NEW! Broward Goes to War Exhibit
March 16, to September 16, 2013
Naval Aviators marching down Fort Lauderdale Beach, 1940's.
Free Admission - Free Tours - Donations are Appreciated
“Broward 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. This exhibit was possible, by the Broward County Historical Commission in Fort Lauderdale.
The gallery features display panels with graphics, diagrams, photographs and period 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. 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.
Also displayed will be ration books, "The Victory Cook Book,"
which describes how to substitute for rationed foods, and the small bulbs that could be used during blackouts, and Victory Gardens
memorabilia. "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. I hope that young people will go to see it and learn about their past history and the role that Fort Lauderdale and Broward County played in winning World War II,"
McElhiney said. 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. McElhiney turned out to be the Founder and current President of the NASFL Museum.
This exhibit was possible, by the Broward County Historical Commission in Fort Lauderdale. They 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. This exhibit will be at the NASFL Museum from March 16, to September 16, 2013.
IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO VISIT THIS EXHIBIT, OR THE MUSEUM AT ANY OTHER TIME: Volunteers are usually at the Museum on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, from 11:00am to 4:00pm, but PLEASE CALL BEFORE GOING to schedule your Free Tour: (754) 300-9259
Thank you for your letters!
Jim Nesta said: "I was a student of the first class of Dania-Stirling Sr. High at the NASFL station in the fall of 1966. We voted on a name for the school mascot and chose the Spartans. During PE, when the teacher was out, we would roughhouse in those old WW2 era barracks and would sometimes punch holes in those old walls, to the consternation of the teacher! After the first semester, I later transferred to Stranahan Sr. High. In my electronics class at Stranahan we would get old electronic communications gear from the NAS, as our teacher was a retired major from the army signal corps and had some pull with the military. When I entered the Army in 1969, we trained in the same kind of barracks that were at NAS."Hillar Brandt said: "It is indeed exciting to see something like this after so many years. I attended Florida Military Academy as of summer of 1959 until 1962 when they moved to Plantation. I still remember airplanes taking off after warming up their engines at 5am. Of course at the time we could still climb and look around inside the abandoned Catalina's and naval fighter planes there. I spend most of the time in Miami and will make a point to visit in Feb/March when I get back to the US. If I am not mistaken, the barracks were those at the lower left side of the shown picture, Thanks for the pleasant memories."Albert Harris said: "You should know that from 1966-68 it was also a high school Dania-Sterling High School. I came from Attucks Jr.-Sr. High School in Dania FL and we were all black. My Sophomore year at that school was my first time to go to school with white kids and we were all Sophomores. The 68-69 school year we were the first class of the new school Hollywood Hills High School. It was ruff at first but it turned out to be the best two years of school in my life. That old Naval Air Station had no air, no heat in those old barracks lol. You should know this do not forget us the class of 66-68 and the class of 67-68 the Jr. and So. class of Dania-Sterling High School and the Sr. and Jr. class of Hollywood Hills High School 1969 and 1970. Thank You Albert L. Harris U.S.Army and USAF Vet. class of 1969. Oh yea by the way, on my So. year my football teammate who was a running back named Bucky Dent never knew that he could play baseball for the New York Yankees.
"Robert Walsh said: "My father James Walsh signed up for the US Navy with George F. Devlin in Brooklyn NY. My father signed up as Edward J Walsh (alias) at age 15. They were childhood buddies. They both paid a Notary Public 50 cents to have their names and age changed. My father ended up serving on the USS Harry F. Bauer DE 26 with participated in the battle of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. My father always talked about George Devlin being in the crew of Flight 19 and their adventure of signing up for the Navy underage during WWII."
Bryan Ilyankoff said: "Very nice article about the Photographer who took pride in his work! Photos that he took are great! Wish I could of met him and talked about his experience! I currently show a WWII Navy Photographer's Mate display at military shows and events here in the Seattle area. So, I gladly honor those who came before me in my rate. Thanks for sharing his time in the Navy!
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class,
U.S. Navy Reservist
(former Photographer's Mate)
In reply to What a find! Mitchel Johnson, Sr. is my grand...
, Darrell Johnson said: "That's my daddy & uncle. Mitchell (Sr.) is my granddaddy. I remember that Navy ship visit (referred to by Cheree in the above post.) It's good that legacies are remembered. Those who don't write their own stories are subjected to others, retelling of them."Ralph Flaherty said: "Just came across this site. I am now 84 and remember my days at NAS FT Lauderdale. I joined the Navy at age 17 in 1944 as an air-crewman. After aom school in Norman OK I went to gunnery school at the Emory Riddle bldg on 27th ave in Miami. It was there that I met Whitey Thompson (Flight 19), a marine who had just come back from the fleet. He and the rest of the marine group were there for a refresher course. Anyhow, we finished gunnery school in August 1945 just as the war ended, and ended up in the last class to go through operational training at Ft Lauderdale. On the day that whitey was lost I had just come back from a morning flight and Whitey was on the flight line waiting for his flight. I was probably the last one to talk to him before they left. The next morning I was on the first search flight out of Ft Lauderdale. I remember it well: it was a very lousy day, real bumpy and the reason I was still at the plane when Whitey arrived is that I had thrown up right behind the pilot where I was standing during the flight. I remember a very angry pilot who ordered me to clean up the mess and make sure there was no smell when he got back. Obviously I got out of there, so I did not have to go on the next flight with him. So much for my story. I just want to end by saying we were all just kids and though Whitey was the only one of the marine group that I knew, he was really quite a guy. Although he did not talk about the war I heard from others that he was on the USS Franklin when she got hit and he was trapped for 4 hrs below deck while she was burning. I can't verify that fact but that's what I remember. My best to all and thanks for all that you do......R Flaherty"
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.
"The Lost Squadron" by Bob Jenny
“The leader was an experienced combat pilot, these were reliable planes in good condition, and it was a routine training mission. We were alerted to look around the islands and to keep searching the water for debris. They just vanished. We had hundreds of planes out looking, and we searched over land and water for days, and nobody ever found the bodies or any debris.” - Lt. David White, NASFL Flight Instructor, participated in the search for Flight 19.
5 December, 1945: Flight 19 disappears into the Bermuda Triangle
Flight 19 was the designation of five TBM Avenger torpedo bombers that disappeared on December 5, 1945 during a U.S Navy overwater navigation training flight from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, Florida. All 14 airmen on the flight were lost, as were all 13 crew members of a PBM Mariner flying boat assumed to have exploded in mid-air while searching for the flight. It was one of the largest air and sea searches in history. Flight 19 remains one of the great aviation mysteries.
Burt Edward Baluk, Jr.
Joseph Tipton Bossi
William Earl Lightfoot
George William Stivers, Jr.
Howell Orrin Thompson
PBM-5 Rescue Seaplane
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
Attention: CD copies
of the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Flight 19 Package of images, documents and manuals from the Museum Archives (177 items) from Flight 19 have been scanned and are available in High Resolution (300dpi) for research and personal use only. All proceeds will benefit the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum. Pay safely and securely with PayPal. Credit cards accepted. Please allow 7 -9 days for delivery. Production Companies please contact the Museum for a release form.
PLEASE NOTE: ITEMS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE
- Domestic orders: $20.00 (plus $4 for shipping & handling) per digital CD with cover.
- International orders: $30.00 (plus $4 for shipping & handling) per digital CD with cover.
This CD Package contains the following:
- History of the Bermuda Triangle "Sea Mystery at our back door" (the first article to make mention of the Bermuda Triangle).
- Synopsis, Description and History Background.
- Name and rank of Flight 19 and PBM Mariner Crew.
- Avenger Aircraft Paint Scheme at Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale.
- Headlines, Naval articles, News Articles.
- The PBM-5 Mariner from NAS Banana River.
- Documents from the Navy transcript.
- Documents from the Air & Sea Rescue Log.
- Call Signs Documents.
- Documents from the Board Opinion.
- Letters: "Mental Aberration" "Exoneration" and "Case Closed"
- Charts: Surface Weather, Navigation Problems and Nautical charts.
- 5 plausible Theories.
- Images: Flight 19 crew.
- Images: Witness stories & search and rescue individuals.
- Images: Aerial Photographs of Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale WWII.
- Images: Link Trainer building (where they learned to fly the Avenger).
- Images: Flight 19 Memorial.
- Official Accident Reports.
- Syllabus: Pilot Training, Pilot Avenger handbook and NASFL WWII - Naval base Organization & Training.
Brothers Larry and Mitchel Johnson visited the NASFL Museum, researching their father Mitchel Johnson Sr. He had worked as a civilian at the Naval Air Station Surface Warfare Center. This building was formerly known as the Junior Officers Bachelor Quarters or JOBQ Building #15. Former President George H.W. Bush lived in this building when he was a 19 year old Ensign, training as an Avenger pilot. Anyway, we found a list with Mr. Mitchel Johnson's name inside the drawer of an old desk that had been salvaged from the Warfare Center before the building was demolished.Allan McElhiney, the Museum's founder, kept this desk at the Museum and he remembered seeing the list inside the drawer, with names from people that had worked at the naval base. It turned out that Mr. Mitchel Johnson Sr., was one of those names. The brothers Mitchel were very interested in the Museum's exhibits and had a great time reminiscing. It was a pleasure to meet them. We salute your father
for his service to the naval base! Click to enlarge photos
Construction crew of NASFL, circa 1943.
Sunday, May 06, 2012LeRoy Crouch USN (Ret) (
Post Navy career he was an architect for Broward County School system in Florida).
"My knowledge goes way back till the time the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale
was first built. My Dad was one of 2 Public Services Directors that built this facility in 1942. Dad claimed this to be one of his outstanding building projects. He talked about the methods they used to construct those long-span wooden trusses for the hangars, as well as the building used to contain the "Link Trainers."
He told of the times that they would have to carry a pilot trainee out on a gurney-- after he had crashed in the simulator.
He claimed that he was the only one able to view the entire set of construction plans for the building. Everyone else could only see the portions they were currently working on. Dad proudly displayed a plaque he was awarded by the Base Commander, for the efforts he had made during the construction and maintaining of that facility. I have the picture of him receiving this award. He cherished that till his dying day. His claim to fame, I guess. He used to point to every building on that site-- and say "I built that one, and this one, and that one...."
and on and on: the hangars, the hospital, the mess hall, the barracks, the officers club...."
Captain James E. Westfall USN
Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale
Flight Instructor for the Grumman TBM
& Search for Flight 19
James Edward Westfall
, 88, died Monday, April 2, 2012, in Melbourne, Fla.
He was born Sept. 1, 1923, near Spencer, Ind., to John Christopher and Nina Atlanta (Smith) Westfall.
He graduated in 1942 from Greencastle High School, Greencastle, Ind.
He married June Alexander in 1942. He later married Gayle E. Ellsworth in 1947. She preceded him in death in 1998. He then married Jessie H. McCarty in 2003.
With the onset of World War II, he entered the U.S. Navy V-5 air cadet program. He completed pre-flight school courses at the University of Georgia (Athens) and went on to finish flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla. With his naval aviator wings and commission as an ensign, he was shipped to the South Pacific in 1944. In that theater of the war, he saw action primarily at the controls of the Douglas SBD Dauntless. After his return from combat in 1945, he was based at Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale
in Florida. While there as a flight instructor in the Grumman TBM Avenger
, he played a role in the search for Flight 19
— the mysterious disappearance of five Avengers off the coast of Florida on Dec. 5, 1945, arguably the most famous aviation incident associated with the Bermuda Triangle.
Briefly on inactive status following World War II, he worked for Aero Sales in Jacksonville, Fla., and operated a private flying school. Recalled to active duty, he was a flight instructor at Pensacola Naval Air Station before being assigned to the USS Boxer (CV-21) and USS Kearsarge (CV-33) during the Korean War. From the decks of these aircraft carriers, he flew his favorite airplane, the Vought F4U Corsair. For part of this period, he served as navigator aboard the oiler USS Chickaskia (AO-54). In the 1950s, he piloted the Lockheed R7V Super Constellation for MATS (Military Air Transport Service). His transport flights from Hickam Air Force Base, Honolulu, Hawaii, took him all over the world and into Southeast Asia at the beginning of the Vietnam War.
He marked most of the 1960s with service in naval air reserve training commands at Jacksonville, Glenview, Ill., and Omaha, Neb. From 1967 to 1969, he was at the Pentagon, where he was responsible for base programs on the staff of Vice Admiral Thomas F. Connolly, USN, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air) and namesake of the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. He retired from the U.S. Navy as a captain in 1971. He then moved to Longwood, Fla., where he worked in real estate for many years at Sweetwater Oaks and other developments. He relocated to Melbourne in 1990, settling at Indian River Colony Club. He was an outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing and hunting, and he was an avid golfer.
Burial will be Aug. 2 with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
Inside U.S Capitol Rotunda. Copyright © Minerva Bloom 2012.
As the founder of the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Historical Association (NASFLHA), Allan McElhiney's
efforts caught the attention of US Rep. Clay Shaw, R-Fort Lauderdale, who in Oct. 18, 2005 sponsored a bill in Congress (H. Resolution 500) honoring the 60th anniversary of Flight 19. Rep. Clay Shaw, member of the Ways and Means Committee was the author of the resolution.
November 16, 2005 CONGRESSIONAL RECORD—HOUSE
Mr. Shaw: Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays. The yeas and nays were ordered. The Speaker pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX and the Chair’s prior announcement, further proceedings on this question will be postponed. General Leave.
Mr. Shaw: Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to
revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the subject of the resolution under consideration. The Speaker pro tempore. Is there
objection to the request of the gentleman from Florida? There was no objection.
RECOGNIZING THE 60TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DISAPPEARANCE OF THE 5 NAVAL AVENGER TORPEDO BOMBERS OF FLIGHT 19
The Clerk read as follows:
H. RES. 500
Whereas on December 5, 1945, the 5 Avenger torpedo bombers of Flight 19, originating at the Naval Air Station of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and its crew of 14 Navy airmen, disappeared; Whereas the Mariner rescue aircraft sent to search for Flight 19, originating at the Naval Air Station of Banana River, Florida, and its crew of 13 Navy airmen, also disappeared on that date; Whereas December 5, 2005, marks the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of Flight 19; Whereas the loss of Flight 19 occurred during peacetime; Whereas the disappearance of Flight 19 sparked one of the largest air and sea rescue searches in history covering over 200,000 square miles;
Whereas all investigations of the disappearance of Flight 19 have failed to recover any aircraft, debris, or remains; Whereas there remain unanswered questions concerning the disappearance of Flight 19; and Whereas there are continuing efforts with the latest technology to determine the location of the lost aircraft and crews: Now, therefore be it Resolved, That the House of Representatives:
(1) recognizes 60th anniversary of the disappearance of 5 naval Avenger torpedo bombers of Flight 19 and the naval Mariner rescue aircraft sent to search for Flight 19.
(2) honors the memory of the 27 Navy airmen
lost in these disappearances.
(3) recognizes the historical significance of Flight 19.
(4) acknowledges continuing efforts to determine what caused these disappearances. And
(5) commends the Naval Historical Center
for preserving the history of Flight 19.You can download the complete H. Resolution 500 proposition file:
| Click here to Download H. RESOLUTION 500 file|
|File Size: ||196 kb|
|File Type: || pdf|
U.S Capitol, Washington, DC. Copyright © Minerva Bloom 2012.