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Site History

History of the Grosse Ile Facility
including the Grosse Ile U.S. Naval Air Station


1926-
Aircraft Development Corporation awarded $300,000 by the Navy for construction of the world's first all-metal airship. The Olds farm (encompassing most of the southern-most portion of Grosse Ile) was purchased for a construction hanger and landing field.
1927-
Navy Department assigned the Grosse Ile property to the Naval Reserve Aviation Unit and was charged with constructing a seaplane base - marked the birth of Naval Aviation on Grosse Ile.
1928-
Combination landplane hangar and administration building constructed for aircraft sales, service, and flight instructions.
1929-
Seaplane base was completed for operations and the Grosse Ile U.S. Naval Reserve Aviation Base was dedicated.
The world's first metal clad airship, the ZMC-2, was completed.
1932/33-
Private sectors at the Base were in financial difficulty and the State of Michigan leased the entire 375 acres from the federal government.
1934/35-
State made improvements and added buildings for Navy enlisted personnel, WAVES, and Marine Air Reserves.
1939-
World War II began. Only 344 Naval aviators were available in the nation's Naval Air Reserve. In 2 years, Grosse Ile would increase cadet training from 23 to 1000 per month.
1941-
The first 100 of over 1,800 British cadets arrived for training.
1942/43-
Construction greatly increased and the Navy property was expanded from 375 to 604 acres. Over 2,000 Americans plus the expanding R.A.F. contingent were on-site.
1945-
Former President George Bush was stationed at the Grosse Ile Naval Air Station.
In August, 1945, World War II ended.
1949-
All land on which the Grosse Ile Naval Air Station rested became Naval property.
1950/53-
One Navy and two Marine squadrons from the Naval Air Station were called to active duty.
1955-
The Army installed a NIKE-AJAX guided missile base and underground missile silos on the property.
1961-
Reservists were recalled to active duty during the Berlin Crisis.
U.S. Public Health Service (Region V Office) established on Grosse Ile at the Naval Air Base.
1962-
The NIKE-AJAX base was declared obsolete and decommissioned.
1969-
The Grosse Ile U.S. Naval Air Station was closed and the 550 active duty Navy personnel and 1,600 Navy and Marine reservists were transferred and reassigned.
1970-
A quit claim deed was acquired by the Township of Grosse Ile for approximately 560 acres for aviation purposes and now forms the Grosse Ile Municipal Airport and associated industrial park.
Property retained by the federal government is occupied by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: 3 acres for the main compound and laboratory and 40.5 acres at the southern end of Grosse Ile, formerly the NIKE-AJAX site and associated area.
Dr. Norbert Jaworski named Director; affiliated with Corvallis as part of NERC (National Environmental Research Center).
1971-
Dr. Tudor Davies named Station Director.
1972-
Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement signed by President Nixon and Prime Minister Trudeau.
1975-
Through reorganization of ORD, laboratory becomes the Large Lakes Research Station (LLRS) and is aligned as a branch within the Environmental Research Laboratory - Duluth.
Industrial Control Technology mission transferred to EPA Cincinnati, Ohio.
Dr. Wayland Swain named Director of LLRS.
1982-
Agency budget does not include funding for Great Lakes Research Program; Congress restores funding.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel assigned to Station.
1983-
William Richardson named Station Chief of LLRS.
1991-
Department of Defense begins former NIKE-AJAX missile site restoration after several years of surveys and planning.
1993-
Missile site demolition and restoration completed; local conservation groups initiate plans for stewardship.
1995-
Through reorganization of ORD, the Community-Based Science Support Staff is aligned under the Mid-Continent Ecology Division - Duluth, and the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory.
USEPA Criminal Investigation Division personnel assigned to Station.
1997-
Dr. Russell Kreis named Chief, Community-Based Science Support Staff.
2000-
ORD staff realigned as the Large Lakes and Rivers Forecasting Research Branch.

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