Intermission (6) – Fort MacDill, Tampa/St. Pete, FL

Pacific Paratrooper


(Tribune News Service) — John Murphy was shocked by his first glimpse of MacDill Field.

It was in late 1940, about four months before MacDill, formally known as Southeast Airbase, officially was activated on April 16, 1941. It was named in honor of Col. Leslie MacDill, a World War I veteran and aviation pioneer who died in a plane crash.

“When I got into the area the runway was still under construction, and so was the housing,” Murphy says. “My first quarters was in a tent in a place called Boomtown, where I slept in an Army cot. The tent was surrounded by palmetto branches, and when the wind blew, it sounded like rattlesnakes.”

Marching at MacDill Marching at MacDill

Murphy, now 95 and living in Biloxi, Mississippi, was among the first to arrive at the base as it was carved from the scrub in the days before the U.S. entered World War…

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