Starting life as Camp Polk in 1941, this Army base was built quickly to train troops for Northern Africa, European and Pacific theaters.
It was one of the first Army bases that specialized in mechanized or mobile forces. Camp Polk also served as a place for German prisoners of war after WW 2. After that war, the camp opened and closed many times for a few decades. Then, in 1950, in preparation for the Korean War, the base became active again. It remained an important training ground for soldiers going to Vietnam as well. In fact, Fort Polk trained more soldiers for Vietnam than any other U.S. Army base.
Training at Fort Polk was said to be tough, but it was helpful for troops who had to face very tough conditions overseas. In the early 1970s at the end of the Vietnam War, Fort Polk became home to the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and became less of a training center.
At its peak, however, there was an entire Vietnamese village set-up to train soldiers on what they were going to face in Vietnam. More recently, the Joint Readiness Training Center moved to Fort Polk. The Army base remains open today, serving an important role in the military’s overall plan.