Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Fresno Army Air Forces Training Center
(Fresno Assembly Center, Fresno Ground Training Center, Army Air Forces Basic Training Center No. 8)
Fresno Assembly Center, 1942
Fresno Assemby Center for Ethnic Japanese
The Fresno Assembly Center was located at the Fresno County Fairgrounds. Occupied from May 6 to October 30, 1942, it was the last assembly center to close. It held a total of 5,344 evacuees (with a maximum of 5,120 at a time) from the central San Joaquin Valley and Amador County. Over 100 barracks served by six sets of communal buildings were located within the infield of the fairgrounds racetrack, and four contiguous blocks with 20 barracks each were located adjacent to the fairgrounds
At this center accommodations were crude tar paper barracks with cots, out houses and overhead water pipes with holes drilled in them to serve as showers.
There are no assembly center remains or any historical marker at the site. Most of the fairgrounds has been changed so extensively from its 1942 appearance that it is difficult to determine whether any fair buildings present during the assembly center use still remain Most of those processed at the Fresno center went to the Relocation Center at Jerome, Arkansas.
The Fresno Assembly Center ceased operations on October 30, 1942 when the last group of ethnic Japanese departed. The center was then turned over to the 4th Air Force which converted it into non-flying training facility called the Fresno Ground Training Center. Signalmen, camouflage specialists, chemical warfare specialists, ordnance technicians, clerks, truck drivers and cooks trained here. The 1945 Army Inventory of Installations lists this activity as the Fresno Army Air Forces Training Center.
There is an historical marker with information on the site located near the Chance Avenue gate of the fairgrounds.
Source, National Park Service
Six man tent, Fresno Army Air Forces Ground Training Center, 25 August 1943 (US Air Force Historical Research Agency).
US Army Corps of Engineers History
The Fresno Army Air Forces Ground Training Center (FAAFGTC) originated as a converted Japanese interment camp. On 19 February 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order No. 9066 providing the legal authority permitting the interment of Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Two week earlier, the Corps of Engineers acquired a lease interest for the Fresno County Fairgrounds, finalizing it on the same date of Executive Order, along with leases for an adjacent parcel, totaling approximately 110 acres. Construction of the camp did not begin until after the War Department issued the Japanese Evacuation Operation memorandum on 23 April. The first ethnic Japanese arrived at the Fresno Reception Center or Fresno Assembly Center on 6 May. The assembly center remained in operation until October 1942, when the last Japanese Americans had been transferred to relocation or detention centers elsewhere in the interior.
The War Department didn't allow the installation asset to remain inactive and transferred it to the Army Air Forces Technical Training Command. This Command quickly established Basic Training Center No. 8, Fresno, California on 29 October 1942, and began converting the infrastructure and acquiring additional land that eventually totaled just over 300 contiguous acres.9

As the name implies, the mission for Basic Training Center No. 8 was the orientation and initial training of enlisted inductees in the Army Air Forces in preparation for their next phase of technical training. The original November 1942 training schedule lasted 26-day but, it was gradually increased to 56 days by the following June. By June, elements of the Air Service Command troops began arriving for more specialized training in such disciplines as signal, camouflage and chemical warfare. On 7 July 1943, the War Department officially ordered the reassignment of the installation to the Air Service Command from the newly formed Army Air Forces Training Command. The change took two months to effect (i.e. 1 September 1943) and resulted in a name change to Army Air Forces Fresno Basic Training Center (BTC) and later to Air Service Command (ASC) Training Center. The changes also resulted in modifications to the training schedule reflecting more specialized emphasis. Throughout 1944, approximately 4,000 men received training at the Fresno ASC Training Center, more than 3,000 in the Post Signal School, 1,069 completed the Camouflage School, and 760 men graduated from the NCO school.

On 15 February 1945, the installation was transferred to the Air Technical Service Command and acquired a few more variations on its name including: Fresno Basic Training Center and Air Technical Service Command (ATSC) Training Center. By 30 March 1945, ATSC had placed the installation on standby status with only a care taking staff of 42 remained on site. The Army Air Forces transferred the idle ATSC Training Center (also known as the AAF [Army Air Forces] Ground Training Center) to the 4th Air Force on 31 May 1945, which appears to have affected only the communications repair and administration activities remaining on site. On 13 February 1946, the War Department placed the installation in the surplus category and the property was subsequently disposed of.
Additional Online Histories
US Army Corps of Engineers St Louis District Archives Search Report

Extract, War Department Inventory of Owned, Sponsored and Leased Facilities, 1945

Known Units at Fresno Army Air Forces Training Center

 Data Source


 Army of the United States Station List  1 June 1943
Medical Detachment (AAF)
Veterinary Detachment (AAF)
6th Mess Group (AAF)
Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment
22nd Mess Squadron
23rd Mess Squadron
22nd Army Air Forces Band (AAF)
81st Training Wing (AAF)
Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment
801st Training Group
802nd Training Group
803rd Training Group
82nd Training Wing (AAF)
Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment
804thTraining Group
805th Training Group
806th Training Group
Detachment, 903rd Quartermaster Service Company, Aviation (AAF)
1160th Guard Squadron (AAF)
Detachment, 2058th Ordnance Service Company, Aviation (AAF)
 Army of the United States Station List  7 April 1945
Air Technical Service Command Training Center (AAF)
Air Technical Service Command Communications Repair Detachment (AAF)
4128th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Base Administration)
 Army of the United States Station List  7 May 1946
4128th Army Air Forces Base Unit (Base Administration)
AAF - Army Air Forces units | AGF - Army Ground Forces unit | ASF - Army Service Forces units | WDC - Western Defense Command
US Army Corps of Engineers Maps and Aerial Photographs
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Updated 26 March 2016