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There’s a story in Campo that needs to be passed on. It’s the story of Camp Lockett, a World War II Army base and the last home of the famed Buffalo Soldiers. Remarkable chapters of military history have unfolded on its land and you can help preserve it
When it was built in 1941, Camp Lockett originally housed the 11th Cavalry of the U.S. Army. As fighting waged in Europe, the unit was shipped out and two entirely African-American cavalry units moved in. They formed the 4th Cavalry, the very last of a long history of horse-mounted cavalry used by the military.
Known as Buffalo Soldiers, the proud history of these units dates back to the Civil War. They were known for contributing to the Spanish American War, the Mexican Punitive Expedition and the Philippine Insurrection. They were called Buffalo Soldiers by Native Americans who thought they had the same fighting spirit as the sacred buffalo.
More than 3,000 African Americans were stationed at Camp Lockett and like generations of Buffalo Soldiers before them, they were segregated from their white counterparts and faced discrimination while serving and protecting our country. At Lockett, they patrolled the rugged U.S. Border on horseback and guarded the region’s transportation links and water supply from an invasion that military strategists feared might come through Mexico.
In early 1944, the Army decided it no longer needed cavalry units and the Buffalo Soldiers were disbanded. Camp Lockett went on to become an Army hospital and a prisoner of war camp that housed German and Italian soldiers.
A national historic designation for the site is an important step toward the eventual creation of a public park where the stories of Camp Lockett can be kept alive. With help from the Campo community, the county has completed an award-winning concept plan for Camp Lockett, showing the potential for a significant State Park. An historic designation application is now before the State Office of Historic Preservation. If approved, the application would be forwarded to Washington D.C. for approval.
Love history? Take a few extra minutes to write to this address about the importance of preserving Camp Lockett.
State of California — The Resources Agency
Department of Parks and Recreation
Office of Historic Preservation
P.O. Box 94296
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
— DIANNE JACOB