November 10, 2009

Camp Perry, Ohio

In honor of Veterans' Day, I'm showing off these postcards from Camp Perry, Ohio. A Gary mailed this card on September 1, 1954 to Clymer, New York. He says, "Camp Perry was used as a concentration camp in World War I." The postcard's text reads, "A large Military Camp on Lake Erie. The largest and best equipped rifle ranges in the world are located here. Scene of the National Rifle Matches. Located 5 miles West of Port Clinton, Ohio."

This card was mailed on August 14, 1911, from Camp Perry to Portland, Oregon, and says, in part, "We are having a fine time and all are well and able to eat everything loose. We have been to Cedar Point and Put in Bay and got here Sat. evening. Had a lazy old time yesterday. Oceans of love, Anna".

What's my connection to Camp Perry? I know it only by sound. Growing up on the island, we'd hear the guns being fired. For all that the first postcard speaks of the rifle ranges, I think there was a cannon or two, and God knows what else, there. Big booms.

I just skimmed online "A Short History of Camp Perry and the National Championships" by Hal Rocketto and learned that the decision was made in April, 1906, to build Camp Perry. Rocketto says "The United States had learned many valuable military lessons in the recent encounter with the Spanish Army in Cuba in 1898." One lesson was that the Army's bolt-action Krag-Jorgenson rifle was totally inferior to the Spanish 7 mm Mauser. A new, similar rifle was developed; its greater range made the training camp of the time, in Newark, unsafe. Camp Perry was thus built to serve a new training camp for the Ohio National Guard.

The 1954 postcard is inaccurate, according to Rocketto. He says the 640-acre camp was used as a concentration camp for German and Italian prisoners during the Second World War rather than the first. After the war, four rifle ranges were named after the four Medal of Honor winners from Camp Perry.

The camp is still active, and a support organization works to preserve points of interest and to assist military families.

No comments: