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Wilmington on track to become first World War II City

Below you can find the most recent press release from the office of U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre as well as the most recent information on the legislation.

Senator Richard Burr adds language to pending Senate overall bill on “American World War II City”

North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, recently added language to the chairman’s overall pending Senate veterans affairs bill to establish a process in the Department of Veterans Affairs to designate cities as an “American World War II City.” Wilmington would be designated the first. The recognition would be based on what the city did to support the war effort, and what it has done since to preserve that history. At last report, the bill could go to the floor for a vote any day.

As Chairman of the World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition, Jones has been working with U.S. Representative Mike McIntyre (7th District, N.C.) Since 2008 to seek this national recognition. Subsequently, they have worked closely with the staffs of Sen. Burr and North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan.

In October 2013, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2189 (which contained similar language), 404-1, which then went to the Senate for action.

Jones enlisted strong regional support for this project from Governor McCrory.
Wilmington City Council, New Hanover County Commissioners, N.C. Rep. Ted Davis, Jr., Wilmington International Airport, Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, and many others.


American World War II City Bill – Wilmington First Designee – Passes U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation, authored by Congressman Mike McIntyre, to designate at least  one city in the United States each year as an “American World War II City”, with the first being Wilmington because of the city’s remarkable contributions to the U.S. war efforts during World War II.

McIntyre has been working with Captain Wilbur Jones and World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition for the last couple of years to bring this national recognition to Wilmington.

Congressman McIntyre stated, “This is a great day for the City of Wilmington, the World War II Home Front Heritage Coalition, and the celebration of Wilmington’s long and distinguished contributions to the World War II effort.  This bill will ensure that and will also set in place a procedure for other cities to receive this rightful designation.  As a nation, we should never forget the tireless efforts of those who supported our brave men and women in uniform, and Wilmington leads the way with its exemplary community contributions and effort.  I encourage the US Senate to immediately pass this important bill!”

Under the legislation, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs would designate at least one city in the United States each year as an “American World War II City” based on a set of criteria that includes: contributions to the war effort, efforts to preserve the history of the city’s contributions, and the presence of military facilities within the city.

Among the City of Wilmington’s contributions include:

  • During World War II, Wilmington was the country’s unique wartime boomtown, aptly and officially named “The Defense Capital of the State.”
  • Wilmington based and trained all five military services—the Air Force at the Wilmington Airport, the Army at Camp Davis and Fort Fisher, the Navy at Fort Caswell, the Coast Guard at Wrightsville Beach, and the Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune.
  • The North Carolina Shipbuilding Company of Wilmington, the state’s largest employer at that time, constructed 243 cargo vessels with which to provide goods and equipment to our soldiers.
  • Wilmington provided the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad headquarters, three housing camps for German prisoners of war, a major training base for P-47 fighters, defense industries producing goods and equipment, a British patrol base, and a shipping point for Lend Lease supplies to the Allies.
  • Wilmington’s dispatched thousands of its sons and daughters to fight the enemy on land, sea, and air as Navy frogmen, P-51 fighter aces, Tuskegee Airmen, submarine skippers, bomber pilots, Marine riflemen, Army artillerymen, physicians and nurses, and volunteers of all sorts.
  • Wilmington tragically lost 248 men as a result of their courageous efforts to defend America and two New Hanover High School graduates received the Congressional Medal of Honor and numerous others received high decorations for valor, including Navy Crosses, Distinguished Service Crosses, and Distinguished Flying Crosses.
  • Wilmington’s strategic position made it vulnerable to enemy attack by German U-boats, which marauded shipping off our beaches.  In July 1943 a U-boat fired at the Ethel-Dow chemical plant in Wilmington, perhaps the only German attack on America.  Wilmington endured this attack, as well as constant civilian defense restrictions and air raid drills, including black-outs and dim-outs.  The city’s population more than doubled with the influx of military personnel, forcing locals to cope with strain on housing and schools, transportation, medical and social services, law enforcement, and food supply.


Wilmington on track to become first World War II City

In the push to hail Wilmington as an American World War II City, the hard part is over.

On Monday, a bill to so designate at least one U.S. city each year, with Wilmington being the first, passed the U.S. House of Representatives, which puts the measure on track to be considered by the U.S. Senate. Then the proposal would go to the president for his signature.



Wilmington’s Contribution to the War Effort Gets Due Recognition

It won’t bring in extra tax revenue, or lure new businesses. It is nowhere near the top of our nation’s list of most pressing issues. But the U.S. House’s passage of a bill naming Wilmington the first American World War II City means a lot to this community. And it should.

It is a recognition of this city’s important efforts on the home front as our boys fought the Axis powers in Europe and the Pacific.

Most of the credit for pursuing and pressing for passage of this bill goes to Wilbur Jones, a retired Navy captain and local historian who has spent his retirement years documenting the role Wilmington played during World War II.