Currahee Military Museum
The Currahee Military Museum and Toccoa's annual Currahee Military Weekend celebrate and preserve the legacy of Camp Toccoa, a bold experiment designed to take men directly from civilian life to the battlefields of World War II as paratroopers.
The Stephens County Historical Society maintains the Currahee Military Museum at the site of the old train depot where soldiers arrived before they made the five mile hike to Camp Toccoa. The Museum houses photos, documents and memorabilia of World War II.
The museum, housed in the Toccoa Train Station, tells the story of trainees who spent time in Toccoa, to become some of the most physically fit soldiers in the Army. More than 18,000 paratroopers trained at Camp Toccoa prior to and after D-Day. including an actual stable that housed members of the PID before and after D-Day.
One of the most popular exhibits is a horse stable from Aldbourne England that served as housing for 506th PIR, American paratroopers. The stable 17x70 feet long serves as a reminder of some of the finer living conditions during the war. Located in the depot are local exhibits that tell the history of Stephens County for the last 100 years.
Built in the 1930s under FDR's "Works Projects Administration" the camp originally served the National Guard. Five thousand men arrived at the remote Currahee Mountain training camp five miles outside of Toccoa in 1942 for training as a new type of soldier - paratroopers. Over the next few years 18,000 soldiers from 501st, 506th, 511th, and 517th Parachute Infantry Regimemt (PIR) trained at Camp Toccoa in preparation to defend the free world from the German offensive that was World War II. The 511th fought in the Pacific, defending against the Japanese.
Originally called Camp Toombs, named after Confederate Civil War General Toombs, the name was changed to Camp Toccoa after the camp commander pointed out the irony that arriving recruits passed the Toccoa Casket Company on their way to Camp Tombs.
It seemed fitting that Currahee was the name of the mountain at Camp Toccoa as it is an indian word for "Stand Alone" - significant that paratroopers do "stand alone" as they drop behind enemy lines. Today Currahee" is the motto of the 506th Infantry Regiment.
Camp Toccoa subjected the young men who trained there with many rigorous physical challenges to help prepare them for battle. One notable event was the 115 mile march from Camp Toccoa in December 1942, where they boarded trains for the remainder of the trip to Fort Bennng. The four day hike was a challenge to best the Japanese record of a similar maneuver.
Soon after the war Camp Toccoa was dismantled. Little remains - some roads and curbs, fire hydrants, the old well house, a water tank, and a block building either used a recreation center or bunk house.
The roads up Currahee Mountain remain as U.S. Forest Service roads and as a reminder of the quote from training soldiers, "Three Miles up, Three Miles down," as they used these roads for their hikes and runs.
In recent years Camp Toccoa has become a destination for historians, tour groups, reunions, and especially veterans returning to visit their "home" during training. Currahee Mountain is part of the Piedmont province and rises sharply about 800 feet above its surroundings and is the highest peak in Stephens County Georgia. Also adjacent to the Chattahoochee National Forest, Camp Toccoa has become a favorite place to camp, hike, horseback ride, sightseeing, and to run footraces following the footsteps of the soldiers run of "Three Miles up, Three Miles down".
Band of Brothers
Sixteen hundred men from the first 5,000 who came to Camp Toccoa became the 506th Parachute Infantry Division (PID) of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Nicknamed "Easy Company," their story is told in the award winning HBO series "Band of Brothers" - The story of Easy Company of the US Army 101st Airborne division and their mission in WWII Europe from Operation Overlord through V-J Day.
Band of Brothers is a 10-part, 11-hour television World War II miniseries, originally produced and broadcast in 2001, based on the book of the same title written by historian and biographer Stephen E. Ambrose. The executive producers were Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who had collaborated on the World War II film Saving Private Ryan (1998). The episodes first aired in 2001 on HBO and are still run frequently on various TV networks around the world.
The narrative centers on the experiences of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment assigned to the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army. The series covers Easy's basic training at Camp Toccoa, the American airborne landings in Normandy, Operation Market Garden, the Siege of Bastogne, and on to the end of the war, including the taking of the Eagle's Nest.
The events portrayed are based on Ambrose's research and recorded interviews with Easy Company veterans. A large amount of literary license was taken with the episodes, with several differences between recorded history and the film version. All of the characters portrayed are based on actual members of Easy Company; some of them can be seen in prerecorded interviews as a prelude to each episode (their identities, however, are not revealed until the close of the finale).
The title for the book and the series comes from a famous St. Crispin's Day Speech delivered by the character of Henry V of England before the Battle of Agincourt in William Shakespeare's Henry V; Act IV, Scene 3. A passage from the speech is quoted on the first page of the book, and is also quoted by Carwood Lipton in the final episode.
Information for this section exercepted from the Camp Toccoa at Currahee Project website. The purpose of the project is to celebrate the lives and contributions of the Airborne paratroopers who trained at Camp Toccoa at Currahee Mountain during World War II. Each of these boys left Currahee as “Toccoa men” and have since carried on the tradition of "Currahee - We Stand Alone". These American Heros deserve to have their legacy of leadership preserved. The Camp Toccoa at Currahee Project started as a dream that “should be” done and has now become a project that “must be” completed for the stories of these true American heroes to be told on the hallowed ground where their lives were changed forever.