When browsing through military postcards, chances are you’ll find a card featuring the U.S. Naval Training Center in Great Lakes, Illinois. There are a lot of real photo postcards that aren’t one of a kind.
The U.S.N.T.C. was imagined in 1905 while Theodore Roosevelt was president. A very thorough history is on the Commander, Navy Installations Command website, but I am going to give an abbreviated version here.
Great Lakes officially opened in July 1911. In the early months of 1917, 39 buildings and 1,500 sailors rested on 165 acres. By the end of World War I, there were 776 buildings and 1,200 acres, and more than 120,000 sailors were trained here.
Fast forward to World War II when over four million Americans were on active duty in the Navy. One million of these sailors were trained at Great Lakes. A key part of training included swimming due to the fact that only 50% of recruits could swim. There were 12 swimming pools, including the largest indoor pool in the world at the time.
Today, the Naval Station Great Lakes as it is now known, still provides training to sailors and starting in 2008, to SEALS through the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School. It is the largest training center in the Navy and has been since 1911 according to military.com.
Various photos of the U.S.N.T.C.
The main gate at the U.S.N.T.C.
Recruit training center.
Scaling a wall during training.
If you look closely at this card, you’ll see that it is all individual sailors making up the design-