Flag of the State of Florida on a military uniform. Photo and Caption: Bumble Dee/Shutterstock.com
Florida may not be a place you think of when you hear of the military. But did you know that Florida has over 50 military bases, with more active military members that make up 317 out of every 100,000 people among the 50 states? Well, if you didn’t, now you know.
A new analysis released by the website 24/7 Wall St says Florida has the 26th-highest share of active military personnel among Florida residents. The data was compiled on March 31, 2020 by the Defense Manpower Data Center, a service maintained by the Secretary of Defense for the Department of Defense (DOD). The amount of personnel varies from state to state, with some states having as many as 3,000 active duty personnel per 100,000 state residents while others might only have eight per 100,000 active duty personnel.
Florida has 56 military bases, with per-capita defense spending in the state estimated at $916.
According to the Department of Defense, nearly 90% of active-duty personnel are stationed on bases in the United States.
The United States military is regarded as the most capable fighting force in the world. There are nearly 1.4 million active-duty men and women serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard. The U.S. military includes an additional 804,000 Americans in the National Guard.
About Naval Station Mayport
Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Florida is the largest military base in the state of Florida. The port itself has a long history dating back to the 1500s. In 1562, French Huguenot Commodore Jean Ribault, then said to be the greatest captain on the seas, was selected by the famous Admiral Gaspard de Coligny to lead an expedition to Florida; his mission was to form a French Protestant colony. At about the same time the Spanish Fleet set sail for this area, reinforcements commanded by Jean Ribault were sent by de Coligny to the French colony. The two fleets, French and Spanish, met near the site of this base, but the Spanish retired to St. Augustine. Soon afterward, the French fleet followed to drive the Spanish away; but, as the French fleet was ready to attack, the ships were swept to the south and wrecked by a violent hurricane.
Through old maps, there is evidence of continuous occupation of the naval station site by Native Americans, Spanish, English, and Americans since the 16th Century. The Native Americans in this area were wiped out by slave traders from South Carolina under Governor Moore in the early 18th century.
During the Revolutionary War period, Florida was occupied by the English. The river was patrolled by a group of British vessels called the St. Johns Fleet, whose duty was to prevent American sympathizers from crossing the river from the south side to the north. During this time, many Spanish citizens moved into the Mayport area from the New Smyrna colony. Many of their descendants still live in the City of Mayport, adjacent to the naval station.
At the outbreak of the American Civil War, a Confederate company from Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Light Infantry, set up a fort on the present naval station.
In communication to Congress on Dec. 27, 1938, “the board recommends the establishment of a major base at Jacksonville…” The citizens of Duval County (Jacksonville) promised the Navy Department they would buy the land for the main Naval Air Base and Carrier Berthing (Naval Station Mayport).
The Navy at Mayport covers 3,409 acres and is the third largest Naval Facility in the continental United States. As a major Surface and Air Warfare organization, Mayport remains dedicated to providing “The Finest Service to the Finest Fleet.”