Venice Army Air Base - Venice, FL
N 27° 05.994 W 082° 27.056
17R E 356163 N 2998329
Quick Description: A replication of the original arch has been placed in Heritage Court to allow visitors to learn the history of the Venice Army Air Base.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 10/28/2008 2:04:15 PM
Waymark Code: WM522C
From the City of Venice website
The Venice Army Air Base was established on the vacant land south of Venice, by the U.S. government in May 1942. The 27th Service Group was relocated from McDill Field in Tampa to provide training for support services to combat air units. In June 1943, the 13th Fighter Squadron, 53rd Fighter Group, was transferred to Venice from Fort Myers. Later, the 14th Fighter Squadron moved to the field. They were operational training units for combat fighter pilots and ground crewmen.
After World War II, the city of Venice acquired the air base in a quit claim deed from the United States government, with the stipulation it always be used for aviation or revert to federal ownership.
A replication of the original arch was placed in Heritage Court, a park designed in a large, grassy median area between the historic Venice city roads leading to the beach. There is a great deal of the area's history to be learned from memorials and tablets placed around the park.
Two tablets are fixed to the arch and they tell the story of the Venice Air Base and its important role in the development of the City of Venice. The tablets read:
This structure is a replica of the Venice Army Air Base main entrance originally located at the intersection of The Rialto and San Marco. The base history began in May 1942 when surveyors from the US Army landed at the Venice Municipal Downtown Airport to find a suitable site for a training facility for rear echelon maintenance service groups. Construction began in June 1942 in the area now bounded by US 41 on the east San Marco Drive on the north, the Gulf of Mexico on the west and Lemon Bay on the south.
The original army personnel were the 37th Service Squadron of the 27th Service group, follow by HQ & HQ Squadron, 90th Service Squadron, 826th QM Co., 1728th and 1729th Ordnance Companies, 1063rd Signal Co., and 1095 QM Co.
Within a year a full fledged training facility was operational. The first combat aircraft arrived from the 13th Fighter Squadron 53rd Fighter Group for pilot training on June 7, 1943. The 14th Fighter Squadron soon followed. Pilot training began with the P-39, followed by P-40, P-47 and finally the famous P-51 Mustang fighters.
On January 9, 1944, the Venice Army Air Base command was transferred from Air Service Command to the Third Air Force. At the peak of training, the facility housed 6,000 men, with an estimated total of 20,000 men being trained at the base. A total of nine groups were trained, including the all-Chinese 14th Service Group formed at the request of Madam Chiang Kai-Shek.
With the war over, the base was closed in 1945. The property was deeded to the City of Venice in 1947, including the runways, sewage plant, hangars and much machinery and equipment.
The immediate impact of the Venice Army Air Base on the City of Venice and the area is obvious, but the long term impact is even more important. Many of the men stationed at the base returned after the war to begin their new lives and some became the civic leaders who guided Venice through the 1950s and 1960s.
Type: Triumphal (Monument/Memorial)
Location: Heritage Court
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