You may know Florida for its beautiful beaches and sunny weather, but you may not know it’s also home to a significant military presence. It has 21 military bases throughout the state, making it a vital State in our national defense program. Let’s explore the top military bases in Florida, including their history, location, and significance.
Top Military Bases in Florida
Florida’s military bases are a significant part of our national defense program. Here are some of the top military bases in Florida:
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base (AFB) is located in the western Florida Panhandle, Okaloosa County. Named after the late Lieutenant Colonel Frederick I. Eglin, the base serves as a reminder of his tragic demise in a crash involving his Northrop A-17 pursuit aircraft while traveling from Langley to Maxwell Field, Alabama. Some o its notable features include:
- It’s the largest Air Force base in the world and comprises over 640 square miles.
- The Department of Defense deals with developing, acquiring, testing, and sustaining all air-delivered non-nuclear weapons here.
- It’s home to the largest contiguous overwater range in the free world, extending over the eastern third of the Gulf of Mexico.
Homestead Air Reserve Base
Located approximately 6 miles northeast of Homestead, Florida, Homestead Air Reserve Base (ARB) is the second-largest employer in South Miami-Dade County and has fueled economic growth in the area for decades. Homestead ARB is home to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 482nd Fighter Wing, the base host unit. The wing provides combat-ready Citizen Airmen to conduct aerial combat operations worldwide.
Hurlburt Field is located on the Gulf of Mexico in the Florida Panhandle, 35 miles east of Pensacola. It started as a minor training field during World War II. It was the first Eglin Auxiliary Field No. 9. After a few minor name modifications, the base finally adopted the name Hurlburt Field in 1943, paying tribute to 1st Lt. Donald Wilson Hurlburt, who lost his life at Eglin Field earlier that year.
MacDill Air Force Base
MacDill Air Force Base is located in Tampa, Florida, and is home to the 6th Air Refueling Wing, which is responsible for providing air refueling support to combatant commanders around the world. The base is also home to USCENTCOM, USSOCOM, and 48 other Mission Partners. The base’s military population has a profound economic effect on the Tampa Bay community, amounting to approximately $2.3 billion in economic impact.
Naval Air Station Pensacola
Located in the vibrant city of Pensacola, Florida, Naval Air Station Pensacola plays a pivotal role as the primary training base, catering to U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers aspiring to be recognized as naval aviators and naval flight officers. The base is home to the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the precision-flying team known as the Blue Angels.
Naval Air Station Pensacola goes beyond its training mission, enriching the lives of military personnel and the local community through the availability of diverse public facilities and amenities. One amenity includes the world’s third-largest aviation museum, which draws more than 900,000 visitors annually.
There are many military bases in Florida, including NAS Pensacola, Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field, MacDill Air Force Base, and Naval Air Station Pensacola. These bases are significant parts of their local communities and provide jobs and support to the areas. A visit to Florida allows you to explore these bases, learn about their history and importance, and enjoy the recreational facilities that are less expensive or not available elsewhere.