December 12th, 2012
In January of 1943 the Army Air Force Weather School was established in Grand Rapids. Four hundred cadets and thirty instructors began a nine month course in meteorology at the Civic Auditorium.
Grand Rapids learned in November of 1942 that the Army Air Force Weather School would be established here in January of 1943. It would house, feed, drill, train, and otherwise care for about 7,000 trainees. It was also expected to employ about 1600 civilians.
On January 4th, 400 cadets, with 30 instructors, began their nine-month course in meteorology, and the number would soon increase to 700. Classes were held on the main floor of the Civic Auditorium.
Cadets and some staff officers were quartered at the Pantlind Hotel; the Rowe Hotel was quarters for enlisted personnel; the Manufacturers building housed the quartermaster’s department; and the Fine Arts and Pantlind Exhibition Buildings also contained classrooms.
More than $500,000 went into the alteration and improvement of several buildings, which became a first class group of weather school structures. Both officers and men were delighted with Grand Rapids as a training center.
Six months later headlines notified the city that the Weather School would close and transfer to Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois. The Rowe and Pantlind closed July 15th; graduation ceremonies were held at Keith’s Theater September 6th for several hundred cadets; and by Ocober 15th the entire operation was shut down.
A GR Press editorial commented, “Perhaps after the war our Army chiefs will tell us why these buildings were not used for the duration. We hope the decision was not due to someone’s political prodding.”
|Keywords||WYCE; Community Media Center; Historical Commission; Grand Rapids; World War II; weather|
|Pubdate String||December 12th, 2012|