Orlando Air Base (PDF)

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Description

Orlando Air Base is truly the “Base Beautiful in the City Beautiful. ” Activated September 1, 1940, Orlando Air Base has been transformed from a marshy, barren semi-wasteland into a beautiful, palm-dotted air base with eye-appeal; from War Department blueprints into, a bustling, efficient and key unit of Third Air Force. When Colonel Thomas S. Voss, commandant until April 27, 1942, arrived in the Fall of 1940 to take command at the time of activation, Orlando Air Base was a dismal blotch of land located on the outskirts of picturesque Orlando. Water stood in swampy areas of the base-site; only a handful of native pines dotted the area, and sand and mud combined with construction operations and the barrenness to make the site of the base an eye-sore. Colonel Voss and Lieutenant Colonel Sam M. Brabson, executive officer, pushed the face-lifting work through to completion in the remarkable time of a year and half. Four inches of rich top-soil was spread over the entire area; Bermuda sprigs were imported by the millions to carpet the base with lawn grass; hundreds of graceful native palms from the St. John’s River swamp thirty miles away were brought to the base and freely sprinkled over the area, flowers and shrubbery came forth from all Central Florida to abound in profusion now; sidewalks and paved streets were laid to round out the pattern. While the business of beautification was speeded along, the base matched that temp in its primary function, that of fusing men and machines into effective combat teams, ready to match skill and daring against Axis foes. Both tactical and training units, as well as the Fighter Command School, are stationed here at this teeming base. On April 27, 1942, Colonel Willis R. Taylor, Commandant of the Fighter Command School, assumed command of the base, relieving Colonel Voss, who was transferred to MacDill Field, Tampa, to command that Third Air Force unit.