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History of the Grosse Ile Facility
including the Grosse Ile U.S. Naval Air Station
- 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.
- 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
- Combination landplane hangar and administration building constructed for aircraft sales,
service, and flight instructions.
- 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.
- Private sectors at the Base were in financial difficulty and the State of Michigan
leased the entire 375 acres from the federal government.
- State made improvements and added buildings for Navy enlisted personnel, WAVES, and
Marine Air Reserves.
- 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.
- The first 100 of over 1,800 British cadets arrived for training.
- 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.
- Former President George Bush was stationed at the Grosse Ile Naval Air Station.
In August, 1945, World War II ended.
- All land on which the Grosse Ile Naval Air Station rested became Naval property.
- One Navy and two Marine squadrons from the Naval Air Station were called to active duty.
- The Army installed a NIKE-AJAX guided missile base and underground missile silos on the
- 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
- The NIKE-AJAX base was declared obsolete and decommissioned.
- 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.
- 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
- 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).
- Dr. Tudor Davies named Station Director.
- Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement signed by President Nixon and Prime Minister
- 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.
- Agency budget does not include funding for Great Lakes Research Program; Congress
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources personnel assigned to Station.
- William Richardson named Station Chief of LLRS.
- Department of Defense begins former NIKE-AJAX missile site restoration after several
years of surveys and planning.
- Missile site demolition and restoration completed; local conservation groups initiate
plans for stewardship.
- 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.
- Dr. Russell Kreis named Chief, Community-Based Science Support Staff.
- ORD staff realigned as the Large Lakes and Rivers Forecasting Research Branch.
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