HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) — For 100 years Camp Shelby has been training and preparing soldiers to serve and protect our nation.
The camp, which lies in South Mississippi, has played a role in some of the nation’s conflicts and to celebrate 100 years of service they are holding a centennial celebration.
Camp Shelby was originally supposed to be built in Lauderdale County near Meridian but Walter Crawford, a doctor from Hattiesburg, solicited the Army to have it built in the Hattiesburg area.
In 1917, Hattieburg was only 35 years old.
“Camp Shelby has been a place for National Guard training for most of its history and even during the world wars most of the troops that trained initially at Camp Shelby were mobilized National Guard soldiers,” said Armed Forces Museum director Chad Daniels. “So it really has a strong connection with out citizen soldiers and that’s one of the reasons why it’s a camp and not a fort. Forts are generally permanent installations, camps are war time service but Camp Shelby is just one of those places that has survived this long as a camp.”
“Over one million service members have been deployed, mobilized, re-deployed, trained at Camp Shelby to secure our nations freedoms,” said Col. Greg Michel.
Col. Greg Michel who has spent the last 30 years at Camp Shelby says one of his first experiences was in February 1988.
“We drove down here in Hummer Vs into a very dark and black place that I had no idea even existed,” he said. “Most people ride down Highway 49, they see that little road that running past an inn, and say there’s a military instillation back there and they do some military stuff and kind of go with that.”
But Col. Michel says celebrating 100 years shows it means much more.
He adds, “Largest state training facility in the nation, 136,000 acres. economic impact of half a billion dollars a year to the state of Mississippi.”
“America’s wars and conflicts that we will eventually be participating in, you know that’s something we have to keep in mind,” explained Daniels. “It will continue and that’s another reasoning to appreciate Camp Shelby and it’s role because its got a real special place with the Department of Defense and training soldiers and preparing.”
Thursday, July 13th at 6 p.m. will be the Centennial Salute, a formal-attire ticketed event, will be held at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg and is open to military and civilian guests.
Renowned veteran war correspondent Joe Galloway will deliver the keynote address. Along with his address, the gala will feature a multiple course dinner, entertainment by The Victory Belles from the World War II Museum in New Orleans, a historical highlight video and official recognition and presentations.
Saturday, July 15th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Camp Shelby’s Family Day will be held on base.
The event will feature entertainment from the The Victory Belles, county music artist Travis Clark, historic military equipment, WWII period re-enactors, special forces demonstrations and more.
“This centennial period is a good chance for our civilian community to come out and engage with Camp Shelby and to meet some of the great people that work every day to keep this camp as one of the premiere platforms for the military to use to train soldiers for overseas services,” said Daniels.
Two streets on base will be renamed after two former commanders.
The first commander William Sage and Brigadier General George Halloran.
“Hopefully the next 100 years, we will see the importance of Camp Shelby rise.”
Tickets for the Centennial Salute may be purchases here or at Camp Shelby’s Mississippi Armed Forces Museum.