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Newly uploaded videos show Guardsmen training at Fort Drum in 1940s, '50s

Recently uploaded home movie footage has given new life to the training of National Guard units on Pine Camp, now known as Fort Drum, that took place about six decades ago.

The silent movies, one from 1948 and the other from 1951, show the 108th Regimental Combat Team, of the 27th Infantry Division, marching in formation as planes flew above, firing their M-1 Garand rifles and moving in the field.

It’s a mix of serious, as soldiers parade with their unit colors in front of a large crowd, and playful, such as soldiers enjoying chow and a smoking break, or a first sergeant feeding a curious squirrel.

“A lot of them were just the high points of their annual training,” said James M. Gandy, assistant librarian and archivist at the New York State Military Museum, Saratoga Springs.

The museum came across 50 such videos as it sorted through collections of materials from military sites across the state, Mr. Gandy said, such as the armory in Oneida that was vacated around the early 2000s.

“Whenever an armory closes, we have to sort through everything of value,” he said.

There were no notes about the origin of the footage, but Mr. Gandy said it likely was shot by the soldiers as they completed their training.

The museum and its volunteers transferred the 16-millimeter footage onto DVD and Beta SP tapes for long-term storage, and slowly the tape collection is making its way to YouTube. The two Pine Camp films were uploaded in mid-June.

Mr. Gandy said the footage could be of historical value to those trying to learn about the military at that time, not to mention its nostalgia value.

“Someone who was once in the 108th may be able to recognize somebody and point them out,” he said.

The museum has a large collection of films that have not seen the light of day, including veteran oral histories. Of the approximately 50 videos found, Mr. Gandy said, about 15 include training at Pine Camp, and more of them could be coming to the Web.

“More to come,” he said.

A potential long-term plan, he said, is to move a few more of those to the New York National Guard’s YouTube channel.

The New York Army National Guard said those who can recognize any of the soldiers in the film can reach out to Eric Durr at eric.d.durr.nfg@mail.mil.
 

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