The Vanden High School Story
of Vanden High School is directly linked to early Scandinavian settlers in
Northern California, Travis Air Force Base, the
and their families.
In 1852, three Norwegian seafarers - Carl H.
Thompson and his brother Dan, and Steve Larsen - purchased a small
sailboat in San Francisco and headed up the Sacramento River.
Apparently their destination was the gold fields of the Mother Lode
region; however, they missed the main channel of the river and found
themselves in Montezuma Slough a few miles south of the present day
Travis Air Force Base. They abandoned their boat there and walked
inland to Calaveras County.
two years of work, and finding little gold, the three Norwegians
returned to Montezuma Slough, built a small house, and raised sheep and
cattle. Gradually other Scandinavians took up farming in the area, and
"Scandia" (Little Norway) became the accepted name of the area east and
south of Denverton. Today, the Western Railway Museum is located
near Denverton on Highway 12 southeast of Travis AFB.
When construction began on the Army
airfield that would become Travis AFB, the area was still referred to as
Scandia. The first article on construction was on July 2, 1942, four
days before bulldozers broke ground for the new airstrip. The following
week, the "Republican'" newspaper reported "the great 1,600 acre
area six miles east of Fairfield in the Scandia section is today teaming
with activity as men and machines move in to prepare the foundations for
a great flying field."
Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Field
was an isolated airstrip with a few
tar paper shacks set in the middle of a wind-swept prairie during World War II.
Activated on May 11, 1943, the field was named Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Field,
after the two closest - mostly agricultural - towns: Fairfield and Suisun City.
Planned shortly after Pearl Harbor, the base served as home for bombers and
fighters assigned to defend the West Coast. The first runway and buildings
were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the summer of 1942. For
a few months, the outline of an aircraft carrier's deck was painted on the
runway to help newly-commissioned Navy pilots practice maneuvers. The strong
local winds nearly duplicated those at sea.
- Shortly after construction began, however,
the base's potential as a major aerial port for the Pacific theater led the
Army Air Corps to assign it to the newly-designated Air Transport Command (ATC).
The base officially opened on June 1, 1943, servicing and ferrying aircraft
from California to the Pacific war zone. By 1945, the base had become
the West Coast's largest aerial port. The airlift of troops and
supplies to Japan and Korea, and the processing of war-weary returning GIs,
had become the primary mission. On June 1, 1948, the Military Air
Transport Service (MATS) assumed jurisdiction.
- On May 1, 1949, the Strategic Air Command
(SAC) became the major command for the base, turning it into a long-range
reconnaissance and intercontinental bombing installation. For the next
nine years, airlift operations became secondary while the base served as
home for SAC bombers. During this period, new hangers appeared,
runways were added and widened, and permanent barracks and family living
quarters were built. The base grew to its present size of over 6,000
1951 Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Field was renamed Travis Air Force Base in honor
of Brigadier General Robert F. Travis, who
was killed in a B-29 crash at the installation on
August 5, 1950. At the time of his death, the general was commander of the
9th Heavy Bombardment Wing and base commander. Formal dedication
ceremonies were held on April 21, 1951.
- MATS resumed command of Travis AFB on July
1, 1958. The base became headquarters for the 1501st Air Transport
Wing in 1955, MATS's Western Transport Air Force in 1958 (later the 22nd Air
Force), and the 60th Military Airlift Wing in 1966 (later the 60th Airlift
Wing then the 60th Air Mobility Wing).
- Travis became part of the Air Mobility
Command (AMC) on June 1, 1992. AMC's primary mission is mobility for
America's armed forces. Travis supports this capability by deploying
air mobile forces anywhere in the world, and sustains them in a conflict.
The base has become the largest in AMC in terms of aircraft and staff.
- Known as the "Gateway to the Pacific,"
Travis handles more cargo and passenger traffic than any other military air
terminal in the United States. Additionally, the base has had a long
and proud history of supporting humanitarian airlift at home and around the
As the air
base grew the numbers of military families increased. Students
living on Travis AFB had to attend
the high schools in the neighboring towns of Fairfield and Vacaville. In
the early 60's the number of families living on the base became large
enough to build a high school for Travis students. This was the beginning of Vanden
was named Vanden because the location of the school is in the same vicinity in
which a town called Vanden was to be built. A Scandinavian family by the name of
Vanden settled in this area in the mid 1880's. They started a store and made
plans for the town and a railroad station. However, these plans never
materialized although a post office
operated from 1897 to 1899.
remains of the Vanden family, is a road named in its memory, and plans for a
town that never materialized. The school board wished to pay tribute to this
early pioneer family by selecting its name as one of historical importance for
the high school.
High School officially opened in September of 1964. The first semester of
classes was held at Golden West Intermediate School from 7:00 am until 12:30 pm
while construction of the high school was completed.
On January 25, 1965 the six
hundred students and thirty-six faculty members moved from Golden West to the
present Vanden campus. The Class of 1965 was
Vanden's first graduating
class. The one hundred forty seven members of the class of 1965 received their
diplomas on June 11, 1965.
Forty years later, on June 10, 2005 - Vanden's
Class of 2005 became the 40th group of outstanding young men and women to
graduate and become Alumni of Vanden High School. Go Vikings!
of 2005 Graduation - June 10, 2005