Military Postcards, United States

Summer Camp and Boot Camp [1943 – Galilee, PA]

Postcard Camp Chicopee, Galilee, PA 1943 lg

This postcard traveled from the itty-bitty town of Galilee, PA to Great Lakes, Illinois, home to a massive Navy installation which trained a staggering number of sailors for service in World War II.

The front of this card features an aerial image of Camp Chicopee, a traditional summer camp which was located in the rural northwest corner of Pennsylvania near the New York state line. The camp was in operation until the late 1960s (source), but based on some Google Maps sleuthing, the land has since returned to private use and little trace remains of the buildings depicted in this photo.

Regarding supervising campers, I can personally relate to the sender’s sentiments. I myself worked as a camp counselor for one summer in rural Vermont when I was 19, and can attest that keeping a group of 8-year-olds entertained and out of trouble is no easy feat no matter the era. Though, for the recipient of this card, I’m sure a Navy life wasn’t much of a picnic either.

This card traveled west to Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois which was established in 1904 on the shores of Lake Michigan during the administration of Theodore Roosevelt. The station provided training to sailors entering The Great War (WWI), but was later mothballed for a short period during the Interwar years. Then, like so many other installations, the population ballooned after the Pearl Harbor Attack and by 1943, Naval Station Great Lakes hosted 100,000 recruits who were trained by 700 instructors. In total, the base trained a quarter of the 4 million Naval service members involved in the war, and among them some of the first African American trainees.

After the “BRAC” consolidation in the 1990s which closed boot camps in San Diego and Orlando, the Great Lakes installation became home to the Navy’s only boot camp and continues to serve this function into the present.

Postcard Camp Chicopee, Galilee, PA 1943 message lg


July 6/43

This camping business is O.K. – for the parents who want a rest. At least in the Navy you don’t have to take care of six 8 year olds. It’s some picnic.

Love from us all, Archie

To: Irving Marcus, A. S. Co. 703 U.S.N.T.S. Great Lakes, Illinois

Postmark: Galilee, PA – July 7, 1943

Image: Camp Chicopee, Galilee, Pennsylvania

1940s Images of U.S. Naval Training Center (USNTC), Great Lakes, Illinois

The U.S. National Archives

African American Boxing Champions at Great Lakes, IL


From the Newberry Postcard Library Collection.


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