85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History
Landscapes of War and Peace
April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky
Title: The Military Geographic and Economic Complex
Zachary Matusheski, The Ohio State University
Augustine Meaher, Air University
Participant's Paper Title: The Air Force Over Miami Beach: The United States Army Air Forces Occupy Miami Beach
Participant's Paper Abstract: In 1940, Miami Beach was a resort city of only 30,000 permanent residents, a little known fact is that a quarter of all United States Army Air Force (USAAF) officers, and a fifth of all USAAF enlisted men, (nearly a million airmen and airwomen in total) would be stationed at Miami Beach over the course of the Second World War. At any one time, an average of 125,000 air force personnel were stationed in Miami Beach, a population that often doubled on weekends with soldiers on leave and in transit swelling the population. This will be the first historical investigation of Miami Beach under effective occupation by the USAAF. My paper will introduce a little known but important event in American history to the public and thereby deepen their knowledge of the American war effort and the American Home Front. My paper will examine how the USAAF served as an occupying force in Miami Beach by focusing on the interaction of USAAF personnel with the citizens of Miami Beach and the city government of Miami Beach. The main questions I will explore are: (1) How did the USAAF interact with the civilian administration of Miami Beach; (2) How did the USAAF interact the civilian population of Miami Beach who remained in the closed military area throughout the war; (3) How did the USAAF function as a city governing authority; (4) what were the most important lessons learned and how did the lessons learned by the US military during its occupation and administration of Miami Beach effect later military occupations and policies.
Christopher McCune, 460th Space Wing
Participant's Paper Title: Denver's Courtship of the US Military, 1859-1930
Participant's Paper Abstract: While the federalization and growth of the military-industrial complex in the American West during the Great Depression and World War II is well-known, in the city of Denver, Colorado, it was merely the continuation of a long-standing tradition to procure military installations in and around the city. From its earliest years as a supply area for miners seeking their fortune in the gold fields of the nearby mountains, Denver's leaders persistently wooed the US Army to build military posts near its environs. These reasons varied through the years and reflected the local, military, and geo-political concerns of the period. During the frontier era, they were demanded for defensive purposes, either to prevent the invasion of the territory by Confederate troops, or to protect the city and its outlying settlements from attacks by Native American tribes (and, in addition, to enable their removal to reservations). As the Indian Wars came to a close, the US Army chose to consolidate its western outposts near larger urban centers to take advantage of the region's growing rail network. The existence of military bases in Colorado, as well as the rest of the American West, were heavily reliant on the current needs of the Army. While they certainly acted as drivers for local economies, they rarely were considered to be a permanent feature of the landscape. The advent of US involvement in World War I marks an important turning point, as Denver's leaders sought to establish Hospital No. 21, later Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, specifically because it had a greater chance to become a permanent installation. By examining how and why bases such as Camp Weld, Fort Logan, and Fitzsimons were pursued and established, we gain further insight into the social, political, and economic forces that contributed to the city's early development.