During World War II, the U.S. Army operated two large and 17 smaller prisoner of war camps in Wyoming. Prisoners worked on farms and in the camps, often for private employers, who paid a going rate for local wages. Some prisoners became friends with their supervisors, others with the farm families they worked for.
world war ii
world war ii
Democrat Lester Hunt, a charismatic wartime governor in heavily Republican Wyoming, won a U.S. Senate seat in 1948. There, he clashed with Sen. Joseph McCarthy. After Hunt’s son was convicted for soliciting homosexual contact, Hunt was blackmailed by Republican senators and committed suicide—circumstances that remained largely unknown for three decades.
Nearly 1,100 Wyoming servicemen, representing every county, died in World War II. As in other states, Wyoming’s people gained a stronger sense of being part of the nation thanks in part to war bond drives, scrap metal drives, book drives, victory gardens—and their loved ones’ service at home and overseas.
From 1942 through 1945, about 10,000 Japanese-Americans lived behind barbed wire at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center between Cody and Powell, Wyo. in Park County—one of ten such camps around the nation during World War II. The center for a time was Wyoming’s third-largest town. Offered here are study guides, photos and links to primary and secondary sources for classroom investigation.
Cheyenne’s M.H. “Bud” Robineau scrambled to put together the deals enabling construction during World War II of an airplane-fuel plant next to the Frontier Refinery he owned. Help from U.S. Sen. Joseph O’Mahoney proved crucial in cutting wartime red tape. The plant came online in 1944 and continued to produce high-octane fuel after the war.
Joye Kading served as secretary for the successive commanding colonels in charge of purchasing, building and operating the Casper Army Air Base during World War II. In this 2011 interview from the Casper College Western History Center, Kading recalls her experiences and describes many of the wartime photographs she collected in a scrapbook.
In 1943, Cpl. Leon Tebbetts and three other soldier-artists were among the thousands of troops stationed at the U.S. Army Air Base in Casper. They created 15 murals showing major events in Wyoming history on the interior walls of the Servicemen’s Club. The colorful murals have been well preserved and can still be seen today at the same place—now the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum.
The Casper Army Air Base was built quickly in 1942 to train bomber crews for World War II combat. The facility trained more than 16,000 men before the end of the war. Its population grew to a third of the size of Casper’s, bringing prosperity and a lively social life to the town. The base closed in 1945, when the war ended.
From 1942 through most of 1945, about 10,000 Japanese-Americans from the West Coast of United States lived behind barbed wire in tarpaper barracks at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center between Cody and Powell, Wyo. in Park County—one of ten such camps around the nation during World War II. The center was briefly Wyoming’s third-largest town. When hundreds of young men in the camp were drafted into the U.S. military, 63 resisted, feeling they had been denied their constitutional rights. They and seven more leaders of the group were sentenced to federal prison. In the 1980s, Congress passed a law granting an apology and $20,000 to every survivor of the camps.
W. Edwards Deming grew up in difficult financial circumstances in Powell, Wyo., early in the 20th century. Still, he worked his way through the University of Wyoming and Yale and became absorbed by statistics as a way to solve problems. After World War II, he shared his ideas on efficiency with Japanese manufacturers eager to rebuild their shattered economy. The Japanese used that knowledge to flip the global economy on its head and beat U.S. industry at its own game.