Gulf Coast Military Academy

Gulf Coast Military Academy (GCMA) was a West Point Honor preparatory Military Academy founded in 1912 by Col. James Chappel Hardy in Gulfport, Mississippi.

The Senior Branch of the Academy was closed in 1951. ["Nice Story about Gulf Coast Military Academy", The Sun Herald (Biloxi, MS), February 27, 2005 by Pam Firmin.] and the grounds were purchased by the federal government. [Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program - Project 95-10092, Training To Fight: Training and Education During the Cold War, By David F. Winkler July 1997, page 153.]

The Junior Branch (Jr. High) remained open through the Summer Session of 1976 when then President and Owner of the Academy, COL Charles M. Holt, sold the Junior Branch to William Carrey College.

The Gulf Coast Military Academy Senior Branch grounds became US Air Force property from 1951 to 1973 and became known as Annex 3 of Keesler AFB located in nearby Biloxi, MS. The former Academy facilities were initially used as the Technical Training Headquarters for Keesler AFB. The facilities were then used for technical training from 1958 until 1973. Officer training was conducted in electronics for communications, ground electronics (radar), and weapons controller assignments. Many of the former academy buildings were used for classrooms, administration, and storage. The large oak trees from the Academy days remained. Air Force buses drove to and from Keesler AFB on a daily schedule using US Highway 90 along the gulf coast.

In 1973 the former Academy grounds and facilities were transferred to the US Navy. [ Department of Defense Legacy Resource Management Program - Project 95-10092, Training To Fight: Training and Education During the Cold War, By David F. Winkler July 1997, page 153.] The Navy Home was moved to the former Academy grounds. Later the Navy Home was redesignated as part of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH).

In 2005, the facilities were damaged by Hurricane Katrina and all the residents of the home were moved to other locations. The AFRH facilities may be demolished due to residual hurricane water damage to the infrastructure and resulting mold in the buildings.

Future plans are pending, but rebuilding the AFRH on the Gulf Coast may be considered risky. Source Sep 2006 article by the Gulf Coast News concerning future plans for the Armed Forces Retirement Home.

The corner stone to the old office complex and C & D Companies was salvaged by MAJ James D. Thornton, MSG and is now in the hands of the Armed Forces Museum, Camp Shelby, MS.

Junior Academy Branch Information supplied by,MAJ James D. Thornton,PhD,DD S-6 HQ 1st INF BDE MSGClass of '73 Junior Branch, G.C.M.A.

References


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