Fort Rucker, located in southeast Alabama, has a long and interesting history. When the base was first created, it was called Ozark Triangular Division Camp. However, before its actual opening on May 1, 1942, it was renamed Camp Rucker by the War Department.
Edmund Winchester Rucker. Rucker was born in 1835 and became an officer in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He advanced to the rank of colonel and was made acting brigadier general. However, that commission did not have confirmation through the Confederate Congress.
Colonel Rucker was wounded in the Battle of Franklin and the Battle of Nashville, and he was captured during the latter battle. His injury led to the amputation of his left arm, and he was then put into prison at Johnson’s Island in Ohio. A prisoner exchange allowed him to reunite with the Confederate Army in time for its surrender in Gainesville, AL in May 1865.
The History of Ft. Rucker
The United States was in the middle of the war in the Pacific, along with fighting against the Nazis on the European front, when the camp was created. It was during this time that more camps and bases needed to be constructed to ensure proper training for those who would be going off to fight in World War II.
The camp was placed on land that was once a wildlife refuge, with some areas that were suboptimal land for farming. At the time of the opening, there were quarters available for 3,280 officers, along with 39,461 enlisted.
Within just a few months of the camp’s opening, more land was bought. The new land was located just to the south of Daleville, and it was used to create the Ozark Army Airfield. The name was changed to Cairns Army Airfield in January 1959.
While Ft. Rucker is known today mostly for aviation, the first troops who trained at Camp Rucker in the 1940s were those who would become a part of the 81st Infantry Division. These troops left Camp Rucker to head to the Pacific in March of 1943. There were several other infantry divisions that went through their training at Camp Rucker during World War II. These include the 35th Infantry Division, the 98th Infantry Division, and the 66th Infantry Division.
It is important to remember that during this time, Camp Rucker did much more than just train units that were the size of divisions. The camp also trained a range of other types of units, including infantry replacement units, tank units, and Women’s Army Corps units. Additionally, as the war progressed, the southern portion of the camp was used to hold hundreds of prisoners of war from Germany and Italy.
Fort Rucker was active and operational throughout World War II, but it was rendered inactive in March of 1946. It stayed inactive until August of 1950 when it was opened up for the Korean War. It was at that time that the 47th Infantry Division of Minnesota’s Army National Guard was mobilized. They were sent to Camp Rucker and stayed there until the end of the Korean War. The camp was used as an area to provide basic training to soldiers who would be sent as replacement troops to Korea.
After the Korean War, the base did close again for a short time. It reopened in August 1954 and expanded, and at that time, it became a training base for helicopters. This was the first time that aviation truly played an important role on the base.
The base changed its name from Camp Rucker to Ft. Rucker in 1955. In October 1959, the Hanchey Army Heliport became home to the Department of Rotary Wing Training for the Army Aviation School.
What Units Are Located at Ft. Rucker?
Today, the military facility at Ft. Rucker that is the most prominent and dominant is the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence. The Army’s training for aviation has been located at Fort Rucker since 1973, and the Center works hard to develop the capabilities of the Army’s Aviation units. Fort Rucker also houses U.S. Air Force pilots and other pilots from U.S. allies who come to the fort to train.
Ft. Rucker is also the home of the U.S. Aviation Technical Test Center, which is responsible for taking care of the Army Aviation’s developmental aircraft testing. At Cairns Army Airfield, you will find the U.S. Army Operational Test and Evaluation Command’s Test and Evaluation Coordination offices.
Operational units that are located at Ft. Rucker include the 1st Aviation Brigade and the 110th Aviation Brigade. They take care of the aviation training for the Army. The USAF 23rd Flying Training Squadron is also at the fort, and they are responsible for training the helicopter pilots for the Air Force.
The 110th Aviation Brigade is made up of four battalions. They include:
- 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment – Responsible for the operation and management of air traffic control services for USAACe/Ft. Rucker and the National Airspace System.
- 1st Battalion, 14th Aviation Regiment – Conducts graduate-level training with the AH-64D Apache Longbow and the OH-58D Kiowa helicopters. They operate from the Hanchey Army Heliport.
- 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment – They conduct combat training, along with nighttime operational training with helicopters, including the OH-58, UH-60, and UH-1. They operate from Shell Army Heliport and Lowe Army Heliport.
- 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment – They conduct flight training with the C-12 Huron, as well as the CH-47 Chinook. The regiment operates from Knox Army Heliport and Cairns Army Airfield.
Ft. Rucker is also home to a number of other schools and facilities that have helped to make it the base it is today. The Warrant Officer Candidate School and the Warrant Officer Career College are both located at the fort. Warrant officers who are a part of the aviation brand will stay at Ft. Rucker to go through their flight training, as well as the Aviation Warrant Officer Basic Course. Other facilities include the United States Army Aeromedical Research Lab, the Lyster Army Health Clinic, the United States Army School of Aviation Medicine, the U.S. Army Combat Readiness and Safety Center, and, of course, the Army Aviation Museum, which is always a pleasure to visit.
Notable People Who have Worked, Lived, or Grown Up at Ft. Rucker
Just like many other military bases around the country, Ft. Rucker is home to interesting people who have served at the fort or who were born or spent some time living here. One of Ft. Rucker’s most notable persons is Al Gore, a former VP of the United States, who was at the fort when he was enlisted. Other notable people to have lived at the base include Brian Gay, Rusty Green, Edgar Jones, and Hall Morris, all professional athletes.
Ft. Rucker is a fantastic place to serve, and those who have ever lived there, whether they were members of the military or family members, should be proud.
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.
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