Camp McCain, in Elliott, Mississippi, is a Mississippi National Guard training site that covers 13,000 acres. Training at the facility includes tank maneuvers, artillery training and general training for National Guard troops. .
Camp McCain was one of several training sites that sprang up throughout Mississippi during World War II. In 1942, the United States Army opened a major training facility on a 42,000-acre site at Elliott, Mississippi in Grenada County. The facility was named Camp McCain in honor of a famous family of military men from neighboring Carroll County, including Carroll county native Major General Henry P. McCain. Troops for the army's 87th and 94th divisions trained at Camp McCain before being sent into combat in Europe. At the peak of its expansion, Camp McCain served as many as 50,000 troops.
The US Forest Service (USFS) permitted 5,874 acres to the Army in December 1942 to be utilized as the Oxford Bombing Range. The Oxford Bombing Range was to provide the Army Air Forces with a site for testing bomb dropping mechanisms and like purposes. It is assumed that practice bombs (with spotting charges) were used at the site. In 1943, The Secretary of War determined that there was longer a military necessity for the bombing range.In August 1943, the USFS permitted 30,617 acres (including the bombing range area) to the Army for use as a maneuver area. The maneuver area was utilized by the Army units stationed at Camp McCain, MS, for bivouac and maneuver purposes. The maneuver area remained active until 1947. Currently, most of the site is forest land within the Holly Springs National Forest.
The camp also served as a prisoner of war camp for captured German soldiers -- Camp McCain housed 7,700. In 1944, the four base camps - Camp McCain, Camp Como, Camp Clinton, and Camp Shelby - developed fifteen branch camps that furnished POWs to work in the cotton fields. The Camp closed on October 15, 1944 and all but 3,000 acres of the site was sold. The camp was deactivated after the war and most of the buildings were dismantled and some sold to municipalities and colleges.
Camp McCain today functions as an important Army National Guard training site, but with only one-tenth of its original area and capacity. In 1947, the Mississippi national Guard prevailed upon the U.S. Government to retain part of the camp for small arms training. The rifle ranges and 3000 acres were retained under state control, and the rest sold.
In the beginning, the camp was administered by the local unit in Grenada. As usage increased, the demand for more facilities also increased. In the mid to late 60's, the 223d Engr Battalion constructed mess sheds, quonset huts, a latrine, and some of the first roads in the tactical area. In 1969, tracked vehicles were added to Camp McCain , and 1971 a maintenance facility was built. The opening of the tactical areas caused many changes, including the organization of the 221st Engineer Detachment. This unit is now named Detachment 2, State Area Command.
In recent years, the camp has expanded at an excited rate. Additional buildings have been constructed for operations, maintenance support facilities have been added, and three more National Guard Units are now stationed on Camp McCain . Buildings for troop housing have been constructed, so that now 1200 troops may be housed here. In 1984, an additional 4500 adjoining acres were added, increasing the tactical training area. In 1987-1988, ten modern weapons ranges were constructed. The road network on Camp McCain has been expanded and improved, allowing improved tactical training.
Camp McCain Logistics division provides housing, subsistence, general supply, fuel and ammunition. Camp McCain has facilities for over 1200 troops, including over 120 maid service beds, five dining facilities, classrooms, and administrative/supply areas. The Ration Breakdown Activity provides A-rations, Operational rations, and Ice. Camp McCain provides janitorial, kitchen and general supply for customer units. The Retail Fuel Point supplies JP-8. The Ammo Transfer Activity supports any and all ammunition that can be fired on Camp McCain.
The House of Representatives passed a defense appropriations bill in November 2001 which included $6 million for the Mississippi Army National Guard for improvements at Camp McCain in Grenada County. The Fiscal Year 2002 Defense Appropriations Act contains $3.8 million for the National Guard to upgrade Camp McCain Road and Greensboro Road. Another $2.2 million will be provided for construction projects on the base. The work will include construction of a weapons cleaning facility, vehicle maintenance building, infantry live-fire range improvements, and work on roads leading to training areas.
Camp McCain has worked for 10 years on natural resource management. One of the main concerns at the facility was erosion control on tank and artillery training sites and roadside erosion. Scientists recommended and implemented erosion control practices, such as seeding and fertilization, on roadsides and training sites. Both techniques worked to increase plant cover, enhance wildlife foods and provide wildlife habitat. Through the diligent work of scientists and military personnel, 26 protected state and federally listed plants and animals, game species and more than 100 species of nongame birds now have more suitable habitat.
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