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Sep 16th
Miami’s Wartime Past PDF Print E-mail
Written by Paul S. George, BT Contributor   
September 2019

A view of our past from the archives of HistoryMiami

IPix_PictureStory_9-19n the previous installment of “Picture Story,” we examined the early phases of greater Miami’s military history up to and including the establishment in 1898 of Camp Miami.

The squalid conditions of the facility caused widespread illness, prompting one soldier to dub it “Camp Hell.” While the camp was good for Miami’s business sector, the often rowdy and even violent behavior of some troops put the young city on edge. Camp Miami was short-lived. By August 1898, with the Spanish-American War over, the camp quickly broke up -- without any of its enlistees departing for combat in Cuba.

The area’s next major bout with war came in 1917, when the United States entered World War I on the side of the Allied Powers. Most Miamians were affected by a conflict unprecedented in its ferocity and carnage. The war meant, for Miamians, war bond rallies and sales, parades, Victory Gardens, addresses from “Minutemen” speakers, and aviation training schools on the Miami River, Dinner Key, and today’s Chapman Field. The war’s end on November 11, 1918, Armistice Day, brought with it an uproarious celebration.

America was swept into the vortex of World War II in 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Much broader in scope than World War I, the conflict brought to Greater Miami hundreds of thousands of military trainees representing all branches of the armed forces. Today’s Miami International Airport became the Army Air Depot, and a submarine chaser school operated on the bayfront, as did the Dinner Key Naval Air Station and a giant reconnaissance blimp base in deep South Dade. Boatyards on the Miami River turned out PT boats. Miami Beach was taken over by the Army Air Force. German POW camps appeared.

Since World War II, the area has remained important to the nation’s defense system, with Coast Guard and Strategic Air Force (SAC) bases, and missile sites in South Dade.

 

Paul George is historian at HistoryMiami Museum. To order a copy of this photo, contact HistoryMiami archives manager Ashley Trujillo at 305-375-1623, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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