Camp Blanding: what was a major U.S. Army training facility during WWII is now a fascinating military museum and memorial park in Starke, FL.
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.
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