Miami Beach Training Center
|Miami Beach Training Center|
USAAF Basic Training Center No. 4
USAAF Officer Candidate School
|Miami Beach, Florida|
Officer candidates performing calisthenics on the beach, Miami Beach Training Center, Florida
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Garrison||United States Army Air Forces|
|Occupants||AAF Training Center (Basic) (Officer Candidate School)|
Opened in February 1942, the Miami Beach Training Center was one of the largest enlisted basic training centers (BTC) and officer candidate schools (OCS) of the Army Air Forces during World War II. Nearly half a million men, including matinee-idol Clark Gable, took over more than 300 hotels and apartment buildings for housing and training headquarters by the Army Air Forces Eastern Technical Training Command.
Closed in June 1944 and transferred to the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, Texas, nearly one-fourth of all Army Air Force officers and one-fifth of the military's enlisted men had been trained in Miami Beach.
With the rapid expansion of the Air Corps in 1940, the training of flying and technical personnel was emphasis ed. However, the Air Service could not ignore the need for qualified administrative officers. In fact, the need for qualified rated personnel to perform necessary flying was so critical that policies sought to relieve rated officers of nonflying duties wherever possible. This policy could be effected only through procuring and training large numbers of young men for multifarious administrative assignments.
In February 1942 General Hap Arnold directed the head of the Technical Training Command, Maj. Gen. Walter R. Weaver, to establish an Air Corps officer candidate school (OCS). Officer candidates were selected from two main categories of personnel. Former aviation cadets, eliminated for flying or physical deficiency, had first priority in assignment to OCS, provided they were recommended for officer training by their commandants. Warrant officers and enlisted men made up the second group. The qualifications for their selection established in February 1942 included age limits of 18 to 36 years, American citizenship, demonstrated capacity for leadership, physical condition as required for commissioned officers of the Army of the United States, a score of 110 or higher on the Army general classification test, and “such education or practical experience as will reasonably insure . . . satisfactory completion of the course of instruction.”
In June 1942, Miami Beach, Florida, was selected for a centralized Officer's Training School (OTS), with a mission to provide the bulk of ground administrative officers required by the AAF. In addition to the OCS school, crowded conditions at enlisted basic training facilities led to the establishment of a Basic Training Center to accommodate and train recruits. With time of the essence, the War Department leased hotels, apartment houses, and other miscellaneous building to accommodate trainees. At the peak in late 1943, the AAF housed approximately 82,000 men in some 326 hotels and apartments. The use of leased facilities was undoubtedly less satisfactory than Army cantonments would have been, but it resulted in savings in labor and critical materials at a time when the nation’s resources were hard pressed. The Senate Truman war investigating committee later concluded that facilities obtained at Miami for an annual rental of $20,000,000 would have cost $100,000,000 and have taken six months to construct.
The number of men eligible for OCS was greatly in excess of the quotas. Judicious selection of the applicants, a task assigned to local officer candidate examining boards, was both important and difficult. Twelve weeks was the standard length of the OCS course until June 1943, at which time it was extended to sixteen weeks.
The academic curriculum until January 1943 was uniform for all candidates and was presented under five headings: administration, mess, supply, transportation, and miscellaneous. In January the curriculum was divided into two phases. During the first eight weeks students were instructed in the general duties of the junior officer; for the rest of the training period candidates were assigned to one of the following specialized programs: ad jutant and personnel, supply, mess, intelligence, guard company, and training. This system continued without major alteration until October 1944, when the greatly reduced size of entering classes made specialization impracticable. Most of the instruction was conducted in classrooms, but near the end of the course the students took part in a ten-day bivouac, called field service, in which they simulated the defense of an airfield.
The wartime demand for administrative officers led it to become necessary to commission many thousands of men directly from civilian life. These individuals were predominantly men with business, teaching, or specialized experience; nearly all of them were from thirty to forty-five years old. The majority of these newly commissioned officers were assigned at once to particular jobs and given military indoctrination through local training programs. The last OTS class was graduated at Miami Beach on 1 June 1944; training of officers commissioned directly from civilian life was thereafter decentralized to the commands and stations. By then more than 13,000 students had completed the program. It was subsequently transferred to the San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center, Texas. In June 1945, only two months before it was suspended, the school was moved to Maxwell Field, Alabama. During the wartime period nearly 30,000 men were graduated from the school.
On 1 July 1944, the Air Force facilities were transferred to Personnel Distribution Command. The mission of Army Air Forces Redistribution Station No. 2 was changed from OCS and basic training to the perpetration of airmen and soldiers for overseas combat duty. AAF personnel, many who had completed basic training at Miami Beach were assigned to one of the overseas air forces, equipped and scheduled for deployment to whatever part of the world they were needed.
In September 1945, the facilities were subsequently used as a separation center for returning overseas personnel. All leases were terminated and the facilities returned to their civilian owners on 31 December 1945.
Major units assigned
- Headquarters, Technical Training Command, Fifth District, 30 November 1942 – 30 October 1941
- Basic Training Center No. 1 (Basic Military Training)
- 46th Training Wing
- 405th - 422d Training Groups
- Basic Training Center No. 4 (Officer Candidate School)
- 44th Training Wing
- 908th - 912th Training Groups
- Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
- Crave, Wesley and Cate, James, THE ARMY AIR FORCES In World War I1 Volume Six MEN AND PLANES New Imprint by the Office of Air Force History Washington, D.C., 1983
- AFHRA Search Miami Beach Center