Fort Detrick started as a small municipal airport established at Frederick, Maryland in 1929. Originally called Frederick Air Field, it was renamed Detrick Field in honor of Squadron Flight Surgeon Maj. Frederick L. Detrick, a native of New Market, Maryland. Detrick was born in 1889, served in France during World War I, and died in 1931.
The men of his unit, the 104th Aero Squadron of the 29th Division (Maryland National Guard), which held training at the field, had such respect for Detrick they unanimously voted to rename the field in his honor.
A concrete and tarmac airfield replaced the grass field in 1939, and an upgraded Detrick Field served as a cadet pilot training center until the country’s entry into World War II. Detrick Field was formally leased from the City of Frederick in 1940.
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the last military airplanes left Detrick Field and all assets of the 104th and the cadet program were reassigned to submarine patrol duty off the Atlantic Coast.
From March to September 1942, the 2nd Bombardment Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Corps was resident at Detrick Field before deploying to England, where it became the 8th Air Force Headquarters. In 1943, Detrick Field ceased operations as an aviation center and the U.S. government purchased additional land for Detrick Field, renaming the facility Camp Detrick. The facility became the site of the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories; responsible for researching biocontainment, decontamination, gaseous sterilization and agent purification.
The photo above is dated Aug. 17, 1933.