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
Online-Only Exhibit: Japanese WWII Mementos
Japanese mementos from a Sniper cave in Saipan were donated by WWII veteran Ray Rivera
. Ray Rivera joined the Navy at 16 years old, and was on his way to the South Pacific on the USS Bunker Hill
where he celebrated his 17th birthday. He became a 2nd class Petty Officer. Ray recalls that he was aboard this aircraft carrier on May 1945, when it was attacked by Japanese kamikaze pilots. He was below deck on his way to the galley, when the first plane hit the ship. He was immediately assigned to “damage control.”
The fires raged on deck, and heavy smoke infiltrated into the decks below. The crew of the Bunker Hill
lost 346 sailors and airmen, 43 missing (never found), and 264 wounded. The damaged ship returned to Pearl Harbor, and then onto Bremerton WA, for repairs. When the war ended, the Bunker Hill became a “Magic Carpet”
taking troops back and forth, throughout the South Pacific. It was on one of these trips to pick up
military personnel, that Ray had a close encounter with a Japanese sniper. As he recalls: "Our ship arrived in Saipan (Northern Mariana Islands) to pick up more of our troops. If we had to walk around, we were assigned a Marine escort because it was still dangerous as there were snipers hiding in caves. Some Japanese soldiers didn't know the war had ended, and we still had several incidents. A small group of us were walking around with our escort, and suddenly we got shot at. The shots were coming from a wooded area ahead of us. The Marine took aim in that direction, and then there was silence. We proceeded to the area and checked the perimeter, and we found several abandoned caves. It looked like someone had been living in them for a while. At that time it was customary to take "souvenirs" so I looked around and saw several torn pages from a photograph album. There were of young men, like us fighting the war, and I wondered if they had sisters, mothers, brothers. I also found torn pages from what it looked like Japanese propaganda from magazines. The pages had been perforated with one top and bottom hole and held together with shoelaces. I was drawn to the images and I wanted to safe-keep these mementos. I held to these pages for more than 60 years. I don't speak Japanese and don't know the names of the Japanese soldiers in the photographs, but it would be good if someone knows their families or recognizes them. "
Pages from a Japanese Photo Album
Click on thumbnails to view larger
Pages from WWII Japanese propaganda magazine
Click on thumbnails to read descriptions and view larger
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"
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
Lt. Jg. O'brien with his TBM Avenger Gunner and Radioman crew. Part of training Flight # 22 at NASFL.
From Lt. Joe O'Brien, USN WWII, Aviator of TBM's
Trained at the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale in 1945
"Thought you might enjoy enclosed photos. You may recall I was talking to one of the planes on Flight 19 as I returned from FAM HOP. I also remember that I had been first pilot to fly one of the TBM's that would later be used by Flight 19 at the NASFL (BuNo: 45714). I had ferried it from the General Motors factory in Trenton, N.J over to the Franklyn Field in Norfolk, Virginia in 1944."
Observation: Lt. O'Brien's says that on 12 April 1944, his flight log diary shows he ferried TBM Avenger BuNo: 45714 from the factory to NAS Norfolk. Then a year later he went on to train at the NAS in Fort Lauderdale. The serial number would be FT- 3 which was part of Flight 19 Squadron. FT-3 was piloted by Navy Ensign Joseph T. Bossi, with crew S1c Herman A. Thelander as gunner, and S1c Burt E. Baluk as radioman.
On 5 Dec 1945, Lt. Joe O'Brien says that he had left around 2:00pm for the exercise (FAM HOP = familiar hop), and was returning around 4:00pm to the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale where he was training, when he overheard Flight 19 on the radio. He sensed some trouble and tried to offer suggestions of flying into the sun in a westerly direction, but he had no idea they were in serious trouble, and the signals were getting weaker. He thinks now that if they were flying over the Gulf of Mexico instead of the Atlantic Ocean, that advice would have not worked. He was then ordered to land at NASFL, where he later learned of their disappearance.
Second row on Lt. O'Brien's log book for April 1944 shows entry for TBM BuNo: 45714
Woman driving truck during WWII. Photo from the Alexander Turnbull Library.
"Flight 19 - A Remembrance" by Keith Parker"This story was told and retold to me through the years by my mother, always with great reverence:
A few months after World War II my father was still serving with the Navy in the Pacific and my mother, Cora Jane Parker, was the District Manager for Cities Service Oil Company. On 5 December 1945, she had just made a delivery of AV gas to the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale and was looking for the duty Lieutenant to sign for it. When she couldn't find him she asked around and was told he was in the Radio Room. She had been there before. She went there and when she entered, she was hit by an eerie sense of quiet, unlike the busy chatter that normally filled it. It was hushed and no one was speaking. The only sound was the crackle and static of the radio speakers. When the Lieutenant signed for the fuel delivery my mother asked about the strange silence in the Radio Room. The Lieutenant explained that a flight of torpedo bombers on a training mission had disappeared and they were waiting for any signs of transmissions from them.
Later that evening when my mother returned home she ran into a pretty young neighbor who complained to her that her date had 'stood her up' and went on to fault him in particular-- and flyboys in general-- for taking advantage of local girls. When my mother informed her that her date was probably missing in action and very likely would not be coming back, the young girl was saddened, embarrassed by the way she had been acting, and quickly changed her tune. Now, like many young women during the War, her man would not be coming home to her."With remembrance,Keith ParkerObservation: T
he United States home front during World War II
, supported the war effort in many ways, including a wide range of volunteer efforts. Many women joined the workforce to replace men who had joined the forces. Gender roles were dramatically altered from then on. The increased likelihood that a woman was working outside the home in addition to her homemaking responsibilities was certain. Many women worked in volunteer organizations connected with the war effort. The above letter sheds a small light not only on the events surrounding Flight 19
, but also on women helping at the home front during WWII.