TEXAS HISTORICAL COMMISSION
service men and women trained or werestationed at Texas military installationsbetween 1941 and 1945.In more than 70 counties aroundthe state, the government established65 Army airfields, 35 Army posts, ninenaval installations and eventually morethan 70 prisoner of war camps thatheld mostly German, but also someItalian prisoners. In addition, the U.S.Department of Justice operated threealien detention camps in Texas — inKenedy, Seagoville and Crystal City — which housed citizens of Japanese,German and Italian ethnicity from theU.S. as well as from South and Central America.More than 750,000 Texans servedin uniform during the war. AlthoughTexas represented about five percent of the country’s population at that time,Texans accounted for more than sevenpercent of military personnel.Many famous World War II military personalities were either from Texas orhad strong Texas connections. Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Dwight D.Eisenhower and Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Chester W. Nimitz were bothborn in Texas. Gen. Douglas MacArthurattended a military high school inSan Antonio. Col. Oveta Culp Hobby,commander of the Women’s Army Corps, hailed from Bell County.The war’s most decorated soldier, Audie Murphy, grew up in Hunt County,and Gen. Claire Chennault, commanderof the famous Flying Tigers, was fromCommerce, also in Hunt County.Lt. Col. James Earl Rudder, a native of Eden and mayor of Brady after the war,commanded the Army’s Second RangerBattalion and led his “Rudder’s Rangers”in the D-Day invasion at Pointe du Hoc,famously scaling 100-foot cliffs underheavy fire to destroy German gunbatteries.Countless other Texans, perhapslesser known but no less significant,made major contributions to the wareffort. Waco native Doris (Dorie) Miller,an African American mess attendant inthe U.S. Navy, performed heroically during the attack on Pearl Harbor andearned the Navy Cross. Leonard Roy Harmon, a native of Cuero, also a messattendant in the Navy, died while help-ing rescue injured shipmates during the1942 Battle of Guadalcanal and wasposthumously awarded the Navy Cross.The destroyer escort
christened by Harmon’s mother andlaunched in 1943, was the first U.S. warship named for an African American. José Mendoza Lopez, who died earlierthis year in San Antonio, was one of five Hispanic Texans who earned theMedal of Honor during World War II.Texas was home to the legendary Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) who trained at Avenger Field inSweetwater. The WASP flew more than60 million miles performing suchduties as towing targets for live gunnery practice, ferrying military planes to airbases throughout the U.S., and test-flying new or damaged aircraft. Thirty-eight WASP lost their lives in service tothe war effort, and the survivors, officially classified as civilian rather than military personnel, had to wait until speciallegislation was passed in 1977 to receiveproper recognition and veteran benefits.But the military history of Texasin World War II is only part of thestory. Located throughout the state arereminders of the impact on the lives of those who supported the war effort onthe home front. Nearly a half-millioncivilians, many who relocated to Texas, worked in war-related industries, andmanufacturing in the state increasedfour-fold from 1940 to 1945.
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Texas troops played a pivotal role in attaining victory in World War II.Dalhart Army Air Field, 1942