Thursday, March 20, 2014

Dale Mabry Airfield Project Paper #8

In November of the year 1929 the campus we know of Tallahassee Community College was the first airport we had in Tallahassee. It was the field for landing and taking off of aircraft during war time. The field was named after the Tallahassee native and World War 1 pilot captain Dale Mabry, son of Florida Supreme Justice Milton Mabry, who passed away during World War 1. Years later in January of 1941 the federal government had the airport transformed into an army base because space was needed to train pilots for war. The army base was used not only for pilots but for officers and soldiers to live, socialize, and train for World War 2. Over 8,000 soldiers were trained there including ones from China and France that used the military base to get experience in training as well. Barber shops, a grocery store, a hospital and a church were built among the area for everyone living in the base. By 1961 the field became abandoned when the government opened a new site for aircraft a few miles away from the Dale Mabry Field.When the war ended in 1944, the G.I bill was passed which included an education to be provided for all war veterans. This bill helped reach an all-time high of enrollment numbers for colleges in America. According to the South Atlantic Bulletin at Florida State, written in 1948, the closest university, University of Florida, reached its capacity, so the administrators reached out to the veterans and asked if they would be okay with taking classes at the Florida State College for Women if housing and transportation was provided.Many agreed, and soon FSCW was flourishing with enrollment numbers. Jobs started to open and even a new branch was added to the department of history. Because housing was still needed, Florida State College for Women bought the vacant Dale Mabry Field and it became known as the West Campus. It’s said that officer’s headquarters turned into administrative offices and the areas that were provided for the soldiers were transformed into classrooms and student housing. A sign stands out front of the main runway today that was used during World War 2, in front of the Community College campus, which summarizes the importance of the Dale Mabry Filed and why it should always be remembered.


Dale Mabrye was a soldier and leader who fought in World War 1. When he was commanded to bring his troops back to Roma, Virginia he was shot down and killed on February 22, 1922. Because of this, Dale Mabrye field was named after him. 

The field opened in 1929 and was Tallahassee’s first municipal airport that served as a military base for 10,000 Chinese, French, and all black Tuskegee pilots. It was originally located on 500 acres of land and expanded into 1,700 with 133 buildings. Many French and Chinese traveled there to finish their training. When the U.S. joined the war, the base became even more important. When the war ended, the G.I. bill helped many veterans get into school. They were sent to the University of Florida however; they quickly ran out of room.

Even though Florida State College was an all women’s college (FSCW), men were sent there as well. In September of 1946, the Florida legislature opened a new branch for the men at F.S.U. called the Tallahassee branch of the University of Florida (TBUF). To accommodate the rising number of vets arriving, the FSCW purchased land to house the vets from the abandoned field. 

West Campus, which was an abandoned military base that F.S.U. used from 1946 to 1956, converted many vacated buildings into housing, hospitals, and classrooms for the veterans. There, “the club” was created which was the bases former officers office that was converted into a student union. Many students used the club to socialize, have parties, go bowling, and dance. Today, the bases were turned over to the local government and turned into a vast variety of buildings. It also became the home of Tallahassee Community College, Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy, and other public and private institutions. In 2004 there was even an aviation museum with tribute to Dale Mabry field which is located on the second floor of the Tallahassee Regional Airport.