Largely through the efforts
of Mary McLeod Bethune, who lobbied President Franklin Roosevelt directly, the Army established a major training facility for the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) at Daytona Beach. With the city's tourist-based economy slumping, the establishment of the facility produced much needed revenue. The presence of the base generated nearly $5 million per month for the city's economy.
The first WAAC recruits arrived in October 1942 and eventually some 20,000 women received training at Daytona Beach. The headquarters facility was established at the Wingate Building in downtown Daytona Beach. The recruits were housed initially in the Osceola Hotel and a local hospital, but additional buildings were soon leased or built by the military.
The WAACs attracted attention in Daytona Beach. Often people gathered to observe them parade down the boardwalk, and servicemen sometimes stopped on the beach to watch them exercise.
Within a year, the organization was made a full part of the Army and was re-designated as the Women's Army Corps (WAC). In early 1944, this training center at Daytona Beach was closed when the WACs moved to a larger facility at Fort Ogelthorpe, Georgia.