Camp Shelby Braces For Federal Troops - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/16/04

Camp Shelby Braces For Federal Troops

News about the federal mobilization plan at Camp Shelby was all the buzz around the base Tuesday.

The sprawling 130 thousand acre complex is quiet now, but that's about to change dramatically.

As one National Guardsman put it, "it's about to become a madhouse around here."

The expected arrival of thousands of U-S troops is exciting news for nearby merchants. The base has provided them a long term economic boost.

Former weapons of war provide a static display outside the Armed Forces Museum at Camp Shelby. But that serene setting will soon be interrupted with the arrival of thousands of federal troops who will train and mobilize.

The owner of a nearby barbecue restaurant is counting on those soldiers bringing their appetites.

"Oh yes, oh yes. We're happy," said Edward Peerboom.

The owner of "Three Little Pigs" barbecue is counting on piling up the plate lunches for thousands of hungry soldiers. His place relies heavily on Camp Shelby customers. The war took it's toll when National Guardsmen were called to active duty.

"When they went overseas, it was just a ghost town. There was nobody here, so it took a long time for the public to realize they could get in the door now, and we appreciate all the support the public has brought us," he said.

Becoming a federal mobilization facility is nothing new for Camp Shelby. In fact, that was one of he base's original missions when it was founded in 1917. Since then, it has also served as a federal mobilization center for both world wars and for Desert Storm in 1991.

Brenda Ryal's late father deployed from Camp Shelby for service in World War Two. She spent the day at Camp Shelby Tuesday, tracing those military roots and family history.

"My mom and dad met here at Camp Shelby back in 1941. My mother is from Bassville, Mississippi and dad was here in the service. I believe he was an MP," said the Indiana visitor.

At the museum, she explored the prominent role Camp Shelby played when her father was deployed for World War Two, as the base prepares to mobilize thousands of today's troops to fight in the ongoing war against terrorism.

National Guard leaders welcome the chance to let Camp Shelby once again serve as a troop mobilization center. In fact, that mission is part of the vision included in Camp Shelby's 20 year master plan for future growth.

By Steve Phillips

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