of the happy yields of the fiftieth anniversary of World
War II has been the publication of reminiscences of the citizen
soldiers who interrupted lives to serve in the various branches
of the military service.
Two such pieces
were prepared for the East Texas Historical Journal that focus on
Camp Fannin, an infantry replacement training center located approximately
ten miles northeast of Tyler.
The first article,
"Camp Fannin": A Reminiscence," was written by Laurence C. Walker,
originally from Washington, D.C. Ironically, after the war Walker
earned a doctorate in Forestry and spent many years as dean of the
school of forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University, located
about 75 miles south of where he learned to be a soldier. Walker
served in the European Theatre.
The other article
was prepared by Russell Rulau of Iola, Wisconsin, and was prompted
by Walker's earlier publication. Rulau's overseas service was in
the Pacific Theatre. After the war he became a writer and dealer
in the field of numismatics.
Rulau symbolize what happened at Camp Fannin from its operation
from May 29, 1943, until converted to a separation center, then
declared surplus in January 1946. They came from different parts
of the United States and served in different theatres, yet each
contributed to what FDR called "the inevitable victory."
Fannin, which occupied 14,000 acres of woodland hills, was named
in honor of James Walker Fannin, a soldier in the Texas Revolution.
Its first commander was Colonel John A. Robenson, who was succeeded
by Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Brammel in August 1943. Troop capacity
was 18,680 and the camp hospital could accommodate 1,074 patients.
A prisoner of war camp commanded by Major Sam H. Burchard also occupied
and others remember experiences with the Southern heat, ticks, chiggers,
and other discomforts, but also dances and visits to Kilgore--where
alcohol was available--and Tyler,
where it was not.
Like so many
in what Tom Brokow has convinced us was our "Greatest Generation,"
the men who learned to soldier at Camp Fannin and other training
facilities throughout the land did not falter when it was their
turn to serve.
Some of Camp
Fannin's facilities were moved to the campus of Tyler Junior College
for more use, and part of the base became the East Texas State Tuberculosis
Sanitarium. Some of the men who trained there remain forever in
cemeteries in foreign lands, and many others, including Walker and
Rulau, lived long and projective lives in the land they helped keep
Things Historical September
Published by permission.
(Archie P. McDonald is Director of the East Texas Historical Association
and author or editor of more than 20 books on Texas)
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