Lesson Plan: Overview

The Historical and Economic Impact of Military Bases in South Carolina

Grade Level: 8th

Camp Jackson

Academic Standards

Standard 8-7: The student will demonstrate an understanding of South Carolina’s economic revitalization during World War II and the latter twentieth century.

8-7.5 Explain the economic impact of twentieth century events on South Carolina, including the opening and closing of military bases, the development of industries, the influx of new citizens, and the expansion of port facilities. (E, H, P, G)

Social Studies Literacy Elements

A. Distinguish between past, present, and future time.

E. Explain change and continuity over time.

F. Ask geographic questions:  Where is it located?  Why is it there?  What is significant about its location?  How is its location related to that of other people, places, and environments?

K. Use texts, photographs, and documents to observe and interpret social studies trends and relationships.

Essential Questions

1. Why were these military bases important to South Carolina?

2. What was the economic impact of each base to the communities they were built in and to the state?

Historical Background Notes

The many military installations across South Carolina account for a substantial segment of the overall South Carolina economy.  Historically since 1917 these bases have provided jobs and boosted the economies of the communities around them.  Purchasing goods and services, providing income to civilian and military personnel.  In addition, military-related visitors and military retirees are attracted to these bases. 

Today, a total of $7.3 billion in sales accrues annually to South Carolina businesses because of the military’s overall presence in the state (Schunk, 2007, 14). Across South Carolina, a total of nearly 142,000 jobs are directly or indirectly supported by the presence of the military.  This job total represents nearly 8 percent of total jobs.  The military presence supports about $5.1 billion annually in personal income for South Carolinians. Again, this income flows throughout the economy (Schunk, 2007, 1).  Overall, the military’s presence in South Carolina provides a substantial contribution to the state’s economy and especially to the local communities.  The following paragraphs contain a short history of each base introduced to the class.

Fort Jackson

Fort Jackson is located in Columbia, South Carolina.  The construction of the base began in June of 1917 and is named in honor of Andrew Jackson, Major General of the Army and seventh President of the United States.  Overnight, Camp Jackson had grown from a sandy-hill forested area to a huge military base.  Over 8,000 draftees arrived and trained at the new military base to prepare themselves for World War I.  In 1939, the demands of war arrived again with the advent of World War II.  Over half a million soldiers trained here for combat.  Fort Jackson continues today to be the largest training center for soldiers.  The base is experiencing an upsurge of growth and continues to offer support for thousands of military retirees and their families.

Parris Island Marine Corps Recruiting Depot and Air Station

United States Marines were first stationed on Parris Island in 1891.  Located near Beaufort, South Carolina.  Officially designated on November 1, 1945, Parris Island is an official Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot and continues in that capacity today.  Nineteen thousand recruits are trained here each year.  Nearby is the Parris Island Marine Corps Air Station.

Shaw Air Force Base  

Construction of Shaw Air Force Base began on June 27, 1941.  The base is named in honor of 1st Lt. Ervin David Shaw, One of the first Americans to fly combat missions during World War I.  Shaw AFB is home to the Air Force’s largest combat F-16 wing.  Today, Shaw serves as home to Headquarters Ninth Air Force and U.S. Central Command Air Forces.

Charleston Air Force Base

Charleston Air Force Base began in 1931 and has continued to play a vital role in the defense of the United States.  Today, the base is home to the 437th Airlift Wing.  Its mission is to support units by providing heavy airlift capabilities.  Airlifting of troops, military equipment, cargo and aeromedical airlift around the world.  The base is home to 53 C-17 Globemaster aircraft.  Charleston AFB has 7,601 active duty and reserves and continues to have a huge economic impact in South Carolina.

Myrtle Beach Air Force Base

Established in 1940 as a World War II training facility and used for coastal patrols.  The base was used during the Cold War, Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War.  The base was closed in 1993 and is currently being redeveloped for civilian uses.

Charleston Naval Base

Established in 1901, Charleston Naval Base is on the Cooper River in the City of North Charleston, South Carolina.  The base was an important repair, overhaul and maintenance facility during World War I to the Persian Gulf War.  Because the Cold War ended, the base was closed in April of 1996 because of military budget cuts.  The closure resulted in the loss of 8,722 military and 6,272 civilian jobs.  Today, most of the base is being redeveloped for civilian purposes.


Primary Sources
50th Anniversary History Photographs 1917 -1965 Fort Jackson [see First Barracks, First Recruits, and Ft. Jackson Field Hospital] (No Date, Private publication). SC History Room, Lexington County Main Library, Lexington, South Carolina.
Secondary Sources

Charleston Air Force Base Home Page. Accessed 2007.

Charleston Naval Base Home Page. Accessed 2007.

Charleston Navy Yard Historic District, Charleston County (North Charleston). National Register Properties in South Carolina. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, South Carolina.

Fort Jackson Home Page. Accessed 2007.

Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Home Page. Accessed 2007 (now defunct). 

Parris Island Marine Corps Depot Home Page. Accessed 2007.

Schunk, Donald L. “The Economic Impact of South Carolina’s Military Bases,” Business and Economic Review (October-December 2004):14-18.

Shaw Air Force Base Home Page. Accessed 2007.

USMC Homepage. Accessed 2007.  


• Internet-capable computers

Five W’s and H Charts

“National Archives Photograph Analysis Worksheet.”  Retrieved March 15, 2007, from Education Staff, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Lesson Plans

This Lesson asks the students to analyze different websites that contain information about military bases in South Carolina.  The students will seek to answer, “What are the historical and economic impacts of military bases in South Carolina.”  This lesson will take one class period of approximately 72 minutes.  The students will research the following military bases:

Fort Jackson, Parris Island Marine Corps Base & Air Station, Shaw Air Force Base, and the now closed Myrtle Beach Air Force Base and Charleston Naval Base.

1. The students will meet in the library to individually access the Internet from a computer.  The students will be given the websites needed to start their inquiry.

2. Next, the teacher will give the students a Five W’s and H Chart.  For each military website, the students are to answer the following:

a. What is the name of the military base?

b. Who is in the picture(s)?

c. Why did it happen? (Why was the base built in the first place)?

d. When did it happen? (Why did the base open and or close)?

e. Where did it happen? (City, Town, or location in SC)?

f. How did it happen?  (How was it built? Who started the idea of the base)?

g. Summary (Two paragraphs in length).

3. Next, the students will have to navigate the Fort Jackson website.  Go to the History section.  In this section are numerous primary photographs of soldiers, buildings, equipment, military uniforms, weapons and many more items.  In addition, the teacher will give students copies of primary photographs (see First Barracks, First Barracks, First Recruits, and Ft. Jackson Field Hospital) of Fort Jackson from 1917 to the 1990’s.  Each student will have available a Photograph Analysis Worksheet.

4. Using the Photograph Analysis Worksheet, the students will do the following:

Step 1.  Observation

A. Study the Photograph for 2 minutes.  Form an overall impression of the photograph and then examine individual items.

B. Use the chart on the worksheet to list people, objects and activities in the photograph.

Step 2.  Inference

A. Based on what you have observed above, list three things you might infer from this photograph.

Step 3.  Questions

A. What questions does this photograph raise in your mind?

B. Where could you find answers to them?

5.  Once back in the classroom the students are to locate each base on a large blank map of South Carolina.  The student is to place the base in its exact geographic location and to name the military base and give a brief summary of the impact that the base had on the economy.  The summary should answer the two essential questions: Why were these military bases important to South Carolina?  What was the economic impact of each base to the communities they were built in and to the state?


Teacher Reflections

I enjoyed planning this lesson as I have been to many of these military bases while I served in the United States Air Force.  The State Standards for this lesson are very simple and not to complicated.  My goal was to have the students understand the importance of these bases in South Carolina and the economic impact that the opening and closing of these bases have on the local communities.  The students appeared to enjoy the primary photographs of Fort Jackson. The photo analysis worksheets were helpful for the students to analyze each photograph.  The students were able to find and locate the answers to the essential questions for the lesson while using the Internet.  Many students volunteered to answer the many questions that I asked of them.  Many students actually came to the map on the wall to pinpoint and find each military base on a huge map of South Carolina.  The lesson was achieved successfully and with little disturbance or discipline problems during the class period.

Student Assessment

Assessment is performance based.  Students' participation in the research, discussion and summary writing were based on a standard- based rubric:  Unacceptable, Needs work, Good, and Excellent.

Examples of Students Work

Student Military Base Economic Impact Research


Dean Hunt
Crayton Middle School
Columbia, South Carolina