U.S. Naval Air Station Memphis Base Theater

Bougainville Street & Hornet Avenue,
Millington, TN 38053

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Naval Air Station Theater

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The theater had pillars and steps on the entrance that faced Bougainville Street and was on the entire block between Hornet Avenue and Indianapolis Avenue. A wing was attached to each side of the theater. Theater buildings like this were built on navy bases all over the USA during World War Two. The building was on the north side of Navy Road on the same side as the airfield. The barracks, aviation schools, galley etc. were located south of Navy Road. In the 1960’s no civilian clothes were allowed on the base and when the movie was over all these sailors and marines (the marines are part of the navy SEMPER FI) would all be crossing Navy Road to get “home” to the barracks, it was really a sight!

Naval Air Station (NAS) Memphis which is 16 miles North of Memphis was home to Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) (Aviation Schools). In 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission transferred the airfield to the City of Millington and it first became Millington Municipal Airport and is now Millington Regional Jetport. The aviation schools went to NAS Pensacola, Florida. The name of the rest of the naval base (that is non-airfield) is Naval Support Activity Mid-South. More than 7,500 military, civilian, and contract personnel are assigned/work on the base. It is home of the Navy Personnel Command and Navy Recruiting Command which used to be in Washington D.C. It has over 30 tenant commands. It is one of the largest single employers in the state of Tennessee.

Contributed by Chief Bob Jensen

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois
Ret. AKC (NAC) CCC Bob Jensen, Manteno, Illinois on June 25, 2013 at 5:43 am

When I was a young sailor stationed at NAS Memphis back in 1962, going to an aviation school, I would go to the base theater. The best live show I ever saw in a navy theater was at Memphis. It was a live show with a favorite among the military, Hilo Hattie, the Hawaiian, singer, hula dancer, comedienne, musician (she played the ukulele of course), actress, who made movies and records and was on the radio. She put on a GREAT show. I saw about every movie at the theater while I was stationed at NAS. The only movies I remember seeing for sure were “CAROUSEL” which I had never seen before and “OKLAHOMA!” because I remember one of my friends in the barracks commented after the movie about how Curly was so cocky. Little did I know at the time that later I would be a Naval Air Crewmen flying into NAS.

vastor on July 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm

When this was shown to me at the archives I heard the comment that it had burned.

alandhopewell on October 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm
 When I was there in 1976, it was divided into two theaters, the Blue and the Gold; I remember seeing BUG,   THE CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE, CHOSEN SURVIVORS, and DR. BLACK AND MR. HYDE there.
usnavy1962 on March 21, 2014 at 7:50 pm

I attended AFU(A)and AX school at NATTC MEMPHIS from August 1962 to April 1963. I remember going to this theater to see BYE BYE BIRDIE and THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. I also remember going to the theater in Millington but can’t recall the movie. I do remember kids running up and down the aisles!

Moosemuffin on January 26, 2015 at 9:29 am

My mother used to take us to the movies and I remember seeing South Pacific for 25 cents.

Moosemuffin on January 26, 2015 at 9:32 am

Oh, I forgot to mention that this was in 1964. Then she’d rad books from the library by the pool side while we swam. Then we’d have hamburgers. Mrs. Strange was my teachers name on base.

dickneeds111 on January 26, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Having been stationed at NAS Northside from Jan -April in 1959 while attending Airman School which after leaving Memphis for Pensacola we had to repeat because the instructors at Pensacola didn’t like the idea that our instructors in Memphis(were TAR_reservists) and they thought that reservists were not good teachers. Actually we learned more in Memphis than Pensacola. My reason for writing this was to let you know that I saw many movies at this theatre. I only remember one which was Gunfight at OK Corral which I actually fell asleep in. This theatre was a typical multi use Nay theatre. The best looking theatre Navy theatre that I remember was at NAS Pensacola. Big well decorated and had a balcony. It looked like a downtown Pensacola theatre(the Saenger).

PaulHosse on February 4, 2015 at 10:37 am

I spent a lot of time at the Blue and Gold theaters in 1977. I remember watching “Dixie Dynamite”, “Squarm” and “Wizards”. One of my best friends, Justin Perkins, was the weekend manager. I recall too the poolroom there. Everyone movie, I think, started with the playing the National Anthem.

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