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With baseball suspended for the duration of WWII, present-day McKechnie Field was closed between 1941-48 and taken over by the U.S. Army and named Camp Bradenton. Under command of Maj. Joseph H. Dunlap, it was designated a Signal Corps basic training facility and substation of Drew Field, Tampa. First troops arrived March 27, 1942. City Annex is where headquarters stood. Name was changed to Camp Weatherford in April 1943 in honor of Pfc. Willie M. Weatherford of Miami who was killed in the Philippines during WWII. Maj. Louis A. Cary became the commanding officer.
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Troops were housed in tents and used existing buildings for the mess hall and classrooms. On April 1, 1943, the 740th Signal Aircraft Warning Company was activated at Drew Field with a cadre of 37. They moved here with 300 enlisted men and officers on July 6, 1943. Arriving in New Guinea in April 1944, this unit was assigned to and became Company A of the 596th S.A.W. Bn. and later served in the Philippines and Okinawa. Marker dedicated June 17, 1993 on the 50th anniversary of the 740th and 18th reunion of the 596th by Ernest Roy Singleton, Jr., chairman.