About 90 miles northeast of Atlanta, it was the training ground for a new kind of soldier: paratroopers.

French president mentions North Georgia training camp in D-Day address

Paratroopers trained at Camp Toccoa were in the first wave of soldiers landing at Normandy in 1944

A little-known World War II training camp in the North Georgia mountains was mentioned Thursday by French President Emmanuel Macron in his Normandy speech for the anniversary of D-Day. 

Macron said the young fighters who came to Normandy by air and sea on June 6, 1944 were "far from the grueling training that began in the mountains of Georgia," according to a translation. Macron delivered his address in French. 

It was an apparent reference to Camp Toccoa, a facility on northeast Georgia's Currahee Mountain that trained 18,000 paratroopers and support personnel during World War II. Sending soldiers into combat by parachute was at the time a new and experimental specialty. 

Originally a National Guard training ground, what became Camp Toccoa was opened by the United States Army in 1942. 

WWII Easy Company of 506th Regiment, Parachute Infantry, training in Toccoa. (SPECIAL PHOTO)
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The men of the 501st, 506th, 511th and 517th Parachute Infantry regiments did not win World War II themselves, but they played a decisive and dramatic role, according to an article in the AJC by Tyler Estep. 

"They were the first Americans sent into France on D-Day," Estep wrote. "Their daring exploits would help break Hitler’s back in Europe and gain them worldwide fame." 

The location of Camp Toccoa is under renovation and restoration by the nonprofit Camp Toccoa at Currahee Project. It is located outside of Toccoa, in Stephens County, about 90 miles northeast of Atlanta. The group held its eighth D-Day at Currahee Park on May 31 and June 1.

Read Tyler Estep's 2017 article about the history and restoration of Camp Toccoa

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