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  • Writer's pictureJacksonville Museum

THIS WEEK IN ARKANSAS MILITARY HISTORY - The Re-dedication of Camp/Fort Chaffee

 

Aerial view of Fort Chaffee - Curtesy of Pebley Historical and Cultural Center Collection

            First called camp Chaffee, the installation got its name from Maj. Gen. Adna Romanzo Chaffee, who used lessons he learned in WWI to pioneer the idea of integrating armored forces with infantry. Constructed in September of 1941 and finished in March of 1942 Camp Chaffee housed 30,000 soldiers to include the 6th Armored Division, which landed at Utah Beach in Normandy, France, on July 18,1944, six weeks after D-Day. As well as a military training base Camp Chaffee also served as a prisoner of war camp, during World War II housing as many as 3,000 German prisoners from January 1943 to May 1946.

            The drawdown of World War II meant that industries that had been created to aid the war were no longer needed. Camp Chaffee fell under this criterion and was place on inactive status on July 31, 1946. Over the next few decades, the camp would open, and close as national and international events dictated. On March 21, 1956, Camp Chaffee was re-designated as Fort Chaffee, and housed the U.S. Army Training Center until 1959 as well as the 100th Infantry Division. Over the next several years Fort Chaffee would be used as a refugee camp during the Vietnam War, processing center for refugees from Southeast Asia, a Cuban refugee resettlement center. On September 27, 1997, 66,000 acres of Fort Chaffee was turned over to the Arkansas National Guard in a Change of Command Ceremony. It still serves the Arkansas Army National Guard by using the Razorback ranges to train young men and women.  

Photot courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives

           

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