Camp Swift was officially activated with a flag-raising ceremony on May 4, 1942. Austin civic leaders campaigned for the Bastrop location of the army camp for the economic benefit Austin would derive from the influx of military personnel. In addition to serving as a training camp for soldiers on their way to the warfront, Camp Swift also housed up to 4,800 German and Russian prisoners of war. By 1947 the War Department had designated most of the camp as surplus.
"The army established the only nurses training center in Texas at Camp Swift…These nurses went through a rigid training course even to camping out in the training area and going through what was known as the infiltration course. In this course the nurses, dressed in fatigues, crawled on their stomachs through barbed wire with overhead machine gun fire for a distance of fifty yards. This was a trying ordeal for them and many had upset stomachs as the result. This was not unusual as many men did also, because of the fumes from the guns and from explosive being fired at intervals along the course." History of Camp Swift, 1962.
Del Valle Army Air Base officially became Bergstrom Army Air Field on March 3, 1943. In 1942, Austinites had voted to purchase the 3,000 acres of farm land, which the City then leased to the federal government for one dollar per year. Under the original plan, the army flying field was to revert back to the City after the war for use as an airport, but the decision to maintain the facility "long into the future" was announced even before the war officially ended in 1945.
"Since the city council has asked for a bond election to buy the land for an army flying field south of town, the city's plans on using that field after the war can now be told….
AFTER THE WAR IS OVER, IT WILL REVERT TO THE CITY, AND ANOTHER VALUABLE AIRPORT WILL BE ADDED TO AUSTIN'S FACILITIES.
Prospect of the army putting in the field has been the cause of the delay by the city in building a permanent airport building on the Municipal airport….After the war is over the city plans to make the field south of town its terminal for commercial airliners, and let the Municipal be used as a base for light private planes and private schools."
Austin Statesman, March 18, 1942
University of Texas coeds appeared to have a good supply of customers for their ten cent victory cocktails. Their handmade sign proclaimed "Help defeat Hitler with a victory cocktail." During World War II the University of Texas curriculum focused upon training for the war effort, with a naval flight preparatory school and classes for Army instructors.