Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Currahee Military Weekend is this weekend

In 1942 with the world at war, the United States government acquired a mountain and the surrounding land in Toccoa, Georgia as a training facility for a new type of soldier, the paratrooper. Young men from across the nation who had little in common except a shared future, descended on the small north Georgia town to train to defend their country.

To honor the men of Camp Toccoa and as a show of appreciation for the sacrifices they made, the Currahee Military Weekend and Reunion is this weekend Sept. 30 - Oct. 2. The event is hosted by The Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce, Stephens County Historical Society and Toccoa Main Street Program.

It is estimated that as many as 17,000 soldiers from the 501st, 506th, 511th, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiments trained at Camp Toccoa during WWII. With the paratrooper population being greater than the town’s population, one can imagine the impact of the soldiers on the community. The once sleepy town was now a booming military town and quickly became a regional financial, medical and transportation hub for northeast Georgia.

Camp Toccoa reshaped the town and the soldiers training there ultimately became the inspiration for the Home Box Office mini-series The Band of Brothers, movies Saving Private Ryan and The Dirty Dozen as well as the History Channel’s Los Banos Prison Raid.

“We look forward to the paratroopers who trained at Camp Toccoa and their families coming back to Toccoa for the reunion to reminisce about their experiences with their friends who shared this very significant time in their lives,” says Brenda Carlan, County and Currahee Military Museum Executive Director. “Visitors can meet some of the paratroopers who trained at Camp Toccoa and listen to their stories. There are thirteen Camp Toccoa Veterans registered to return this year. Scheduled Events with the Veterans include school visits, a BBQ, a book signing, a Veterans’ Parade and Opening Ceremonies and a Banquet with special guest speaker James Madio, the actor who portrayed Frank Perconte in the HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers.” Guests can also visit the Currahee Military Museum and walk through the actual stable that housed some of the soldiers while they were fighting in Aldbourne, England. We look forward to honoring the men of Camp Toccoa again this year.”

Chamber of Commerce President Wendi Bailey says the military weekend is one of the most important events for the town and serves to create community pride. “We are thrilled about this year’s t-shirt design created by local artist Carl Fennell exclusively for the Weekend which displays a star for each of the Camp Toccoa regiments, 501st, 506th, 511th and 517th, 295th and 38th“ said Wendi. “There are a number of activities planned including a BBQ, a Hangar Dance and the famous Currahee Challenge Run/Walk “3 Miles Up-3 Miles Down” Currahee Mountain which served as the paratroopers’ base camp and training facility. There will also be an Airport Show with a Parachute Jump Team and a once in a lifetime opportunity to purchase a ride in one of the vintage WWII aircraft flown by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Dixie Wing and the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation.”

The majority of the weekend’s events will take place in close proximity to the historic district of downtown Toccoa where the Chamber of Commerce, Welcome Center and Historical Society and Currahee Military Museum are all housed in a historic, restored train depot.

“This event is a great opportunity to showcase our award winning downtown revitalization as well as thank the downtown merchants and restaurants for being there,” said Main Street Events Coordinator, Sharon Crosby. There will be re-enactor encampments on the courthouse lawn where visitors can experience a WWII camp site and living history exhibits,” said Sharon. “There will also be a memorabilia show and sale with items from the Civil War, Indian Wars, WWI and WWII. There will be something for kids of all ages as we celebrate our military’s commitment to America.”

Toccoa-Stephens County is an All-American Patriotic Community and we “walk-the-talk” every year at the Currahee Military Reunion Weekend Celebration. The Currahee Military Reunion Weekend serves to honor the veterans who trained at Camp Toccoa, the thousands of veterans who have served our country on many other battlefields, and the active military men and women who are serving the country. Here is a schedule of events. The times are subject to change:

Thursday, September 29:

  • 10:00am–6:00pm: Museum Open, Adults $8 & Children $3. Registration, Train Depot, Mitchell Allen Room

Friday, September 30:

  • 10:00am–6:00pm: Museum Open, Adults $8 & Children $3. Registration, Train Depot, Mitchell Allen Room
  • 10:00am–10:00pm: Hospitality Suite (Registered Guests Only)
  • 11:30am–1:30pm: Chicken BBQ Lunch at the Toccoa First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall. Tickets are $7 at the Chamber or at the door.
  • 1:00pm–4:00pm: Book Signing in the Mitchell Allen Room with the WWII veterans
  • 7:00pm-11:00pm: USO Hangar Dance at the Toccoa-Stephens County Airport, old LeTourneau Hangar – Atlanta singing group Vintage Vocals sing songs from the 1940’s and Actor James Madio. Music by Flash the DJ. There will be a Costume Contest and dance demonstrations. Tickets are $10 at the Chamber and $15 at the door. $10 at the door if you are in 40’s attire.

Saturday, October 1:

  • 7:00am: Day of Registration for the Currahee Challenge Run/Walk: 3 Mile at 7:45am and 6 Mile at 8:30am. Come run the infamous Currahee Mountain trail, “3 miles up - 3 miles down,” that served as part of the rigorous basic training where the men were hardened to become battle-ready paratroopers. 1st, 2nd 3rd prizes are matted 2011 CMW Art suitable for framing. Fee is $15 in advance and $20 after 9-25-11.
  • 10:00am–4:00pm: Museum Open, Adults $8 and Children $3, Train Depot
  • 10:00am–4:00pm: Memorabilia Show (in the former Whiten’s Shoe Store) on Doyle St: Military arms and memorabilia of the Civil War, Indian Wars, WWI, WWII, Vietnam and more, Downtown Toccoa.
  • 10:00am-4:00pm: WWII Re-enactor Living History Encampments and displays on the Court House lawn.
  • 10:00am–4:00pm: Military Recruiter Displays and vintage military vehicles, Downtown Toccoa.
  • 10:00am-4:00pm Airport Show: Dixie Wing WWII fighter 20 minute plane rides include a Fairchild PT-26 for $95, L-16 Grasshopper for $50, SNJ Zero for $295. The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation is bringing a Huey Helicopter and a 10minute ride will take you 1,000 feet up with the doors wide open. A load is 10 people, will go up with 6 people, $50 per person, $40 for Veterans. Rides are available on a first come first serve basis. There will be a Navion aircraft and other vintage planes. The US Army will display and have a Rock Wall. Civil Air Patrol will offer a CafĂ© for snacks.
  • 10:50am: Parachute Jump Team, Downtown Boyd Field
  • 11am: Veteran’s Parade Grand Marshal is James Madio will include the High School Marching Band, Army recruits, JROTC color presentation, vintage vehicles, Army H# Hummer. Check in at the American Legion, Doyle Street, Downtown Toccoa. 500 American flags will be given out.
  • 11:30am: Opening Ceremonies and Purple Heart Ceremony for Jonathan Merck. Toccoa Falls College Brass Band, JROTC Presentation of the Colors, the Blue Ridge Rifles and the singing of the National Anthem.
  • 1:00pm, 2pm & 3:00pm: Re-enactor weapons demonstrations. Courthouse lawn.
  • 2:00pm at the Airport: Parachute Jump Team
  • 7:00pm: Banquet and Auction at the Georgia Baptist Conference Center featuring special guest and speaker Actor James Madio. A fundraiser auction benefiting the Stephens County Historical Society will follow the dinner. Tickets are $50.
  • Sunday, October 2:
  • 8:30am: Remembrance Service given by Pastor Scott Borderud, a veteran and a minister. Taps by William Tucker and Re-enactor 21 Gun Salute. Meet at the Parachute Infantry Regimen Memorial, Currahee Mountain. Take highway 123 to the Patterson Pump and Milliken-Humphrey plants. Breakfast at BJ’s Restaurant.
  • 10:00am–4:00pm: Museum Open, Adults $8 and Children $3

This is a community-wide collaboration and celebration of Toccoa’s rich military history. The event would not be possible without broad support from our sponsors, volunteers and Civic Clubs.

2011 Currahee Military Weekend Sponsors


Community Bank & Trust

Quality Foods

Springer Mountain Farms

Gold Sponsor - North Georgia Technical College Culinary School

Bronze In-Kind Sponsor – Adams Container

Bronze In-Kind - Zaxby’s

In Kind Sponsors: 1st Baptist Church of Toccoa, McDonalds, Captain D’s, Elk’s Lodge & County EMS pit, Toccoa Elementary and Stephens County High School Chorus, BBQ Shack

WWII USO Hangar Dance

In Kind Sponsors – VFW Post 4346, Foothills Aviation, Mountain Side Aviation, Flash the DJ, Fernside Package Store, Stephens County Airport Authority, Civil Air Patrol

Currahee Military Reunion

Sponsors: Acree-Davis Funeral Home, Acree Oil Company, Dr. Ken Schneider, Eaton, First Citizens Bank,

Georgia Baptist Conference Center, McClure, Ramsay Dickerson & Escoe, Quincy’s Family Steakhouse, Stephens County Historical Society, Stephens Federal Bank. In Kind Sponsors: Super Wal-Mart, Stephens County High School Marching Band, Stephens County High School JR ROTC, WNEG Radio, Toccoa Record, Dal Studios, Good Machine, County and City Employees, Marine Corps League, American Legion Post 104, Pilot Club, Rotary Club

Currahee Challenge Run/Walk

Community Bank & Trust

Gold Sponsor – Caterpillar

Gold Sponsor - Stephens County Hospital

Silver Sponsor– Georgia Baptist Conference Center

Silver Sponsor – U.S. Army

Silver Sponsor - Super Wal-Mart

Bronze Sponsor - Skelton Morris Associates

In Kind Sponsors: Toccoa Rotary Club, HAM/TARS Radio Operators, State Patrol, Stephens County EMS & EMA, Cub Scouts Pack 168, Wendy’s

Airport Show

Toccoa Falls College

Gold Sponsor – Addington Enterprises

Gold Sponsor – Toccoa Clinic

Silver Sponsor – American Woodmark

Silver Sponsor – SAGE Automotive Interiors

Bronze Sponsor – BJ’s

In Kind Sponsors - Civil Air Patrol

Re-Enactors WWII Living History & Weapons Demonstrations

Bronze Sponsor – BJ’s