Buckingham Army Air Field – Fort Myers, Florida (PDF)



36 pages
History of Buckingham Field ……. Fort Myers, Fla. . . . A waste of palmetto thickets, dead pine trees, stumps, sand and swamp ten miles east of Fort Myers, Fla., has in a year become the foremost aerial gunnery school operated by the Army Air Forces. For today at Buckingham Field thousands of gunners are being trained to shoot the Zeros and Messerschmidts out of the skies. Last May a few cattle lazily roamed over this land; now this sandy waste is alive with the clatter of machine guns and the roar of airplane motors. On May 5, 1942, Major Richard W. Duggan, then a captain, arrived in Fort Myers and set up his offices in the Collier Arcade. A few days before he had flown over the waste land that was later to become Buckingham Field. Furniture for the office was borrowed from local business men. Edward Allen, accountant, lent a typewriter and desk and Harry McWhorter and Harry Wood, real estate men, both gave a desk. Police Chief Charles Moore arranged parking space for the office and the city and county officials gave numerous maps and other office equipment to help the new gunnery school. Four days after Major Duggan arrived, Col. Delmar T. Spivey arrived from Maxwell Field where he had been serving as project officer for the field for some time. Four days later the colonel received the news that he had been made a full colonel, and the celebrants were Major Duggan and Mrs. Spivey. He plunged into the thousand and one details connected with the activation of a new post. Colonel Spivey’s gracious smile and Major Duggan’s ingratiating manner got the school off to a flying start. When the officers and enlisted men began to pour in, the local real estate agents were prepared to handle the crowd, and although living here has not been always “just like home,” the majority of Army families in Fort Myers have found excellent accommodations, as compared with the hovels available at many other stations. The actual construction of the field began May 25, and the buildings were divided into two classes; those to be finished within a 75-day period and others which were to be completed within 110 days. At the peak of the work, 3,000 to 3,500 men were employed on the post, and a majority of the buildings were in serviceable condition when troops began to arrive. The formal activation of the post came on July 5. Thus a separate entity was born for the avowed purpose of defeating our enemies. Training began September 5th, and now graduates of this school are fighting the Japs and Germans in widely separated parts of the earth. The gunnery program is essentially the same as at first, but numerous improvements and refinements have been made in the nine months since training began. Thousands of men have been graduated since the first class received their gunner’s wings early in October. The operation of the post was guided through these difficult days by Col. Spivey; he remained in command of Buckingham Field until March 23 when he left to become A-3 of the Training Center. He was succeeded by Col. W. D. Jenkins, until then the head of the Central Instructor’s School. Both Colonel Jenkins and Colonel Spivey left in mid-July for a mission to European Combat theaters. They were subsequently reported missing in action and are now known to be prisoners of war in Germany. Colonel L. P. Hickey became the commanding officer in August, shortly after his return from Sicily. ….. 36 pages