LAS VEGAS — Linus Upson Jr. was a 27-year-old Army Air Corps major when he was assigned to Command Indian Springs Army Air Field in 1945.
Both Upson and the base were in the early stages of serving their country. Upson had only a few years of service under his belt when the base stood up in early 1942.
“There was hardly anything on the base but a few buildings and almost nothing out on the range at the time,” Upson said.
The base was one of many established to support a growing military department after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Upson took command near the end of World War II when the creation of the U.S. Air Force was still two years away.
“The mission was to bring in aerial gunners for indoctrination,” said Upson, who recalls having a strong sense of pride in training men to survive combat missions.
After training, the gunners would serve on B-29 Superfortress bombers, which flew training missions over the Nevada range. Upson said the training focused heavily on teaching gunners how to tear the machine guns completely apart and put them back together.
After Victory in Europe Day, Upson managed the shutdown of the training mission he had built up. His reign as commander lasted only six months and ended with the final transfer of all gunnery training equipment to Las Vegas Army Air Field, which later became Nellis Air Force Base.
Upson went on to serve a full career, to include commanding more units before retiring as a colonel. After he left Indian Springs Airport, he wouldn’t set foot on the base for 68 years.
During those years, Indian Springs Army Air Field closed, reopened, switched services, changed missions and finally became Creech AFB. Today, the buildings have almost tripled, and it is home to the Air Force’s premier remotely piloted aircraft wing.
Upson finally returned to the base Nov. 27, 2013, and brought some of his family to see where he commanded.
Three generations of his family accompanied him on the visit, including two of his sons who also served in the military. One graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1970 and was an F-15 pilot before retiring as a colonel. Another served in the Army as an Infantry Ranger first lieutenant from 1967-1971 before switching to the U.S. Army Reserve.
“This is still a good place, as good a location as I remember it,” said Upson. “The mission is large now. It’s amazing what the Airmen do here.”
When asked about ever visiting any bases he’d served at in the past, Upson said he never avoided Creech but life never gave him the opportunity. After learning about the current mission, Upson realized a truth evident both when he commanded and today. The mission has always been to train Airmen for combat operations crucial to the fight.