Vance remained open, thanks to a folder in the property officer's desk

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cassidy Fisher
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

(This is the first in a series of heritage stories leading up to Vance’s 80th Anniversary celebration Sept. 17, 2021.) 

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Without Floyd Welsh, Vance Air Force Base could not have graduated over 35,000 pilots and counting. 

Maj. Floyd E. Welsh was born on Jan. 6, 1896, and grew up in Alva, Oklahoma. He served as the Post Operations Officer at Enid Army Flying Field in 1943.

After World War II, Welsh was assigned to the Office of War and Surplus Property in Washington D.C., according to the 71st Flying Training Wing historian. 

As the Property Officer, Welsh had the responsibility of evaluating property that was no longer needed by the military. 

The Enid Army Flying Field folder crossed his desk as one of the installations being considered for permanent closure due to the decreased need for pilots. 

Welsh put the folder in his desk drawer where it remained for two years, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. 

Lt. Col. Daniel Hewes, 71st Student Squadron commander, said that Welsh must have had some foresight into keeping Vance Air Force Base, then Enid Army Flying Field, open. That may be why he hid the folder. 

“He knew that there was a lot of community support in Enid,” said Hewes. “And Enid has a lot of airspace and access to surrounding airfields.” 

In June 1948, President Truman ordered the Air Force to provide supplies for the Berlin Airlift. To deliver those supplies, the Air Force needed more pilots in a hurry. 

When asked if there were any training bases that had not been sold, Welsh brought out the Enid Army Flying Field folder. 

If it weren’t for Welsh holding onto that folder, Hewes said he wouldn’t have the humbling experience of caring for the many pilots going through training today in Enid, Oklahoma.

The base reopened on Aug. 1, 1948, as Enid Air Force Base.

“We are training the next generation of pilots and thanks to Welsh, we have trained multiple generations since 1948,” said Hewes.