Tampa Salutes MacDill AFB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Markerman62
N 27° 56.714 W 082° 27.523
17R E 356493 N 3091991
Quick Description: A group of markers in MacDill Park on the Riverwalk honoring MacDill Air Force Base and the military in Tampa.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 7/16/2014 9:47:53 PM
Waymark Code: WMM3XD
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
Views: 4

Long Description:
Tampa Salutes MacDill AFB
A Look at over 60 Years of Growth and Change
On January 14, 1941, Col. Clarence Tinker landed a twin-engined B-18 Bomber on the first MacDill Field runway and a new era for Tampa was born. Soon after, the U.S. would enter World War II and Mac Dill's pilot training would prove to be an important part of the Allies' superiority in the air. Since then, the base and the Tampa community have continued to grow and change along with the times and the needs of our country. Today, the base is home to over fifty mission partners, each commissioned to providing a critical public service throughout the United States and the world.
Who was Colonel Leslie MacDill?
Colonel Leslie MacDill was an aviation pioneer, a veteran of World War I, and a distinguished member of the U.S. Army Air Corps. In 1938, while actively helping prepare the Corps to expand the number of bases in case of war, he was killed in a plane crash near Washington, D.C. In 1940, the Army honored Colonel MacDill by naming Tampa's not yet completed "Southeast Air Base," MacDill Field.

In the Beginning...
Uncle Sam Chooses Tampa for base in 1939
On July 14, 1939, the Tampa Morning Tribune announced the war department's decision to build the "Southeast Air Base" in Tampa. The land selected was a 6000 acre marshy area known as Catfish Point. As part of President Roosevelt's New Deal program, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) paid local unemployed citizens for land clearing and road construction work. Runways, buildings, and airplane hangers were built by private contractors. Construction was completed less than two years later and the base officially dedicated as MacDill Field on April 16, 1941.
The Rattlesnake Cannery
As workers cleared the old Catfish Point site, they encountered thousands of rattlesnakes, and helped give birth to the world's only Rattlesnake Cannery. The attraction near Gandy and Westshore Boulevard even had its own post office. Entrepreneur George End ran the cannery and rattlesnake attraction until his untimely death in 1943. George End's Cause of Death: Rattlesnake Bite
Behind the Scenes
Many civic, community, and political leaders in Hillsbourgh County worked hard to bring the new air base to Tampa. The base promised jobs and a boost to the sagging post-depression economy. It's said that before selecting Tampa as the site for the new Florida air base, Army officials enjoyed visiting the city and particularly the history and culture of Ybor City.

Tampa Goes to War
U.S. Enters WWII and MacDill Readies the Air Attack
MacDill's First Base Commander
-Col. Clarence L. Tinker took command on March 11, 1940
-First Native American to attain the rank of Major General
-Killed in action in Pacific Theater during Battle for Midway in 1942
-Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City, OK and Tinker Elementary School in Tampa, FL are named in his honor
Before he piloted the historic mission over Hiroshima, Col. Paul Tibbets was Commander of the 340th Bomb Squadron-97th Bombardment Group at MacDill.
In 1959, Col. Tibbets returned to MacDill as Commander of the 6th Air Division and was soon promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
By 1945, over 3000 African-American soldiers were based at MacDill Field.

The War Years
WWII Makes the Army Air Forces and MacDill Grow Up Fast
As MacDill Field's first runways were being completed in 1941, only 8,500 men were enlisted in the Army Air Corps. But, by the end of World War II in 1945, over 2.5 million Americans had joined the newly renamed Army Air Forces. The demands of war pushed MacDill to quickly become the largest air base in the southeastern United States. The base was responsible for combat training of pilots and crews for the B-17, B-18, B-26, B-29, and B-50 bombers.
German POWs Held at MacDill Field
During the last year of World War II, MacDill was home to about 500 Nazis prisoners of war. The prisoners worked in the kitchen, in the laundry room, and as automotive mechanics. Throughout the war, over 10,000 German POWs were quietly housed in 27 different military facilities on the state of Florida.
Hollywood Shoots at MacDill
During the war, scenes for two motion pictures were shot at MacDill. Spencer Tracy's, "A Guy Named Joe" and Jimmy Stewart's "Strategic Air Command," both took advantage of Florida's year-round good weather and MacDill's photogenic Military aircraft.
WACs Unit at MacDill in '43
A large contingent of the newly created Women's Air Corps was stationed at MacDill. The WACs were the first women other than nurses to serve within the ranks of the United States Army.
One Day in Tampa Bay!
The Martin B-26 Marauder was the first American bomber in the Pacific and one of the most celebrated Allied aircraft. It was small, fast, and carried a large payload of bombs. Because the B-26 demanded skillful piloting, MacDill experienced an unusually large number of take-off crashes, thus earning the plane nicknames such as "The Widowmaker" and "One a Day on Tampa Bay." Despite its reputation, the B-26 actually had the lowest combat loss ratio of any WWII aircraft.
Tampa's Other World War II Airfields
Drew Field-->Tampa International Airport
Hillsbourgh Army Air Field-->Busch Gardens

History in the Air
A Look at the Military Aircraft of MacDill
Since the first wave of B-18 Super Heavy Bombers arrived at MacDill in 1940, the base has seen a remarkable variety of America's finest military aircraft. MacDill's first mission included transitional training on the B-17 Flying Fortress. After World War II started, the base became a major Army Air Forces staging platform.
LB-30s and B-17s would take-off from MacDill and head for combat via the Atlantic Ocean. As the war progressed, the base's mission changed from pilot and crew training on the B-17, to training on the new Martin B-26. The first B-26 to arrive at MacDill was piloted by the celebrated combat pilot, Major Jimmy Doolittle. In 1945, MacDill became the primary training facility for the B-29. Later, during the 1950s, MacDill added the P-51, B-50, B-47, and KC-97 to its training missions. The 1960s and the Vietnam conflict brought F-84 training and F-4 combat-ready wings to MacDill. By 1970, replacement crews were being trained here for B-57 bomber missions.
F-4 Phantom
The Phantom was the first multi-service aircraft, flying concurrently with the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. The F-4 was in active duty from 1958-1996.
P-51 Mustang
Providing high-altitude escort to B-17s and B-24s, the P-51 destroyed 950 enemy craft in the air, more than any other fighter in Europe.
KC-97 Tanker
Introduced in 1950, the KC-97 provided Strategic Air Command with genuine intercontinental capability. After military service, some KC-97s were converted for transporting large, bulky items, and some KC-97s were even used in the Apollo space program.
B-29 Superfortress
The B-29 was one of the largest and most sophisticated aircraft used in WWII. The most famous B-29, the "Enola Gay," was used for the atomic mission over Hiroshima.
B-50 Superfortress
The B-50, the last propeller driven bomber, served with the Strategic Air Command between 1948 and 1954. The most famous B-50 was the "Lucky Lady II," which became the first aircraft to fly nonstop around the world.
B-26 Marauder
The B-26 was known as "the chief bombardment weapon on the Western Front." The B-26 maintained the lowest loss record of any combat aircraft during World War II.
LB-30
LB was short for Liberator British. The U.S. Army adopted the Liberator nickname for its B-24s. The British received more than 500 Liberators by the end of the war.
B-17
The Flying Fortress is one of the most famous airplanes ever built. The aircraft served in every WWII combat zone, but is best known for its daylight strategic bombing of German industrial targets.

The United States Military
Tampa Honors the 5 Branches of Service
"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the uniform code of military justice, so help me God."
Marker Number: 0

Date: None

County: Hillsborough

Marker Type: City

Sponsored or placed by: City of Tampa

Website: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
In your log, please say if you learned something new, and if you took any extra time to explore the area once you stopped at the historic marker waymark.

Please post a photo at the marker location.
Search for...
Geocaching.com Google Map
Google Maps
MapQuest
Bing Maps
Trails.com Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest Florida Historical Markers
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Nearest Hotels
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
VT9A5CC visited Tampa Salutes MacDill AFB 1/28/2017 VT9A5CC visited it
Markerman62 visited Tampa Salutes MacDill AFB 6/28/2014 Markerman62 visited it

View all visits/logs