‘We’re connected’: How Robins AFB helped Houston County’s economy take off

When Robins opened 80 years ago, it was a small Army air base surrounded by farmland

HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — Before housing roaring jets and massive hangars, a dairy farm sat on the land that now makes up Robins Air Force Base.

“On the 14th of August 1941, they tore down all the barbed wire fences and they came in and started laying out the land,” said base historian, Bill Head.

He says Robins started as a temporary military site. It was a small depot surrounded almost completely by farmland. The base even pre-dates the Air Force, which wasn’t created until September 1947.

“They had auxiliary fields, and the farmers literally would cut the grass and then the planes — if they had trouble — would simply land on those fields,” he said.

It’s just an early example of the relationship between the base and surrounding area already forming. Head says Robins really proved itself in World War II.

“We repaired everything that flew,” he said. “Then in Korea and Vietnam…the southeast Asia pipeline started right here.”

As work ramped up inside the gates, Head says Warner Robins and Houston County started taking off, too.

“It has grown by leaps and bounds,” said Patricia Tucker. She started working on the base more than 56 years ago.

“We were just typists. We typed all day long. They gave me a manual Royal typewriter,” she said.

The base eventually graduated to computers, with Tucker on the team in charge of making that happen. She helped train not just Robins employees, but workers at every air logistics complex in the country.

“We competed and won the right to have the command training office at Robins,” she said.

She says every time the base got a win, so did Central Georgia.

“As people came here, they wanted more schooling for their children and they wanted different things so it had to build up,” she said.

From wooden buildings in the middle of farmland to one of the top installations in the country, Head says everything that happened outside the gates was just as important as what happened inside.

“We’re connected,” he said.