When someone decides to become a soldier in the United States Army, one of their first stops is going through the training programs at Ft. Jackson. In fact, this fort accounts for the training of more than half of all entering Army soldiers (including 60% of all women). The fort’s goal has always been to ensure that those who are trained there become the best soldiers. It is named after Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States. He was also an American soldier who served in the Revolutionary War, and the fort is a tribute to his service.
The History of Ft. Jackson
The fort became Camp Jackson in 1917. At that time, the United States was becoming embroiled in WWI. The base was then used as a way to provide the basic training that recruits, who would be entering combat, needed.
It was briefly shut down for a number of years right after the end of the First World War. However, with the arrival of World War II, the government saw fit to reactivate the fort to provide training to soldiers. During both World Wars, Ft. Jackson is said to have been responsible for providing between 50%-80% of the basic combat training for soldiers. To this day, it is still the largest and most prominent location for basic training for the United States Army.
The Basic Combat Training (BCT), which takes place at Ft. Jackson, is 10 weeks long. Soldiers are expected to endure at least 12 hours of physical training each day (except Sunday). There is occasional classroom training, as well.
BCT covers a wide-range of subjects such as ballistics, rifle marksmanship, fieldcraft, patrolling, physical fitness, military operations in urban terrain, long distance marching, and many other areas. Each year, the fort has over 36,000 graduates from BCT, and 8,000 graduates from Advanced Individual Training.
What Else is Offered at Ft. Jackson?
The fort spreads across more than 52,000 acres, and it has 73 ranges and field training sites. A number of units are a part of Ft. Jackson including the 120th AG Battalion, the 171st Infantry Brigade, the 157th Infantry Brigade, the 193rd Infantry Brigade, the 165th Infantry Brigade, and the Soldier Support Institute.
In addition to having a heavy focus on training and making sure soldiers are thoroughly prepared for combat, there are other important activities that occur on post as well, as evidenced by the Soldier Support Institute. Other elements on base include the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Center and the National Center for Credibility Assessment. The base also happens to be the home of the Drill Sergeant School. All of the drill sergeants in the Army, whether they are assigned to this duty post or another training center, receive their initial training at Ft. Jackson.
But soldiers are not the only ones who benefit from all Ft. Jackson has to offer. There are a lot of great activities that are offered through the Fort’s Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR), which are wonderful for the soldiers and their families. Some of the different types of activities include arts and crafts, bowling, and different physical activities and classes.
In addition, this fort has had a massive impact on the surrounding community over the years, and it has helped the economy immensely. The fort contributes approximately $2.2 billion back to the local economy. This is primarily due to the fact that since this is where basic training is held for so many soldiers each year, around 200,000 family members visit over the course of the year (especially for graduation ceremonies).
The local community also has the option of sending their children to school on the base. There are two elementary schools (CC Pinckey Elementary and Pierce Terrace Elementary School) that offer schooling for children in grades Pre-K through sixth grade. Both schools have a proven track record that ensures students are prepared for high school.
Finally, Ft. Jackson provides employment for more than just members of the military. The fort employs thousands of civilians and provides services to more than 46,000 retirees who live in the nearby area. In fact, many who served feel this area is an ideal place to retire. Veterans like that there are not only ample employment opportunities, but a lot of recreational activities in the area, as well.
Famous People from Ft. Jackson
You might not know this, but a number of famous soldiers have passed through the gates of Ft. Jackson throughout its tenure. There are some names there that you are certain to remember.
First, there is Freddie Stowers, who was a part of the original camp in 1917. He was one of the first recruits to go through training, and he was also the only African American to have received a Medal of Honor during WWI. Medal of Honor recipient Desmond Doss also went through Ft. Jackson.
Popular singer and songwriter Jim Croce performed at Ft. Jackson. Some of the songs that you might recognize from Croce include “Time in a Bottle,” “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels”), and “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” Another person at the base who would later become a celebrity was Ken Berry, a dancer, actor, and singer. Berry was part of the Artillery and Special Services at the tail-end of the Korean War, where he attained the rank of corporal. Finally, Leonard Nimoy (who most people are sure to know as Spock from Star Trek) was also a member of Ft. Jackson. In fact, he was a sergeant over none other than Corporal Ken Berry.
As you can see, there is certainly a lot to love about Ft. Jackson, whether you are currently stationed there, went through the post for basic training, or are a supportive family member of a soldier at the base. Share your story below about your time at the Fort!
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.