JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO–LACKLAND, Texas —
Kelly Field Annex, home to the one of the Department of Defense’s only joint-use airfields, is ringing in the new year with its official new name: Kelly Field.
The name change to Kelly Field coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce granting the airfield to the U.S. Government in 1917.
The request for the name change came from Port San Antonio in 2015 and was made official December 2017.
In an excerpt from the letter sent in 2015, Port San Antonio asked Joint Base San Antonio and the Air Education Training Command leadership to “preserve the heritage of Kelly Field and Kelly Air Force Base by maintaining the simplified Kelly Field namesake in all formal and informal references.”
Lt. Col. Patrick K.F. McClintock, 502nd Operations Support Squadron commander at JBSA-Lackland, applauded the move.
“It’s important to Military City USA, the city of San Antonio and Port San Antonio,” said McClintock.
Kelly Field has undergone at least seven name changes in the past 100 years, according to Patrick Howard, Kelly Field historian.
“It’s now got a modern function,” said Howard. “It’s sort of the wave of the future with the public and private partnership. It’s not solely a military facility anymore.”
McClintock said they are working to get all publications in line with the new name. Before this official name change, the airfield was called different names by different groups. It was even called Kelly Field for a while years ago.
“Some publications listed it as Kelly Field Annex or Lackland Air Force Base; there was a disconnect, or lack of synergy,” said McClintock.
While Kelly Field’s historic place in San Antonio is well-known by many, McClintock said they are now speaking to international visitors to the air field.
“This is really for us to make sure that all airfield instructions and airfield databases show the airfield as Kelly Field and the [Federal Aviation Administration] recognizes it as Kelly Field.”
Looking ahead, Kelly Field will continue to be as busy as ever. The civilian military airfield is home to the 149th Fighter Wing of the Air Force National Guard, 433rd Airlift Wing and home to one of Boeing’s largest maintenance operations for civilian and military aircraft.
Kelly Field also maintains the civil support of military and government aircraft, as well as industrial and international aviation. During the holiday shopping rush back in December daily Boeing 767 cargo operations used Kelly Field to land several aircrafts, McClintock said.
Roland Mower, President and CEO of Port San Antonio, said 2018 will be a busy time for Kelly Field.
“In our ongoing collaboration with JBSA and partners at the local, state and federal levels, we look forward to continue to further development of Kelly Field’s infrastructure and growth for years to come.”
In December 2017 the Texas Military Preparedness Commission approved a $5 million grant as part of a comprehensive $20 million effort to build a new air traffic control tower at Kelly Field, build a new airfield operations complex and upgrade several hangars to support the growth of military missions. Port San Antonio will match the $5 million, and funding for the remaining $10 million is pending congressional approval of the 2018 DOD budget, according to Mower.
“We have one of the oldest traffic control towers in the Air Force and we’ve had a lot of infrastructure issues with that tower to the point where we impacted air field operations and the ability for our folks (Air Force partners) to train here,” said McClintock.
McClintock added their partnership with Port San Antonio is strong and while positive changes are coming that will benefit everyone, he wants to make sure that Kelly Field’s air power heritage is always preserved.
“We are proud partners in honoring Kelly Field’s legacy and ensuring that it remains a vital and strategic asset in the century ahead,” Mower added.