ed, white, and blue….and green; 

emerald green that is. The 

shores of the beautiful Emerald 

Coast are home to thousands of military 

families. This area is extremely unique 

because all fi ve military branches are 

at work here; Army, Air Force, Navy, 

Coast Guard and Marines. As you are 

relaxing on the beach with your friends 

and family, it is not uncommon to see 

jets of the United States Air Force 

fl ying overhead. Eglin Air Force Base 

has played a part in airpower history for 

over 65 years. Valparaiso, Florida was 

chosen by the Army Air Corps Tactical 

School in 1931 as the perfect location 

for a bombing and gunnery range. The 

open land and dense forests adjacent to 

the Gulf of Mexico continue to make 

Eglin Air Force Base an ideal spot for 

military training exercises. Eglin is also 

home to many Army soldiers, including 

the elite 7th Special Forces Group and 

6th Ranger Training Battalion. 

Neighboring Eglin Air Force Base is 

Hurlburt Field, where more members 

of the United States Air Force work 

and train, including the 1st Special 

Operations Group. There is also 

Duke Field, which hosts the 919th 

Special Operations Wing, employing 

around 1,300 reservists. Located on 

Choctawhatchee Bay at the east end 

of Okaloosa Island is the U.S. Coast 

Guard Station Destin. Commissioned 

in 1977, their primary missions include 

search and rescue and a wide range of 

law enforcement activities. If you hear 

any loud booms while walking through 

your neighborhood, it could be the 

Navy or the Marines training at the 

Explosive Ordnance Disposal School.

Each military member and their 

families in our area play a critical 

role not only professionally, but 

also within our community. With 

so many selfl ess and courageous 

military members working and living 

throughout the Destin and Fort 

Walton areas, it is no surprise that 

the members of the community are 

full of military pride. Countless local 

restaurants and businesses show their 

appreciation by offering discounts to 

military members and their families. 

The famous HarborWalk Village 

commends our heroes with a red, white 

and blue celebration every Thursday 

throughout the summer. There is live 

entertainment, kids crafts and face 

painting. The real show stopper is 

watching the WWII replica fi ghter 

planes soaring and looping through the 

sky as they perform and aerial smoke 

show high above the HarborWalk 

Village. The evening concludes with a 

stunning fi rework show lighting up the 

Destin Harbor night sky. It is moments 

like this that make the people of the 

Emerald Coast proud to be Americans, 

and forever grateful for the men and 

women who fi ght to keep us safe. 

Armed Services

Saluting our Troops

story by

 Courtney Murray

31 Armed Services splash.indd   1

6/25/18   2:32 PM