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History

Welcome to the Naval Air Station Jacksonville history section!

Here you will find considerable information pertaining to the base and the many changes it has gone through since its establishment in 1940.

To begin, there is a wonderful chronology, starting in1907, when the land where NAS Jacksonville is today was originally purchased for military use. Originally known as Black Point, Florida National Guard troops started arriving in June 1909; followed by the U.S. Army (which renamed the site “Camp Joseph A. Johnston” also home to the second largest rifle range in the United States) in October 1917; and then turned back over to the Florida National Guard finally in 1926 (which renamed the site “Camp Clifford J.R.Foster.”) This chronology is quite detailed and gives a rich history of the changes the site and the base has gone through during it’s time on the First Coast.

A history of the base by decade is also present on the website. This history details NAS Jacksonville’s inception and how certain events brought the base to where it is today. This abbreviated history is an excellent source of general information about the base and is recommended reading.

Another link gives a complete listing of every Commanding Officer the station has had, with the dates of command.

Our aircraft have undergone many evolutions as well throughout the years. From the J2F Grumman Duck, the first plane assigned to the station, to the newer MH-60 Romeo and P-8A Poseidon, NAS Jacksonville has been host to numerous aircraft over its many years since commissioning. Click on the Aircraft Photos link to see a visual history of Naval Aviation. Also included is a link showing all the squadrons that have been assigned to the station.

In addition to the operational aircraft, an Aircraft Static Display area in Heritage Park has many restored historical aircraft available for viewing. Conveniently located near the Yorktown Avenue entrance, this park is a popular spot for visitors and families. The newest addition will be an EA-6B Prowler, painted in the Centennial of Naval Aviation paint scheme, which will be placed in the park during the summer of 2012.

A detailed section on the Naval Aviator who formed and was the first flight leader of the Blue Angels is located under the First Blue Angel link. The Blue Angels are world famous for their daring aerial maneuvers, and were established at NAS Jacksonville under the command of R.M. “Butch” Voris.  His biography, as well as early pictures of the unit, can be found here.

Several buildings around the base are named after personnel, both civilian and military, who over the years made a significant impact, whether as a hospital corpsman or a jet engine designer. Their accomplishments are described under the Building Dedications link, along with the building and its location on the base.

NAS Jacksonville has endured a number of changes through the years. NAS Jacksonville was originally commissioned as a pilot training base. It quickly developed into what amounts to a small town containing a hospital, restaurants, churches, boat ramps, as well as gyms and a golf course. Several photos showing the progression of the base can be seen in the Building Photos section.

One of the more desired (and collectable) aspects of NAS Jacksonville are the command Challenge Coins. These coins are usually presented for meritorious service or a job well done by the Commanding Officer or Senior Enlisted of that particular command or squadron, or for a special event. Today, almost every squadron and most large commands have their own unique individual coin with a design usually representing the insignia of that particular squadron/command. The above link shows some of the command coins that have been use at NAS Jacksonville.   

Like the command challenge coins, station patches are also very collectable and the station has seen a myriad of patches over the years. Patches of fighter, reconnaissance, attack, surveillance and helicopter squadrons are pictured, although this is nowhere near a complete listing. Also included are the Scout World patches from the Armed Forces/Scout World events held on the base for many years. Once under the Patches link, just pick the area that interests you.

A link can also be found showing photos of WAVES, or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. This was a service enacted in World War II whereby women were accepted into service that would normally have been reserved for males, had not most men been in the theater of war.  Women worked on the base and performed jobs beneficial to the war effort such as aircraft repairs and air tower duties.

A series of watercolor paintings of activities on the base by famous artist Vernon Howe Bailey are also shown. Bailey was commissioned in 1942 to record events on many Navy bases through his drawings and watercolors.

Finally, if you have any historical photos you are willing to send to us to include people who were stationed here, aircraft, buildings, etc. from the past almost 75 years, click the Looking for History link to share information with the base historian.  You may also use this link to ask questions of a historical nature.  

We hope you enjoy our site!

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