Chain of Army

Middle Island Mail

January 22. 1941

Chain of Army Air Defense Fields Is Proposed for Suffolk County

   The development of several army air bases between Patchogue and Montauk Point as a part of the national defense program, especially as it relates to the protection of the metropolitan area in the event of war, is proposed to be undertaken in the immediate future as the result of surveys now being completed by military officials and engineers.

   This fact was made public last Tuesday by Supervisor Edgar A. Sharp in an address before the Lincoln Republican club at its annual meeting in Patchogue and followed a series of private conferences held during the past several weeks between Supervisor Sharp and government officials and air corps specialists.

   Without divulging the sites of these proposed bases, Supervisor Sharp pointed out that they will be an entirely different type than those previously constructed by the army in that they will be either underground or else in heavily wooded areas where there would be little possibility of their detection from the air by an invading aerial force.

   Mr. Sharp told his audience that defense experts realize very keenly the strategic importance of this section of Long Island in time of war and the necessity for losing no time in setting up these additional airbases.  These, he said, he had been advised, would be of the utmost significance in combating, not only an air force aiming to strike at New York but also one that might seek the destruction of  the huge munition plants located along the Connecticut shore of Long Island sound.

   He continued to relate that these military experts had informed him that existing airports on Long Island located at LaGuardia airport, Floyd Bennett field and Mitchel field would be inadequate and possibly ineffective in beating off an attack on New York because of their proximity to New York.  These army officials told Mr. Sharp,  he said, that Long Island offers the natural pathway to New York to an invading air force and by the time such a squadron reached the airports in the west end of the island it would be too late for planes there to get into the air and beat off such an attack.

   To offset this apparent weakness is the reason for the establishment of these additional bases between here and the eastern extremity of Long Island, Mr. Sharp set forth.

   He then went on to point out the necessity for developing these new types of airports which are not evident from the air, since modern bombing planes could readily damage existing bases in the west end of the island, as they are wholly above the ground and offer an easy aerial target.

   In this connection he told of the incident related to him by one of the experts who has been here studying the situation, in an observation flight with the British over German territory.  This official told Mr. Sharp that they knew a Nazi air base was located in a certain sector but all efforts to detect it from a safe altitude were in vain.  Finally a dive bomber shot down from the British squadron and as he reached a low altitude saw planes “roaring out from underground like so many worms.”

   It is something on this type of air base that is contemplated for Suffolk County, Mr. Sharp said, and they will be constructed in accordance with the topography of the sites selected, either below the ground or above in a heavily protected area.  Indications are that little time will be lost in putting into effect this newest phase of the defense program which would convert the thinly populated sections of Suffolk county into key posts for heading off an enemy air armada.


This article is from the Mid-Island Mail

Date:  January 22, 1941

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