TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
In the Tyndall name there is honor among its legacy that is proceeded by a deep rooted sense of family.
Mary Tyndall Troff, daughter of Florida native and World War I pilot Lt. Frank B. Tyndall, 2nd Bombardment Group from Langley Field, Virginia, was only a child when she learned of her father’s military career. She recalled the moment she learned that an Airfield in the swamps of Florida would bear her family’s name.
“One of the care takers just came over and put a letter on the table, we opened it and said there was a ceremony for my father,” Mary said. “Tyndall (AFB) was named for my father and I am very, very proud. He died when I was seven months old and I never got to meet him, but I’ve always been proud.”
Tyndall was credited with shooting down six German planes behind enemy lines in 1918. While inspecting Army fields near Mooresville, North Carolina on July 15, 1930, Tyndall's plane crashed, killing him instantly.
Since the naming of the Airfield in 1941, it has gone through generations of Airmen, families and missions. It has been home to many Airmen – which, to the Tyndall family, just adds to their family.
Thousands of Airmen and their families have since called Tyndall home. After the hurricane, many were displaced and were forced to leave a part of them behind.
Mary was heart-broken after watching the news of Hurricane Michael devastating her father’s base. She went straight to pen and paper when she learned that the base could possibly see a shut down, and sent it straight to the wing commander.
‘I just want you to know that I am very concerned about Tyndall Air Force Base and for all of you who have been affected by Hurricane Michael,’ Mary’s letter started.
Her tie to the base is not just namesake, it’s a part of who the family is today.
As time went on, Mary kept in constant contact with her family. Making sure they all knew what was happening with the then looming base closure rumors after the hurricane.
Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, received the handwritten letter from Mary and with no hesitations requested she come see with her own eyes, how the base was being rebuilt. The Tyndall family quickly accepted, wanting to know more.
“We needed to come down to know it’s still here,” said Mary.” It was very scary not knowing what was going to happen.”
Accompanied by her three daughters, the family surveyed sections of the base, remembering trips and summers spent on the installation. During their visit, several Airmen throughout the base attended a lunch where they were able to meet the Tyndall family. As the lunch went on, Airmen were able to talk about their experiences before, during and after the hurricane and how they are staying resilient.
The 325th Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Craig Williams, led the Tyndall women through an extensive tour as they saw homes ripped apart, boats flipped and accumulated piles of debris stacked alongside roads around the base. Along with destruction, they were also greeted with the visible change and reconstruction being done at every corner of the installation.
“We were worried about the base and it’s wonderful to see that you guys are doing well and its coming back,” Mary mentioned. “I just want all of you to know that I am deeply concerned, and my hopes for Tyndall Air Force Base and its renovation are strongly on my mind and in my heart.”
In October of 2018, Vice Pres. Mike Pence reassured the public with the statement “We will rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base.”
As the Tyndall family pulled away from the installation, their hearts are still with the Airmen knowing that it will be back, stronger than ever before.
Mary was very grateful for having the chance to see the installation, her fathers’ legacy, being rebuilt.
When asked what her reaction is to seeing its current state she replied with a smile on her face, ‘It’s coming back!’