|Starke, Florida |
This site is located in the Northeast region of the state.
Camp Blanding is located approximately eleven miles east of Starke, Florida on SR16
Owing to the U.S. Navy’s desire to locate a naval air station on the site of the Florida National Guard’s Camp Foster near Jacksonville, a land swap was arranged. As a consequence, the National Guard relocated its training facility in mid-1939 to 30,000 undeveloped acres east of Starke, Florida in Clay County. In tribute to Gen. Albert Hazen Blanding, active Florida Guardsman and President Roosevelt’s National Bureau Chief from 1936-1940, the new camp was named Camp Blanding.
With the mobilization effort prior to the outbreak of WWII, the U.S. Army leased the facility for use as a training camp. Over 170,000 acres were eventually brought under the control of the camp. Crystal Lake Air Base was also located on the site. Described as Florida’s fifth largest city, more than 800,000 recruits trained at this site between 1940 and 1945. Basic training and field training was provided the 1st, 29th, 30th, 31st, 36th, 43rd, 63rd 66th, and 79th Infantry Divisions as well as the 508th Parachute infantry Regiment. Later in the war, personnel designated for infantry replacement units received instruction here.
As early as January 1942, Camp Blanding became home to Central American civilian “enemy aliens” and later that year U-boat captives. Before the close of the war, Blanding would become the largest POW base camp within the state with upwards of 1,000 prisoners at any one time.
With the end of the war in 1945, the facility became a separation center. Reverting back to Florida National Guard control, Camp Blanding today is a vibrant military installation in excess of 70,000 acres serving the training needs of National Guardsmen and Active Army Reserves from throughout the United States.