Military annually brings $5.2 billion to Okaloosa County

Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 06:49 PM.

Visitors to Crestview sometimes flinch when a C-130 Hercules lumbers overhead on final approach to Duke Field — sometimes so low that folks on the ground can wave to pilots.

Just as the roar of Eglin's F-35 fighters often surprise south county visitors, but not people who live there, north county residents are used to the four-engine turbo-prop planes.

It's just the "sound of freedom," they say. And for many, it's also the sound of the region's economic engine.


The north county's eight-decade involvement with the military dates back to the 1930s and a Depression-era project that employed local workers to service Pensacola Naval Air Station planes landing in Crestview.

The aircraft, stationed at Crestview's old American Legion Field, joined planes from Maxwell Field Station in Montgomery in area exercises. The Maxwell planes eventually landed at a Valparaiso airfield, according to "Crestview: The Forkland,” by Betty Curenton and Claudia Patten.

The $2,000 allocated to improve and develop the Valparaiso field and build hangars for the Maxwell planes marked the origin of Eglin Field, a U.S. Army Air Corps training post.

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