Princeton National Guard

In addition to calling for volunteers and drafting men into the military, the U.S. Government also federalized the National Guard to fight in Korea. In January 1951, the National Guard unit from Princeton, MN was mobilized as part of the 47th Infantry Division and they were sent to Camp Rucker, Alabama for training. Although the 47th as a whole stayed stateside, many Minnesotans from this division were reassigned as replacement troops to Regular Army units in Korea.

A Princeton movie theater owner gave Lt. Charles Henschel a 16mm movie camera to record the activities of the Guard. Henschel filmed the unit’s departure and training at camp and sent the films back home, where they were shown in the theater before the main feature. These silent films provided a link between the local community and their "boys" in service, and today they help us imagine what it was like to train for war.

Here are the seven films documenting these unique wartime experiences:

In the first silent film from January 1951, shown above, Princeton soldiers are shown waiting at the Princeton Great Northern Railway depot prior to departing on the train to Camp Rucker, Alabama.

The second silent film segment depicts the Princeton soldiers waiting with their families at the Princeton depot. Once the troop train arrives, the soldiers load their equipment on the train and take their leave.

The Princeton soldiers can be seen marching in formation from the Armory to the train depot escorted by a marching band and scores of citizens in the third film. This segment also shows the unit’s arrival at Camp Rucker, where they unpack and clean their rifles.

In the fourth film, the Princeton soldiers are shown doing various activities at Camp Rucker, including carpentry, peeling potatoes, in mail call and the chow line, using a two man chain saw and jack hammer, and digging a one-man fox hole.

The fifth film shows the Princeton soldiers building a pontoon bridge, assembling a structural steel bridge across a ravine, being addressed in seated formation by a VIP and receiving certificates, and working in the kitchen.

The sixth silent film segment depicts the Princeton soldiers erecting and climbing poles, during pay day, using a bulldozer to build a timber bridge, eating a field kitchen meal, playing basketball and horseshoes, doing laundry and calisthenics, and enjoying family visits.

The seventh and final film shows the Princeton soldiers at rifle and machine gun ranges, at a field kitchen meal, paddling boats, swimming, during a VIP visit, marching on parade ground, constructing equipment, and attending a wedding on base. It also shows their training camp graduation.

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