Although nearly a quarter of a million
Floridians served in the armed forces, the majority of the population fought the battle on the home front. In his address to the state legislature in 1943, Florida Governor Spessard Holland stated:
"At this tense hour it is wholly unnecessary to remind you of the fact that we meet at the time of gravest crisis in the life of our Nation. We are engaged in a war which is challenging our deepest patriotic convictions, and demanding the most effective and sacrificial service we can render, as individual citizens and as a member of the family of States. It is with a sense of profound satisfaction that I report to you how well the people of this State are measuring up to the supreme needs of the hour."
By and large, Floridians heeded the governor's call. By 1943, more than 300,000 Floridians had volunteered for civilian defense activities such as aircraft spotting, the Red Cross, the United Services Organizations (USO), on draft and rationing boards, on recreation committees, as blackout wardens, and in other capacities.
Civil Defense and Civil Patrols:
Floridians served as air raid wardens, airplane spotters, and civil defense wardens. Civilian yacht owners formed coastal patrol organizations, and others volunteered to help the Coast Guard patrol the thousands of miles of unprotected beaches. The Civil Air Patrol, a civilian arm of the Army Air Force, came into being in December 1941. The Civil Air Patrol provided valuable war-related service, from hunting for German submarines off the coast to locating downed military pilots. It also supervised an extensive cadet program that provided military and aviation training to teenagers. In 1940, Tampa resident Guy Allen organized a unit known as the Motorcycle Defense Troops. The motorcyclists escorted military convoys throughout the state and performed other civil defense-related activities.