Area celebrates forgotten history of Camp Davis  
     
 

About 3,000 people from across the United States attended the Camp Davis 75th anniversary celebration April 25 in Holly Ridge.

 
     
 

By Maria Sestito - Maria.Sestito@JDNews.com

Posted Apr 30, 2015 at 12:01 AM
Updated Apr 30, 2015 at 1:55 PM


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HOLLY RIDGE | About 3,000 people from across the United States attended the Camp Davis 75th anniversary celebration April 25 in Holly Ridge.

The event included tours of the area, various military displays and memorabilia, children’s activities and live performances. 

A mix of local families, military and non-military, business members and children attended; a few had worked at Camp Davis before it closed in 1948. 

Leamon Wooten, 89, worked at Camp Davis twice — once as a teenager and civilian, and again after he joined the Navy. For Wooten, Camp Davis was a learning place. During his time there, he worked as a plumber’s helper, saw one of the first remote-control aircrafts and drove more than 300 German prisoners-of-war to their various jobs and the mess hall. Wooten came to the event with his wife and daughter. 
“It brought back a lot of memories for me,” Clennie Davis said.

Davis, 102, is from Holly Ridge. She worked at Camp Davis before it closed. He said he liked seeing all the photos and the people interested in the camp’s history.

There were many people who, although they grew up in the area, didn’t know much about Camp Davis before this event. 

“I’m ashamed to say I’ve been here all my life and didn’t know the history of Camp Davis,” said Kathleen Justice.

Justice said she was amazed at the size and span of the camp.

“It blows my mind. I had no idea all this was here,” Justice said.

After seeing the displays and talking to Camp Davis experts, Justice wanted to learn more. Many of the people who raised in the area haven’t been exposed to it’s history, she said.

Saturday’s event marked a beginning for educating people about Camp Davis, Justice said.
Over three years, Holly Ridge grew from a population of 28 to about 110,000, according to town records.
Overall, Camp Davis spanned 46,683 acres and was built in five short months.

“So many people don’t know about Camp Davis,” said Cliff Tyndall, author of “Greetings from Camp Davis.” Tyndall donned a late-World War II field-dress uniform. He gave tours of Camp Davis remnants during the event. 

Tyndall spent a decade researching the camp and collecting memorabilia. 

Many booths showcased memorabilia.

Ben Smith’s mother worked in the finance office at Camp Davis in the 1940s, he said. 

Smith found a variety of camp photos and memorabilia that she had been saving. Smith plans to bring his display next year — he thinks he’ll find more stuff in the attic from his mother’s years at Camp Davis.

“All this is going to be lost in history,” he said. Smith said he was “tickled” to know new generations are learning the history of Camp Davis.

“Most people just don’t realize the heritage and all the history that this area has,” Smith said.

Dorothy Royal, the event’s coordinator, said she hopes that this will become an annual occasion.

She owns the building that was Paradise Dance Club. The building will be turned into an indoor shooting range, but Royal plans to dedicate part of the building for the future Camp Davis Historical Society, which will house artifacts and a classroom.

Royal said she has received calls from across the country from people who have memorabilia they want to contribute to the historical society.