Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum - a Little History and a Lot of Fun
Many people aren’t aware of the rich history of St. George Island and the rest of the Forgotten Coast. The Camp Gordon Johnston World World II Museum is a hidden gem located just across from Carabelle Beach. It is just a short ride from your St. George Island vacation rental and this museum is a place that the whole family can enjoy.
Camp Gordon Johnston opened in 1942 as an army training center for the training of amphibious soldiers. The camp trained nearly a quarter of a million men over the next four years before closing in June 1946. The small Camp Carabelle was already located in the small fishing village, but a major expansion was required in order to fit the Army’s needs for its amphibious unit. Once the site was selected, the federal government quickly bought more than 10,000 acres and leased 155,000 more forming a base of more than 20 miles of coastline between St. George Island and Alligator Point. The camp was named after Gordon Johnston from Alabama who served in the Spanish American War and WWI and received the Medal of Honor in 1910. For a detailed history of Camp Gordon Johnston, click here.
The museum displays the rich history of the area, and we took our family to the museum during our recent St. George Island beach vacation. Much of the museum is focused on the amphibious roots of the area.
There is a large display of medals too that our kids enjoyed learning about.
Many former soldiers have donated their uniforms to the museum. There are even uniforms from the ladies that served.
There is a wide variety of World War II weapons as well.
My favorite part of the museum was the display of tank models from different eras.
There is even a boat in the middle of the museum where kids can walk up and pretend like they are steering their group of soldiers to shore!
The CGJ Museum also has a small theater (the Rex Theater) that shows a brief video of the history of the area and where visitors can learn more about the training that took place at the camp.
We had a real treat on our last trip to the Camp Gordon Johnston Museum because they had a DUKW (also called “Duck”) on display outside of the museum. The DUKW is a 2.5 ton six-wheel amphibious truck used in WWII by the army to ferry ammunition, supplies and equipment from supply ships offshore to fighting units on the beach. The vehicle was capable of carrying up to 25 soldiers or 5,000 pounds of cargo.
We even got to take a ride around the grounds in the DUKW!
The museum will host its inaugural benefit golf tournament on the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor at St. James Bay Golf Club (If you missed our blog on St. James Bay Golf, click here). The tournament is being held on Pearl Harbor Day to honor the men and women who have served in the Army and other armed forces. Proceeds from the golf tournament will be used for a new building to house the museum’s three historical military vehicles including the DUKW mentioned above. For further details of the tournament, check out the Franklin County Tourist Development Council website.
As I mentioned, the Camp Gordon Johnston museum is located across from Carabelle Beach at 1873 Highway 98 West. Admission is free to the museum, and it is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. While sometimes it is hard to get the kids excited about museums, this one did not disappoint. Our kids enjoyed looking at all of the WWII artifacts as well as taking a ride on the DUKW that was on display. Go check out the Camp Gordon Johnston WWII Museum and enjoy taking a step back in the area’s history!