Camp White Military Museum
The Camp White Military Museum holds countless pieces of war memorabilia and personal stories at the Southern Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs in White City, Oregon, Sept. 26, 2018. BLM photo: Matt Christenson
Eighty-seven-year-old Al Inlow may be the only person in the world who knows the full story of Camp White, before, during and after its existence.
His family moved to Medford in 1932.
His father, a lumberjack, cut the trees that built the military base.
His great-grandmother’s grave at Antioch Cemetery was covered with dirt by the Army to protect it from incoming bombs.
Inlow himself joined the military at age 17, and after nearly 50 years of service with the Army, Marine Corps and Department of Defense, he is now the volunteer curator at the Camp White Military Museum.
“This museum represents the history of Camp White, plus we represent other services and other wars,” said Inlow during a recent tour.
The entire museum resides in one very long hallway inside the Southern Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs. The building was constructed in 1942 to be the Camp White headquarters.
The right side of the hallway is lined with display cases built by a Camp White veteran that are packed with donated military memorabilia: medals of valor, like the Silver Star; weaponry displays from both Axis and Allies; and the shrapnel from one 500-pound bomb dropped on the Camp White artillery range at Upper Table Rock.
“If it’s painted blue, it’s a practice shell,” said Inlow at the mortar exhibit of both unexploded and exploded ordinances from Camp White.
“This here is the rifle that won World War II,” he said later, pointing to the 30-caliber M1 Garand.
The left side of the hallway is dedicated to the 91st and 96th, the two main divisions that trained at Camp White. The 91st deployed to Europe and helped liberate Italy, while the 96th served in the Pacific theater.
Inlow carries no notes and takes no breaks during his tours. Sometimes he talks to youth about the past and sometimes his job is just to let people cry in the museum. All of it is important to him, he said.
“I think people are kind of waking up to the fact that we got to preserve this history,” said Inlow. “And if we don’t do something, then it’s lost. Period.”
Read the full story about the Camp White pillboxes that rest on the northeast side of Upper Table Rock, an area of critical environmental concern for the BLM: www.facebook.com/notes/blm-oregon-washington/the-wwii-leg...