Press "Enter" to skip to content

Camp Grayling

Camp Grayling is the largest military installation east of the Mississippi River, the largest National Guard training facility in the USA and the main Michigan National Guard facility. It was founded in 1913 near Grayling, MI in Crawford County. Rasmus Hanson initially donated the land that the camp occupies. Since then, the camp has expanded to 147,000 acres and spans over three counties. It also houses Marine and Navy units. The camp is also home to the Grayling Army Airfield.


The camp can house up to 13649 personnel and can feed up to 11900 with the 70 dining facilities. There are 15 battalion headquarter buildings for administration and supply needs. The camp also has a ammunition supply point on base to handle any ordnance requirements of the training sessions. 7 vehicle buildings house up to 527 tracked vehicles, including 77 M1 tanks that can be used during training. It also has bulk fuel sites providing fuel for all the on-base vehicles.

Camp Grayling’s year-round training sessions typically involve bringing in several National Guard units from Michigan, the surrounding states and occasionally Canada. During these sessions, artillery, mortar, tank and infantry maneuvers are practiced as well as unit-wide operation simulations. The camp also has several specialized training grounds, including urban assault ranges, an IED range, used for learning how to protect from IEDs, a 10.2 mile live fire convoy commander’s reaction range, rappeling tower, water operations, helicopter door gunnery range, anti-armor range, POW compound, demolition range, nuclear/biological/chemical chamber, parachute/drop zone and a small arms range that the local law enforcement also uses for training. The air field is also used for training air-to-ground munition delivery missions.

Every year, the camp hosts training schedules for 10000 National Guard personal, with units from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio along with the Army and Reserve units. Camp Grayling’s stationed staff numbers at around 600 National Guard soldiers. They also employ around 200 local residents in full-time jobs. The hosted units also regularly volunteer for community projects for the local government and schools.

The land that Camp Grayling resides on is used for training exercises and when those training exercises are not ongoing, much of the land is available for outdoor recreation, such as hunting, fishing and camping, to the general public. This generates a large portion of the local revenue in the area. One of the main attractions is Lake Margrethe which is used by the public and off-duty soldiers in the camp’s off hours by campers and fishermen.

Vietnam War

During the early 1960s, Camp Grayling was a large training center for Marines that were potentially being sent to fight in Vietnam. One of many training sessions was an artillery and close air support demonstration, a result of joint cooperation between Major General Cecil Simmons, of the National Guard and Caption Albert Newhall, commander of the Glenview naval air station. The training session consisted of an initial rolling artillery barrage by the 1st battalion of the 119th artillery division on a couple painted targets followed by several strafing runs by a formation of 8 A4-B ‘Skyhawks’ with their 2.75mm rockets and 20mm cannons, led by Caption Richard G Altmann.

Another training session to prepare Marines and special forces to fight organized forces with guerrilla warfare led by Col. Herbert Boyer. These exercises pitted the Marines and special forces against the Michigan National Guard in many situations that would commonly happen in Vietnam such as ambushing enemy patrols, conducting night raids on enemy installations, and destroying highly-used structures like bridges. The “guerrillas” created their base camps deep in the forest and organized their raids and ambushes from there.


Primary Sources:

  1. “Navy, Guard Hold Exercise.” Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file): 1. Aug 08 1965. ProQuest. Web. 20 Nov. 2015 .
  2. Blatchford, Frank. “Some Games are Not Fun.” Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file): 1. Aug 20 1967. ProQuest. Web. 20 Nov. 2015 .

Secondary Sources:

  1. Michigan National Guard: Camp Grayling (2015)
  2. Grayling: Camp Grayling (2015)
  3. Michigan Department of Military Affairs. History of Camp Grayling and the Michigan National Guard., 1969. Print
  4. Stanton, John (2013) Camp Grayling
  5. Global Security: Camp Grayling (2015)