Every patch of land has its own unique history and roots, but the wheat fields of Oklahoma that became a post-World War II model city built their foundation on the skies above. Perhaps that’s why they say Midwest City is, “Where the spirit flies high.” The flat terrain provides the stability of a rock while inviting a distinguished elevation of the heart and a sense of pride in every community member.
Could it be fate that initiated seventy-five years of livelihood and hope in Oklahoma County? Could it be the sense of family among locals and military members that solidifies seventy-five more?
Midwest City has seen its share of adversity since its inception, such as the giant tornado that ripped through Oklahoma County nineteen years ago this month. Future challenges are imminent – that’s a fact of life. Coming together and staying together – that’s a strong feeling of hope.
“You can safely say that if Tinker Air Force base would disappear, Midwest City would disappear,” former Oklahoma State representative Gary Banz said. “And not just Midwest City. There are two other communities that are in close proximity. It would have an enormous impact on those as well as the greater Oklahoma City area.”
When hard times were closing in on destitute farmers in Oklahoma County during the Great Depression, their future needed a Hail Mary pass. When the American war department needed an air field to support the development and growth of military aircraft, those farms became the home turf where this air facility, Midwest Air Depot, could touch down.
The intricate workings of this story are poetically honored in a documentary special, From Wheat Fields to Model City, which will air on the YurView Oklahoma Channel 1333 every night between May 9th and May 18th with additional airings throughout the month.
“The decision of the war department to locate a depot in the Midwest jump started lots of things not the least of which was the community now known as Midwest City,” Banz said.
Midwest City was named after the depot that spurred its development. Home construction began in 1942 and was founded on the intelligent decision-making of W.P. “Bill” Atkinson, who anticipated the need for a nearby community when hearing whisperings of a U. S. Army Air Corps air base being developed in Oklahoma.
While Atkinson is hailed as the founder of Midwest City due to his keen nature, business sense and gumption to seize an opportunity to facilitate hope, he was not the only player and leader in this local regard.
Affordable homes were constructed, grocery stores, retail and service businesses were recruited. FNB Community Bank was created. All of this development bloomed from the security of a brighter future. This present future continues to be protected by the people that wear the blue suits both in the Navy and the Air Force.
“Nobody does it alone,” Banz said. “Those of us who have been fortunate to be asked to serve in leadership roles in our community at the state level and the municipal level stand on the shoulders of some giants who took enormous risks not the least was W.P. Atkinson, but there were other family names that have been a part of the building of that community from its inception.”
Midwest Air Depot was later named Tinker Air Force Base to pay homage to Oklahoma native Major General Clarence L. Tinker of Pawhuska, who was killed in WW2.
Locals continue to embrace a sense of pride and duty when peering up to the clouds. The connection to the past runs deep through the unique curvature of the neighborhood streets that were cutting edge development back in 1951. The close proximity of airborne activity provides a daily reminder of the service men and women that provide a storm shelter for the country.
Midwest City was a model city, and continues to be a model community in its commitment to embracing a small town vibe, a good neighbor way of life and a duty to honor an existence fueled by something bigger than itself.
From Wheat Fields to Model City can be viewed on YurView Oklahoma (Cox Channel 1333) the following dates and times:
– Wednesday May 9th at 6:30pm
– Thursday May 10th at 7:00pm
– Friday May 11th at 5:30pm
– Saturday May 12th at 6:30pm
– Sunday May 13th at 8:00pm
– Monday May 14th at 7:00pm
– Thursday May 17th at 5:30pm
– Friday May 18th at 6:30pm