MacDill Air Force Base is a United States Air Force installation located in western Florida, approximately 7 miles south of Tampa. MacDill AFB is home to over 3000 US Airmen in addition to over 12,000 service members and staff from over 50 mission partners. MacDill AFB is best known as being a full service support facility for air fueling operations, regardless of aircraft type or location in the world.
MacDill AFB began life in 1939 as Southeast Air Base under command of the Army Air Corps. The name the base now bears is in honor of Colonel Leslie MacDill, a World War I Army Air Corps pilot who was killed in a crash near Anacostia. Shortly after the opening of the base, it was renamed to MacDill Field.
The Army Air Corps constructed two major bases in the Tampa area prior to World War II, with MacDill field being the biggest. Despite being under the command of the Army Air Corps, the airfield was not actually considered a full military base until it was taken over by the War Department. Prior to its role as a military base, the facility worked as part of the network of the Air Defense Command, tasked with defensive air strategies within the United States.
The first units to call MacDill field home were the 29th Bombardment Group and the 44th Bombardment Group, both of which trained heavily for the inevitable hostilities brewing in Europe. Prior to US involvement in World War II, both bomber groups took part in missions to the Philippines, cryptically referred to as “Project X”. Project X was a program to ferry and escort combat aircraft to Philippine bases in support of US Military readiness.
Throughout US involvement in World War II, both the 44th and 29th Bomber Groups played a large role in operations over the Atlantic Ocean. Pilots from both bomber groups were credited with sinking German warships and supply ships. In the later years of World War II, the airfield came under control of the US Navy. As a Navy airfield, the role of the base changed to accommodate the training of pilots for deployment across the globe. In 1944, the 11th Photographic Group was stationed at the base, tasked with mapping operations in the United States and Africa. Following the surrender of Germany and Japan, the base became return spot for US troops returning from overseas theaters of war. Shortly after World War II MacDill Air Field was transferred to control of the newly established United States Air Force.
MacDill Air Force base saw a round of rapid improvement during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The United States began preparing for a full scale invasion of the Soviet backed Cuba, and MacDill Air Force Base was to play an integral role in military operations. Though significant improvements were made, plans for an invasion were never carried out and tensions at MacDill returned to normal.
In the 1990s’, MacDill was subject to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. It was decided to end all training operations in the area after years of complaints about noise by the surrounding communities. During the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, MacDill Air Force Base faced closure, but eventually was spared. MacDill Air Force Base now plays a role in countering terrorism across the globe through virtual platforms.
MacDill AFB is home to two major units of the US Air Force, the 6th Air Mobility Wing and the 927th Air Refueling Wing. Additionally, MacDill AFB hosts several major tenant units including United States Central Command, United States Special Operations Command and United States Marine Forces Command Central.
MacDill Air Force Base maintains a housing assistance program and central office for all incoming service members. Single airmen and those with families can find housing within the large base system. Airmen living in the barracks will be quickly assigned by their units, however those with families of those needy bachelor living quarters will need to fill out an application in advance.