World War II in Miami
Our World War II Gallery tells the story of the military activities in South Florida during the war, especially the story of Miami and its people. A major focus is on the Navy base here called Naval Air Station Richmond (named for the Richmond lumber mill located nearby). The Navy used blimps to fight the Nazi U-boats that were attacking Florida. Today blimps are humorous and loveable. But back in the day they were armed with bombs, machine guns and a crew of ten Sailors. Adding to that radio, radar and sonar made the blimps serious weapon systems. They could float for hours on end hunting for the enemy below. Our historic building was the headquarters of the blimp station and today is the last of those military buildings left.
Other aspects of WWII here locally included the massive Army Air Corps training base that occupied all the hotels on Miami Beach. The Biltmore Hotel was used as an Army Hospital for wounded soldiers coming back from the fighting. And from Miami Army Airfield originated the longest airlift route ever. Army aircraft flew across the Caribbean to Brazil. From there they flew over the Atlantic Ocean and then across Africa. They continued to India and finally flew over the Himalaya Mountains to China. Roundtrip was 38,000 miles and flying over the Himalayas was very hazardous for these propeller-driven aircraft. Many pilots never returned.