Naval Air Station Pensacola was the first Naval Air Station commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1914, often referred to as “The Cradle of Naval Aviation.” Situated in Escambia County, Florida this Station employs more than 16,000 military and 7,400 civilian personnel. It is well-known for the advanced training programs for the Marine Corps and Navy and Coast Guard Aviators and Officers. The base serves as the home of the Blue Angels Squadron, who train to perform extraordinary flight demonstrations. The base is also home to famous attractions such as the National Naval Aviation Museum, the Pensacola Lighthouse, Ft Barrancas National Park, and Barrancas National Cemetery.
NAS Pensacola is important to the local economy and community as a whole, the base located in our backyard is an important source of Community pride and patriotic spirit. The Perdido Area Chamber Foundation Military Council is committed to making our area a desirable community for military families to live, work, and play. Your support is imperative for us to meet this mission. This opportunity to give back to those who keep on giving to our country, our community, and our businesses turned into an opportunity for community collaboration behind one common goal. The military support in our community is apparent and strong.
The Perdido Area Chamber Foundation Military Council is committed to making our area a desirable community for military families to live, work, and play. Your support is imperative for us to meet this mission. This opportunity to give back to those who keep on giving to our country, our community, and our businesses turned into an opportunity for community collaboration behind one common goal. The military support in our community is apparent and strong. To meet our mission, the Military Council has named May Military Appreciation Month to highlight the importance of our Sailors and Soldiers to the local community and the country as a whole.
The first Saturday of May is recognized as Rosamond Johnson Jr. Day, when the life of Private Rosamond Johnson Jr., the first citizen from Escambia County to die in the Korean War, will be commemorated during a public ceremony at Johnson Beach in Perdido Key on May 7, 2022.
Hosted by Gulf Islands National Seashore and the Perdido Area Chamber Foundation, the annual ceremony is a tribute to Private Rosamond Johnson Jr, a 17-year-old African American who, under enemy fire, pulled two comrades to safety and was killed while trying to rescue a third. After joining the military when he was just 15 years old, Private Johnson was killed in action on July 26, 1950, at the age of 17 during the Korean Conflict. He posthumously received the Purple Heart on August 21, 1950. Veteran groups continue to seek additional military honors for him. During the early days of an integrated military, it was not uncommon for recognition to be overlooked for black troops.
Pensacola’s beaches were racially segregated at the time of Johnson’s death; the Gulf Beach area was a popular area for blacks. After the Korean Conflict, the county-owned recreational area was renamed to honor its fallen hero at the suggestion of the Sunset Riding Club, Inc. The club leased the land in 1950 from the county for the sole use of the bathing, beach, and recreational facilities for “colored citizens.” Although the lease was canceled in 1956, the name Rosamond Johnson Beach remained. The area became part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore on May 8, 1973. A permanent monument in Johnson’s honor was erected at Johnson Beach on June 10, 1996.
The third Saturday in May is nationally recognized as Armed Forces appreciation day. The Perdido Area Chamber Foundation along with the office of Morale, Welfare, and Recreation of NAS Pensacola, work together to create an event like no other to show our military personnel how important their presence is in our community is to us. The Star-Spangled Salute Military Appreciation Festival will be held on May 21, 2022. The event is free and open to active duty and retired military, DOD, and their family members. This festival is our way of saying thank you to all Military members and their families and showing our gratitude for the sacrifices they make day in and day out to keep our country safe.
The festival will feature a day of family-focused games and activities, and multi-cultural entertainment for all ages culminating with a stage show of professional dancers and musicians from the Pacific Islands. Perdido Key community organizations, businesses, and volunteers work together so these patriots can enjoy a day making memories with their loved ones and leave with the knowledge of the pride and gratitude our community feels for their service.
Contact us today to help create a month that will surely mean the world to our military community.