Chanute Air Force Base

Halloween at Chanute

Winners of the costume contest, Mrs. Hill and M. Sgt. R. L. Jackson pose for a photograph. Published in Chanute Field Wings on Friday, October 31, 1941.On Halloween in 1941, the Chanute Air Force Base (CAFB) saw a spooky night hosted by the Non-Commissioned Officer’s (NCO) club. “Ghosts, goblins, and broom riding witches cavorted beneath a bright harvest moon as the Chanute NCO club staged its annual Halloween Hop Saturday evening.” The event featured an award for the best costumes. The award was presented to Mrs. Hill, the wife of master sergeant Joe Hill, for her costume as Annie Oakley. Mrs. Hill’s western dress, prop gun and holster, and large ten gallon hat made for a quite compelling costume. Mrs. Hill shared the spotlight with master sergeant R. L. Jackson who humorously presented himself as “a professor of Science.” Bespectacled by horn-rimmed glasses, a professorial overcoat, and a long wig, Jackson inspired laughter amongst his fellow party goers. Read more about Halloween at Chanute

Chanute Air Force Base Closure: 26 Year Anniversary

On this day, September 30th, twenty six years ago Chanute Air Force Base closed its doors along with several other Air Force bases across the country. Even though Chanute witnessed many changes in the United States, from the Great Depression to the technology boom in the 1980s, 1988 was the beginning of the end of an era for Chanute. It was a transition period in the United States as the Cold War came to end and Americans were encouraged to look forward to a time where military force was no longer necessary. As plans unfolded, many people feared the effect Chanute’s closing would have on the Rantoul community. For those who are just learning about Chanute today, it is difficult to imagine how much an impact the Base had on the day-to-day life in Rantoul. However, when you compare the photos here, one from 1917-1930s and the other from the 1990s, it is clear to see that when Chanute Air Force Base evolved so did the surrounding area. When the Base grew and expanded its influence so did local businesses, schools, and community groups.

Aerial photo of Chanute AFB and Rantoul, 1917-1930s   Aerial photo of Chanute AFB and Rantoul, 1990s Read more about Chanute Air Force Base Closure: 26 Year Anniversary

Greetings from Chanute! Let’s visit the Dining Hall

Soldiers lined up waiting to enter mess hall Cooks in the kitchen at Chanute

On March 16, 1992, former Chanute cook and World War II veteran Donald R. Hakala wrote to base historian Don Weckhorst asking for recipes from his time at the base. Hakala fondly remembered cooking in the Chanute kitchens and serving the men and women of the base breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the 1950s. By 1992 Hakala, was getting on in years and eager to revisit his life as a cook on the base to share the stories and recipes with his family and friends. Read more about Greetings from Chanute! Let’s visit the Dining Hall

Chanute Spotlight: Mary Ruth Clemons

Picture of Mary R. Clemons at Chanute, 1943 posing with a bicycleMary Ruth Clemons (1910-1992) was born in Marion, Illinois on February 18, 1910 to John Robert and Edith Caroline Grant Crenshaw. In the 1920s, Clemons attended Marion Township High School. Following high school, she enrolled in Browns’ Business College in Marion, Illinois. Browns’ was a chain of schools founded by George W. Brown in the 1870s that focused on specialized office jobs, such as bookkeeping, stenography, cashier work, and clerkship. During their 10-month school year, Clemons rigorously trained in bookkeeping, commercial arithmetic, writing, commercial law, business correspondence, spelling, shorthand, typewriting, indexing and filing in preparation for a secretarial career. Read more about Chanute Spotlight: Mary Ruth Clemons

Greetings from Chanute!: The Story of Chanute Field's 29th Commanding Officer, 1940-1944, 1946

Young Raymond E. O'NeillThroughout its history, Chanute Air Force Base (CAFB) had fifty-four commanding officers (CO) from 1917-1993.  Most COs had a brief stint at CAFB, many lasting less than a single year. One of the base’s first COs to hold the position for an extended period was Brigadier General Raymond E. O’Neill. Read more about Greetings from Chanute!: The Story of Chanute Field's 29th Commanding Officer, 1940-1944, 1946

This May marks 100 years for the former Chanute Air Force Base, 1917 - 1993

Postcard from Chanute Air Force Base, 1945

This year the former Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois celebrates its 100th anniversary. The base was established May 1917, following the United States’ entry into WWI and trained over 2 million servicemen and women during its 76 years of operation. Read more about This May marks 100 years for the former Chanute Air Force Base, 1917 - 1993

Chanute Airmen Feed the Birds

Chanute Air Force Base (1917-1993) located in Rantoul, Illinois was nationally known for its training of pilots, mechanics, aerial photographers, firefighters, and missile technicians, but locally the personnel were active members of the Rantoul and wider Champaign County community. One incident I uncovered recently highlights this relationship beautifully.

Read more about Chanute Airmen Feed the Birds