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My MacDill is…

In 1960 I traveled over the old brick Bayshore Blvd. to Tampa Bay’s beautiful Mac Dill A.F.B. To the 809th Medical Group. I was assigned as a corpsmen. My time there included to many stories to share. But here are a few. It included the Cuban Crisis with 4x4s rolling in three days strait with missiles, and personal. It was a scary time in Tampa and the base was on very tight security and tension was high. The south end of the base looked like a porcupine with missiles sticking out all over the beach area. Helicopters and jeeps patrolling would drop in on any stray airmen in the area. I was working an emergency extra shift midnight to 7:30 am during hurricane Donna. The wind was so strong it was pushing water through the exterior walls; we used iv kits to drain the water from behind the vinyl wall covering. At 7:30 in the morning I was shocked to see the entire bay with no water in it clear across to the far shore. The storm had come in below the bay and blown the water out. Had it come in above the bay Tampa and Mac Dill would have been in trouble.
One morning at dawn I was walking from my barracks through the woods to the fish camp I walked up on a beautiful full grown Florida Panther. It was about 50 ft. away lying across the path. I froze in my tracks with fishing pole and tackle box in my hands. I was staring it in the eye. It looked at me nonchalantly, looked to the right, looked back at me for a few seconds then slowly got up and slowly walked off into the brush. I stood there not knowing what to expect for about four minutes then went on to the fish camp thinking how lucky I was both for the encounter and the outcome. I never told anyone while still at Mac Dill. It let me live; I chose to do the same for it. I still wonder if it was able to live out it’s life there in the Mac Dill woods undisturbed.
Sincerely, David H. Marshall / New Port Richey Fla.

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