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Lloyd Howard Texas City Disaster & Ward Island Naval Air Technical Training Center Photographs and Other Materials

Identifier: Coll-182
This collection is mostly photographs taken in the first half of 1947 by Lloyd Howard. The photos are about evenly split between the Texas City Disaster and the Ward Island Navel Air Technical Training Center and the personnel Lloyd worked with there.


  • 1947


Conditions Governing Access

No Restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

This material is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to taking precautions against infringement of copyright and respecting the publication rights of reproduced materials. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards. Any materials used should be fully credited with their source according to the example given in the Preferred Citation note. Requests for assistance with citations and images of publication quality should be directed to


1 Linear Feet


This collection primarily consists of photographs taken by Lloyd Howard of the Texas City Disaster and its aftermath, and “day in the life” style photos of time spent training at the Ward Island Naval Air Technical Training Center. It provides a unique dichotomy into the first half of 1947 on the Texas gulf coast at both its most normal and most tragic.

Biographical / Historical

Lloyd Frederick Howard was born on December 1, 1927 in Johnson County, Indiana. He served in the United States Navy from 1946-1948, and then the United States Air Force Reserves rom 1949-1952. In 1947 he spent a number of months taking photographs of the aftermath of the Texas City Disaster and his daily life at the Ward Island Naval Air Technical Training Center.

The Texas City Disaster was the deadliest industrial accident in United States history as well as one of history’s largest non-nuclear explosions. The SS Grandcamp was docked at the port when it caught fire, detonating 2200 pounds of ammonium nitrate, and setting off a chain reaction of explosions from other ships carrying explosive materials and oil and chemical storage facilities in the bay area. At least 581 people were killed, and many of their remains were never recovered due to the intensity of the explosion and their proximity to the blast. The explosion destroyed nearly 1,000 buildings. Ten miles away half of the buildings in Galveston had their windows shattered. The Grandcamp’s two-ton anchor was found more than a mile and a half from the site of the explosion in a ten-foot impact crater. Twenty-seven of the twenty-eight men team of Texas City fire department volunteers were killed in the initial explosion and all four of their fire engines were destroyed, making the fires rage and continue to consume the city.

The Ward Island Naval Air Technical Training Center located near Corpus Christi was a Navy base that provided electronics maintenance during World War II. The Navy bought the island in 1942 shortly after the United States declared war on the Axis Powers and began constructing the training center. The first class of 106 students graduated in September of the same year. So much American Navel equipment was soon being used by the Allied Powers that the classes were also opened up to the British Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force. The training center was shut down and relocated in the fall of 1947. In November of that year it became the site of The University of Corpus Christi, the progenitor of Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, which occupies Ward Island today.


This collection is organized by a single Series with a mixture of eight dividers and five folders. The photographic binder is separated by dividers rather than traditional folders, but the dividers retain the standard numbering style to keep it consistent and for ease of use. The photos were kept in their original arrangement order since only a handful had dates and changing the arrangement would have made the collection more erratic.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by Lloyd Howard in three phases in 2005, 2006, and 2011.

Related Materials

Collection 802: Ward Island Artifacts Collection 77: Ward Island Deeds and Documents

Processing Information

This collection was arranged by Eric Christensen, Archive Processing Librarian for Texas A&M University– Corpus Christi’s Special Collections & Archives Department. It had previously been processed by Kimberly Gianfrancesco.



Lloyd Howard Texas City Disaster & Ward Island Naval Air Technical Training Center Photographs and Other Materials
Eric Christensen
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
Second Processing

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Repository

6300 Ocean Dr.
Unit 5702
Corpus Christi TX 78412 United States
361-825-5973 (Fax)