Sunday, April 1, 2012

US Naval Air Station - Argentia Newfoundland

Naval Air Station Argentia

Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland is a former base of the United States Navy, that operated from 1941-1994.  It was established in the community of Argentia in what was then the Dominion of Newfoundland, which later became the tenth Canadian Province.

Established under the British-U.S. lend-lease program, the base was first occupied on January 25th, 1941 following the expropriation of the flat headland formed by a small natural bay called Little Placentia Sound and the western end facing Placentia Bay by the Newfoundland government; over 400 families were displaced. [1]

U.S. Ships and aircraft in Little Placentia Sound, 1942

The United States Naval Station Argentia play an significant role in my family's livelihood,  beginning with my grandfather Stephen Flynn Jr. According to his notes and letters of accommodation, he worked at the US Naval Station from 1942 - 1949, his speciality was plumbing and pipe fitting.  During these years he was often called on to perform work as  Boiler Maker and Repairman, and as Engine man, Hoist and Power, which included running a forty-ton Derrick.

 I was told by Uncle Ray that while his father was working on the base he learned of a position that became available for a secretary in the Administration office.  My mother had just completed a Commercial Course in Harbour Main for secretarial skills and applied for this job, I believe this was around 1948, she would of been around 18-19 years old. ( Harbour Main is about 90 minutes from Argentia Naval Base, taking this position meant moving to Argentia)

My father, LeRoy Dollen joined the United States Navy in 1948 at the age of 16 years old, he had been stationed in Argentia around 1949, this was when my parents met for the first time. They met again after my mother had moved to Brooklyn New York in the early 1950's, they were married in 1953.  My father served the in US Navy for 22 years and often requested to be stationed  in Argentia, so my mother could be near her family, this occurred in 1955, 1958 and 1965-1969.  ( I will write more about those times in future posts)


On August 7, 1941 the heavy cruiser USS Augusta carrying U.S President Franklin D Roosevelt arrived in the anchorage at Little Placentia Sound off the base.  Roosevelt inspected the base construction progress and did some fishing from the Augusta over the next two days.  Augusta was joined by the British warship HMS Prince of Wales carrying British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on Aug 9th 1941.  While in the Argentia anchorage from August 9 - 12, the chiefs of staff of Britain and U.S met to discuss was strategies and logistics once the U.S. joined the war.                                                                                
WORLD WAR II operations - On August 28th, 1941 Naval Air Station Argentia was commissioned.  NAS Argentia was built on the plateau atop the triangular peninsula adjacent to Naval Station Argentia's anchorage and shore facilities.  The air station was used to base convoy protection, coastal patrol and anti-submarine aircraft, both land-based aircraft and seaplanes.  While NAS Argentia was nominally an independent facility from Naval Station Argentia, both facilities are largely viewed as one. In 1944, Argentia served as one of the two stopover bases for the refueling, maintenance, and crew changes of the six United States Navy (USN) K-ships (blimps) that made the first transatlantic crossings of non-rigid airships.

COLD WAR operations - Following the war in August 1945. the first dependents of naval personal were permitted to move to Argentia to live in permanent quarters on base.  In 1949, Newfoundland joined Canadian Confederation as the 10th province.  During the Cold War, Argentia Naval Station became a key "node" in the Northwest Atlantic SOSUS network, helping to detect Soviet nuclear submarines.  The base was the target of several espionage attempts between the 1940s-1990s as a result.  In 1973, NAS Argentia was decommissioned and the land transferred in 1975 to the Government of Canada.  Until 1994, the runways of the former airfield were utilized by the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. [2]
The History of the United States Naval Air Station-Argentia is an integral part of my Family History, I always knew it was a segment of my story but did not understand it's depth and importance until I put thought into writing this post.

[1]
        Naval Station Argentia  - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia,

[2]
        Ibid

11 comments:

  1. Elaine, your father was so young to enlist in the Navy. I wonder if he needed his parents permission to enlist.

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  2. Good work Elaine ...we visited you there in late 60s
    Gary.

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  3. Good work Elaine ...we visited you there in late 60s
    Gary.

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  4. My father was stationed there during WWII... I was born in Argentia November 1949 and left when I was 6 weeks old.

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    1. I was stationed in Argentia in 1968. I did two tours to Vietnam with MCB-40 and was a Heavy Equipment Operator. I spent my 4th and last year in the Navy at Argentia driving the base school bus and the base taxi and also ran grader and Osh Kosh snow blowers on the run way. The snow flurries were 3 or 5 feet of snow and drifting snow was really deep.

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    2. We were at Argentia same time as you, You must have been our kids school bus driver, their pick-up/drop-off, was the base hospital. Was the base bus called a 'taxi'? Used it sometimes. Hangars were husbands job site. Remember couldn't move on the base when in certain snow/wind conditions.

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  6. My dad was stationed there in the 60's. It is part of my life history. A memorable place.

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  7. I was born and raised there as a USCivilian Dependent. My dad was stationed there during WWII and later married his war bride. They moved back to Argentia to be closer to her family. He was a Flynn also, but was from Boston. We moved to Georgia in the late 60's when Nixon started phasing out the base operations.

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