Drew Field Tampa Florida (PDF)



36 pages
In a sod-covered cow pasture, once spotted with palmetto growth and pine trees, the United States Army has built a new nest for its war birds, Drew Field. Paved streets have replaced swampy marshland. Barracks and hutments now stand where palmettos and pines grew. From an abandoned municipal airport has emerged Drew Field, a modern Army air base and flying school, built to train fliers and soldiers for the War of Survival. As it is today, as it will be in the future, Drew Field is a miracle of Army building, symbol of the transformation that has taken place all through the nation as the American people gird themselves for world war. Named for John H. Drew, Tampa contractor and real estate operator who first bought the land and turned the subdivision into a private landing field, Drew Field was acquired by the City of Tampa in 1928 for a municipal airport. Little was done to develop the field, however, until the government took over and made plans for militarization of the site. Then things happened. And rapidly. In December, 1940, Lt. Henry M. Salley, engineers corps, was ordered, from MacDill Field to supervise preparation of the abandoned airport. Under his direction, administration buildings and barracks were built, and on January 16, 1941, Capt. James C. Hardwick, Air Forces, and a detachment of men from MacDill Field, were detailed to; duty at Drew. Colonel Melvin B. Asp (then Lt. Colonel) was assigned to Drew Field May 7, 1941, and designated commanding officer of the field which was still a sub-station of MacDill. On June 12, 1941, the Third Interceptor Command, General Frank commanding, arrived. On July 12, the Thirteenth Transport Squadron. Two days later Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Third Interceptor Command, was activated. The work of transforming Drew Field into a modern air base continued. On August 18, ceremonies celebrating the starting of work on the runways took place. The first pouring of concrete was attended by Army officials, political leaders and residents of St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa. From the first, the present and the future of Drew Field were linked with Tampa and other cities of the bay area. As the first buckets of concrete were poured, Colonel Asp placed three bricks, one each from St. Petersburg, Tampa and Clearwater, into the fresh compound. “These three cities are closely tied in with Drew Field in a social, business and recreational manner,” he said. “Let us hope these cities will continue to be bound in the future as closely as these three bricks will be bound in this indestructible concrete that will soon cover them.” September 15, 1941, Drew Field was divorced from MacDill Field and assumed the status of an independent air base. As such, it continued to grow. Seven days after Pearl Harbor, 1,700 men arrived from Camp Wheeler, Ga. In January, 1942, it became a school center for air warning service. In May, Plant Field was added as a sub-base of Drew. Today construction work continues without a stop. As the construction goes on, the military population grows. In the green-painted barracks, and in row after row of hutments which are rapidly replacing the Tent City of other days thousands of soldiers now training for the highly technical work of the Air Forces and the Signal Corps are housed.