WWII Convalescent Hospital

Training for combat at Fort George Wright gave way to recovery and recuperation during the Second World War. In 1941, Fort Wright had changed hands and become part of the United States Army Air Force. Being used as a base hospital for its first few years, in early 1944 Fort Wright was turned into a full fledged army convalescent center.

Soldiers and airmen who had been wounded in action fighting against Japan and Germany found a place of peaceful healing at Fort George Wright. Aside from direct medical care supplied by the Army and Red Cross staff, the Fort was designed to heal the spirit of the wounded warriors as well.

Music formed a core of the recovery process. The 707th Army Air Force band was headquartered at Fort Wright, and played music for the sick and recovering. Members of the band also volunteered their time to instruct patients in music. This became so popular, that a mess hall was converted into a GI Music Conservatory, in which band members worked full time.

Patients of a non-musical persuasion could take up classes in the arts. Others choose to work at the bases' fully functional farm. The sounds of livestock and the regularity of the agricultural lifestyle comforted those who had seen and done so much on the battlefields of Europe and Asia. Many chose to keep up their skills at the fort's indoor rifle range. And others learned aeronautical engineering by taking apart and re-assembling a B-17 Flying Fortress, which had been shipped to Fort Wright for that purpose.

Gradually the convalescent program was brought to a close, and by 1949 the Fort George Wright had become George Wright Air Force Base. It existed as an extension and surplus area of Fairchild AFB until its abandonment in 1957.


WWII Convalescent Program
A brief video on the WWII Army Air Force Convalescent program. Images Courtesy of The Library of Congress, National Archives, Northwest Room at the Spokane Public Library and Lee Nilsson Preformed by Lee Nilsson
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