CARRABELLE — A special exhibit honoring African American servicemen opened Feb. 2 at the Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum.
“African Americans served in large numbers during WWII, in spite of being denied full rights as American citizens,” said a release from Sheri Wesson, public relations coordinator for the museum. “African Americans served in segregated units in both the Army and the Army Air Corps, one of the most recognizable being the Tuskegee Airmen.”
Many trained at Camp Gordon Johnston near Carrabelle in support units like Amphibious Truck companies, Wesson noted, and even these participated in combat, including at Iwo Jima, where 21 U.S. Army units supported the 4th and 5th Marines.
Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum, directly across from Carrabelle Public Beach Park at 1873 U.S. 98 West, will host the exhibit through 5 p.m. ET on Feb. 27. There is no charge for admission, but donations are gladly accepted. For more details, call 850-697-8575, or email email@example.com. The exhibit is funded in part by the Franklin County Tourist Development Council.
As part of the month-long exhibition, the museum is launching a campaign to find and preserve the individual stories of the African American men who trained at the Camp and the men and women from the Florida Panhandle who served in WWII. Through Feb. 27, the museum will display an expanded and updated exhibit of African American service in WWII, and will include these stories as they are submitted.
“Family members who know any stories of African American service members who trained or served at Camp Gordon Johnston are invited to please share them so that their stories can be included,” Wesson said in the news release.
The stories may also be emailed to the archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos and scanned documents are welcome as well. If all that is known is a name, Camp Gordon Johnston Museum staff and volunteers will try and research it, the release stated.
ABOUT THE CAMP
Camp Gordon Johnston opened in 1942 for the purpose of training infantry and their support groups for amphibious landings on hostile shores, according to information provided at the website, CampGordonJohnston.com. By mid-1943, the U.S. Navy had taken over the bulk of amphibious training, and the camp transitioned in September 1943 to a U.S. Army Special Forces Training Center.
The Camp closed in 1946 after serving as a Separation Center for returning service members.
In 1995, a local group formed that was interested in hosting reunions of the men and women who served or trained at Camp Gordon Johnston. The first such reunion was held on March 1-3, 1996, to great success, according to the website.
Out of this effort came the idea of opening a museum. Alongside various artifacts and informational exhibitions, the also preserves an oral history of veterans’ experiences and publishes a newspaper, the Amphibian.
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