History of Graham Air Base

History of Graham Air Base



Before World War II the City of Marianna managed an airport at the existing airport site, which covered 635 acres and included a 4,600 foot long dirt runway. The federal government acquired the airport and 1,915 additional acres in 1942 to construct the Marianna Army Airfield. Only one year later the Army Airfield served as a training base for the Southeast Army Air Force Training Command. The training command was removed from the base in 1946. The Federal Government returned control of 2,010 acres to the City of Marianna in 1947.

In 1951, the old Marianna Army Air Field was reactivated to provide primary flight training for Air Force pilots. New cadet barracks and other facilities were built. By 1952 military personnel began arriving and were greeted warmly by the residents of Jackson County. The air base ultimately employed 700 civilians.

Graham Air Base was named for William J. Graham, a civilian who provided primary flight training to pilots and headed the school. The air base was a contract flight school, which graduated pilots every six weeks. The pilots were then assigned to Moody AFB near Valdosta, Georgia for more advanced training. Graham operated under constant military supervision.

The Air Force decided to close Graham AB in late 1960, despite the efforts of the influential Congressman Sikes to keep it running. Jackson County lost a combined military and civilian payroll of $6 million, along with several hundred families. As the property was being evacuated, the industrial committee of the Junior Chamber of Commerce began working to adapt it to an industrial park.

Today the Marianna Municipal Airport has two 4,900 foot long by 100 foot wide intersecting runways with a pavement strength of 56,500 pounds single wheel load. Runway 18/36 serves as the primary runway.



Lt. Col. Evans G. Stephens
Commanding Officer


William R. Graham
Civilian Contractor



A. L. Taylor
Director of Academics


W. W. Wisner
Assistant Director of Academics


Top Row - Left to Right:
Jan S. T. Theuissen, William T. Bush, Richard D. Kelly,
Hazel Marie James, Dale M. Titler,
John G. Parks and Joseph W. Cockerhan

Bottom Row - Left to Right:
Dougald D. McMillan, James F. Avinger,
Albert C. Kemp, Jr., John M Bridges,
Kenneth Perkins and William F. Guy



Mr. A. A. Mullins
Link Dispatcher



Maj. Frank T. Bryan
Director of Military Flying


Capt. Frank J. Gerry, Jr.
Sr. Military Check Pilot


Capt. Rex N. Grable
Check Pilot


Capt. Traverse P. Hight, Jr.
Check Pilot


Capt. John W. Lowe
Check Pilot

(Not Pictured: 1/Lt. Jack R. Blough, Check Pilot)


Captain Howard L. Jensen
Director of Military Training


Captain Lee H. Mitchell
Senior Mil. Tac Officer


Captain Robert E. Proctor
Special Activities


1/Lt. Kenneth J. McIlvain, Jr.
Tac Officer


1/Lt. James T. McAdams
Tac Officer


Mrs. F. L. Jones


1955 Oscar Reunion Highlights

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