Chanute Air Force Base

“On Broken Wings” – Chanute Air Force Base

 

 

Chanute_Air_Force_Base_-_1940s_postcardChanute_Air_Force_Base_-_1950s_postcard

(Above) Postcard images used courtesy of Wikipedia.

Chanute Air Force base was named in honor of Octave Chanute (1862-1910) who was a friend and adviser to the Wright Brothers.

Chanute Air Force Base, (formerly Chanute Field) is located in Rantoul, IL and dates back to World War I. Even though the US was the birthplace of powered flight, the military was doing very little to build up its air strength. As of April 1917 the US had one squadron and only about 250 aircraft.  France started the war with over 1,500 aircraft.  The US had some catching up to do!

Congress appropriated $640 million to build up the Air Service by opening ground schools at eight colleges and establishing twenty-seven flying fields to train pilots. The City of Rantoul was selected because it was one of the few level sites in Illinois in close proximity to the Illinois Central Railroad and the ground school at the University of Illinois.

Construction of the airfield began on May 22 1917 and after two months of hard work by 2,000 men and 200 teams of horses, it was completed on July 22 1917.

Here is a slideshow of historic images from Chanute:

Chanute experienced a major growth spurt during World War II. After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, people flocked to Chanute by the thousands in order to enlist in the US Army Air Forces. So many people were coming in that the 15,000 man quarters were insufficient and many soldiers ended up being temporally housed in tents. The training programs at Chanute reached their peak in January of 1943 with a total of 25,000 people.

On 22 March 1941, the first all-black fighter squadron was activated at Chanute Field. Formed without pilots with the purpose of training the officer corps and ground support personnel, the 99th Pursuit Squadron was the first unit of what popularly became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Over 250 enlisted men were trained in aircraft ground support  including airplane mechanics, supply clerks, armorers, and weather forecasters.

After World War II, the US established the Air Force as a separate military service and Chanute Field became known as Chanute Air Force Base.

“Built in response to the pre-World War II massive mobilization, (White Hall) was originally a self-contained multi-purpose troop barracks for 2,200 men. It included a barber shop, post office, communications office, mess hall, bakery, library, and study halls when it was completed in 1940.”– Library of Congress

White Hall is a 500,000-square-foot building that spans 11 football fields and was the largest military center before the Pentagon was built in 1941.

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

 (Walter Arnold)

Aerial view of Chanute’s White hall, taken from Google Maps

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

This was easily one of the more toxic  locations I have visited. Asbestos, and mold were abundant. Many of the inside rooms had standing water. Drop ceilings had fallen, along with light fixtures, and everything was rusted.  In most of the interior spaces there were calcium stalactites and stalagmites as if the ceilings were dissolving.  We used breathers in parts of the building especially in areas that were closed off with no outside air circulation. After the shoot I found EPA reports online that talked of heavy contamination on the grounds, and even some articles which claimed the possibility of “Agent Orange” on the site.

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

 (Walter Arnold)

 (Walter Arnold)

 (Walter Arnold)

Many rooms in White hall were designated for classroom space, and there was no shortage of painted inspirational wall murals around the base. Walking into one room in particular I saw just above where the chalkboard used to be, large block letters spelling out “You’ll Move Forward Fast”. I could not help but laugh at the irony of the scene!

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

 (Walter Arnold)

 (Walter Arnold)

 (Walter Arnold)

 (Walter Arnold)

A few of them were not so inspirational 😉

 (Walter Arnold)

All in all we explored the decaying remains of this historic Air Force base for about 6 hours. There was so much to see given the size of the location.

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

And here are a few “before and after”‘s

 (Walter Arnold)

(Above) Historic image, courtesy of the Library of congress.

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

 (Walter Arnold)

(Above) Historic image, courtesy of the Library of congress.

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

At the end of 2013, Rantoul, IL received the green light to begin demolition of the massive White Hall. The Asbestos will be removed and the building demolished sometime in the coming years.

The Abandoned "White Hall" at Chanute Air Force base in Rantoul, IL. (Walter Arnold)

Here is a slideshow of historic images from Chanute:

The Art of Abandonment

Walter Arnold Photography

All images are copyrighted by Walter Arnold Photography except where noted.  None of these images may be used without permission.

64 Comments

  1. Shirley A. Wyatt

    I worked in that building. I worked at Chanute AFB for 31 years. P-3 was a grand building. It’s such a shame that it could not be saved by someone. Now it’s beyond repair.

  2. Dave

    This was my first stop after basic in 1992 for vehicle mechanic school. I have great memories, and still have friends in town. I took my wife and daughter through the base as we traveled across country to my new duty station in 2013. I was shocked at the base in general. Trees growing through buildings etc. Kind of cool, yet kind of sad at the same time.

  3. Melissa

    The state and federal government should have saved this great historical building. They could have turned it into a children’s home or a military school for kids of all ages. I remember going and sitting in the country and watching the planes. It is sad to know that such a grand building is being turned into rubble.

  4. Gary Murphy

    I first went to Chanute in 1969 as a student in electronics. My classes were in White Hall. I returned to Chanute in 1979 as an Instructor in the very course and classrooms that I had been in once before. The Base and all of the Static Display Aircraft were so impressive. It breaks my heart to see these pictures. I will always remember.

  5. Patrick McCubbins

    I grew up @ Chanute as an Air Force brat & left an enormous amount of friends & memories when i moved to the south in 79. After looking @ these pics, it’s all so sad.

  6. I was at Chanute in 1978 and my wife in 1979 for SRAM school. We stopped last year to see the base. It was very sad to see the conditions.

  7. Dennis Flannery

    Wow, 1986 I walked some of those halls. Casualty of closures and realignment is so sad. Thanks for sharing, very enlightening.

  8. David H Ballentine II

    Very Sad thought this historic base could not be saved, I trained here as an Aircraft Sheet Metal (Airframe Repair Specialist) in Sept.1980 Made alot new friends and started my Adult life here as a 17 year old kid. A start to my 21 year Career.

  9. Russell Anderson

    Thanks for bringing a little of the past history back…In your slide show picture #9 is my Grandfather sitting at the desk of the linc training control unit.

  10. Wonderful piece of work. Great reference to history, for history. Well done. (I also do abandoned things)

  11. Brad Wildeman

    Thank you… My Avionics training was done in White Hall in 1986. My wife and I have fond memories of our 6 months at Chanute. It is sad to see such a landmark crumble.

  12. Wonderful photos, but so sad. I served at Chanute in 1971-1972 between two tours in Thailand. I worked in the base information office and wrote for the base newspaper. I remember dealing with the local press during a couple “anti-war” sit-ins at the front gate.

  13. Nancy Fitzpatrick

    I grew up in Rantoul, IL home of Chanute AFB. My grandfather Burt (Delbert) Drinkwalter was on of the instructors in carpentry, according to my grandmother Gertrude Drinkwalter if memory serves me. Its wonderful to see the old pics.

  14. Gary Neubaum

    My father Charles E. Neubaum (with his wife Lillian and me) were stationed at Chanute from about 1956 – 1960. I attended Maplewood Elementary School (now torn down) right off base. We lived at 179 Circle Drive on base.

  15. James V. Rawls

    1st in the summer of 1978, 2nd in 1987, and the last as an Instructor and part of the base closure team from 1991-1993. I graduated the last weather forecasting class to ever attend at Chanute on May 5, 1993. My family and I transferred the next week. I remember driving us to P-3, or White Hall the morning we left and I got out in one of thge inner courtyards and walked around. I spent some quality time there and have always held the base high on my list of places I enjoyed. I remember P-3, or White Hall back in the 1978 and there were 100s of not 1000s of people inside the courtyard every single day. It was bussling with activity and maybe in its prime. A bit different in 1987 but still active. By 1993 there was only a couple of offices still open and it was almost scary. I remember having to due my CDO rounds at night and walk thru P-3 and it wasn’t a place I wanted to kick back and get some sleep. We graduated that last class in the inner courtyard of P-3 and I still have pictures of the graduation. P-3 was all abandoned and only people involved with the graduation in attendance. Senior Chief Jim Rawls

    • Shaun M. Kelly, former AG1, SSG 133D Army Band (Retired)

      Oh yes, Jim Rawls. I remember those days with you guys, shutting ‘er down. I think my wife and I had that last walk through P-3 the day before we left, too. We put the lock on that NAVU door after leaving our offices and classrooms at the weather building. That’s right when I got out and into civvy land for three years before re-affiliation in the NavRes.
      These pictures are sad to look at but somewhat comforting, too. I remember the difference between being there in 85-86 and again as instructor in 90-93; how much it had changed in that short amount of time. My first teaching job was at O2, instructing on the TESS stations, and it’s weird to see all the trees growing in that most excellent of courtyards, where we’d have barbecues, and run around during our breaks, playing catch or soccer. Gab with you CDOs every night. Smoke cigarettes. Play the bowling machine. After I transferred to Navy Unique I only got to go to P-3 on admin business but I always made it a point to take a short “field trip” from the WX Bldg and would walk my students around the old classrooms you and I attended as students: the old Skew-T room (Mr. Geier), basic metro rooms, the former instructor offices, and especially up in the Live Lab. Man, what a trip. I had a chance to revisit these grounds back in 2007 while driving back east with the family but my parents were with us, and didn’t want to detour from the interstate. I was disappointed as now I hear they’re tearing down this amazing work of architecture.
      Hey, hope you’re doing well. We had great times there. I miss Chanute. I really miss getting drunk and playing my bagpipes in the courtyards late at night and freaking out the remaining service members. That was cool.
      Take care.

  16. Jim Nethercott

    In 1972 I spent more than 3 months at Chanute AFB training to be a Jet Engine mechanic. One of the best memories was the opening of the new mess hall! The AF couldn’t figure out where to send me after graduation, so I worked in the venetian blind repair shop. Played a lot of tennis, dated a WAF and generally had a great time.

    From Chanute I went to RAF Upper Heyford, England and spent two wonderful years, working on the TF30 P3 engine for the F-111 and visiting many locations in England and France.

  17. Dave Johnson

    I was there from Aug68 to July69 Electronics Principles/Automatic Flight Control Systems. From there I went to Shaw AFB, McConnell AFB and ultimately to RAF Upper Heyford. I got out after 4 years and kick myself every day for not staying in. Anyone remember an instructor named Bill Runnels? He had the distinction of having an uncanny resemblance to Don Knotts. A whispered “Barney Fife” in the classroom would earn you the evil eye. I ran into him again at RAF Upper Heyford. Thanks for the memories.

  18. Lynne A. Zalenski

    Heartbreaking… Thousands of us worked & lived on/at Chanute. I was assigned to White Hall for many years. Hate seeing the condition of this historical building. So many positive memories in those walls, hallways & courtyards. Shameful this once beautiful building could not of been saved. Wing Resources… My “home” in the 80’s.

  19. Dave Rose

    Almost all of my technical training was completed at Chanute starting in 1978. The current state of the place is a testament to government mismanagement and the wasting of tax payer funded resources.

  20. Janet groberski

    Thank you so much for this work of art. I spent two tours at Chanute. First was 1978-1982 and returned in 1983 through 1988. I taught Jet Engines at Jackson Hall, p50 and later worked in White Hall in Wing Training.nnhow sad to see that majestic building go down.

    • Walter Arnold (Author)

      Thank you for your service! Glad you enjoyed

    • Andres

      Does anyone remember which building Aircraft Structural Repair (aka Sheet Metal) was taught in? I do not think it was White Hall – at least not in 1986. Also, I am having trouble remembering which dorm Structural Repair folks stayed in. I just remember my roommate was a guy from Life Support but he did not march to school with us sheet metal folks.

  21. Fascinating photography. Vivid example of the temporary nature of all that feels eternal: mammoth brick buildings, bustling military bases, thriving metropolises. Poof. Not with the swing of a wrecking ball, but with the infinitely more powerful tip of an executive’s writing pen.

    Your shutter-and-light art has brought me where my mind wanders when I drive by the summer rag weed on the ground and untucked brick many floors up. What lies behind the shattered window panes? Whose ghost still roams the hallways, I ask myself?

    Your lenses show me what, Walter; the memorable comments here show me the who. Thank you.

  22. Cheri Scovil Roe

    Amazing photos! We were one of the first families to move into the new NCO housing on Douglas Road. This would have been about 1958. My dad taught electronics. I went to Maplewood, Myna Thompson, JW Eater, and RTHS. When he retired, he opened The Music Box just off the Main Gate. I got out in the 1970s and have never been back. Eerie.

  23. Glenn

    Our government should be made to clean this former base up. I went to AGE Tech School there from Dec 80 to May 81. It was an old but beautiful base back then but to see it like this sicken’s me. All the money spent on ALL the closed bases, such a waist of tax dollars. Where’s all the money gone our government said BRAC would save?

  24. Julia Linger

    I attended tech school at Chanute in 1978-79 and then returned as permanent party on a joint spouse assignment from 11/79 – 7/82. It is really sad to see what has become of this place. Many shuttered bases were returned to the local communities and successfully repurposed. Apparently Chanute was not so lucky. Thank you for creating this video testament to her past.

  25. Bill Robinson

    Spent the summer of 83 at Chanute going through the Fabrication and Parachute training course. I remember White Hall very well. It’s a shame to see Chanute looking like this. Had some fun in those days. Met some good friends there. Thanks for posting this.

  26. Tom Dees

    I was at Chanute for only eight weeks for my tech school training right out of basic training. 1-July-1968 to 1-September-1968
    I was a “Protective Equipment Specialist” 92250. Later we would be called “Life Support Specialist.” I cant believe this base wasting away like this. Very sad indeed. My next duty assignment after Chanute was Myrtle Beach AFB SC. Both these bases closed about the same time period. A true wast of two beautiful military installations. What stands out in my mind more than anything else about Chanute was the B-36 Peace-Maker on the flight line. How could anything that big ever fly? Your photos has brought back many wonderful memories the short time I was at Chanute AFB. Thank You!

  27. M. Johnson

    I am so dissapointed to the condition that this base is in. I enjoyed every moment I spent at Chanute. I remember the huge trophy that sat in the dining hall. The grounds were always well kept. To see it now, disapointing.

  28. I spent the latter part of 1980 attending the Meterological Forecasting Course (Joint Air Force/Navy). We referred to Chanute as the Corn Field Navy. After gradation, I was then assigned to Naval Air Station Chase Field, TX as an aviation forecaster.

  29. I spend the latter half of 1980 attending and graduating from the Meteorological Forecasting Course (Joint AF/Navy) at Chanute. I then was assigned to NAS Chase Field, Texas as a Flight Weather Forecaster. Chanute was referred to by Navy personnel as the Corn Field Navy.

  30. Steve P.

    Beautiful pictures. I was permanent party with the band from 89-91. Wonderful memories from my time there. A former bandsman still races cars on the flight line from time to time (hi Brian if you ever read this). Only set foot in White Hall once. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  31. Neena Wright

    I was stationed at Chanute from 1980-83. My first assignment as a 2nd Lt. I find these pictures depressing. I am doing a squadron reunion at the AF Museum in Dayton Ohio next Sept and plan to drive over to Rantoul. I understand the Chanute museum has closed recently. I also believe the village of Rantoul is using the base bowling center for their public library.

  32. Greg Parsons

    I spent the summer of 1976 there training as an aircraft mechanic, jet over two. I made some lifetime friends there. It’s amaIng to see how quickly the place has fallen into ruin. Very sad.

  33. Sean Edwards

    I was in the Air Force from 1976 to 1980. Basic at Lackland AFB, tech training at Keesler AB, 3 years Kadena AB, Okinawa Japan and last 6 months of enlistment at Vandenberg AFB.

    Never made it to Chanute but, knew a lot of Airmen who had been stationed there. the general concenus was the weather was extremely cold in the winter. Enjoyed your photos and the letters from the people who had been assigned to Chanute.

    Thank you.

  34. Bobby Bowens

    I was at Chanute from July 1968 to Dec 1968 and took a class as a metal processing specialist, which turned out to be a welder. It was the first place I was stationed after leaving basic training, I am very sad to see the condition and closing of that base, I had so many memories there, and so many friends I have no idea where they are. And I used to love the pizza that the guy use to bring to the baracks, but like everything else he is probably gone too.

  35. In 1991 at SIU, I did a thesis on “The Cost/Benefit Analysis of the Closing of Chanute Air Force Base” so your video and outstanding photos are very moving for me–especially as a photographer myself.

    Great job!

    I would be interested in the backstory about how you received permission to make these photos along with the specialized training/equipment you needed to stay safe in such a contaminated environment.

    Thank you for taking the time and effort to document a critical part of our nation’s history through the lens of photographic evidence.

    ~Jeff at JSJ Photography
    https://www.facebook.com/JSJPhotography1122

  36. Ben Howell

    Thank you for posting all the photos for us to enjoy. It’s very sad indeed and an awful shame to see such a great place just wasting away. I was stationed there in 1980 for Flight Simulator training. My class was one of the last to be trained on analog flight simulators before everything went digital. Spent many hours in White Hall. It was HUGE! Lots of fond memories of the T-38 simulators that were there. And yes, it was COLD in the winter. We all marched to school at 5am in the snow. The Air Force had recently gone to the low visibility markings on uniforms and when it was really cold in the early morning hours(before daylight), we all wore black wool face masks. Many times in the morning, while waiting to be called to attention, someone would come up to you and start talking and then realize you weren’t the person they thought you were! There was a club/bar there called the Pitt and Ping that was popular with a lot of the young folks in training. I enjoyed my time spent there. Lots of memories.

  37. Dave Livingston

    I was stationed there for technical schooling as an aircraft mechanic in 1964. Home was in Indiana, basic training was in Texas, and from Chanute I was sent to New Mexico. Drove there in my first car, a 1957 Pontiac I bought with money I made tailoring fatigues and khakis with a sewing machine I borrowed from my sister. The guys protected me by sneaking it out when officers searched for the culprit who was pegging uniforms. Good memories of a confused time in history.

  38. I was a Missile Systems Analyst trainee from Mar-Oct 1973. Made some good friends and a lot of memories during that 8+ months. Marched a lot of cold miles from barracks to chow to school and back. We were running school 24×7 in 4 6-hour shifts. My primary shift was afternoon shift (12-6). Sometimes I’d get permission to go to day shift on Fridays so I could make a long weekend drive back to Kansas to see my fiancee. Took riders along to help pay for gas, one regular I would drop off at an underpass in Kansas City, and pick him up the same place on the way back to base.

    • Walter Arnold (Author)

      Thanks for sharing! I love these stories! Keep them coming 🙂

  39. Lee Linares

    I worked in the Management Engineering detachment in White Hall in the early 80s. So sad how quickly it has fallen into ruin.

  40. Larry W Hunt

    I reported in at Chanute Field in Mar ’56 for Link Instrument Trainer, known as the Link C-11. Assigned to the 48th Student Squadron. Classes were held in P-3, which we felt was so huge, like a castle. We marched from the western area of the base to that huge chow hall before day light. Then marched to P-3 where every Friday it was review day marching down the flight line. Enjoyed the 9 months there, had some fun weekends in Chicago and WI and the small towns around Chanute. It is always sad to see my former bases in such conditions having known them in their middle age. I don’t remember ever seeing this rock castle looking building shown here, with a passage that looks like the coach entry.

  41. I was in the USAF from 1991 – 1995. Went to Chanute AFB from June to August 1991 for aircraft maintenance training – one of the last classes. It was H O T in the summer. The base was old and had few people. Not a beehive of activity. The second floor of the dorms we stayed in was closed due to so few people training. Did laundry one night and came back to a dark room. Did not want to turn on the light and disturb my roommate who was sleeping. Dumped clean laundry in locker as one mass and intended to fold and store the next day. Surprise room inspection the next day and I got in trouble for the pile of laundry. I was punished by having to go up to the second floor of the dorms on a Saturday and scape floor wax off the floor with a razor. Made no sense since the second floor was not used and the base was closing. I did my best in case they came and looked and decided to yell and scream. Did not always enjoy the military, but Chanute was interesting. I saw Silence of the Lambs in the summer of 1991 at the movie theater on base. One was closed and the other was still operating. I saw nice older brick homes for the officers on base. Rantoul was a dump. I think it was the last time I was ever in a Ben Franklin store there in Rantoul. Although I do not like the military, I feel sorry for the town and those that had a better experience at Chanute. It must be sad for those people. I went on to Kadena AB, Okinawa, for two years and spent some time at Castle AFB (closed October 1995), Atwater, California. castle was old, but warm and clear and it had palm trees. very relaxed as it too was closing. I liked the cow hall they had at Chanute. It had really interesting historical photos of the base. I have not been back since, but one day I may return to Castle AFB to check it out. My dorms there are still abandoned.

  42. Clarke Pringle

    I was stationed at Chanute right out of basic in June 1963. We rode a train from Texas, via St Louis to Champaign. Went through Minuteman Missile Facilities Specialist school, 541XOG, and graduated just after President Kennedy was killed in November. We were assigned to the 3348th, and our squadron area was rather isolated near the south perimeter of the base. School consisted of about 6 hours a day inside a security building. The main chow hall holds a soft spot in my heart. While in a holding squadron waiting for my class to start, I was pulling KP, and put about 60 pounds of potatoes in an “automatic” peeler… a drum with an abrasive inside. I reduced all potatoes to about golf ball size.
    I returned in 65 TDY for some training on a new system, and never went back. I will stop there this July (2016) to look around again, and see what is left of the place. I still have some fond memories of the place and the people I was stationed with. The last fellow class mate that I kept in touch with died in 2005… not sure what happened to the others.
    Clarke

  43. Richard Cowell

    I was at chanted from March 1965 to Jan 1966 for phase 2 training in the lab at the hospital.
    Rode through their today and could not recognize very little.
    Thanks for the site.

  44. Michael Mayo

    I was there for training in 84-85 if memory serves me. Was a B-52 ECM Simulator Technician and Tailgunner Simulator technician. Seeing the photos really brings waves of sadness to me. The almost one year I spent there was some of the most memorable if not enjoyable times of my entire life. I so wish I could reconnect with some of the people I went to school with there. We were so tight and spent every weekend together after training all week long. We spent Halloween in Champaign and what a blast that was. The city was closed off and everyone was dressed up including us. I am sure there are other things that I am forgetting it has been so many years and seems like yesterday really. Thank you so much for sharing these pics they certainly helped me to recover a few of the foggy memories of my time there.

  45. Paul Straney

    It was May of 1969 that I trained to be an airframe repair specialist. I missed the bad weather completely although, it was chilly upon arrival and started turning cold in September. I first stayed in the WWII wooden, one story barracks which were to be torn down. Later I was moved into the dorm. Funny, I can remember standing outside while getting into formation and to look at the pictures here on on Google maps, I cannot remember where the chow hall was or how we marched to hanger 3(?)for training. I still have note books I used while in the classroom prior to using tools. Throughout my life I have found that the education given me has been useful all my life. My friend Ralph from my neighborhood trained at the same time. His dad balanced propellers at Chanute during WWII. I wish I would have purchased a good camera back then and took lots of pictures.
    Sad to see it is so irreversible.

  46. Jackie Crumpton Ferris

    It was sad to hear they were closing. Was there for tech school in 1985. My first time other than basic to be away from home. Met some wonderful people there. Good memories of the theater and chow hall. AND that March to White Hall from the dorms! Didnt know ones mask could freeze to their face! Met my husband there too. A tech school marriage. People from our dorm chipped in and paid for our wedding. Good memories. Unfortunately… 25yrs later.. the marriage ended up like White Hall. Uncared for, rundown, abandon and as of 10/15, totally demolished. Still, love the pictures and memories. Thank you.

  47. I was part of the construction team that worked to renovate the single family homes right after the base closed. Although I only worked on the base for a couple of years, it wasn’t until after I moved away that I read about all the contamination. I wondered what had happened to all those houses that were sold. The developers were hoping to bring life back into the community.

    The photos are beautiful and the stories shared are so touching. What a shame that such stunning photos are the result of such a terrible tragedy (the closing of the base). I remember it was still beautiful during the renovations.

  48. Audiohub

    Wow…such incredible pictures! Like everyone else, I’m amazed at how quickly it has completely fallen into utter decay. I referenced Chanute in a blog post I was writing, went looking for a picture, and found your site and beautiful but haunting photos. I hadn’t thought about the place in years and was suprised by the turn of events. I guess I thought it was one of those places that would be there forever.

    I spent time there from June ’72 to March ’73 going to a fairly long autopilot school. As much as I didn’t care for the Airforce, I have to admit that I had a wonderful stay there.

    I already knew the electronics course material so I never had to study, I formed a barracks rock band that competed in (and usually won) the monthly talent shows, which by arrangement got me out of doing any of the nasty barracks chores and gave me a locked storage room for rehearsal and equipment storage, and a numb toe from wearing chukka boots got me a medical marching pass for the duration of my stay there, allowing me to sleep late and drive my car to class, bypassing the whole horror of trying to march to and from school in the snow. Not bad, now that I look back on it. 🙂

    Like everyone else here, I spent a LOT of time in White Hall. Great people and teachers there…I even had the pleasure of tutoring this guy who was one of the creepy bully types gone crazy with a little bit of power from my basic training. It was fairly embarassing for him to end up just being one of the “dumb” students at Chanute!

    I moved from Chanute to California where I ran out my service time, and where I still live.

  49. Robyn Smith

    I was at Chanute in 1974 attending the Weather Observer Training. These photos bring back so many memories. Thank you for the beautiful photos honoring this historic site.

  50. RICHARD...AKA..TONY THOMPSON

    I WAS AT CHANUTE JUNE TO NOV-1971..WAS there training as an aircraft mechanic ON b-52, jet over two. I made some lifetime friends there.i remember going to the USO just off base,had the best food them nice ladys really could cook..i met a nice girl there it was good to have someone like her to talk to a long way from home we were the same age..i always wonder what her life became..its sad we go through life an meet people an never see them again..i do have great memories of being there..so very sad it has to go it touched so many lives.i miss my young part of life there.. its when i met the real world.. It’s Very sad to see it dismantled an threw away like trash for it really belongs to all the people that were there and the small sweet town off base…~~!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. Gary J. Bosco

    Time has a way of eliminating bad memories and making the good ones even better. I finished my 4-year enlistment at Chanute after being assigned there on my return from Vietnam in March 1972. I was assigned to the USAF hospital as a Flight Surgeon Medic until my discharge in March 1973. Over the years I’ve thought a lot about the locations I was assigned during my 4-year enlistment and have always ended up depressed with those bases all pretty no longer in existence. My first assignment (Otis, Ma.) is now a joint USAF/USA/Coast Guard base with restricted access so no on-site visiting unless you are active duty or retired. Nha Trang, Vietnam, well no access there goes without saying. Finally there is Chanute. I was fortunate to drive through the old base about 5-6 years after it closed, and it was depressing to see some much of overgrown and building falling into disarray. But these photos really leave me sad to see how such a once important USAF training center that prepared thousands of young men and women for their Air Force careers has morphed into a complete waste of property. Guess the good memories will have to suffice.

  52. Ronald Williamson

    I attended the Link C-11 school in P-3 1961-62 and returned for SMK-22 Night Visual Trainer in 1963. Spent my first Christmas away from home. Lived in the old WWII Barracks. Sorry to see it deteriorating to a point of no return.

  53. Les Schroeppel

    My first flying job was at Chanute AFB flying club as a flight instructor. All flight operations had stopped years earlier so we were the only aircraft still using the runway during that time.

  54. David Lipkin

    69th Student Squadron. January to June 1968. Cryogenics School. My uncle was also there in WWII as was my cousin 3 years before me. Sorry to see this.

  55. I was stationed there from March 65 to October 68. Attended AGE tech school, then was retained as instructor. Living in California now, but visit family of my wife’s, in Champaign each year, and make the drive to visit what’s left. It is quite sad to see what has happened to the place I had such good memories while serving.

  56. David Hunt TSGT (ret)

    Stationed at Chanute from March 1975 to July 1975. Trained as an Aircraft Electrical System Technician. Would like to hear from other that were there during this time frame. First dormitory to go co-ed. dh201153 at yahoo dot com

  57. My dad was stationed at Chanute during WW II. I was stationed at Chanute during the Viet Nam War. I had classes in some of the same buildings he did. I bet we walked the same halls, ate in the same chow halls. He always complained the cooks and bakers school was at Chanute during WW II and once a class was trained off they would go to war, along with edible food. Once the new class of cooks and bakers started up it was a while before the rest of the student body ate decent again. He said the good and bad food prepared him for the food he got in the South Pacific. My food was much, much better. A lot memories were made at Chanute. I know a lot of guys from back then that believe Chanute’s abandonment is symbolic of how the government has abandoned the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen from the Viet Nam era as well.

  58. Sgt Anthony R. Blake

    Sad, I was there in 1984 in October and man we marched every morning and wow it was cold. I still tell my family about that place, cold ,old and dreary but I think that’s what made it cool. I always cherish the time I spent there in Aircrew Life Support Training. I still have my picture for graduation, thank you for putting this up , great pictures

  59. Ed Reece

    Was there July – September 1968 for technical school.
    I enjoyed the weekend train rides to Chicago to visit relatives.
    We had the open bay barracks, not rooms as some did after I left there.
    Some great memories from there.

  60. Denise Herndon (Davis-Cox)

    I was at Chanute from June 90 to Aug 1990. I graduated from the 3330th Training Wing, Aircraft Fuel Systems Mechanic 22 AUG 1990. Col Biltz was the commander. I enjoyed my time here and made many happy memories, including carrying a bunch of airmen to Bradleys for dancing. A few names I remember from the base are Raul Toledo, Matt Archuleta, Alvesta Montford, Jim Schell, Dee Dee Betts, Richard Ramos from Oakland CA.

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