NAS Jacksonville, Florida 32212
This site is located in the Northeast region of the state.
In the short period from October 15, 1940, to the close of World War II in August 1945, NAS Jacksonville became one of the three largest naval air stations in the world. Construction costs during this period exceeded $68 million and, by 1945, over 30,000 military and civilian employees were present.
Recognizing the need for an improved coastal air defense system, Congress acted on the recommendations of the Hepburn Board and identified Jacksonville as the site of a naval air station in early 1939. Through a local bond issue, the City of Jacksonville acquired the Florida National Guard’s Camp Foster then on this site. Relocated east of Starke, Florida, this facility was renamed Camp Blanding to honor Lt. Gen. Albert H,. Blanding.
Although originally intended for use as an operating and repair base, the invasion of Poland by Germany on September 1, 1939, quickly changed this plan. Primary pilot training began in January 1941 using N2S Stearmans. Within a few months intermediate training had begun on PBY Catalinas and SNJs. PBYs from this base became part of the Atlantic antisubmarine patrols during the war. Eventually the Naval Air Technical Training Center, the Naval Air Gunnery School, and the Assembly and Repair Department operated from NAS Jacksonville.
With a peak of 1,000 aircraft in 1944, two takeoffs and landings occurred each minute, around the clock, during 1943 and 1944. One of the major economic factors in Jacksonville during the war, NAS Jacksonville had 7,500 civilian workers in 1945 and an annual payroll of $247 million. The auxiliary fields at Cecil Field, Green Cove Springs, and Mayport served the aviators from this station.
Camp Blanding transferred German POW's to this facility beginning in June 1945. Eventually reaching 1,614 internees, work assignments included golf course construction and the removal of a railroad spur line. Housing these POW's at a Naval facility under the administration of the Army created an unusual arrangement.
Both Joseph Kennedy, Jr. and John F. Kennedy spent duty time at NAS Jacksonville. The former ambassador to England, Joseph Kennedy, Sr., pinned naval aviator’s wings on his namesake on June 5, 1942. Later in the war, the future president and wartime PT boat captain, John F. Kennedy, received medical care in the base hospital. .
With the victory over Japan in 1945, NAS Jacksonville assumed its new role as one of the largest separation centers in the country.
Naval Air Station Jacksonville