By the end of the 1930s, there were over 100 airfields in Alaska but only four adequate for modern aircraft. The Civil Aeronautics Act created an authority to regulate air traffic and in 1940 as World War II raged in Europe, Congress seriously considered its Alaskan defenses.
The Army began a program of building airfields along the coastal route of Alaska. The Chugach National Forest announced it would use funds to convert the railway bed to a highway between Cordova and the preferred mile 13 site.
Soon Cordova learned it would be the base for the 42nd Engineer Regiment. They would assist with airfield construction and provide a military presence as World War II escalated. Cordovans welcomed the 42nd and the soldiers became a part of the community.