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Florida's Largest Military Installation Has Trained 300,000 Soldiers.

    CAMP BLANDING, Fla.. Sept. 27
   Florida's largest military installation started its fifth year of activity on Thursday, September 14th.
   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 planned.
   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.
   Heroism, 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.
   Previous 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.

New Activity Added

   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.
   Training ranges 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 defense chief.

[The Troy Messenger, Troy, AL, 27 Sep 1944, Wed, Page 6]  

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