Florida's Largest Military Installation
Has Trained 300,000 Soldiers.
CAMP BLANDING, Fla.. Sept. 27
largest military installation started its fifth year of activity on Thursday,
Soldiers and civilians of the Station Complement continued
at their duties of facilitating the training of infantry soldiers at the
13-months-old Infantry Replacements Training Center. No celebration was
Behind them was a story of four busy years that have seen a
scrub oak and pine jungle turned into a community equivalent in size to
Florida's fifth largest city, with 125 miles of paved roads, utilities equal
to those of a city of 100,000 and two huge groups of training ranges, in
an area of some 150,000 acres.
History of Camp
Activated on September
14, 1940, Camp Blanding has seen over 150 Army units ranging in size from
11-man postal units to nine full-size divisions. It is estimated that some
300,000 men have trained or passed through the post, exclusive of the 90,000-odd
processed at the Reception Center between December, 1940, and February,
1944. In addition, some 200,000 Floridians have paid their call at the Induction
Center since it opened the first week in December, 1940.
Among the nine divisions which trained at Camp Blanding following
the arrival of the
Thirty-First "Dixie Division of the National Guardsmen in December, 1940, were six already
announced as in combat. These are the First, which fought in Africa, Sicily
and France; the Thirty-sixth, veterans of Italy and Southern France; the
Twenty-ninth, Thirtieth and Seventy-ninth, in the Battle of France; and
the Forty-third in the South Pacific. In addition, the 508th Parachute Battalion
and the Sixteenth Evacuation Hospital were announced in combat.
including the sacrifice of life, has marked the combat careers of many Blanding-trained
soldiers. Col. Loren P. Stewart, early post executive officer, gave his
life in the Philippines and his memory is marked by the naming of the camp
parade grounds after him. Streets were named for Capt. William H. Sutton
and Capt. Jonathan Yerke, Jr., both Jacksonville residents, who died in
North Africa. Col. E. C. Rose, seventh commander of the post, hailed the
pioneers and those who followed for making this station one which now has
much to offer to the eye and the comfort of its personnel. To those hardy
souls who brought Camp Blanding out of the sand dunes and swamps, and to
those who continued its improvement, we owe a debt of gratitude.
commanders were: Major R. R. Raymond, Col. R. H. , Kelley, now retired and
living in Melrose nearby; Maj Gen. John J. Persons, Major Gen. Morris B.
Payne, Brig. Gen. L. A. Kunzig, and Col. Waiter E. Smith.
One year ago Camp Blanding's facilities were concentrated on a new
task, with the activation of an Infantry Replacement Training Center on
August 4, 1943, under command of Brig. Gen. E. W. Fales.
were doubled in number and scope, and the intensive 17-week course has fashioned
thousands of foot soldiers for the 1944 combat campaigns.
The land on
which all Camp Blanding's buildings and other improvements are located is
the property of the Florida National Guard, purchased in 1939 when the former
National Guard camp, Camp Foster, outside Jacksonville, was turned over
to the Navy for an air base.
Land on which Camp Blanding's North Range is
located is the property of the Federal government, and only the unimproved,
backwoods maneuver area is under lease from private owners. The post was
named for Major Gen. Albert H. Blanding, World War I commander of the Thirty-first
Dixie Division, later National Guard bureau chief, and present Florida State
[The Troy Messenger, Troy, AL, 27 Sep
1944, Wed, Page 6]