In the words of historian Richard Moran, a famous military warrior who studied the vast expanse of central Louisiana in the early 1940s, “the size of the United States Army was Evil.”
As part of his ongoing observation of the exhibition “The Pelican State Goes to War: Louisiana in World War II” at the Hammond Regional Art Center, Moran observed the opening remarks of his June 7 lecture at the Columbia Theater in Hammond. The exhibition will close on June 17.
At the same event was Jack Templeman, who spoke about the role of medals in identifying men and women who fought in the country’s wars.
In the early 1940’s, Moran began his discussion by observing that the United States was not ready to take part in the modern war, even though war had covered much of Western Europe. To illustrate that point, Moran glanced at pictures of soldiers on horseback and staff carriers driving early motorists.
“The army still had cavalry units, and the use of motorized vehicles, especially tanks, was a relatively unused part of the modern army. Although the Germans have shown how valuable motor vehicles can be in war, the United States is only learning about armored units, “he said.
The scope of the 1940s war games in Louisiana and the war exercises that led to the presentation of a number of maps and photos of armies that would eventually have to fight in foreign nations on both sides of the world.
Moran said the country’s military leaders and elected officials had reached the conclusion in early 1939 that the United States would eventually have to enter a conflict that would eventually be known as World War II. In the late 1930s, it was also realized that manpower was urgently needed to increase the number of troops needed to be a decisive factor in such a war. The military took control of the Civil Promotion Corps, part of a new agreement inaugurated by President Franklin Roosevelt that will help employ young people who are suffering from unemployment due to the Great Recession.
“The CCC taught young people how to work together and train in a way that would be valuable later when a huge army had to be formed. The military can also rely on National Guard units to build its forces, and then, when the first peace draft is adopted, a huge influx of troops. The challenge is to train all these people who are being formed in the military, “said Moran.
The answer was to quickly build training camps across the country, and many more were built in central Louisiana. Within a short time, Camp Buregaard, Camp Livingston, Camp Clebourne, Fort Polk and Alexandria Air Field, then the England Air Force base was completed and ready for training.
Moran pointed out that in a circle of about 40 miles, the base became the center of war games in the early 1940’s. He explained that Central Louisiana is the natural place to run the trick. The land in this area was forested which was cut down and allowed to move relatively easily. Also, the terrain has many natural features like rivers and creeks that can be used as part of training. Additional training features were added. For instance, a railroad was built from southeastern Alexandria, from Fort Pollock to Camp Clebourne, so that soldiers could repair the railroad tracks, clean the tracks of damaged equipment, and use the railways for transportation.
Preparation for war games was an engaging process, Moran said, adding that in most cases, troops had to obtain written releases from farmers and others to gain access to their land. By the time the war game was ready, about 400,000 men would have participated. “These men had to come from all over. … Some even marched to Louisiana. It was the first time such an army had met in the United States, and it was truly an excellent experiment. The men had to learn how to stay on the ground, how to eat while fighting, how to stay in the tent … in short, how to survive the big tests that they will have to face later, “he said.
The most famous tactics were conducted in 1940 and 1941, and in these exercises the men who would later lead the US forces in the war learned the lessons of modern warfare that would later pay dividends on the battlefields of Europe and the Far East.
Throughout the war, maneuvers continued but not to the extent of 1940 and 1941. After the United States entered the war after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1841, there was an urgent need for trained troops, and eventually thousands of American troops were sent to battlefields around the world. Once the war broke out, the established troops involved in the war were brought back to power as the massacre escalated. Training camps in Louisiana continued to send men abroad to fight in the country’s wars.
“At one point, about 120,000 men were training in Louisiana. Louisiana shouldered more than its share of wealth and population to win World War II. Our kingdom played a major role in our victorious war. Eventually, a very large percentage of the men trained in Louisiana went to war. Our state is a training ground for leaders and men who will ultimately help us win the war, “he said.
Moran said the rapid build-up of several military bases in central Louisiana has been an economic impetus for the region. Many of the unemployed got jobs in the construction of the basement and in civic roles important for the proper functioning of the basement and even for their own argument.
Templeman, holding the Purple Heart Medal in hand, began the discussion of military medals and announced, “To win one of these, you had to bleed … you had to pay a painful price.” He explained that the soldiers of the American Revolutionary War were first awarded the Purple Heart and then the medal was not awarded again until World War I. After all, the purple heart was one of the most “honored” medals a man or woman could receive. Earn
The speaker offered some numbers that demonstrated how many people were seriously injured in battle: World War II, more than a million medals; Korea, 118,000 medals; Vietnam, 351,000 medals; Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 500,000 medals. “When you meet someone with a purple heart, don’t say ‘thank you for your service’, but say, ‘I’m glad you came home safely.’
The highest award given for personal bravery and self-sacrifice. Templeman said the recipients of the medals receive a lifetime cash award and many other benefits. “There is only one medal above the medal of honor and that is heaven,” Templeman said.
Other medals awarded for bravery include Navy, Marine and Air Force Cross and Army Silver Star.