Camp Blanding originally opened in 1939 as a state-owned training facility for the Florida National Guard. The world had other ideas, however. Camp Blanding was enlarged and converted to a federal reserve as the U.S. Army expanded for WWII.
Hundreds of thousands of troops trained at Camp Blanding. Infantry, Cavalry, Tank Destroyer, Field Artillery, Engineer, Medical, and other specialist troops trained here. Nine full Infantry Divisions trained here, as well, including the 1st ID (aka the Big Red One), the 29th ID, the 30th ID, the 31st ID, the 36th ID, the 43rd ID, the 63rd ID, the 66th ID, and the 79th ID.
The camp also served as an Infantry Replacement Center for most of 1944 and 1945. A large percentage of U.S. soldiers sent to replenish WWII combat infantry ranks trained here. The Camp also held a 2800-bed hospital and a German POW Compound. Near the war’s end, it also served as a Separation Center.
After WWII, Camp Blanding reverted to state control. Today the facility serves as a Joint Training Site for the National Guard and other Reserve forces, along with some training of active duty troops.
Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park
Camp Blanding Museum and Memorial Park is located just outside the main gate of Camp Blanding, housed in a WWII era barracks. Visitors will immediately notice the collection of WWII era armament outside, including an M4 Sherman Tank, an M3 Half-Track, and an M16 Half-Track!
Inside you’ll find exhibits filled with artifacts, photographs, weaponry, and uniforms. You’ll see exhibits about German prisoners of war held here, and another containing an entire military Jeep! Founded in 1990, the museum’s mission is to collect artifacts and materials related to the history of the camp and the veterans and units that came through here.
Outside, in the Memorial Park, you’ll find monuments honoring the Army Infantry Divisions and the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment who trained here. Other monuments honor recipients of the Medal of Honor, the Purple Hear,t and former Prisoners of War. The park also contains the Florida Regimental Memorial, dedicated to the service and memory of Florida National Guardsmen.
The facility, inside and out, is a fascinating look at America’s military history. It’s also a great place to remember and honor the sacrifices so many have made to keep our country free.
Camp Blanding Museum
5629 SR 16 West, Building 3040, Starke, Florida 32091
Open daily, Noon to 4pm
(Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas)
Camp Blanding Lodging
Hampton Lake Bed & Breakfast is only 20 minutes drive from Camp Blanding. Our North Florida B&B is located on the shores of a beautiful, natural cypress lake. Our Florida lakefront B&B offers 180 feet of waterfront and a dock for all kinds of recreating in the cool, spring-fed waters. Fishing, swimming, and spectacular sunsets are yours when you stay at Hampton Lake Bed & Breakfast!