Camp Tyson Book Complete; Publishers Sought








An old postcard depicts a barrage balloon
aloft over the former Camp Tyson.


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Paris, Tenn. The locally-produced book on Camp Tyson has been written and publishers are being sought for it. With financing and the support of the Henry County Tennessee River Resort Act (TRRA) board, the book was written by Shannon McFarlin of Paris. McFarlin is a long-time professional writer with a master's degree in public history from Murray State University. She also is a reporter and weekend news editor for WMUF/WLZK.

It is the first book about Camp Tyson, which was the only WWII barrage balloon facility in the country. It includes extensive research and interviews with some 100 people, including former soldiers at the camp and others who housed soldiers and their families there or who had experience with the camp, including during its time as a POW facility for Italian and German prisoners.

The title is "As If They Were Ours: The Story of Camp Tyson, America's Only Barrage Balloon Training Facility." The book includes information on Camp Tyson that was gleaned from documents from the Library of Congress and other sources that has never before been published--from its construction through its dismantling and later purchase by the Spinks Clay company.

Camp Tyson was significant for several reasons, not least of which that it was the only barrage balloon facility in the country. It also was the training ground for the segregated all African-American 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion whose members were the first soldiers on the beach on D-Day and who used the training and balloons from Camp Tyson in that action. McFarlin interviewed soldiers who were at D-Day from that battalion.

It also is significant because of its use as a POW camp and the book contains never-before-published interviews and information on that aspect of the Camp Tyson story. McFarlin also has collected dozens of photographs of the Camp for use in the book.

The book was submitted to the TRRA board early in 2011 and members of the board and Chamber of Commerce officials have copies of it.

McFarlin and TRRA Board Member Connie McSwain are working, along with several others, on getting the book published. "We're trying to get it published through university presses and it had been submitted to a couple already and has been going through that process. If it cannot be published through a university press, we'll seek other avenues. We are working diligently on finding just the right publisher for the book. Publishing a book is a very lengthy, often tedious and frustrating process."

"I really can't wait for people to be able to read it," McFarlin said. "The Camp Tyson story is a compelling and exciting one. The book contains a lot of information that will be familiar to Henry Countians, but also much that will be new to them."
July 25, 2012


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