This week I was able to visit Farragut State Park, outside of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. My Dad came here in September of 1943. When I checked it out, I found it is now a state park, part of the Idaho park system. It is a beautiful place.
Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor the War Department geared itself to an all out effort to defeat Japan. Because most of the attention was focused on the losses suffered by the Navy, recruiting offices were filled with men, young and old, wanting to enlist in the Navy.
At the time the Navy had three recruit training stations. One at Newport, Rhode Island, Great Lakes, Illinois and the third in San Diego. They projected a need for more training stations, with one in the west. The site selected is on the southern shore of Lake Pend Orville. It was called ‘the most beautiful and deepest lake in the world.’ The site was built to accommodate 30,000 recruits. It was comprised of six 5,000 man training unit groups, complete with everything needed, including recreation. Each camp was named after a Navy hero and was completely independent from the others.
‘Boots’ came from all over the midwest and west. They traveled by train to nearby Athol, Idaho and were bused to the camp for six weeks of training, followed by a 15-day furlough.
When graduation day finally came, the boots were automatically promoted from apprentice seaman to either fireman 2nd class or seaman 2nd class. With the promotion came a $4 raise from $50 to $54 each month. The company roster was posted indicating their next assignment. It could be additional training at a service school, which included radiomen, signalment, quartermasters, cooks, bakers, hospital corp, gunner’s mates, electricians and storekeepers. Others received orders to report to the coast for a ship assignment.
Between 1942 and 1945, Farragut had trained 293,381 recruits, including over 200 boys from Weber County. On March 10, 1945, Camp Waldron, the last of the five camps was closed. On June 15, 1946, the camp was deactivated and turned over for use as a college.
There is a museum here and a partial list of the recruits and their camp. Sadly, a lot of the records were destroyed in a fire, including those of my dad.