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The Air Force Armament Museum

Located seven miles north of Fort Walton Beach on the Emerald Coast of Florida’s panhandle, the Air Force Armament Museum, occupying a portion of Eglin Air Force Base, collects, preserves, displays, and interprets artifacts, weapons, bombs, and missiles from numerous wars and the aircraft that delivered them.

Eglin Air Force Base:

Eglin Air Force Base itself traces its origins to 1931, when personnel from the Army Air Corps Technical School, located at Maxwell Field in Alabama, sought a suitable site for a bombing and gunnery range. Because the forested area surrounding Valparaiso, Florida, and the expanses of the adjacent Gulf of Mexico, offered considerable potential, they set their sights on it. So, too, did James E. Plew, a local businessman and an aviation buff.

His interest, however, was financially fueled. Realizing the monetary boost to the area’s economy, which had sunken into the depths of the Depression, he leased 137 acres to the City of Valparaiso, giving rise to an airport in 1933. The following year he went a step further by donating 1,460 acres to the US government for the envisioned military facility.

Transformed into the Valparaiso Bombing and Gunnery Base on June 14, 1935 when it was officially activated, it was placed under the command of Captain Arnold H. Rich and redesignated Eglin Field two years later, on August 4, to honor Lieutenant Colonel Frederick I. Eglin of the US Air Corps, who lost his life in an aircraft accident that January.

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