Jet On A Pole, 26 Memorial Grove Ave, Weymouth, MA 02190, USA
Owned By: Union Point
A small park located in Union Point, the site of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station. Named for Commander John J. “Jack” Shea, who served in the US Naval Reserves at the Squantum Naval Air Station in the 1920s and 1930s. The Grove consists of 32 trees dedicated to Congressional Medal of Honor recipients from Norfolk and Plymouth counties.
The park was created by Captain Robert A. Duetsch and the NAS South Weymouth Public Works Department’s SeaBees, just before the base was decommissioned. It was dedicated on Veteran’s Day 1997.
About the A4D-2 (A-4B) Skyhawk: this attack aircraft was commissioned by the US Navy in 1952, from Douglas Aircraft Company, and flown by Marine and Navy Reserve attack squadrons through much of the 1960s. This particular aircraft was accepted into service in 1958 and assigned to Marine Attack Squadron VMA 311 in El Toro, CA. It was refurbished at Quonset Point, RI in 1965, and assigned to NAS South Weymouth later that year. It remained in service there until February 1971. Next it was assigned to the Naval Air Technical Training Center, and eventually for use as a display aircraft. It was installed on site in August 1997.
According to park signage, the Skyhawk’s airframe is 38′ long with a wing span of 27.5′. Powered by a Wright J65 turbojet engine, its maximum level speed was 660 mph. Pilots sometimes referred to it as Heinemann’s (the designer) Hot Rod,” “Scooter,” and “The Tinkertoy.” Although early versions were designed to deliver carrier based nuclear weapons, the Skyhawk ultimately found primary use in close air support, interdiction and training. The Blue Angels flew the Skyhawk for 12 years.
Naval Air Station South (NAS) Weymouth was commissioned on this site in March 1942, however construction work began in the late fall of 1941, a few months before the United States entered World War II. Originally the base operated blimp combat patrols. During the Battle of the Atlantic, blimps based here helped protect U.S. ships from German submarines.
The base was downgraded to a Naval Air Facility after WWII. The blimp hangars were repurposed as storage for war surplus naval aircraft. In 1949, the base was redesigned as a Naval Auxiliary Landing Field. In 1950, after the closure of NAS Squantum in Quincy, South Weymouth became the new home of the Navy and Marine Air Reserve training program. Between 1951 and 1953, three new runways were constructed, and other improvements were made to support the reserves. One blimp hangar was demolished at this time. The other remained in place until November 1966.
In December 1953 the base was recommissioned as a Naval Air Station. It remained a reserve training base throughout the Cold War era, and also hosted the Naval Air Development Unit (NADU), a secretive research & development command. NADU aircraft provided flight testing support for military research.
After the end of the Cold War in 1991, NAS South Weymouth was among many military bases nationwide that were selected for closure. The last aircraft took off from the base in September 1996, and the official closure took place on September 30, 1997.
The former Naval Air Station is now being developed as Union Point, with a variety of uses. The transformation is far from complete, which makes this a fascinating place to visit. Old barracks, bunkers, and other buildings, plus fences, roads and gates offer glimpses of the military past. Please be mindful of private property.
Habitats and Wildlife
This small park is surrounded by open fields, wetlands, and relatively young woodlands featuring pine, oak, beech, red maple and white birch. The property lies within the watershed of the Weymouth Back River. Its waters flow northeast toward Whitman’s Pond and the Weymouth Back River.
Historic Site: Yes
Boat Launch: No
Size: 1 acre
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited on-site parking
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Benches, concrete walkways, granite memorials, trash and pet waste receptacles, flagpole, A4D-2 (A4B) Skyhawk Jet.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: Yes
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Weymouth Back River