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Did you know that Fort Jackson provides basic combat training for half of all soldiers (69% of all female soldiers) entering the United States Army?  Over 45,000 soldiers receive combat training each year to prepare them to protect our great country and preserve our freedoms.  The Fort was named for military hero and President Andrew Jackson.  Do you know Fort Jackson’s motto (answer below)?

Fort Jackson is located within the City of Columbia, covers more than 52,000 acres, and has 53 range and field training sites to allow young soldiers the opportunity to train in a realistic environment.  Within the Fort are family cemeteries, 2 golf courses, archeological sites, time capsules, and a 1938 World’s Fair flagpole donated by then New York Mayor LaGuardia.  Also, near the Fort’s Museum is a remnant of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen (the last standing span over the Rhine River during World War II).   The Museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 until 4.

In 1917 the new Army training center was established to prepare a fighting force for World War I, and it was initially named Camp Jackson.  Within 6 months, a city of over 1500 buildings was completed, including theaters, stores, kitchens, barracks, facilities to house and train soldiers, stables, warehouses,   an airfield, roads, bridges, railroads, water supply, sewers, heating plants, and what would become America’s largest government-operated laundry.

Tragedy struck in fall 1917 and winter 1918 with a meningitis epidemic which killed 12 people and an influenza outbreak which claimed 300 lives.  With the end of World War I, the War Department ordered the closing of Camp Jackson in 1922.  A new housing complex is named the Corporal Freddie Stowers Single Soldier Complex in honor of the only African-American Medal of Honor recipient of World War I.  Corporal Stowers was a South Carolinian and member of the 371st Infantry Regiment which trained at Fort Jackson in 1917.

After Hitler’s Blitzkrieg across Europe in 1939, Camp Jackson was called back into service and became Fort Jackson in 1940.  A half-million soldiers received some portion of their training at Fort Jackson during World War II.  Some notable visitors over the years include Betty Grable, Bob Hope, Winston Churchill, and President Roosevelt.  Also, in November 2007 President Bush visited Fort Jackson and opened his 20-minute speech with a loud “hooah”!

Fort Jackson also includes 2 Advanced Individual Training schools, the U.S. Army soldier Support Institute, the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, and the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute.   

With its fascinating history, important relationship to the economy of the Midlands, and many personnel who contribute to our vibrant community, Fort Jackson is indeed a wonderful neighbor to Columbia, South Carolina.   The motto of Fort Jackson?   “Victory Starts Here.”

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