Education > “Celebrate” Curriculum Topics > Military / Bases & Airfields

Military / Bases & Airfields

The military is a big part of Clay County’s story, dating back centuries, even before Clay County was a county.  The importance of our nation’s armed forces on Clay County’s past, current and future success cannot be overstated.  Our county’s military history also includes involvement of foreign forces, those who had a military presence here from other countries many years ago. 

For more information about our county’s military history and honored servicemen and servicewomen, please visit the TAPS Military Monument page as well.

Drawing of Fort Pupo
Civil War Map of Clay County
Aerial of Branan Field Outlying Landing Field
  • Fort San Francisco de Pupo: Located on the banks of the St Johns River, south of the Shands Bridge, on private property south of Green Cove Springs.  Fort San Francisco de Pupo is referred to as the sister fort of Fort Picolata which is directly across the river on the east bank. Fort Picolata protected the Mission San Diego de Salamototo. In 1675, Fort Pupo was initially a ferry crossing used by Spanish friars who traveled from St. Augustine to Picolata, then crossed the river to our side, the west bank. This was the starting point of the Spanish Mission Trail that went west across Florida.
  • Fort Heileman: (Middleburg) Named after Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Julius F. Heileman, was built in Middleburg in the mid-1830’s at the spot where the north and south forks of Black Creek join. It was a temporary wooden stockade used during the First Seminole War as a quartermaster work shop and storage depot. .
  • Camp Blanding Joint Training Center: Located between MIddleburg and Keystone Heights off SR 16 West. A historic North Florida National Guard installation that remains active and alive, filled with troops and their accoutrements. Learn more here. 
  • Branan Field Outlying Landing Field: Located between Middlenurg and Oakleaf areas. Read Blue Angels History in Middleburg – Branan Field OLF
  • Fleming Island Outlying Landing Field: Read Fleming Island Outlying Field and Thunderbolt Drag Strip and BCC Dedicates Neptune Park – Article June 2021
  • Lee Naval Air Station (WWII Mothball Fleet) Now the location of Reynolds Park / Clay County Port in Green Cove Springs of SR 16 East.

Regional Impact

More About Lee Naval Air Station (Mothball Fleet) – Green Cove Springs, FL

This naval station, established in 1940, trained thousands of Navy and Marine Corps pilots in Wildcats, Hellcats and Corsairs, about 15,000 sailors and about 5,000 pilots at one time. Following the Japanese surrender in 1945, the Navy downgraded the base to an auxiliary base for Jacksonville Naval Air Station and became known as Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet.  Hundreds of ships built for the war, but not currently needed, arrived in Green Cove Springs. At the end of the war with Germany and Japan, the U.S. and Soviet Union began their standoff. The ships were nearly new and the Navy wasn’t about to scrap them when the fears of another war against the Soviet Union loomed large. The solution was to find a calm, freshwater port and “mothball” the ships by sealing their guns in plastic, putting dehumidifiers inside, chipping the old paint off and repainting them with sealant. When the Cold War blossomed in late 1950 when North Korea invaded its neighbors to the south, about 150 of the ships were reactivated.

Below, photos of the Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet (“mothball fleet”) in Green Cove Springs, Florida.