Skip to main content

Camp Howze Museum

People of Howze

When the first detachment of soldiers arrived at the new U.S. Army infantry training camp just north of Gainesville, TX, it was still a work in progress. Nevertheless, the men had to report to their assigned duty station and conform to U.S. War Department standards enforced by their commanding officers. There were new rules for everything - personal grooming, eating, sleeping, exercising, working, and relaxing. Every man was required to transition quickly from life as an American civilian to the regimented routine of an American soldier. Within a framework of uniformity and esprit de corps, these troops were there to be trained and conditioned as parts of a whole, as members of companies, battalions, regiments, divisions, forces, and ultimately the U.S. Army. Regardless of who they were before they arrived, they were "in the army now," and their lives as soldiers were about to begin.

This image of fresh faces and newly inducted citizen soldiers was just a portion of a larger picture that represented the more than 40,000 people at Camp Howze on any given day throughout the four years it existed. Constructed initially as an Army Service Forces, Class II installation for training Army Ground Forces, it eventually also housed several thousand prisoners of war. Understandably, it was one of the largest and busiest U.S. Army camps in the country, requiring the work of thousands of civilian employees, volunteers, and military service members each day to efficiently support and prepare infantry troops for future combat overseas. 

While experiences vary, the museum's collection of artifacts, including news publications, recordings, mementos, and personal recollections combined with historical analyses, provides insight into who the "People of Howze" were and how they contributed to the camp's history. Broadly categorized as SoldiersWomen, MinoritiesUSOs, and Famous Faces, the people who lived, worked and volunteered at Camp Howze embodied the spirit of patriotism and service before self that swept the country during World War II and left a legacy worthy of remembrance. These are just a few of their stories.