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Camp Gordon Johnston commemorates D-Day
Carrabelles Camp Gordon Johnston World War II Museum is
presenting a special exhibit commemorating D-Day open now through Wednesday,
When Camp Gordon Johnston opened in 1942, it was for the
purpose of training infantry divisions, including the US Army 4th Infantry
Division, and their support units in amphibious warfare. This training and the
men who trained in Franklin County would be put to the test on the heavily
fortified beaches of Normandy, France on D-Day, on June 6, 1944. The first
amphibian infantry assault teams to arrive on French soil were from the 4th
Infantry Division at Utah Beach. The D-Day invasion, codenamed Operation
Overlord, was the largest seaborne invasion in history and included over
100,000 Allied troops.
A World War I veteran and a founder of the American
Legion in 1919, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr, oldest son of President
Theodore Roosevelt and deputy division commander of the 4th Infantry Division
(Ivy Division), was the highest-ranking officer to step on the beach on D-Day.
The Camp Gordon Johnston museum will focus on Roosevelt and
his service in both wars in this special D-Day Exhibit. The exhibit will
be on display at the museum until Wednesday, June 30, at 5 p.m.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to
5 p.m. There is no charge for admission, but donations are gladly accepted.
An exciting new acquisition is also part of this D-Day
exhibit. Camp Gordon Johnston has received a generous donation of personal
papers and other items from the family of Capt. John E. Mellen, who commanded
the 818th Amphibious Truck Company and was with them from their training at
Camp Gordon Johnston through the end of the war and beyond.
Although the museum
is just beginning to construct the history of the 818th, some interesting facts
have been gleaned. The 818th trained at Camp Gordon Johnston late 1943-early
1944. Then Lt. Mellen arrived in Tallahassee on August 16, 1943, and sent a
post card to his wife Miriam before catching his bus to Camp Gordon Johnston.
This revealing little post card is included in the display.
The 818th was deployed to England to prepare for the
invasion of Normandy and was attached to the 1st Engineers Special Brigade and
landed on Utah Beach, June 6, 1944. For this they received a Meritorious Unit
Citation and Croix de Guerre with palm. Five members of the 818th received
Bronze Stars for their actions on that day, and there were no casualties.
The museums next special exhibit which will be on the
Holocaust, presented in partnership with the Holocaust Education Resource
Council of Tallahassee. This exhibit is scheduled to open July 1 and run
through August 14.
Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum is located in Carrabelle,
directly across from Carrabelle Public Beach Park at 1873 Hwy 98 West. Carrabelle
Beach was the site of many practice beach assault landings. The amphibious
training conducted at this site was planned to be the last step before shipping
out to England.
For more information, contact Camp Gordon Johnston Museum at
(850) 697-8575 or [email protected] Funded in part by the Franklin
County Tourist Development Council.