This page is from a heritage partnered project. It was written in 1998 by students from Stephenville Integrated High School and edited by their teachers. It has not been vetted by the heritage website's academic editor.
The Ernest Harmon Air Force Base was constructed as a direct result of the 1941 Anglo-American lend-lease agreement between Britain and the United States. The lend-lease was a response to American public opinion in favor of increasing rearmament to help the Allies. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill agreed that eight British territories would be used. Newfoundland, being a British Territory at the time, was selected as an ideal tactical choice due to its strategic placement in the North Atlantic.
Stephenville was the largest area specified in the agreement with 8159 acres northeast of Bay St. George being designated for the site. The Air Force Base was built at Stephenville because of its excellent flying conditions. It was to become the largest military airport of the United States Army outside of continental U.S.A.
The first contingent of troops to arrive in January of 1941 was only a handful of men consisting of engineers and key U.S. civilian personnel. Their purpose was to survey the land for the potential construction of the base. Actual construction began on June 23, 1941 and employed 1500 people from Stephenville and surrounding areas. On June 23, 1941 the base was officially named Harmon Field by an Act of Congress in honor of Captain Emery Harmon. Harmon was an aviation pioneeer who lost his life in an air crash in 1933.
The base was originally intended to be an emergency landing field, but its significance increased over time. In 1966 the base was officially closed and turned over to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.