A WWII Sailor's letter to his father
Dated:7AM, February 9 of 1943. Newport Rhode Island
Servicemen enjoyed free postage throughout the war. All a soldier or sailor had to do was write “Free”
on the piece and the Post Office would deliver it. Even if a soldier wanted to mail the end of a C rations box as a postcard, the Post Office would deliver it. Soldier mail and international mail was routinely checked by censors to ensure that vital war information was not passed along to unauthorized persons. This example is from sailor Allan McElhiney Jr
, writing to his father Allan McElhiney Sr., who had been a Marine during World War I. Allan has 3 brothers all of whom served in the military in World War II.Click to view larger
Lori Nance Parrish
, Broward County Property Appraiser and former County Commissioner became interested in the NASFL Historical Association's plight led by Allan McElhiney because her father W.A. Nance, Jr., served in the Navy during World War II and survived
when the ship he served on was sunk. Lori felt
she could do something to honor his memory by preserving a part of Broward County's history.On May 20, 1998, the NASFL Historical Association was able to add the Link Trainer Building (our current Museum), to the US National Register of Historic Places. All the buildings from the former WWII base Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale were demolished (except for this one),
to make way for the construction of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. In 1999
in support of the Association (which oversees this Museum), Lori was able to obtain a $200,000 grant from the U.S Transportation Department. With this grant the building was relocated to where it is today on Perimeter Road, next to the airport. Lori was an important participant in the long struggle to preserve the Link Trainer Building. Ms. Parrish visited on January 17, 2013-- 14 years after her first visit to the site. She was impressed with our progress and along with founder Allan McElhiney,
recalled the early struggles of this Museum.
Image Copyright © David Baum
67th Anniversary US Navy Flight 19 Memorial
Honoring the WWII servicemen
During WWII, the Military had to mobilize with speed and urgency, thus the number of casualties at military bases was on the high side. A sad but equally historic note is the fact that 95 Americans lost their lives at the NAS Fort Lauderdale base during 1942-1945— the three most intensive training years of the war. The Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Historical Association proudly salutes all of the service members who perished while serving at this naval air station.
Memorial Ceremony Program Sample
- Click for larger view -
The historic WWII Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum hosted the 67th Anniversary of the US Navy Flight 19 Memorial, on 5 December 2012. The Master of Ceremony was Donald Prichard, Vice President of the NASFL Historical Association. In attendance were Broward County Aviation Department Directors, several historians and local politicians, including Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca and retired Mayor Jim Naugle, whose uncle Thomas "Tex"
Ellison was a flight Instructor at this naval base. In all, about 160 people attended the ceremony. Among the attendees were many veterans of wars
, five of them were personnel of the former NAS Fort Lauderdale
: Lt. David White
, TBM flight Instructor who participated in the search for Flight 19; George Lord,
Aviation gunner's mate on TBMs; Henry Torres, Sr.
, who was in charge of the Machine Shop at the Beach Target Range; Floyd Johnson, TBF Gunner; and Allan McElhiney
USNR aboard the USS Asheville, a ship that tested weapons for this naval base. Also, Officers and crewmen of the USS Taylor
(FFG-50) The Proud Defender
participated with Commander Dennis Volpe, as well as members of the Stranahan High School Marine Corps JROTC Color Guard. The vocalist for this occasion was professional singer and entertainer Frank Loconto and the bugler assembly and TAPS was performed by Robert Young. This event was covered by the media. Honoring Allan McElhiney
This Museum began with the vision of one man, who was a sailor in World War II, aboard the USS Asheville: Allan McElhiney
, who in the course of more than 30 years has compiled a vast amount of documents, photographs, articles and artifacts for the institution he founded. This Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places, the only military museum in Broward county, and the only remaining WWII military building left in Broward county, thanks to his efforts. We salute you Allan McElhiney.
Historian Anthony Atwood & NASFL Museum President Allan McElhiney. Photo by Minerva Bloom.
Gallery of Images Copyright © David Baum Click for larger view
NASFL Museum Vice-President John Bloom with WWII Veterans George Lord and Henry Torres.
We invited five WWII Veterans living in the area of Fort Lauderdale for a Round Table discussion at the Link Trainer Building #8 (our current Museum). These Veterans served at the NAS Fort Lauderdale base during the period of 1942–1946. George Lord was a Gunnery Instructor; Henry Torres Sr., had been in charge of the Machine Shop at the Beach Target Range, Allan McElhiney was stationed aboard the USS Asheville at Port Everglades. The Asheville tested experimental weapons for NASFL. David Epstein who got to train with George H.W. Bush, would drive a Jeep Willys loaded with parachutes from NAS Key West to NAS Fort Lauderdale. And David White a Senior Flight Instructor, was part of the search for Flight 19.
The Veterans were asked questions such as:
- Did they feel the Fort Lauderdale community was receptive?
- What do you remember about the base?
- What was the Syllabus course for pilots like?
- Where exactly were the locations for Target Practice at the Ft. Laud. beach?
- What was there to do for entertainment in Fort Lauderdale?
- How did they transport around?
- Did they witnessed any plane crashes at the base? (There were 95 fatalities).
- What was their range for bomb practice, how far did they go?
- Where did the women WAVES live? Did they do any jobs as mechanics?
- Where were you when the war ended?
We received many interesting answers, and learned from their recollections. We're going to try to do more small sessions with veterans and civilians that served at this base. If you were part of the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, please feel free to contact the Museum, so we can record your history. Thank you!
Click on thumbnails to enlarge
Click on image to go to the Member Spotlight main page.
New Spotlights of WWII veterans were created. Check them out to read on their story:Allan McElhiney - USNR, WWII
& KoreaDavid Epstein - USNR, WWII Parachute RiggerWilliam J. Hopwood - Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale WWII - Communications OfficerSgt. Paul Bradley - US Army
WWIIFor March and April we will feature WWII
NASFL Instructor David White who participated in the search for Flight 19
, and Jack Cawley, USNR WWII who was also stationed at this base working at the Wing Shop.
Allan McElhiney USNR WWII
Congratulations Allan McElhiney for your Freedom Award!
The 2012 Freedom Awards for Broward Navy Days took place on March 23 at the Fort Lauderdale Yacht Club:
"Saluting those who defend our freedom and support our men and women in uniform."The
Broward Navy Days Mission Statement:
- William D. Baumgartner, Rear Admiral, U. S. Coast Guard, Commander, Seventh District
- Larry Burchfield, Senior Executive, South Region, Human Military Healthcare Services
- Allan McElhiney, President, Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum
- Ron Perkins, Chaplain, Seafarers’ House
to assist with the morale, welfare, & recreation needs of the crew members of our nation’s sea-going services: The Navy, Coast Guard and Marines. To raise awareness and to enlist public support for our mission throughout the year and annually organize and coordinate Fleet Week Port Everglades. Established In 1990 as a nonprofit corporation, Broward Navy Days, Inc. is a 501(c)(3).
The Broward County Historical Commission honors individuals who are committed to preserving records and artifacts of the County’s heritage, resources and sites as well as raising awareness of local history. The Commission held its 2011 Broward Pioneer Day Event at the Fort Lauderdale History Center. The reception for this event was held on the grounds east of the New River Inn. A recognition ceremony followed, in the area between the King-Cromartie House and the Philemon Bryan House.As John Rodstrom, Jr., Broward County Mayor mentions: "The pioneer spirit defines Broward County. Charting new territory, overcoming immense hardships, adapting to the environment and paving the way for a new life in a new community was all part of the pioneer's journey."
Mr. Allan McElhiney
, President and founder of the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum, holds the visionary spirit of preservation. It was because of his efforts that this Museum was established. By doing so, he safeguarded this important piece of our past, to allow us to take a close and personal look at Broward County's rich history. Pioneers leave a legacy for us to remember and cherish.
Mr. McElhiney was inducted into the Broward Pioneers, on December 3, 2011. CONGRATULATIONS ALLAN!
Allan McElhiney in front of Bob Jenny's aviation mural. NASFL Museum.
NAS Fort Lauderdale during WWII
January 15, 2011
By Jonathan D. Marcus
Forum Publishing Group
An exhibit chronicling the local impact of World War II is on display at the Broward County Historical Commission and Museum in Fort Lauderdale. "The Broward County Goes to War"
exhibit in the museum's gallery depicts the economic, social and demographic changes during the war years of 1941-1945, and shortly thereafter. "The war put Broward County on the map. It forever changed it," said historical commission and museum curator Denyse Cunningham.
The gallery features display panels with graphics, diagrams, photographs and display cases with uniforms, artifacts and memorabilia. Accompanying text provides details and background information. Panels describe the military training that occurred in the area. Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale
, located where Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is now, was a training base for bomber pilots, and other naval schools also operated in Fort Lauderdale.
"Broward County was the perfect place for training because it was so flat and the weather was good all year long," Cunningham said. Local beach areas were restricted to military personnel, and blackouts at night were often called so that the German submarines that commonly patrolled offshore in the early years of the war would have difficulty seeing land, she said. A display case shows ration books and tickets, "The Victory Cook Book," which describes how to substitute for rationed foods, and the small bulbs that could be used during blackouts.
"It was a time of sacrifice," said Fort Lauderdale resident Allan McElhiney
, who served aboard the USS Asheville during 1944-45 while it was at Port Everglades. "People all over the county were involved in the war. Some people were coming into downtown Fort Lauderdale on horse-drawn wagons because of the gas rationing." Other panels discuss area industries prominent during the war, such as agriculture and marine businesses, and document how the local economy boomed after the war's conclusion.
"The very first season after the war … ended up to be the biggest season that Broward County had had up until that time," said county historian Helen Landers. Hundreds of former service members who had been stationed here, like McElhiney, became county residents, and they were a key to later growth, Cunningham said. "It has so much to do with our growth and prosperity, more than anything probably," said John Bloom, a Fort Lauderdale physician who co-wrote a recent book with his wife Minerva about McElhiney. McElhiney moved to the area permanently in 1953 and helped found the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum in 1980.
"I fell in love with Fort Lauderdale because of the nice weather. The people are friendly down here, and I just enjoyed being here," he said. Historical commission and museum staff created the exhibit from their own collections, and the Boca Raton Historical Society, the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, the Hollywood Historical Society, and the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum
also contributed materials or research.
"We see our agency as an umbrella that brings together the various area historical societies," Cunningham said.To see the article online visit the Sun-Sentinel