Historic Posts, Camps, Stations, and Airfields
Hollister Bombing Target No. 5
By Dan Sebby, Post Historian, Camp San Luis Obispo

With the expansion of the U.S. Navy's presence in California during the first half of World War II, the 12th Naval District commissioned Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) Hollister to provide a base for the training of carrier based fighter, torpedo and bombing squadrons. The location was ideal since torpedo bombers could train in the airspace over the Monterey Bay, only 20 miles to the west. But, for fighters and bombers to train on dive bombing techniques, a new range had to be established. With this requirement in mind, the U.S. Navy looked to the east of NAAS Hollister for an appropriate site.

In June of 1943 the U.S. Department of Justice, acting on behalf of the U.S. Navy, began condemnation proceedings against Paul J. and Mary D. Hudner for the acquisition of 440 acres of grazing land to serve as a bombing target. However, this action was cancelled when the U.S. Navy and the Hudners reached a negotiated agreement for leasing the land. The U.S. Navy took possession of the Site effective 1 August 1943 with the signing of Lease NOy(R)-35804.

The target area had three specific dive bombing targets:
The carrier based squadrons operating from NAAS Hollister would have operated the following aircraft:
Although designated as a torpedo bomber, the TBF/TBM "Avenger" could carry a general purpose bombs in its weapons bay. So it is possible that the Avenger may have trained on this target. The ordnance dropped on the site would have been three-pound, cast iron practice bombs and 100-pound practice bombs. The practice bombs would have been armed with spotting charges in order to facilitate the scoring of bombing runs.
On 1 February 1945, the lease was modified so as to allow for the Hudners to resume grazing cattle on the Site. Available documentation does not specify when the Site ceased to be an active target. However, on 23 January 1945, the Commander, Naval Air Bases, 12th Naval District requested that the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Yards and Docks terminate the lease. This request was favorably endorsed by the Commandant of the 12th Naval District on 28 February 1946.
On 30 June 1946, the Hudners and a representative of the Bureau of Yards and Docks signed a supplemental agreement to Lease NOy(R)-35804 that ended the U.S. Navy's leasehold interest in the Site.
Additional Histories
US Army Corps of Engineers St Louis District Archives Search Report
12th Naval District Property Acquisition Map
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Updated 8 February 2016