Military Bases in the Coastal Plains

Before World War II military bases camps began to sprout up throughout Georgia. These bases and camps help prepare and train soldiers for battle. Throughout the coastal plains region many major cities leaders lobbied for positioning of these bases. However some camps and air fields have disappeared. In Albany, Georgia during World War II two air fields established trained British and American pilots. Many soldiers decided to stay or return to Albany after the War. Today the air fields are nonexistent. Another example; Camp Wheeler, located close to Macon, GA, had a long important history. It was a on and off military camp for the US Army in both World War I and World War II. In addition to its training facility for troops it served as a prisoner of war camp in World War II and was the hub of a series of satellite camps throughout central Georgia.

For more information on the history and location of Camp Wheeler click here.

This list of bases still exist throughout the coastal plains of Georgia.

Moody Air Force Base Valdosta, Georgia

In late 1940 Emory Bass, a prominent Valdosta citizen, sent letters to Georgia senators Walter F. George and Richard B. Russell Jr. requesting their assistance in obtaining a defense project on the 9,300-acre Lakeland Flatwoods Project near Valdosta. Soon thereafter, at a meeting in Vienna, in Dooly County, Senator George assured local residents that he would cooperate. After months of intense lobbying, the U.S. Congress authorized the establishment of a base, and construction on the base began in June 1941. Valdosta Field opened on September 15, 1941. The field was later renamed in honor of Major George Putnam Moody, who was killed in May 1941 in Wichita, Kansas, while test-piloting a Beech AT-10 transitional trainer.

From February 1942 to April 1945 army air force undergraduate pilot training at Moody generated 7,212 pilots. Cadets received a total training program of seven months that consisted of preliminary flight training, basic training, and advanced flight training in the Beech AT-10. The final phase lasted nine to ten weeks and earned the graduating cadets their wings and commissions as second lieutenants. Pilot training was Moody’s mission until after World War II (1941-45). [1]

Fort Benning Columbus, Georgia

Fort Benning, home of the U.S. Army Infantry, is adjacent to the city of Columbus in southwest Georgia.  Established in 1918 during WWI the U.S. Army Infantry School at Fort Benning has confirmed its place as the premier school of arms, developing such military leaders as five-star generals Omar Bradley, George Marshall, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Fort Benning became even more significant after the United States became involved in World War II in 1941. Troop strength soared with the arrival of the First Infantry Division, as well as with the establishment of an officer candidate school and airborne training center. [2]

Black Americans served their country in WWII in spite of strident segregation in the military. This MP in Columbus, GA, stands ready to answer calls in 1942.

This video from the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia highlights the U.S. infantry during World War II.

Robins Air Force Base Macon, Georgia

The 1935 Wilcox-Wilson bill provided for construction of new army air logistics depots, and in the early 1940s Macon civic leaders, led by Mayor Charles L. Bowden and supported by Congressman Carl Vinson convinced the War Department to locate an airfield near Macon. Construction officially started with September 1 on a 3,108-acre tract.  The Army Air Forces (AAF) later bought an additional 2,700 acres for the cantonment area, civilian barracks, and the pistol/rifle range. Spurred on by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, construction on the industrial and cantonment areas was completed by August 31, 1942. The second and third phases were completed the following April. Throughout World War II 23,670 employees repaired almost every kind of AAF aircraft, including B-17s, C-47s, B-29s, B-24s, P-38s, P-47s, and P-51s. Its training facilities turned out nearly 60,000 field repair mechanics for every theater of war. The workforce supplied every kind of part necessary to keep AAF planes flying, especially spark plugs. It also maintained thousands of parachutes, aircraft electronic and radio systems, and AAF small arms. [3]

Georgia World War II Navy Veteran John Boase recalls his experience during the war. Click here.

Fort GordonAugusta, Georgia

In mid-1940, with the threat of war looming, army officials began looking for sites that would be suitable for a division training area. By May 1941 an area in Richmond County had been selected for one of these new training areas. In July the U.S. War Department approved a contract to construct facilities on the new installation; the cost was estimated to be $24 million. An official groundbreaking and flag-raising ceremony took place in October. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, brought the United States into World War II (1941-45) and forced the army to open Camp Gordon earlier than expected. On December 9 Colonel Herbert W. Schmid, camp commander, moved his small staff from his temporary office in the Augusta post office building to the incomplete headquarters building at Camp Gordon. At the same time the 4th Infantry Division began moving to Camp Gordon, establishing the installation as one of the army’s significant training facilities.

The 56,000-acre training site was home to three divisions during the war: the 4th Infantry, the 26th Infantry, and the 10th Armored. After undergoing training at Camp Gordon, these units were shipped to the European theater of operations, where they each served with distinction. From October 1943 to January 1945 Camp Gordon served as an internment camp for foreign prisoners of war. From May 1945 until April 1946 the U.S. Army Personnel and Separation Center processed nearly 86,000 personnel for discharge from the army. [4]

[1] “Moody Air Force Base.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia (Accessed April 18, 2011)

[2] “Fort Benning.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia (Accessed April 26, 2011)

[3] “Robins Air Force Base.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia (Accessed April 18, 2011)

[4]  “Fort Gordon.” The New Georgia Encyclopedia (Accessed April 18, 2011)