Historic Hempstead Plains - Nassau County, Long Island

Remembrances of Mitchel Field.

This page is dedicated to remembrances of Mitchel Field. It is open for additions by anyone caring to share their memories and stories about Mitchel Field. Submissions are by email to the webmaster. I will add them to a temporary test page with a different URL for the author to review. The author may revise his contribution. Upon approval of the author I will make their addition available on this page of remembrances.

It is my hope that this page will add to the knowledge of this base and its impact on the surrounding community.
 Email: webmaster@hempsteadplains.com


I really enjoy your Hempstead Plains and Mitchel Field Sites. My family lived in Uniondale and East Meadow. I attended the old Front Street School in East Meadow (now the site of The East Meadow Library) until it caught fire and gave us kids a few days holiday until we were transferred to other schools). I then attended the Prospect Street School (now also non-existent). We lived on the south west corner of Front Street and Merrick Avenue. We lived directly across from Camp Santini. I remember playing in the Barnum Woods which was next to our property. Also next to the house were the ruins of the Club House of the Old Coldstream Country Club . What a great time for a
young boy, to play in virgin woods with a stream meandering through and exploring toppled down mansions. It was glorious! Not so glorious was the sound of thunder when there was an airplane crash. Across the street on the southeast corner of Front Street and Merrick Avenue (directly under the flight path of aircraft landing at Mitchel), an aircraft crashed and caused a noise and shuddering of the house. I can still recall the event even though I was only about three or four years old. I believe the plane was either a P-47 or a P-38. I subsequently moved back to Uniondale and finished my schooling at Uniondale High School graduating in 1961. During that time I can recall attending football games played at Mitchel. They had a rather nice field. All the games were under the lights at night and I believe that the teams came from military installations all over the country. It was one of the few times that the public had access to the field other than open houses that Mitchel hosted occasionally. I also remember at this time that my friends and I would hike over to the old Meadow Brook Hunt Club (whose property was now being developed by New York State for the extension of Meadowbrook Parkway. We would pretend to be hunters and go after the thousands of wild rabbits that inhabited the area. The rabbits never had anything to worry about. We were terrible hunters. I remember also as I was getting older and starting to play golf that some of my friends would practice our chip shots on the one remaining recognizable green of the old Meadowbrook Club. It was located right where the southbound Meadowbrook Parkway exits westbound on Hempstead Turnpike. The area was used for a while as a public camping area by Nassau County. I wonder if others remember the steeplechase hurdles that used to exist on the west side of Merrick Avenue across from the Salisbury County Park. They might have been relics of the old Hunt Club. I hope you will get more pictures of the area that will show things as they used to be. Regards,
Ronald Duschenchuk <r.duschenchuk@worldnet.att.net>
Sayville, NY USA - Sunday March 5, 2000

Old Swimming Hole

Hi Vince,

Thanks for reminding me about the swimming in the Meadowbrook
Creek. We used to a have a few favorite spots in the Santini area just
south of Hempstead Turnpike. We would swim until we got chased away by
the MP's. Your remark also reminds me that we used to swim in the lake
on the north side of Washington Ave. in Roosevelt before it developed
into a park. If I remember correctly there was also a spot on the south
side of Washington Ave. where the kids would dive off the rocks right
next to bridge.

There was a wonderful collection of blown up photos showing
aspects of Mitchel Field and its aircraft mounted on the wall of the
old Woolworths Dept. Store in Hempstead on Main Street. I wonder what
ever happened to that collection?

Ronald Duschenchuk <r.duschenchuk@worldnet.att.net>
Sayville, NY USA

December 1999 - From Janis.

I love your site about Mitchel Field. I grew up in the area. My mother was
raised in Uniondale and met my father while he was stationed there. As it
turned out, after his service time, he got a job there. He was a heavy
equipment operator and one of his jobs was to clear the runway after a

I have to pass along a very funny story about growing up in the area.

When Mitchel Field had their open houses where you could go and see the
planes up close and go in them, the surrounding neighborhood had a blimp
overhead. There was a lot at the end of my street with a path to Front
Street. I was walking through there with my brother, sister and some friends and we
told one of our friends that the blimp was a bomb. With that, she fell, full
bodied, right to the ground, screaming! What a sight! We were all from 8-12
at the time and really didn't expect her to believe us!

Well, I can tell that you think it's a sad thing that Mitchel Field is
basically gone. I agree. I have one question that I am wondering if you can
The children who lived on base went to Uniondale High School. Was Mitchel
Field in Uniondale? Also, a non-military kid lived on Oak Street and went to
Uniondale Schools. That would seem to cover the whole field since Oak Street
and the officer housing were on opposite ends of the field, west to east.
Just wondering. Your site seems to say that most if not all of the field was
in the Hamlet of Garden City.

Well, thanks for your time. I hope I have helped you a bit. I do have a
picture somewhere that I will submit.

Take care, Janis

VJ day at Mitchel Field

Scarlet Letters
V-J Day! We could hardly believe it. The war was over. I was Air Force Librarian at Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York. I sailed through the Post Library spreading the news. "I'm going to Times Square on the Long Island Railroad train. If anyone would like to join me, come along." Four soldiers, three WAFs, and 15 members of the French Air Force joined me. None of the Frenchmen could speak English.
Once on the Long Island Railroad, we decided we should identify the members of our group,
especially since some had a language problem. Suppose they wandered away from us? A flash of
inspiration lipstick! We could write "V J" on our foreheads.
Oh no! Jean, the young Frenchman riding beside me, had confused Victory over Japan with Victory Day. He had written indelibly on my forehead: "V.D." Then a soldier saw me. "Wow!" he said. "You'll be the safest woman on Times Square tonight."
-Katherine Kennedy McIntyre

From : Gray-Haired Grins & Giggles, Edited by Margaret G. Bigger. © 1995 by A. Borough Books. Still available in print.

From: DWSNRHS@aol.com
Date sent: Wed, 19 May 1999 21:23:40 EDT
Subject: Mitchel Field and Rail Spur to Roosevelt Raceway
To: webmaster@hempsteadplains.com

I was stationed at Mitchel AFB from Nov 1956 to June 1960. Visited Roosevelt
Raceway several times and definitely recall the LIRR train service passing
through Mitchel Field, usually at night. The railroad right-of-way on base
was fenced in and gates had to be opened for passage across Mitchel Field
roadways. It was most impressive to view this at night with the lighted
coach interiors adding spectacle to the passing scene.

As a docent/volunteer today at
<A HREF="http://www.railroadcity.com/railroad/railroad.htm">Altoona
Railroaders Memorial Museum Home Page
</A> , I appreciate the history represented not only by the rail service to
Roosevelt via Mitchel, but the entire history of Mitchel AFB as well. I plan
to return in 2000 for the opening of the new Aviation Museum with a friend
who was stationed with me during the same time period. How do we locate
other Mitchel AFB Vets for the occasion?

David Seidel
Altoona, Pa.

From: DWSNRHS@aol.com
Date sent: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 23:08:56 EST
To: webmaster@hempsteadplains.com
Subject: Mitchel Air Force Base

I found your web-site quite by accident following a route to Long Island
Railroad (as I have a RR avocational interest). I have to say I was
astonished to find any references to Mitchel Field, de-activated around 1961,
....and pleased.

I was stationed at Mitchel AFB from late 1956 to June 1960, essentially
spending my entire enlistment there assigned to the 2500th Air Base Wing as an
enlisted person.
I have many great memories of that place (although, typical of most enlisted
personnel, couldn't wait to be discharged and get on with life). Went back in
1961 one time and it had already been closed and learned from that experience
that you shouldn't go back sometimes....just keep the memories.

Will certainly research your site further and study all the information on
Mitchel Field (an earlier term; it was Air Force Base in my tenure). Traveled
the LIRR for 4 years to and from, and since I am from Altoona, Pa., a railroad
town by history, developed that avocational interest. I am still in touch
with a close friend from Mitchel AFB days and will let him know of your site.
Many thanks for great information.

David Seidel
Altoona, Pa.

* reprinted here with Mr. Seidel's permission

February 2000 - J Grant wrote:

Mr. Fitzgerald.
The only thing that I can remember on the Santini
side of the base was a dependent trailer park down on the corner of
Hempstead Turnpike and the road that crossed it at Meadowbrook
Country&Golf club, there was a Dave Shores on the corner also.
There was a dependent housing area on the Roslyn side. The 2nd Tow
Target Sqdn admin, supply, & chow hall was at the main Santini entrance.
Do you have anything on the crash of the B-26 in East Meadow in nov,1955?
That was the start of the down fall of Mitchel.

Jay Grant Smsgt USAF retired.

* reprinted here with Mr. Grant's permission. Mr Grant served at Mitchel Field in 1953-55 with the 2nd TOW Squadron.

Santini Home

Photo courtesy of jim Herrold

From: jwin53@juno.com
To: webmaster@hempsteadplains.com
Date sent: Mon, 26 Mar 2001 16:01:19 -0500
Subject: Santini

My wife and I lived in Santini in 1954. When we moved in the one bedroom
apartment, the windows were so coated with dirt from WWII, that I used a
razor blade to scrape it off. The enclosed picture is my wife at our
door before going to the base hospital for our first child. In those
days the babies were kept in a nursery and brought to the mother at
feeding time. What impressed my wife was that our baby was put in a
small bed at the foot of her bed and from the first minute told to take
care of your baby.
Jim Herrold

* reprinted here with Mr. Herrold's permission

Also further down see Joyce Martin's Maternity story.

Santini, Mitchel and the old swimming hole.

From: "James Fuller" <jfuller@optonline.net>
To: <webmaster@hempsteadplains.com>
Subject: Re: Mitchell Field And Hempstead Plains remembrances
Date sent: Tue, 24 Mar 2009 19:36:06 -0500

Just drifted onto your site and was filled with memories. I too grew up in Uniondale, in fact I lived on Warwick Street which dead ended on the Santini portion at what would be the logical western extension of the Bridge over Meadowbrook Pkwy.( In 1963-after the base was closed -we learned to skateboard by going down the slope of that bridge) There was a hole in the fence and my friends and I made a daily pilgrimage through that hole to the world of the air force. I guess we started doing that when I was about 9 years old in 1957. I remember going through the fence to shine shoes or sell candy and gum to airmen in the barrack buildings just off the fence lines. On Saturday or summer morning trips, we made a point to search through the garbage cans outside each building. We looked for old signs of rank, blank bullets and discarded Magazines. There was always a can of ashes as the buildings were heated with coal. Each of the barrack buildings had a coal fired boiler room on the side of one end. As you entered there was really just three rooms. A sergeants room, latrine and just a large open room for airmen. At the current location of the Kellenberg High School was a fenced in compound. I believe , or was lead to believe at the time, that this was the "Stockade" or jail. I think I spent my entire childhood, from the age of 9 through the decommissioning of, and eventually the demolition and division of the base. We often rode shuttle bus to the North side of Hempstead Tpk. to swim in the airmen's pool, eat in the cafeteria, go to the base movies, or shop in the commissary. On the North side of the base, we were rarely challenged because it was assumed we were Air Force Brats.
One last thing about the Santini side. I remember fondly the hulk of a destroyed cargo pane just off Merrick Ave, between Front and the Tpk. It was used for fire and emergency practice. It had been skeletonized, but we played on its remains and even gathered some gauges and harnesses from it before the first time it was set afire for practice fire drills.
Thanks for your work on this project and if I can be of any assistance, don't hesitate to write- Jim Fuller

From: <vtfitzge@emnet.com>
To: "James Fuller" <jfuller@optonline.net>
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2000 5:05 PM
Subject: Re: Mitchell Field And Hempstead Plains remembrances

> Hello, thanks for stopping by. Would it be OK to use your email as
> part of the remembrances page?

> Dear Vince
Sure. Use my remembrance. The fenced in area would have been at the
northern area of the current diocesan High school bldg. It was surrounded
by 10 foot chain link fence and was topped by barbed wire. The fence was on
VERY sturdy posts and there was a Gated entrance and exit. After the
closure of the base, we went inside the deserted buildings but they were
kind of non-descript. Nothing certainly that would have confirmed the rumor
of a stockade. A friend and I were detained one time by the MP's. They
took us to a Police Bldg on the North West side of the Base. My father, a
NYC policeman, came to get us. After some whispered conversation with him,
he was in uniform, they released us. We had to be younger than 12, because
my father died sometime after my twelfth birthday.

One of the main reasons we were on the base was to cross to the Hempstead
plains at the Eastern end of the air strips. We were usually headed just
north of Hempstead Tpk. We would often cross to the area by going under
the tpk using the Meadow Brook Creek tunnel.
We explored all of the area of the old golf course. That in fact is what we
referred to the area as- the "old golf course". It was not uncommon, even
then, to find golf balls. The elevated Tees of the course made excellent
places to go sleigh riding on a snowy day. In the summer we swam almost
every day in the creek where it passed through the golf course. The best
swimming was just south of a small dam about midway through the area.
Swimming was also very good Just south of the Tpk where flood waters coming
through the creek's underpass had excavated a large hole that resulted in
water more than 8 feet deep.

In the open plains area just inside the base, but short of the SE to NW
runway ( where the hotel is now) there was some interesting wildlife.
Under rotted boards or pieces of cardboard that blew in from the Tpk. we
would seek out a breed of mice with very long rear legs. We called them
Kangaroo mice, and they were hard to catch by hand. But we did! I wonder if
they still inhabit the area.

Just thinking about those days makes me happy. It was a Huckleberry Finn
existence, and while we may seem now like feral children, we were not. It
was a different time and place. A place too long gone on Long Island.

Jim Fuller

From: Dfib99@aol.com
Date sent: Fri, 28 Jul 2000 20:48:27 EDT
Subject: Living near Mitchel Field
To: webmaster@hempsteadplains.com

I was born in the early 50's and to this day have some vivid memories of
Mitchel Field. I grew up in the shadow of Mitchel Field. Our house is on
Cunningham Ave, Uniondale, which was the last street before the Meadowbrook
Parkway and bordered on Santini. As a child I awoke every morning to the
sound of the planes and the activity of the base. From our front picture
window I could see the barracks of Santini. I remember the airmen leaving the
buildings in the morning to go about their duties. If I walked up to
Hempstead Tpk, I could actually see one of the many boxcars warming up on the
taxiway at the south end of the field. I remember being in awe of the size of
the planes. (There was a large mural photo of one of these planes on the
wall at the lunch counter at Grant's in Hempstead.)
Whenever an emergency was occurring on the field I could hear the Air
Force Crash Trucks screaming with their sirens to the scene. There was a fire
substation on the south side of the turnpike on the Santini property. There
were many buildings in the Santini area. There was a large block building at
the NW corner that I was told was a theater. Along the fence line there were
wood framed barracks, and a long one story building that I believe was a mess
hall. The main road was lined by trees with many buildings on either side.
The many barracks buildings dotted the land all the way to the parkway and to
the south where Kellenberg HS is today. After the base was closed and
demolition began, I was sad to see them go.
To this day, I don't know all of the functions of these buildings. If
anyone does, I would hope it could be posted to this website. Over the years
I have always had an interest in the field and its history. This website
brought back many thoughts of my childhood. It was an interesting
neighborhood to grow up in. Thank You for providing this very valuable
history of Mitchel Field.
Ed Zimmerman

The NCO Quarters Mural

Thanks to Paul Martin. Please visit the page.

last of the NCO photo files
Mon, 04 Sep 2000 00:27:55 EDT
"Paul Martin" <prm3@hotmail.com>

Dear Vince

The page looks great! I am so excited to be able to share these photos with
you and the rest of the world through your great website. Thank you!

You might want to pose the question on the page to your visitors if any of
the vets who served there might remember the mural and if they might know who
painted it. I looked for a signature at the time but never found one. It was either
never signed or the signature was worn off like so many other details were
lost to the elements. Somebody might even have some pictures of the mural
from its heyday. Wouldn't that be great to find.

I can't help think about how the mural must have been painted to honor and
commemorate the hundreds of Army Air Corps flyers who probably passed
through Mitchel on their way to the European theater and who were then
Killed In Action. It obviously dates from the W.W.II period. Now those men,
the mural and the artist who painted it are lost to us forever. Very sad.

I think I told you that I always felt that this room was a ballroom. When I
used to visit it (which was many times.) I could almost hear the strains of
Glen Miller whispering across the years, and feel the presence of lost
airman dancing across the shadows, beckoning to me to never forget them, to
never forget what they did. It was a very eerie feeling but very intense and
very poignant. Mitchel Field to me always embodied that Spirit of American
Youth who suffered and sacrificed to "Save the World". May we never forget.

Anyway, I am waxing poetic.

Here are the last photos from the NCO series. There are a few others but I
chose the best ones and many of the others tend to be repetitive. If you
can post these last ones on the page I think it will be complete. these
photos were not all taken at the same time but they span the years of 1973
through 1975.

The top photo in the triptych of the exterior rearview shows the outside
wall of the rooms where the murals were. You can see the matching windows
and the 'notch" on the North wall where the airman and angels section was.
You can also see how the open windows allowed the elements to so terribly
destroy the painting. So sad.

Well I look forward to seeing these included on the page and can't wait to
preview it and then give you the go ahead to put it up. I'm anxious to hear
other peoples reactions to it.

Tomorrow I will start scanning in some photos of other parts of the base.
You ain't seen nothin yet. ( no you really have. The NCO series might
actually be the best.)

Thanks again.

Paul Martin

KP and another opportunity?.

Subject: Re: This is Mitchel AFB
Date: Fri, 8 Sep 2000 22:01:48 EDT
From: DWSNRHS @aol.com
To: vtfitzge @fnol.net

In a message dated 09/07/2000 10:30:55 PM Eastern Daylight Time,

I am amazed by the amount of material you have on the base. It's a genuine
archive. Spent some time in that old Photo processing lab. One photo caught
a corner of the old mess hall next door....a one story structure of the '60's
design. Pulled KP there and, (mostly) at the Officer's Club. We did KP at
the Officer's Club only for breakfast and lunch as the evening meal was more
formal. Four years of KP. I'll never forget the day in my 4th year as an
E-4 when I was called in (from KP) for my re-enlistment interview and pep
talk by old sergeants with hash marks going up the sleeve. I wasn't in the
mood (from KP) to hear that presentation. It was a "No Sale" day on that.

All in all, I did enjoy my tour of duty at Mitchel which was 3+1/2 years of
my entire 4 year enlistment. It afforded me the opportunity to get 2 years
of college at Mitchel College of Long Island University which operated on
base. A good percentage of the tuition was subsidized by the USAF. It served
me well in later years.

Keep up the good work on the webpage. Wish we could locate a lot of the
people we were stationed there with.

Dave Seidel

Mitchel Field Hospital Baby-boom.

While my husband was in the Army, our first child was born in the Hospital
at Mitchel Air Force Base in September, 1953. During my pre-natal care, I
went to the Base Hospital, a permanent 2 story brick building, for monthly
checkups, etc.

After our baby’s birth I was in the Maternity Ward, a sprawling, one story
prefabricated complex, separate from the regular hospital. As I remember
it, the maternity ward was a large room, bright and airy. Every mother had
her baby with her after she was a day old, until the baby was eating well
and gaining weight, and could then be taken home.

There were probably twenty to thirty new mothers, each with her baby in the
maternity ward.

Some of the babies did not sleep very much, and there always seemed to be a
couple of babies who were crying. Also, the nursery for the brand-new
babies, less than a day old, was a small alcove on one side of the large
ward. The new fathers, grandparents and other relatives who wanted to see
the new-born babies had to walk through the ward to get to the nursery.
It was like Grand Central Station.

The care we received as new mothers was excellent but it was good to take
our baby home for some peace and quiet and a good rest. The total cost for
the birth and the hospital stay was $10.50.

Joyce S. Martin
East Meadow, NY

Ye Old Settling Ponds :)

From: Skates 2468 @aol.com
Date sent: Mon, 5 Feb 2001 13:08:04 EST
Subject: (no subject)
To: webmaster@hempsteadplains.com

Mitchel Field was a great place to grow up by. My family moved to Uniondale in 1955 right across the street on Hemp Tpk and Uniondale Ave., behind where McDonalds is now, it used to be France Tractors. I remember the boxcars flying overhead everyday and how I was in awe. Me and my friends spent most of are time running around those fields. Checking out the bunkers and the control tower, we were into everything there. We learned how to ice skate on the sumps that were near the Tpk. I go there now with my job and it is amazing all the changes there. I was lucky to grow up by such a wonderful place, I have a lot of great memories of Mitchel Field.

Thank you Michael
Conza conzaj @aol.com

From: Skates2468 @aol.com
Date sent: Mon, 19 Feb 2001 13:03:11 EST
Subject: Re: Mitchel Field
To: webmaster@hempsteadplains.com

Hi Vince, Yes the sumps ran right along the tpk. we used to get told by I guess it was the county workers that we were skating on sh*t !!! lol We didn't care it was frozen.

Yes, you can definitely use my Email for your site, Thanks Mike.


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