Camp Howze – A Camera Trip Through Camp Howze (PDF)




32 pages
History of Camp Howze ……. Activated August 17, 1942, by the first official order of Col. John P. Wheeler, camp commander, Camp Howze typifies the spirit of America in this war. This huge new infantry division training camp is the result of America’s determination to win the war in the quickest possible manner. Its fighting units have been trained to enter battle with the same “hurry up” attitude. From the start they have known their objective and how they will attack. Camp Howze is a temporary cantonment, designed for immediate utility, and built in a hurry. Buildings are drab, much of the area is bare and treeless, but the natural desire of men to have pleasant surroundings has won out. Throughout the entire camp, soldiers have laid gravel sidewalks and “policed up” company areas adding meticulous neatness to the serviceability of the installation. Amazingly enough, most of Camp Howze was ready for use about five months after the first workmen arrived. Army officers first inspected the campsite in the middle of 1940. On January 31, 1940, the City of Gainesville received a questionnaire from the War Department asking if the city wished to have an Army camp nearby. The issue was finally settled when the War Department announced on December 18, 1941, that the Camp Howze area had been selected for a military reservation. On that same day, government land agents arrived and moved to acquire the land for the government. Actual construction began in April on the railroad siding, wells, and roads. By September, barely more than five months later, the first soldiers had moved in to begin their duties while carpenters and electricians continued to work round the clock completing barracks and other buildings. Much of the colorful history of the West grew up on ground now covered by barracks or used for artillery ranges. Where Jeeps, half tracks, and scout cars roll through Black Hollow in the range area, desperadoes once ambushed stage coaches and robbed the passengers. The north reservation section along the Red River a year ago was still the country of the Western novels. Now some of that cattle country serves as an artillery shell impact area. Other land gives infantry soldiers excellent maneuver area. The country is a great deal like that in which Maj. Gen. Robert Lee Howze first saw service. General Howze, for whom the camp is named, was a veteran of two major wars, an Indian campaign, and the Philippine Insurrection. He was twice cited for the Congressional Medal of Honor. Born at Overton, Texas, August 22, 1864, General Howze died at Columbus, Ohio, September 19, 1926. The General was appointed to West Point in 1883, and first saw action in South Dakota when the Sioux tribes caused a disturbance and his cavalry regiment was sent to quell the trouble. By 1918, General Howze had become a temporary Major General, commanding the 38th Division in France. Later, he commanded the 3rd Division and remained with the Army of Occupation until 1 919. He became a permanent Major General in 1922. The same type of rolling plains which gave General Howze his first taste of action are today giving soldiers of 1943 the basic training they will need to defeat their enemies. Over the thousands of acres of Camp Howze, hundreds of men are training, learning the rugged profession of the modern soldier. Two divisions which served the country in World War I have already made use of the excellent training terrain here in North Texas. This immense Army Ground Forces training area is directed by the Eighth Service Command with headquarters in Dallas, commanded by Maj. Gen. Richard Donovan. The 1885th Service Unit operates the camp’s headquarters, supply, service, and police sections. First soldiers arrived here in August of 1942 to form the nucleus of the station complement quartermaster detachment. It wasn’t long before GI’s rolled in by the thousands. The 84th Infantry Division was activated September 15, with hundreds of civilian spectators braving mud and rain to attend the ceremony, only to find that the weather had forced the program indoors. The 84th, which had its beginning at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, back in 1917, received its old colors “for trie-duration” of this war from the school children of Kentucky, who had bought the flag in the last war and kept it in trust since the division’s return from France. Proudly flaunted was the division’s Railsplitter insignia, symbol of the 84th’s pioneer spirit. First commander of the 84th was Maj. Gen. John H. Hilldring, who later left to take up another post in Washington. He was succeeded by Maj. Gen. Stonewall Jackson. With the training of the 84th Division under way, attention went to the 86th Infantry Division, with its Blackhawk insignia becoming a familiar sight as men continued to arrive. Cadre and officers complete, the 86th was activated December 15 under the command of Maj. Gen. Alexander E. Anderson. General Anderson was stricken with a heart attack and died early in the morning of December 24, 1942. His command was assumed by Maj. Gen. Harris M. Melasky.