During World War II, The United States Army Air Force (USAAF) established numerous airfields in South Carolina for Antisubmarine defense in the Gulf of Mexico and for training pilots and aircrews of USAAF fighters and bombers.
Most of these airfields were under the command of Third Air Force or the Army Air Forces Training Command (AAFTC)(a predecessor of the current-day United States Air Force Air Education and Training Command). However, the other USAAF support commands (Air Technical Service Command (ATSC); Air Transport Command (ATC or Troop Carrier Command ) commanded a significant number of airfields in support roles.
Construction of the Barnwell Airfield, for use as a B-25 Mitchell Bomber training base got underway in September of 1942 and was completed in March of 1943 at a cost of
$1,000,000.00. Two construction companies worked around the clock, seven days a week to complete the job. The original runways were 5000 feet long and 150 feet wide.
Barnwell, Greenwood, Walterboro, North Army Air Base and Congaree Air Base were built as satellite bases to the Columbia Air Base (Owens/Hamilton Field) because the Columbia Air Base simply did not have enough room for the expected large number of planes and pilots in the training pipeline. The Columbia Air Base was under control of Third Air Force III Air Support Command.