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Born of war

History of Fort Carson

Fort Carson was established in 1942, following Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. The city of Colorado Springs purchased land south of the city and donated it to the War Department. Construction began immediately and the first building, the camp headquarters, was completed Jan. 31, 1942. "Camp Carson," as it first was known, was named in honor of the legendary Army scout, Gen. Christopher "Kit" Carson, who explored much of the West in the 1800s.

At construction's peak, nearly 11,500 workers were employed on various construction projects at the new camp. Facilities were provided for 35,173 enlisted men, 1,818 officers and 592 nurses. The hospital had space for 1,726 beds, with an expansion capability of 2,000 beds.

The 89th Infantry Division was the first major unit to be activated at Camp Carson, but before World War II ended, more than 100,000 soldiers trained there.

Camp Carson was also home to nearly 9,000 Axis prisoners of war, mostly Italians and Germans. The internment camp at Camp Carson opened on the first day of 1943. These POWs alleviated the manpower shortage in Colorado by doing general farm work, canning tomatoes, cutting corn and aiding in logging operations on Colorado's Western Slope.

Activity at Camp Carson was greatly reduced following the end of World War II. By April 1946, it appeared that Camp Carson would be closed. With the onset of the Korean War however, activity once again increased. Many Reserve and National Guard units were called to active duty and stationed at Camp Carson during this time.

The installation became "Fort Carson" in 1954. In the 1960s, mechanized units were assigned there. At this time additional training land was purchased, bringing the post to its current size of 140,000 acres.

Throughout its history, Fort Carson has been home to nine divisions. Pion Canyon Maneuver Site, an additional training area comprising 237,000 acres approximately 100 miles southeast, was purchased in September 1983.

When not deployed, soldiers train annually at Pion Canyon and the National Training Center in California. Additionally, units participate in joint exercises around the world, including Central and South Africa, Europe and Southwest Asia.

In 2003, most Fort Carson units were deployed in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Troops were also sent in support of the guard mission at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Throughout its history, Fort Carson soldiers and units have been very active supporting various community events throughout Colorado. Soldiers from the mountain post have conducted firefighting missions in local national forests, search and rescue missions throughout the state, and various other emergency operations.

Adapted from Fort Carson Web site,

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