Soldiers Performing Exercises on the Beach


The state of Florida served as the location for a variety of U.S. military training activities during World War II. Pilots and sailors used Florida ports, miles of uninhabited shoreline, and the forests of the state’s interior for military exercises. Marines and Army infantry slogged through Florida marshes and trained for beach assaults. In this image, soldiers training with gas masks are shown on a beach in south Florida. In 1941, Miami was still completely dependent on tourism for its economic livelihood. After the United States entered the war, south Florida quickly found itself on the front lines, as German U-boats sank American ships off the Florida coast and rumors spread of German spies operating in Miami. The German threat bought an early end to the 1941-42 tourist season; tourism dried up as the government imposed wartime rationing. But Miami quickly became a center of military activity, as air bases and shipyards were built, seemingly overnight, to guard the nation’s southern coast and to train troops for possible coastal and sea battles. Sailors and soldiers from around the country were stationed in Miami, and the influx of personnel and the rapid development that it brought saved the region’s economy. The U.S. government established several training schools in the Miami area for American and allied soldiers, and local universities and colleges all took part in preparing men and women for service in the war.

Last updated: October 22, 2014