Camp Gordon Johnston
|Carrabelle, Florida |
This site is located in the Northwest region of the state.
With the outbreak of WWII, amphibious warfare training centers were hurried into construction. Utilizing a twenty-mile stretch of Gulf Coast beach between Alligator Point and St. George Island, and including St. George and Dog Islands, construction on Camp Carrabelle was begun in July 1942. Officially designated the Amphibious Training Center (ATC), the camp covered over 100,000 acres of training area. Support troops arrived on September 10, 1942 to begin preparation for the arrival of trainees in November. Medal of Honor winner Col. Gordon Johnston was honored posthumously in January 1943 when the name of the facility was changed to recognize his distinguished service. The first unit to pass through this rugged, commando-style training was the twenty-eighth Infantry Division.
The ATC disbanded in June 1943 and was replaced in September with the Armed Service Forces (ASF) Training Center. This training was geared toward harbor craft companies and amphibian truck (DUKW) companies, which were needed in the Pacific. Allegedly referred to by columnist Walter Winchell as the “Alcatraz of the Army,” the camp was home to upwards of 30,000 troops during the later months of the war. Paratroopers from Fort Benning, Georgia conducted airborne exercises in the area.
In addition to the training function, German and Italian POWs were moved to this site in March 1944. Camp Gordon Johnston later became the second largest POW base camp in the state with branch camps at Telogia, Dale Mabry Field and Eglin Field. Prisoners housed at this site principally performed work in the military camp.
Officially closed in March 1946, a few structures and other evidence remains of what was the largest community in the region during the war. Two Florida Historical Markers commemorating those who served at Camp Gordon Johnston have been placed in the area. One such marker is found at the American Legion Hall on Oak Street in Lanark Village. Another is located in the Carabelle Beach Park on US98. Contemporary maps, which locate select base sites, are available at the Camp Gordon Johnston Museum in Carrabelle.
The Army Ground Forces