Battlefield Texas Transcript

Battlefield Texas

When the United States entered the War in 1917, it meant the lightning-fast mobilization of an entire society. From a peacetime economy - to a wartime machine. From a military of less than 400,000 to nearly 5 million. with some 200,000 Texans serving in the military during the war. 

Many women supported the war effort on the home front, while 450 Texan women served as nurses in Europe.

For the first time, young Texans - mostly from small towns and family farms - would sail across the ocean to Europe, connecting rural Texas to the world.

But this massive new Army needed training bases, airfields, and officer schools. Texas, with its abundance of wide open land, flat terrain, and good weather, was the perfect place.

New recruits from around the United States poured into Texas; the population - and the economy - boomed. When Camp MacArthur was built near Waco, it housed 45,000 troops – it doubled the city’s population seemingly overnight.

The Army constructed four massive training camps, an officers' training school, nine new aviation fields and fortified existing forts along the Gulf Coast and the Mexican border. 

The Texas countryside thundered with artillery training. Troops crawled through trenches. And legends like Ormer Locklear, Katherine Stinson and Vernon Castle made Texas the center of American military aviation.

Many Texans who’d never traveled more than 30 miles from home were soon marching through France and Belgium.

Many trained with the famed 36th Infantry and 90th Division. Both saw heavy action in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that helped win the war.

But back in Texas, dance halls were full and downtowns boomed. Airplanes buzzed through Texas skies. No longer just a place of cattle and cowboys - Texas produced the food, exported the oil, and trained the soldiers that helped America win the war.

Texas emerged from the war with a new confidence - that would change the way America saw Texas… and the way Texans saw themselves.