Thursday, February 4, 2010

Camp Blanding - Florida ANG Museum

A little bit warmer and the sun is out so we're going to do a little road trip over to Camp Blanding. Camp Blanding was started in 1940 as as a training facility for the Florida National Guard, and it is still used for that today, but with the start of WWII the US War Department took over the camp and expanded it to 170,000 acres (property that was originally part of the J.C.Penney Farm) making it the 4th largest city in Florida. Many of the Infantry Divisions of WWII were trained here including the 1st,29th,30th,31st,36th,43rd,63rd,66th and 79th.

Probably the best known is the "Big Red One" because of the movie with the same name.

The museum is located just outside the main gate so there is no security to go through when you enter, it's a smaller museum but is set up along the time line of the camp and follows the different stages that it went through. During WWII, German POW's were housed here, they found that when they put the Navy POW's in with the Army POW's that they hated each other and were constantly fighting so they had to have to separate barracks one for the Army and one for the Navy. After the war many of the POW's returned here when the could and stayed to become US citizens.

When General Wainwright (defender of Bataan) retired he moved to the small town of Starke right near the camp, many of his military artifacts are on display here.

Memorial Park is located across the street and behind the museum, here there are many monuments dedicated to the different units that trained here at Camp Blanding along with many pieces of equipment on display. One of the unique displays is a replica of a “Fire-base” fortification as they used in Vietnam.

The museum is housed in an original WWII barracks that was used for visiting family members and VIP's. There is no fee but the do accept donation and there is a small museum store. We spent about two hours total to see everything but be sure to eat before coming here because the nearest restaurant is about 20 miles.

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