Major ABQ road's name has ties to WWII - Albuquerque Journal

Major ABQ road’s name has ties to WWII

Editor’s note: The Journal continues “What’s in a Name?,” a twice a month column in which staff writer Elaine Briseño will give a short history of how places in New Mexico got their names.

One of the most satisfying parts of writing this column is hearing from the readers, especially family members and those who are experts in the topics I cover. And, sometimes, those with a better knowledge of a subject write in to let me know I got my facts wrong. That’s the case with my Sept. 5 column on the ghost town of Loma Parda in Mora County.

It turns out there are at least TWO Loma Pardas – the one I wrote about and another down south in Doña Ana County.

The murder of Pat Garrett’s deputy John McLeod took place in the Loma Parda down south, not the infamous Loma Parda in Mora County. The deputy had a ranch near there that still has his name, according to the reader.

Today’s column brings us back to the streets of Albuquerque.

Anyone who has driven or ridden as a passenger in a car here knows the name Eubank. It’s the moniker for one of the Northeast Heights’ main north to south thoroughfares. But what is a Eubank?

U.S. Air Force Major General Eugene Lowry Eubank. (Courtesy of U.S. Air Force)

In this case, Eubank is a last name and it references a man whose stay in Albuquerque was brief but impactful.

The road honors Major General Eugene Lowry Eubank, who trained bombardiers here in the summer of 1941.

Eubank was born in 1892 in Mangum, Oklahoma, and served during both World War I and World War II. His lifelong military career brought him to Albuquerque just months before the United States entered World War II. He was already a seasoned veteran when he was transferred to the city.

Eubank joined the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps in August of 1917. He became a flying instructor in Texas in February of the following year. He served at several bases in Illinois and Texas before finally being transferred to Hawaii where he met his wife Helen, the daughter of a colonel.

He continued serving at locations around the United States as an instructor and a leader.

In 1941, he was appointed commander of the 19th Bombardment Group, a heavy bomber group used during the Philippines and Java campaigns. The group was transferred in 1941 to the new Albuquerque Army Air Base, which is modern day Kirtland Air Force Base.

The base was a trio of private airfields from 1928 to 1939. Santa Fe railroad employees Frank G. Speakman and William L. Franklin bulldozed the brush on the east mesa of Albuquerque in 1928 to install two runways for a private airport. The location eventually became a refueling and maintenance spot for military flights. The Army condemned the airport field and transferred the property to the federal government, which began construction on the Albuquerque Army Air Base in January of 1941.

Troops wait at the Albuquerque train station for transport to Albuquerque Army Air Base for bombardier training in December 1941. (Courtesy of Kirtland Air Force Base)

Eubank arrived from a base in California in June of that year with his bombardment group, signaling the start of the base’s boom.

A June 12, 1941 story in the Carlsbad Current-Argus talks about the arrival of the military men in Albuquerque.

“It was expected today that plans for formal dedication of the big base, six miles southeast of the city would begin to take shape soon … the units have a paper strength of about 200 officers and 2,200 men.”

The bomber pilots begin to train on the outskirts of the city. A June 13, 1941 article in the Albuquerque Journal gives a sense of what that was like.

“Volcanic rock undisturbed since it boiled up out of the earth an eon or two ago, will soon be erupting again, this time to man-made explosions when the 19th Bombardment Group, Heavy, starts its practice on the bombing range northwest of the city Lieut. Col. Eugene L. Eubank indicated Thursday.”

Eubank Boulevard is a major road in the Northeast Heights. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

The group, along with Eubank, was only in Albuquerque a few months before they left for duty in the Philippines and South Pacific, and shortly after that the United States entered into World War II.

But as Eubank headed to war, his wife Helen stayed behind along with many of the other wives. Her 1998 obituary talks about her presence in Albuquerque during that time.

“It was during this time of separation and deep concern that Mrs. Eubank’s calm strength, creative leadership and kindness were both an inspiration and a consolation to those wives and families … ‘These women had children to feed, rent to pay and Christmas coming with allotments and small savings. I will always be grateful for the way that the Salvation Army and the entire community rallied and took these families to their heart,’ her family recalled her saying.”

It’s not clear exactly when the road was named for the general, but an Oct. 16, 1951 article in the Albuquerque Journal about a new post Eubank was receiving mentions that the road in Albuquerque was named for him. A school built near Eubank and Indian School in 1955 was also named Eubank. The school was renamed the Janet Kahn School of Integrated Arts in 2016.

Eubank lived a very long life. He died in 1997 at the age of 104 in San Antonio, Texas. During his career he received several awards, including a Silver and a Bronze star, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Curious about how a town, street or building got its name? Email staff writer Elaine Briseño at ebriseno@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3965 as she continues the monthly journey in “What’s in a Name?”

 


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