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When Vero Beach Was “In The Mood”

During World War II, the Heritage Center was the hot spot for servicemen to dance with local beauties – strictly chaperoned by their mothers, of course.

Servicemen and Bombadears dance in the main hall. Wally Skiscim, later a well-known local businessman, is pictured on the right.

Servicemen and Bombadears dance in the main hall. Wally Skiscim, later a well-known local businessman, is pictured on the right.

Love is a prominent theme for February, and with that in mind, the next time you drive by or pay a visit to the Heritage Center in downtown Vero Beach, imagine what it must have been like back at the height of World War II when our town was brimming with strapping young sailors. Oh, to be a young, single woman in 1944 dancing the jitterbug at one of the many Servicemen Dances regularly held there!

In 1942, the U.S. Navy selected the Vero Beach municipal airport as the site for a Naval Air Station and purchased an additional 1,500 acres surrounding the airport. Pilot training at the NAS began in February 1943, and at the peak of its activity, involved 1,400 servicemen and 250 planes. After the war ended, the Navy closed the station and returned the airport to the city.

Read the entire article in the February 2013 issue