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Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts & Humanities. 2017. 

THE DRAFT AND TRAINING

IN ALABAMA

Congress passed the Selective  Service Act on May 19, 1917, and the draft began July 20, 1917. Alabama Congressman Hubert Dent Jr. of Eufaula chaired the Military Affairs Committee. He opposed the draft, believing that the army should be filled strictly with volunteers. As it turned out, 17% of Alabama draftees were rejected for service due to poor health and illiteracy. Alabama had the highest rejection rate in the nation.  Marion Albert Hill, a Cullman resident, was the very first draftee in the nation. 

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Alabama became home to several mobilization and training bases. The state had not seen this much federal military presence since the era of Reconstruction after the Civil War. In addition to Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Camp McClellan in Anniston became a major training ground for troops.  Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan on either side of the entrance to Mobile Bay were existing artillery forts put to use during the war. 

 

In March 1918, the War Department opened Taylor Field. It was nestled on eight hundred acres of flat terrain in the Pike Road area near Montgomery. The airfield served as a primary flight training school for the Army Air Service. After classroom work, air cadets attended primary training schools, such as Taylor Field, to learn the basics of flying and to log the necessary flight hours required to move on to combat training school.

 

Aviation Repair & Engine Depot No. 3 opened in April 1918. It was located on the site of the Wright Brothers’ first civilian flight training school, and was one of three in the nation built by the U.S. Army Air Service. The site served the seven southeastern airfields during the war. Today, Maxwell Air Force Base and Air University occupy the site.