By Ken Kaye - Sun Sentinel
Ever wonder why Broward County's main commercial airport has such a long name? Credit – or blame – Edgar "Buddy" Galvin. He's the man who put the Hollywood in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
In the early 1960s, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce wanted to rename what was then Broward International Airport to something jazzier to attract more tourists. Galvin, a member of a countywide aviation committee at the time, told the Fort Lauderdale officials they would be remiss if they didn't include "Hollywood" in the airport's name. “The name Hollywood is better known than that of Fort Lauderdale,” he said. “It would not be the best thing for the community if it is omitted.”
The Broward County Commission agreed and gave the airport its current name in October 1963. More than five decades later, Galvin, 94, marvels at how dramatically the airport has grown. In 1959, it served 134,773 passengers compared to 24.6 million passengers in 2014, its busiest year ever. "Every time I come to the airport, I'm amazed, seeing all these big planes," he said. "When I first got here, it was nothing." Merrilyn Rathbun, research director for the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, said adding Hollywood to the name of the airport "just made sense." "Hollywood in the 1950s might have been a little better known around the nation. Then, after 'Where the Boys Are,' the name Fort Lauderdale just exploded all over the place," she said, referring the movie that popularized spring break.
Galvin, a former Hallandale commissioner and mayor, played a role in another important piece of airport history. While in the Navy, he participated in the search for Flight 19, the squadron of Navy torpedo bombers that vanished in December 1945, popularizing the Bermuda Triangle. The five planes had taken off from Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale, which today is the airport. Galvin rode along in a Navy plane to search the Atlantic. "We would make a trip out and look for those guys for hours at a time, come back, rest, and go back out again. We did this for a week and, of course, found nothing," he said.
These days, Galvin visits the airport frequently as a volunteer at the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum. He tells visitors about his experiences during World War II, when he was an aerial navigator on Navy B-24 Liberators. While based in England, Galvin completed 30 missions performing anti-submarine patrols and received three medals, including the distinguished flying cross. "He loves being a volunteer and talking with veterans and children," said Minerva Bloom a museum docent. "He's very informative."
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