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Then and Now: Ready for war

Downtown bustling with people in uniform

In the days following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Spokane began preparing for the next major attack. Spokane radio stations went off the air so enemy aircraft couldn’t follow their signals into urban areas. Tall buildings covered their windows for nighttime blackouts (which were never enforced). Young men began enlisting in the military. Local hospitals expanded nurse training. Starlet Lana Turner sold war bonds at a rally in front of the Desert Hotel. Spokane’s proximity to the coast and access to railroad lines made it a good location for Galena, Felts and Geiger airfields. Galena Field became Fairchild Air Force Base. Farragut Naval Training Station opened in 1943 on Lake Pend Oreille in North Idaho. All the activity brought uniformed men and women to Spokane seeking entertainment. In early 1942, T.O. Hoagland, a defense official, came to Spokane to set up a USO chapter. “We are facing a problem of providing recreation and beds for an amazing number of military men, both Army and Navy, who will be in Spokane on weekends,” he said. “I am not allowed to quote figures, but by fall there will be a stupendous number.” –Jesse Tinsley


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