Ten years of concentrated efforts by city officials led to the establishment of a U.S. Army Air Corps Advanced Flying School at Lubbock in the summer of 1941. Built ten miles west of the city, where barracks, runways and other military facilities replaced cotton fields and grassland, the base officially opened in January 1942. Renamed Lubbock Army Flying School the next month as the first class of cadets arrived, the base provided training to more than 7,000 World War II pilots by the time of its deactivation in 1945.
During the post-war years reserve units used the facilities here, and barracks were converted into housing for returning veterans and their families. By 1949 the base was reactivated and renamed in honor of First Lt. Augustus F. Reese, Jr., a Shallowater, Texas, native killed in action during World War II.
Designated a permanent installation by 1950, Reese Air Force Base was transferred to Air Training Command in 1958. Thousands of pilots were trained here in the following decades, but by the 1990s the base was slated for permanent closure, leaving a 56-year legacy of excellence. More than 25,000 men and women earned their wings at Reese, including more than 600 international students from 40 allied countries.