Text and photos by Bill McCredie, 496th AIS Heavy Equipment Operator
Story contributed by Dennis Wood, Nouasseur H.S., Class of 1959
Bill and Dennis were neighbors by chance from 1995 - 2001 in Mukilteo WA

Nouasseur Air Base, near Casablanca, French Morocco was designed to be an Air Base for USAF B-36 and B-52 bombers. The base was constructed by the Morrison-Knudsen (M-K) Consortium, assisted by the 496th Air Installation Squadron (AIS) of the US Air Force from August 1951 to June 1952.

The 496th AIS Unit

The 496th AIS was a heavy equipment reserve unit from Burbank California. Bill McCredie (photo source), Chuck Morein, Chuck Lautz and Walt Wilson, high school buddies at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, joined the 496th AIS in January of 1951 when it was a reserve unit. The Commanding Officer (CO) was George Hillen and the First Sergeant was named Shrademeir. All officers and NCOs (at the beginning) were veterans of WWII when the unit was activated in February 1951.

Most privates of the 496th were 18-20 years old. Some had farm equipment operating experience. Others had no operating experience. Many joined because the scuttlebutt was that the unit would have either France or French Morocco duty. The unit, on activation, went to Kelly Field, Texas for six months of Basic and Equipment Operation training.

In August 1951 the unit was moved from Kelly Field to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, by troop train. A coal-burning steam locomotive powered the train. After a week in New York City the unit went by ship to Casablanca.


The 496th had three Caterpillar D-7s with dozers and pans, a CAT 12 Grader, a ditch digger and a small Dragline.


The tasks of the unit were to assist M-K to build the air base facilities consisting of: housing for AF personnel; Dallas huts; permanent housing site preparation; knocking down old Moroccan structures on property acquired for the base; a parade field and track. The base was open for operations about June of 1952.

The following photos show some of the operations that the author participated in.

Dallas hut temporary housing for
squadrons on the base during
construction. Personnel housed were
equipment operators, equipment
maintenance, air police, food
services, and motor pool. Photo
was taken from the water tower.
496th AIS Wood, Electric, Plumbing,
Fuel & Heavy Equipment Shops.
Photo taken from the Water Tower.
Completed Nouasseur Air Base
Temporary camp, with flag and water tower.
Dozer clearing land. Soil was heavy with
clay. Winter rains made it very difficult.
Dozer clearing land.
Ditch Digger being repaired.
496th Heavy Equipment Operators.
Front row left to right is Chuck Morein,
Bill McCredie, and Tripp.
R & R trip to Ifrane and Fez.
The 50-ton roller used to compact the surface.
M-K apron failed this load-bearing test
and the surface had to be redone.
A Douglas C-74 Globemaster was
one of the first heavy transport
aircraft to use the new runway.
Douglas C-74 Globemaster transport
aircraft refueling at Nouasseur Air Base,
French Morocco, about spring 1952.
Douglas C-74 Globemaster transport
aircraft loading at Nouasseur Air
Base, French Morocco.
Douglas C-47 Dakota transport based
at Nouasseur Air Base, French
Morocco. Dozer used to construct
the field is in the background

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