My Father's War
Bill Sharp
A son's tribute to his father's part in World War II


Basic Training and First Base Assignment
- the Florida Connection (1942-44)

After basic training in Miami, he was assigned to McDill Field ( now Mcdill Air Force Base) in Tampa, Florida.

From the Mcdill AFB website, some history:
"Flying operations at MacDill began in 1941 with the base’s first mission including transitional training in the B-17 Flying Fortress. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, MacDill became a major staging area for Army Air Corps flight crews and aircraft. In just 60 days, 15 LB-30 and 63 B-17 aircraft departed MacDill via the south Atlantic and Africa to Australia.
The base’s mission converted to B-26 “ Marauder” training in 1942 and it was the B-26 that earned the slogan “one a day in Tampa Bay.” The aircraft proved hard to fly and land by many pilots due to its short wings, high landing speeds, and fighter plane maneuverability. Nine of the 12 combat groups that flew the B-26 in Europe were activated and trained at MacDill and in combat the B-26 enjoyed the lowest loss rate of any Allied bomber." Meanwhile, in the Pacific, the Battle of Midway took place on June 4, 1942.

My mother went to visit him in with Burt and Josie Braunius, Bill's sister and her newhusband in June. Although it was their honeymoon, then generously brought my mother along to visit her fiancé. In October 26, 1942, Bill came home to New Jersey on leave to be married. Here is the photo from their wedding.

Upon returning to Tampa, they rented a room in a woman's house with a small kitchen and shared one shelf in her refrigerator with another couple. Bill could spend time with Jo when he was off duty. Later they moved to an apartment above a garage at the same house. They had at least one visit from the New Jersey family, Bill's oldest sister Helen and a cousin. The newly weds lived happily together for about 18 months, a luxury for soldiers during war time. Early 1944, Bill got his call to ship out and Mom returned home to her mother and sisters in New Jersey.

In 1957 on a family vacation, we attempted to visit McDill Airforce Base but were turned away. This was during the Cold War and before military bases had visitor centers or catered to veterans. But it was a big disappointment to my Dad.

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