While Fort Worth may be nicknamed ‘Cowtown’ for cattle drives and stockyards, our planes and pilots have played just as large a part in our city’s legacy. Seven miles west of downtown Fort Worth is the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, where the roar of aircraft engines has been a familiar sound for generations.
Our city’s base and its important role in defending our national security dates back to the earliest days of aviation. It was founded in 1932 and supported America’s efforts in World War II by serving as a heavy-bomber training school, and was later renamed in 1948 after Fort Worth native and Medal of Honor recipient, Major Horace Carswell, Jr., who gave his life while attempting to crash land his crippled B-24 over China.
For several decades, the base was known as Carswell Air Force Base until the early 1990s, when I was the Mayor of Fort Worth, and the base became targeted for closure due to Defense Department budget cuts. For our community—where for nearly half a century, we grew up with the sights and sounds of fighter aircraft training overhead—the base’s closure would have been a tremendous loss, and would have taken away about 12,000 careers. I worked tirelessly with Congress, the Pentagon, and local leaders who joined me in our crusade to keep our base open. In 1994, we won the battle to keep our base, and it was to be transformed and made even greater. Carswell Air Force Base was recommissioned as the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, America’s first-ever joint reserve command serving not just the Navy, but all branches of the U.S. military.
Today, NAS JRB Fort Worth’s 11,000 military reservists, Texas Guardsmen, and civilian employees work around the clock strengthening our local community and our national defense. NAS JRB Fort Worth supported over 20,000 jobs and had an economic impact of almost $3.8 billion in 2019, alone. Our base also pays our community—and country—back in other ways: during Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, our base sheltered military aircraft and families as they were forced to evacuate, while the Texas National Guard performed relief missions and search-and-rescues.
It’s humbling to see that the same runway that trained pilots for America’s fight for freedom in World War II today also supports the future of airpower, as Lockheed Martin shares our runway while Air Force Plant 4 produces the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter—the world’s most advanced and lethal fighter jet. Additionally, our base may one day reach the highest domain, as I was proud to recently lead an effort to advocate for the Air Force’s consideration of NAS JRB Fort Worth as the future headquarters for the U.S. Space Command.
This Fourth of July, take pride in the Texas-sized role our community plays in the story of our common defense, and in the outstanding men and women of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, who embody the values and spirit of our community.
Member of Congress