Helen Maass volunteered with the American Red Cross as chairman of the Nutrition Committee which helped housewives serve nutritious meals using local fruits and vegetables and what they could purchase with their ration coupons. She also helped prepare bandages and worked in the Volunteers for Victory Canteen for enlisted men on the corner of Worth Avenue and County Road. The Morrison Field Woman’s Club served as the Red Cross headquarters at the base. Many of the women volunteers had spouses stationed at the field. Women learned how to repair the vehicles they used. With gas rationing leaving many families without transportation, the motor corps drove other volunteers to their posts, transported civilians to medical appointments, and took convalescing servicemen and women on outings.
Originally from Alabama, Captain David McCampbell (1910-1996) moved with his family to West Palm Beach as a child. He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1933. While serving as the commander of Air Group 15 on the aircraft carrier USS Essex, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Roosevelt for 34 confirmed aerial victories against the Japanese, becoming the Navy’s top ace. On June 19, 1944, at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, his air group destroyed an enemy force of 80 Japanese aircraft; McCampbell shot down seven. During the Battle of Leyte Gulf, McCampbell, assisted by one plane, audaciously attacked a formation of 60 Japanese aircraft. He personally destroyed nine planes. The other enemy aircraft retreated. McCampbell’s other awards included the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He retired in 1964 and lived in Lake Worth, Florida.
Robert L. Mosley’s (b. 1923) famous brother Zack, taught him how to fly. Robert served in the CAP then joined the Army Air Corps flying combat missions in the South Pacific. He remained in the reserves and flew combat missions during the Korean and Vietnam wars. When he retired in 1973, he had flown 13,000 hours, 182 combat missions in three wars, and six years as a test pilot.
Cartoonist Zack Mosley (1906-1993) an avid aviator from Stuart, Florida, created the syndicated “On the Wing” (later changed to “Smilin’ Jack”) cartoon strip in 1933 for the Chicago Tribune. Syndicated in over 300 newspapers, it ran until 1973 when Zack retired. He joined the Coastal Patrol Base 3, Civil Air Patrol, shortly after it was formed. When Coastal Patrol 3 moved to Lantana Airfield, Zack moved his art studio into a corner of the hanger so he could continue to work on his strip using fellow pilots as inspiration for his characters. Mosley flew 300 hours during his time in the CAP, and earned the US military’s Air Medal. In 1976 he was inducted into the US Air Force’s Hall of Fame. He was the author of several books, including his autobiography, Brave Coward Zack. Mosley created the unit insignia as seen over his right shoulder after the aircraft were armed with bombs. The insignia was also used as the unit’s patch. During World War II, Zack Mosley continued to draw his “Smilin’ Jack” comic strip. Smilin’ Jack even joined the US Army Air Corps. Zack also used his creative talents to draw unit insignia for the military and the Civil Air Patrol. As part of the CAP Public Relations section, Zack drew comic strips and posters about the roles of the CAP. In particular, he drew upon his experiences with Coast Patrol Base 3 and the mission of the coastal patrols who hunted the dreaded German U-boats as well as the other missions the volunteers performed. In this 1943 poster, Mosley briefly explains some of the history of the CAP including the uniform and the fact that the CAP was transferred from the Office of Civilian Defense to the War Department.
From Chicago, Harvard graduates Charles (1885-1981), Gurnee (1880-1960), and Ector Munn (1891-1955) made Palm Beach their winter home. From a very wealthy family, Charles and Gurnee founded and invested in several companies throughout their adulthood. One of those was the American Totalisator Co. (AmTote). Charles became the first president and later chairman of the board and Gurnee the vice president. In the 1940s, they invested in the Eckert-Mauchley Computer Corporation, which developed the Univac computer, the first general purpose computer in the world. During World War I, Charles served as an officer in the navy; Gurnee enlisted as a lieutenant in the army; and Ector served in an army aviation squadron. During World War II, the three were members of the Coastal Patrol 3, CAP, flying anti-submarine patrols. Late in the war, in some capacity, Ector was engaged in intelligence gathering in France for the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. One of his investigations was about the June 1944 Oradour massacre. Charles (l) and Gurnee (r) at Hialeah Race Track.
Vince Nelson (1908-1968), a local legend and conservationist, was known as Trapper Nelson. He lived along the Loxahatchee River and had built a camp with a zoo that was frequented by locals and visitors. He was drafted in 1942, went to basic training in Texas, and then was stationed at Camp Murphy (adjacent to his camp) as an MP. He died under mysterious circumstances at his camp in 1968.
More than 3,000 Palm Beach County men and women joined the armed forces during World War II. The City of Pahokee proudly posted a large sign listing all the residents from the city who joined the military during the war. As they added to the alphabetical list, they just started it over again, therefore it is necessary to check through the entire list to find loved ones. The city of West Palm Beach created a poster after the war which listed over 2,114 men and women who had served in the military. The Historical Society of Palm Beach County also combed through the Palm Beach Post and Post Times, the largest local newspapers for the names of those who served. Those morning and evening papers would mention when a local was transferred, visited home, or was killed.
A 17 year Palm Beach County Commissioner, John Prince (1892-1952) was instrumental in acquiring the land around Lake Osborne for a park. When World War II began, part of the land was taken to build Lantana Airport. Prince served in both the Florida Defense Force and the Civil Air Patrol. He had been a lieutenant in the U.S. Army infantry and served in Europe during the first war.
© Historical Society of Palm Beach County.