SJAFB to Rename Recreation Area

Friends of Seymour Johnson Discuss F-15E Future

SJAFB to Rename Recreation Area

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base’s 4th Fighter Wing leadership is pleased to announce that the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area has been renamed the Blakeslee Air Force Recreation Area. The renaming comes following a recommendation for a name change by the Congressional Naming Commission.

The new name was chosen to honor Col. Donald James Matthew Blakeslee, a flying ace who had more than 15 aerial kills and two ground kills. He flew more than 500 operational sorties and accumulated 1,200 combat hours – an American record. Blakeslee flew more combat missions against the Luftwaffe than any other American fighter pilot in World War II.

Blakeslee assumed command of both the 335th Fighter Squadron and later in his career, the 4th Fighter Group. Under Blakeslee’s leadership, the 4th FG received the P-51 Mustang and destroyed a total of 1,016 German aircraft, a record for any American group or wing in any war.

Although Blakeslee passed away Sept. 3, 2008, he left a legacy that the 4th FW emulates to this day.

“It is not an everyday occurrence to have the opportunity to name an area like this. It is an honor to have the opportunity to recognize and  memorialize heroes like Blakeslee,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Kirchner, 4th Force Support Squadron commander. “He set the standard that we still follow today.”

Visitors to the Blakeslee Air Force Recreation Area can expect the same great service and amenities they’ve previously enjoyed.

The Naming Commission’s mission was to provide removal and renaming recommendations for all Department of Defense items “that commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America.”

The name change has been coordinated with the Post Office, Emergency Control Center, online map and navigation sites.