The Laughlin Heritage Corner - May

  • Published
  • By Robert Marcell
  • 47th Flying Training Wing

This May we celebrate two major anniversaries: The 50th anniversary of when the Air Force ROTC program first began accepting female cadets, and the 75th V-E Day.

V-E Day, standing for “Victory in Europe” Day, celebrates Germany’s unconditional surrender to the Allies on May 8, 1945—officially ending World War 2 in Europe. Meanwhile, on May 5, 1970, women were first welcomed into Air Force ROTC programs across the country—paving the way for greater equality in the Air Force. The Women in the Air Force (WAF) program itself ended in 1976, at which time women were fully integrated into the Air Force on an equal basis with men as members of the regular Air Force.

Here at Laughlin, we also have a big anniversary to celebrate this month: On the 25th, the 47th Comptroller Squadron (47th CPTS) celebrates 25 years at Laughlin! The 47th CPTS was first activated as the 47th Comptroller Flight on May 25, 1995. At that time, the Comptroller Flight replaced the “Financial Management” office, which had been a staff agency of the wing. The Comptroller Flight was born out of a March 1995 order, whereby the Air Force Chief of Staff authorized the realignment of Comptroller staff elements across the Air Force to squadrons or flights that would report directly to the wing commander.

Some other historical events at Laughlin we remember this month include:

  • Laughlin AFB was Reactivated after 7 Years Closure

When?: May 1,1952

What?: After World War 2, Laughlin shut down! Seven years later, however, on May 1,1952, we reopened thanks to the efforts of the city of Del Rio and an ongoing need for pilot training caused by the Korean War.


  • The 85 FTS Flew Its 1,000,000th Hour in the T-37 Tweet

When?: May 8, 1998

What?: On May 8, the 85 FTS flew its millionth T-37 flying hour since the squadron activated in 1972. Capt. Phillip Thompson and his student, 2nd Lt. Mary J. Harris of Class 99-03, flew the T-37B that marked the millionth hour. The T-37 was completely replaced by the T-6 we fly today in 2004.


  • The Ribas-Dominicci Plaza was Named in Honor of Maj. Fernando Ribas-Dominicci

When?: May 26, 1989

What?: The Ribas-Dominicci Plaza—the island in the middle of the traffic circle we drive around when we’re entering or exiting the base—was named in honor of Maj. Fernando Ribas-Dominicci during formal ceremonies on this day in 1989. Major Ribas-Dominicci, an F-111 Aardvark pilot killed (with his copilot, Capt. Paul F. Lorence) in the April 1986 bombing raid on Libya (called Operation El Dorado Canyon), had graduated from Laughlin with Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 77-05. The punitive 1986 raid was to punish Libya for training terrorists after three of these terrorists set off a bomb in a German nightclub earlier in the month of April in 1986.

Every month, we’ll continue to highlight new Laughlin history, new Laughlin stories, and new Laughlin anniversaries, so be sure to check back again for more in June!