Instructor at Curtis Field from 1942 to 1944
Date:6/11/2008 Formerhelped train his fair share of 10,000 cadets at Curtis Field
By James Stewart, Brady Standard-Herald
Ask just about any man or boy and they’ll most likely agree that at one time or another, they wanted to grow up to be a pilot. For 86-
year-old George Seaberg of Grapevine, that childhood dream became a reality that he enjoys to this very day.
Still spry and as sharp as a tack, the happily-married octogenarian still maintains a current pilot’s license and makes it a point to fly his
own private plane just about every week. Born and raised in Chicago, the post- depression era teenager became infatuated
with flying as a young boy. He would spend all his free time at the airport. A string of chance opportunities got him up in an airplane and as
luck would have it, he ended up as an instructor for the United States Air Corps stationed at Brady’s own Curtis Field. Seaberg and his wife, Carlene,
visited Brady a few weeks ago following a sequence of chance events that revealed an astounding connection. Seaberg is one of the very few
remaining airplane instructors who was stationed at Curtis Field during its heyday as an active military pilot training base.
Sitting in the remodeled building that served as the equipment checkout room and control tower during his time of service, he seemed
surprised when it was revealed that the military wing annex of the Heart of Texas Historical Museum was in fact, the very same
building completely restored to its original integrity: that same building he frequented on a daily basis as he served as an instructor at
Curtis Field so many years ago. Seaberg came in contact with members of the board of the local museum through a chance meeting his daughter had,
and scheduled a visit to see the town where he lived and served during 1942-44. His daughter had learned about the restored air control tower and
barracks and told him the names of some board members.
“Things have changed so much now, but there are a lot of things that I vividly recall about this town that are still familiar,” recalled Seaberg.
After an hour or so visiting and talking about the restored facility, he took the opportunity to drive the streets of Brady to recount how
things had changed.
“One thing I’ll never forget was the downtown square” he said. “We used to come down, park around the square and watch the girls. What is
so amazing is that everything south of 11th Street wasn’t even there.” As a training instructor at Curtis Field, stories of near misses, weather watching flights that
nearly ended in disaster and even fatal accidents are all firmly ingrained deep in his mind.
“I don’t read about history these days,” he said, “I remember it. We had a lot of good men come through these doors and for all of those men, we had
surprisingly few accidents.”
By the best historical accounts, during the time Curtis Field was used as a training base, more than 10,000 pilots came through the program. In all, 21 lives were lost
It is in honor of each of those names that the museum dedicated the use of the remodeled buildings.
Seaberg recounted story after story of the logical progression of events that led him from a young boy hanging around an airfield to a teenaged pilot who enlisted in the Air
Corps to appease the draft board.
“I was 19 years old and the draft board was after me,” he said. “The Air Corps needed experienced pilots, so I signed up for the instructor school.
“So many things happened just right for me. As an instructor, they sent us through flight instructor school, marched us out to the flight line and showed us these huge
airplanes and told us that we were going to be flying them.It wasn’t long before I was soloing in that plane. I loved to fly and how it all worked out, I just couldn’t believe
I was getting paid to fly these beautiful army airplanes.”
Seaberg was stationed at Brady’s Curtis Field in 1942 where he served until he was transferred to Turner Field in 1944. He met his first wife of more than 50 years at the
canteen at the airport. A Richland Springs native, they married just prior to his transfer to Turner Field. She died in his arms of a heart attack after more than 51 years of marriage.
Since then, he has remarried. “God saw fit to send Carlene to me,” he said with a grin from ear to ear. “We have been married 11 years and we’re doing great!”
After serving as a B-25 instructor at Turner Field, he was eventually discharged, but he kept on flying. When the Korean War came around, he worked as a flight instructor in
California for 12 years before going to work for the Federal Aviation Administration. For the next 25 years, he worked his way from flight instructor all the way up the corporate
ladder before settling back down into the comfortable role that dealt with flying. “If I had it to do all over again, I would have stayed at the position where I was able to
work with the people,” said Seaberg. “I had a very good career in flying and even after I retired, I became a consultant, but everything I learned about life, I learned from the military.
The military prepared me for everything I ever encountered.”
In reliving some of his days at Curtis Field, he recalled how he was only 19 years old when he arrived in Brady, the youngest instructor in his class.
“There were 135 instructors that came through Curtis Field and we all loved what we did,” said Seaberg. “I would wake up every day and I couldn’t wait to get in those planes and
He recalled daily muster around 4 a.m. and he and his fellow instructors would pre-flight their planes to prepare for the daily flight.
“We were our own mechanics back then,” he said. We were the ones responsible for making sure our planes were ready to fly and when we came back in to refuel, we took care of it
ourselves, got back in the cockpit and headed back up. We flew all the time.”
As young instructors living in rural Texas, time off usually meant an opportunity to find other things to do. “I recall back then that everyone was involved in the war in one way or the other.
We were all in it together. Everything we did—we were all in it for the war. Whether you were getting metal or sewing fabric, we were all in it—for our side.
“Today, we’re in a war and a lot of folks don’t even realize it. Back then, we spent time helping out on area ranches. The ranchers here needed people so we volunteered. We
learned how to cowboy and I helped out several area sheep ranches. It was fun for a kid from Chicago to learn about being a cowboy.”
During his time in Brady, Seaberg recalls several men who made significant impressions on him through their actions and business dealings.
“Harry Curtis became a personal friend,” he said. “He was the mayor of Brady and a great man.”
The Seabergs together have several children and grandchildren from their separate marriages. None, however, have chosen to pursue the love of flying.
“They have all had a built-in instructor, but none of them seem too terribly interested in making it a way of life like I did,” he said.
The Seabergs drove to Brady for their visit in their late-model Cadillac, choosing to forego a cross-country flight in his plane for a leisurely trip on the ground.
“I have had a good life,” he said. “A very good life.”