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MacDill expands efforts to commemorate rich history

Construction continues at Memorial Park on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., June 27, 2018.

Construction continues at Memorial Park on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., June 27, 2018. Upon completion, the park will serve as a communal gathering place to guide visitors through MacDill’s history and host base events and ceremonies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag)

A new display at Memorial Park awaits the grand opening at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., June 27, 2018.

A new display at Memorial Park awaits the grand opening at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., June 27, 2018. These displays will include miniature models of MacDill’s most impactful historical aircraft and line the sidewalks leading to a covered pavilion and amphitheater. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Forklifts, dirt and bulldozers are no longer the main attraction as green grass and shiny flag poles hint at what's to come at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

The base's salute to its rich history, the Memorial Park expansion project, continues to progress off the curve of North and South Boundary Blvd.

The project, which began in December, will display plaques and models of the aircraft that have propelled the base since World War II. The construction also includes a covered pavilion and amphitheater to serve as a community meeting place and a venue for future base events.

With the inclusion of a heritage wall with interpretive panels detailing MacDill’s history from World War II through today, a completion date is not definitive, according to Lt. Col Brandon Leifer, the 6th Air Mobility Wing Director of Staff.

“There are six stainless steel panels that will guide visitors through our time from MacDill Field, through wars, to the mission we maintain today,” said Leifer. “Plans include a timeline to run across the bottom of the wall showing important events in MacDill’s history.”

The eight different miniature model aircraft will tell the story of MacDill through its most essential points in history. They replace full-sized aircraft that once sat as static displays, but were not feasible to maintain.

“At this point with everything that still needs to be finished, they’re only about 25 percent done with the project,” said Stephen Ove, the 6th Air Mobility Wing base historian. “The ultimate purpose comes down to three main points: cost effectiveness, community gathering and Air Force history education.”

Project expansions stem from the intention to create an inviting environment to educate all who visit about the evolution of MacDill.

“It’s important that people know our history and how what we do has worldwide impacts every day,” explained Leifer. “What this park does is tell our story.”

For now, the future home celebrating MacDill’s history remains under construction, with an estimated date of completion in at least one year.