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A view of Wichita on the river at dusk.

The great state of Kansas has played a crucial role in the United States military. A state which is home to over 211,113 Veterans, and 21,797 Veteran owned businesses. A statistic like that suggests that 10% of all Veterans in the State of Kansas owns their own business. That’s amazing if you put it into perspective.

In south-central Kansas, the city of Wichita is where Benchmark Mortgage calls home. Founded in the year 1865, this city claims the title of “Air Capital of the World.”

wichita indian sculpture

Kansas is also home to 3 active military bases and several that have been abandoned. Among them are: McConnell AFB in Wichita, Fort Riley near Manhattan, the infamous Fort Leavenworth in Leavenworth, Fort Larned in Great Bend-abandoned in 1878, Fort Zarah of Barton County- abandoned 1869, Fort Hays in Hays- abandoned in 1889, and Fort Dodge in Dodge- abandoned in 1882.

Fort Riley is home to “The Big Red One” (1st Infantry Division) and occupies a spread of over 100,000 acres of land outside of Manhattan, Kansas. With a population of 25,000, the base is used for supply, transport and service units.

Wichita, Kansas- home to McConnell Air Force Base is also very significant to not only military history but also the history of aviation itself. After 17 years of serving the city of Wichita, the Air force built a base and began using the airport for its own operations.

World War II played a crucial role in putting Wichita on the map in the aircraft industry. In the 1940’s a big boom in aviation ramped up production to keep up with war efforts. The state of Kansas employs several thousand aircraft workers, most of which are in the city of Wichita. The city of Aircraft workers produced through different manufacturers creating B-29 bombers, and various military aircraft models. Companies even came together at this time to produce gliders.

B-47 Bomber in camouflage paint in flight

In later years business jets were produced and acquisitions were rolled out between several major manufacturers still known today such as Textron, Bombardier, and Beechcraft. Military operations ceased at Wichita Municipal airport in 1984 and later went on to become the Kansas Aviation Museum.

In the early 2000’s McConnell Air Force Base consolidated its fleet and moved B-1B Lancers out to other bases. During this time, the 184th Bomb Wing was designated for two purposes: flying KC-135s, and being a refueling wing. McConnell Air Force Base is the world’s largest Air Refueling Wing and has a primary mission of global reach in each of these aspects.

Whichita Kansas "Air Capital Of The World" stamp graphic

Wichita is home to the Dwight D Eisenhower National Airport, which has terminals that represents this city as “The Air Capital of the World.” There are presently over 30 airfields in Sedgwick County, and over 20,000 individuals employed in aviation roles. From all of these jobs 54.3% of general aviation aircraft produced in the U.S. is manufactured in Kansas

The success and economic growth of this great state are largely tied to our country’s military efforts and continued support. It goes without saying that we at Benchmark Mortgage, and as residents of Kansas, are very grateful to not only the U.S. Airforce, but all branches of the U.S. military and its members who call Kansas home.

Today, Wichita, is home to many military memorials such as: The Soldiers Circle at Maple Grove Cemetery, The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Spanish-American War Memorial, The Bleckley monument on the grounds of the Veterans Affairs Medical and Regional Office, and the nearby Kansas Museum of Military History. Not only does Wichita act as the home to such great achievements in Aero-systems, but is also the headquarters to Coleman Co. and Koch Industries Inc. today.

Benchmark Mortgage services VA loans not only in Wichita but also cities including Manhattan, Hays, Salina, Emporia, and also portions of Oklahoma, and Missouri.


U.S. Census Bureau (2014) Veteran Statistics| Kansas. Retrieved from:https://www2.census.gov/library/visualizations/2015/comm/vets/ks-vets.pdf

Army (n.d.) Fort Riley Army Base, Kansas. Retrieved April 30, 2018 from: https://www.army-technology.com/projects/fortrileyarmybase/

Clark, I. (2016, November) Wichita’s Aviation History. Retrieved Tuesday January 30, 2018 from: https://www.360wichita.com/blog/Local/Aviation-History-in-Wichita.html