The following death notice appeared in Texas newspapers on January 14, 1942: “TRUETT J. MAJORS GREENVILLE. Jan. 13. (UP) – Lieut. Truett Jay Majors, 25, U. S. Army Air Corps, was killed in action over the Philippines, Jan. 5, his family was notified today. He was the son of Rev. and Mrs. W. O. Majors and was believed to be the first Greenville youth to be killed in the second World War.”
Truett was born December 3, 1917 and graduated from high school in Greenville, Hunt County, Texas. His father was a Baptist minister in Greenville, Texas serving at Lamar Baptist Church. Truett subsequently graduated from Southern Methodist University and was two years into law school when he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Corps on October 14, 1940. Truett completed flight training and was stationed near Manila, assigned to the 17th Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group. The actual details of the incident are unknown but Lt. Majors was killed in action less than a month after the attack on Pearl Harbor and America’s official entry into the War. He was buried in a military cemetery in Manila and was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart.
As the United States began to gear up for the long conflict and possible entry into the war, Truett’s home town of Greenville was chosen for a flight training center, as noted below. Backed by Senator Sam Rayburn, who had graduated from East Texas State University, now known as Texas A&M Greenville, a site six miles southeast of Greenville was selected. The city of Greenville had already been preparing the designated area for a municipal airport for several years. In September of 1938, the Rotary Club of Greenville had begun to work with the Works Progress Administration for construction of an airport, though nothing resulted from that particular effort. In 1940, the war had progressed in Europe and the Greenville Chamber of Commerce continued to survey possible sites for an airport. The present site was chosen and approved by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (predecessor to the FAA). On August 23, 1941, the CAA announced that $410,000 had been allocated for its construction, planning and supervision to be done by the U. S. Engineers office out of Denison, Texas. While construction was underway, it was chosen by the government as a training site and a lease was executed with Hunt County on February 7, 1942.
Construction quickly progressed and the field was opened on June 26, 1942. On January 1, 1943, a press release by commanding officer Col. Herbert M. Newstrom indicated that the training field would be dedicated on January 5. It would officially be named Majors Field in honor Lt. Majors on the anniversary of his death. The ceremony was attended by some 10,000 people and opened with a welcome address from Lt. Col. John W. Williams, executive officer of the field. State Senator G. C. Morris of Greenville delivered a response. Lt. Edward H. Saunders gave the dedicatory speech and Truett’s father, Rev. W. O. Majors also took part in the program. During the war years, over 5,000 pilots, support personnel and civilian employees were trained at Majors Field. In addition, training was provided to Mexico’s 201st Air Squadron, the only Mexican group to see action overseas. The training facility was phased out as the war came to its conclusion. The field still exists over 70 years later and is an industrial park.
On this Memorial Day, we recognize Lt. Truett Jay Majors, the first World War II casualty from Greenville and Hunt County, Texas, along with the other men and women who gave their lives in service to our country.
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