National Airport & MATS Terminal – June 16, 1941

Seventy-five years ago today on June 16, 1941, National Airport opened to travelers in the Washington, DC area. Seven years later, on June 1, 1948, the Naval Air Transport Service and the Air Force’s Air Transport Service were combined into the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). A branch of MATS, named Special Air Missions, handled the transport of the President, Vice-President, and dignitaries, both domestic and foreign. In order to accommodate that mission, MATS Terminal was established at National Airport.


The MATS Terminal was the location for arrival and departure ceremonies, with soldiers of the Old Guard serving as members of the cordon, as color bearers, and rendering honors.

MATS Terminal was used through the 1960s, seeing VIPs arrive and depart on a regular basis. MATS Terminal served as the departure point when President Herbert Hoover’s remains traveled back to Iowa as part of his 1964 State Funeral.

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