Camp Frank D. Merrill, approximately 12 miles northwest of Dahlonega at the end of Camp Wahsega Road, is home to the 5th Ranger Training Battalion (est. 1952) and the mountain phase of the U.S. Army Ranger School. Named in honor of Major General Frank D. Merrill, commander of one of the first Ranger units (Merrill’s Marauders in World War II), the camp’s 290 acres are located at the base of the North Georgia Mountains near the Appalachian Trail.
Each year more than 2,000 Ranger students arrive from Fort Benning for 21 days of intense mountain training. Unit leaders are instructed in combat techniques and procedures that enable them to move swiftly and safely over all types of terrain. Almost every war that has been fought since the start of recorded history has included some type of mountain operations, therefore the knowledge gained at Camp Frank D. Merrill is crucial for both survival and operational success.
The 5th Ranger Training Battalion’s mission is to train small unit leaders on mountaineering skills while further developing their combat leadership and functional skills by requiring them to perform individual and collective tasks in a tactically realistic mountainous environment, under mental and physical conditions approaching those found in combat.
The Ranger Camp and its personnel are an integral and valued element of the Lumpkin County family. Porter Village, a military housing area, lies just west of Dahlonega and shares in many of the cultural aspects of the area. The Ranger community regularly participates in local events such as the Fourth of July Family Day Celebration, Veteran’s Day activities at Lumpkin County High School, and Memorial Day ceremonies. The Camp also hosts an Open House and Ranger Run each year in early May which draws thousands of people to Dahlonega to participate in 5K, 15K, and 30K runs through the breathtaking North Georgia Mountains. There is also a one-mile fun run for children. Money earned from all events is generously channeled into appreciative local charities.
The Camp offers a wide range of facilities for active duty military members, retired military personnel, and their dependents including commissary, post exchange, guest housing, all ranks club, gymnasium, racquetball court, outdoor equipment rental, firearms and archery range, and training facilities. The Camp is also home to many hiking, running, and biking trails (on and off road) through the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Besides the array of trails and the extraordinary scenery, the Camp provides a fascinating exhibition of Ranger memorabilia that visitors may tour. For more information about visiting Camp Frank D. Merrill, please call (706) 864-3327.