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Harris Neck Army Airfield - Townsend, GA
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member onfire4jesus
N 31° 38.508 W 081° 16.766
17R E 473503 N 3500766
Quick Description: At the start of World War II, the Army took over the existing airfield at Harris Neck for training pilots. After WWII, the Army gave the land to McIntosh County. Today it is part of the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge.
Location: Georgia, United States
Date Posted: 7/22/2008 4:12:48 PM
Waymark Code: WM48RF
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member RakeInTheCache
Views: 52

Long Description:

Today all that remains of the Airfield is the runways which are cracked with grass growing in the cracks.

From the Harris Neck Wildlife Refuge web site:
The 2,824 acres comprising Harris Neck NWR have had a long, and at times, controversial history. Distinguished as one of the oldest intensively farmed areas along the Georgia coast, Harris Neck was among the first land grants given to early English and Scottish settlers in 1750. While staple crops were produced, it was the high quality Sea Island Cotton which brought European fame to the coastal agricultural industry. Unfortunately, poor farming practices soon exhausted the fragile sandy loan soils, and large scale farming was abandoned in 1860.

The Civil War brought an end to the "Old South" plantation era, and Harris Neck was divided into smaller farms. The community, thus established, thrived until the advent of World War II, when the U.S. Government condemned the property for use as an air base. Twelve hundred acres were converted into a triangular landing strip for use as a training facility by the War Department. The P-40 "Kittyhawk" (pictured below), used at Harris Neck Army Airfield, later gained fame from missions with the legendary Flying Tigers, who shot down 286 Japanese aircraft during WWII.

After World War II, the property was given to McIntosh County for guardianship and use as a municipal airport. Due to county mismanagement of the land resources, Harris Neck was transferred to the Federal Aviation Agency. On May 25, 1962, the U.S. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife (forerunner of the USFWS) acquired the property and established the area as a migratory bird refuge.

The sign at the old Harris Neck Army Airfield reads:

On December 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the United States was drawn into World War II, a detachment of air guardsmen from Hunter Field in Savannah took over the existing runway and support buildings at Harris Neck. Previously, Army squadrons had used this facility for aerial gunnery training. In 1943, Harris neck became a permanent auxiliary-base of Dale Mabry Field in Tallahassee, Florida, and was assigned to the 111 Fighter Command.

At Harris Neck Field, the Army Corps trained pilots in two types of single-seat fighter aircraft: the P-39 "Airacobra" and the P-40, the famous "Kitty Hawk" flown by Chenault's "Flying Tigers" in China. In February of 1944, the P-40 replaced the Airacobra. Eleven pre-fabricated buildings and a hangar shed were constructed the next month, and an officer's club was opened. In May, barracks for 125 men, maintenance and machine shops, warehouses, a non-commissioned officers' club and other facilities were completed.

Harris Neck Field reached its zenith in September 1944. A total of 575 enlisted personnel and 129 officers served at the base. Thirty-two P-40's and five BT-13 planes were in use. However, by November the troop level was significantly reduced. The post theater remained open until the end of the year, offering entertainment such as weekly films, and a USO Troupe visit. On December 31, 1944, Harris Neck Field was deactivated and reassigned to the Air Technical Service Command. Supplies, equipment, and files were shipped to Warner Robbins (Georgia) and Dale Mabry Field (Florida).

After WWII, the property was given to McIntosh County for guadianship and use as a municipal airport. Due to mismanagement, Harris Neck reverted back to the federal government. On May 25, 1962, the U.S.Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife (forerunner of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service) acquired the land for a migratory bird refuge.

Related Website: [Web Link]

Supplementary Related Website: [Web Link]

Admission Fee: 0

Opening Days/Times:
dusk to dawn 7 days a week

Visit Instructions:
Posting a picture(s) of the location would be nice although not required.
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Recent Visits/Logs:
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2Wolfes visited Harris Neck Army Airfield - Townsend, GA 5/21/2016 2Wolfes visited it
onfire4jesus visited Harris Neck Army Airfield - Townsend, GA 4/4/2008 onfire4jesus visited it

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