Currahee Mountain

Currahee Mountain & Military Museum, GA

Prior to 2001 I would venture to guess that no one save a few hard core World War 2 buffs had heard of the small north Georgia town of Toccoa or its neighboring peak named Currahee. Until that year, the significant role the community had played in that great conflict had been all but forgotten. All that changed with the release of the miniseries Band of Brothers. Suddenly the names Currahee and Toccoa were known world-wide. I have to admit, I hadn't heard about either before the film. As of this trip I became one of the thousands since who have made a pilgrimage of sorts to the place where the American airborne was born.

In 1940, Camp Toombs (as Camp Toccoa was first known) was completed in the hills about 5 miles outside of the sleepy town of Toccoa, Georgia. In 1942 the U.S. Army took control of the facility for the training of its brand new 'airborne infantry' regiments. Contrary to what is widely believed, the first paratroopers were not all volunteers. Many were drafted for service before opting to join the paratroopers. A total of four regiments were trained at the facility, the 501st, 511th, 517th, and the now-famous 506th. The recruits were at Camp Toccoa primarily for physical conditioning of which the neighboring peak of Currahee Mountain figured prominently. The repeated, tortuous runs and marches to the summit fostered an intense pride reflected in the phrase "3 Miles Up, 3 Miles Down!" and the 506th motto, Currahee!, which means 'stands alone'. The men actually spent very little time at Camp Toccoa in relation to their military service, less than a year in most cases. Jump training was done to the south, at Fort Benning. The four paratroop infantry regiments saw action in every theater of World War Two. Although the 506th gets most of the recognition due to Band of Brothers it suffered neither the most casualties (the 501st has that dubious honor) nor did it have the most combat jumps (2 compared to the 511th's 5). Every one of the Camp Toccoa Regiments distinguished themselves over the course of the war and all deserve to be called heroes.

After the war, Camp Toccoa was closed (it had only been operational for 22 months!) and for a short time served as a youth prison camp. Today, the only remaining trace of the camp is a single structure which, according to the helpful folks at the museum, was likely the base P.O.X. The land is privately owned though recently there have been plans to develop a 'new' Camp Toccoa as a youth camp. In 1990 a small memorial was erected at the former entrance to the camp commemorating the regiments who trained here and their sacrifices over the course of the war. Also, the old trail up Currahee used by the young paratroopers has been dedicated the Colonel Robert Sink Memorial Trail who was the original commander of the 506th. It was to this trail I was headed on this glorious winter day, to retrace the steps of those men I had learned so much about in the previous years and to a small degree experience first hand (though I wouldn't be running or under the weight of a full pack!) what it was like to train here. "3 Miles Up, 3 Miles Down...Hi-Yo Silver!"  let's go...


PS. I discovered just before I left that another of the 'Camp Toccoa Boys' had passed away the previous day. There is now only one surviving veteran of Camp Toccoa. Now more than ever, this place must be remembered...for once all those young men are gone we will be the only ones able to carry on and honor their memories...


  • S. Maxon

    on March 9, 2014

    I thoroughly enjoyed your article on Currahee. I had no idea they had a museum there. I will definitely make the journey and see if I can even make it to the top. What warriors they must have been to run it with full packs. Thank you for your photos and insights.