Thursday, February 19, 2015

WWII titans meet in Pompano Beach 1941

Crimean conference, 1945 L to R: 
Sec. of State Edward Stettinius, 
Maj. Gen. L. S. Kuter, Admiral E. J. King, 
Gen. George C. Marshall, 
Amb. Averill Harriman, Admiral William Leahy, 
President F. D. Roosevelt. Crimea, Russia. LOC

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Among the famous and powerful to visit South Florida during the 1940s was General George C. Marshall (b. 1880-d. 1959), U.S. Army Chief of Staff, who flew in unannounced to the Fort Lauderdale Municipal Airport Nov. 16, 1941.

Marshall “blitzkrieged the entire county” while he paid a visit to Edward Stettinius, Jr. (b. 1900 - d. 1949), former lend-lease administrator who was vacationing in Pompano Beach. The visit was termed social but turmoil in international affairs hinted at another reason for the brief overnight stay. Pearl Harbor was a few weeks away.

Pompano remained “blissfully unaware” of the confab until after Marshall’s departure at 7 a.m. the following day aboard a Great Douglas Bomber or C-41 (Eastern Airlines acquired a few C-41s and changed the designation to DC-3). The four-star general and his pilot, Major L.R. Parker, headed to North Carolina to fly over a maneuver area before landing in Washington, D.C.

Stettinius, who later served as secretary of state under President Truman, hosted Winston
Churchill in Pompano a few years later. It gave rise to the local myth that Churchill and President Roosevelt met at Cap’s Place for dinner when, in fact, food from the restaurant (and former gambling hub) was delivered to the Stettinius residence for the prime minister’s visit. Roosevelt had suggested Churchill visit Florida (without the president) when he needed a breather from the prime minister who had been in Washington. (In Pompano,Churchill totally disrobed at the ocean's edge and fell into the water, dousing his cigar, according to a Secret Service agent.) 

General Marshall encouraged U.S. assistance in the post-WWII economic recovery of Europe, thus the naming of the Marshall Plan, an unprecedented $17 billion program that helped restore war-ravaged countries. Marshall also served as the nation’s third secretary of defense and as secretary of state under Truman.  Copyright © 2015. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.
Fort Lauderdale Daily News, Nov. 17, 1941.
Manchester, William and Reid, Paul. The Last Lion, Vol. 3: Defender of the Realm. 2012. 

Tags: WWII, Pompano Beach history, Florida during WWII, Gen. George Marshall, Edward Stettinius, Jr., film researcher

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