Dale Mabry Field
|Tallahassee, Florida |
This site is located in the NorthCentral region of the state.
Through the political influence of U.S. Senator Claude Pepper and Florida Governor Spessard Holland, Tallahassee’s Dale Mabry Field became an U.S. Army base on January 24, 1941. Local officials named the new field in honor of Tallahassee native, Army Captain Dale Mabry, son of former Florida Supreme Court Justice Milton H. Mabry.
Military activity began in October 1940 with the construction of a railroad siding and drainage improvements to overcome the swamp conditions at the site. Originally 530 acres, the airfield grew to 1,720 acres and 133 buildings during the course of the war. Despite closing the field to general aviation, the commercial airlines, Eastern and National, continued to use the field during the war and received runway preference over student pilots.
Aircraft and trainees arrived in May 1941. The first aircraft consisted of P-39 Airacobras, P-40 Warhawks, and P-47 Thunderbolts. Training on the highly regarded P-51 Mustang did not occur at Dale Mabry until later in the war. Transferred from MacDill Field in Tampa, the 53 Pursuit Group arrived on May 8. Chinese and French cadets received training here in 1942 and 1944. In 1942, the 99th Fighter Squadron under the command of Lt. Col. Benjamin Davis received advanced training at Mabry Field. Training activity peaked in mid-1944 with base complement averaging 1,300 officers, 3,000 enlisted men and women, and 800 civilian employees.
Students used a gunnery base at Alligator Point and a bombing range at Sopchoppy on the Gulf for their training needs. The pilots also utilized auxiliary bases in Perry, Alachua, Cross City and Dunnellon.
Placed on inactive status in July 1945, the former base property became the home of Tallahassee Community College, Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy, and a variety of other public and private applications.
A Florida Historical Marker, sponsored by Tallahassee Community College and The Florida Department of State, stands on the southern border of the campus. Located at the edge of the old NW/SE runway, this sign serves to recognize the significance of the base and the men and women who served there.