Eglin AFB was established in 1935 and was one of the key bases in preparing the country for World War II. During Vietnam, the base and its mission significantly expanded. Land has been added to the base over the years, and today Eglin has the largest test range of any other base in the Air Force.
Today, Eglin is home to several different units, including the 96th Test Wing, 33rd Fighter Wing, and the Army’s 7th Special Operations Group. The 7th Special Operations Group was only recently assigned to the base from the BRAC’d Fort Bragg.
Most airmen on this base choose to live in Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Mary Esther, Niceville, Valparaiso, and Shalimar. The areas of Crestview, Navarre, and Destin are also popular choices although some airmen are turned off by the commute from these areas.
The surrounding area contains miles of beaches including the popular Destin area. Besides the many beach activities, there are several museums, a water park, an outlet mall, and an aquarium in close proximity to the base. Pensacola is about an hour and a half’s drive away.
There are multiple private schools in the area as well as a good number of public schools. Schools in Okaloosa, Walton, and Santa Rosa counties are some of the best schools in the state. Florida uses an A to F grading system to grade their schools, and all of the schools in these two counties are rated as A schools. In addition, there is a four-year state college near the base.
Eglin AFB has one of the largest and highest rated hospital complexes in the Air Force. In addition, there are several highly-rated hospitals in the local area that airmen and their families can be assigned to if they need more specialized care.
The housing market surrounding Eglin AFB was deeply affected by the recent housing boom and bust that affected the state of Florida. As a result, the market has only recently started to stabilize. Because of the high number of foreclosures, demand for rental housing has sharply increased. While there is sufficient inventory in the market that no housing shortages have been reported, rental prices have increased slightly in the area in the past several years. It is, however, a good time to purchase a home in the area.
Eglin AFB is often considered to be one of the best assignments in the Air Force. The area has a lot of retired military, as well as a variety of jobs. While hospitality and tourism is one of the biggest employers in the area, there are also a variety of high-tech companies as well as base contractors located in the area.