Texas. Anyone interested call me. Joe Whitefield, Seattle WA 425-747-6282
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This page is for perpetual written accounts of historical events that have occurred in the city. Anyone who feels they have pertinent information may submit it. This includes all people in or out of Pyote and could involve any interested adults or children with events or items that are of interest. Items may be submitted for publication on this page where they will remain as part of a historical archive for the city. Items of interest may include noteworthy events, special events of historical importance, information about area growth that pertains to the history of the city, and other pertinent notes. We hope to establish a large data base of information about the history of each city. Historical Societies are encouraged to open their own page on Key to the City for more extensive historical information.

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