During WWII, Camp Leroy Johnson was used along with the New Orleans Airport by the Army and Airforce Bomber Squadron for training. Signal and Quartermaster units were trained on the post, which housed a Transportation Corps Officer Candidate School and a Replacement Training Center.
Originally the New Orleans Navy Air Base, the camp was renamed after World War II Medal of Honor recipient Leroy Johnson. He was a native of Caney Creek, Louisiana and served as a Sergeant, U.S. Army. He died on December 15, 1944, near Limon, Leyte, Philippine Islands, shortly after he threw himself on two enemy grenades to save two comrades. In 1947, the base was named Camp Leroy Johnson in his honor.
The camp was part of the lakefront for twenty-two years. In July 1964, a sunset ceremony marked its close, during which the flag was lowered for the last time. Shortly after its close, the University of New Orleans leased the base as a sports complex for its Division I Athletic program.
In 1987, Pope John Paul visited the UNO Lakefront Arena during his visit to the United States. The archdiocese constructed an altar especially for the Pope, only used during his visit. After the outdoor mass, the archdiocese donated the altar structure to the University of New Orleans. After Hurricane Katrina, the structure received considerable damage and was torn down in 2008.