Camp Blanding was a major U.S. Army training facility during the Second World War. It was originally established as a state-owned training reservation in 1939 for the Florida National Guard. However, as war clouds materialized, the mobilization of reserve forces and the rapid expansion of the entire United States Army required Camp Blanding to be converted to a federal reservation. It was subsequently enlarged to house two complete infantry divisions along with many separate units.
Prior to turning Camp Blanding into an Infantry Replacement Center (IRTC) in 1943, dozens and dozens of army formations comprising hundreds of thousands of troops trained at Camp Blanding. Included were formations of Infantry, Cavalry, Tank Destroyer, Field Artillery, Engineer, Medical and other specialist troops. Nine entire Infantry Divisions trained at Camp Blanding:
1st ID (Big Red One), 29th ID (Blue & Gray), 30th ID (Old Hickory), 31st ID (Dixie), 36th ID (Texas), 43rd ID (Winged Victory), 63rd ID (Blood and Fire), 66th ID (Panther) and the 79th ID (Cross of Lorainne).
For most of 1944 and 1945, a very large percentage of the individuals sent to replenish the ranks of America’s combat infantry formations trained at the Camp’s IRTC. In Addition, the Camp was the site of a 2800-bed hospital, a German Prisoner of War Compound and at the war’s end, a Separation Center.
Following the war, Camp Blanding reverted to state control, and today is a Joint Training Site for the National Guard and other Reserve Components and some Active Component training.