Military personnel at a bandstand during the 1943 Salute to Michigan Agriculture, Labor and Industry tour.
In August of 1943, as World War II raged in Europe and the Pacific, the U.S. Army visited several Michigan cities with a traveling cavalcade of military vehicles, weapons and equipment billed as a Salute to Michigan Agriculture, Labor and Industry.
The twenty-six-day tour began in Port Huron, where twenty thousand civilians attended the demonstration of military vehicles and weaponry, while an estimated fifty thousand onlookers gathered for a parade. Included in the parade procession were units from the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Michigan State Police, U.S Coast Guard Reserve, veterans, firemen, Red Cross and Boy Scouts. Colonel August M. Krech of the army’s Sixth Service Command reviewed the troops and gave a speech warning against a letdown in defense production.
Several days later, the entourage rolled into Jackson for an encampment at Ella Sharp Park. The 792nd Military Police Battalion conducted a mock battle complete with Sherman tanks, jeeps, anti-aircraft guns and 155 mm field Howitzers. The soldiers demonstrated field mess and drill, and Maj. Wayne King (aka “The Waltz King”) and his orchestra provided the entertainment.
A military staff car at an encampment site during the 1943 tour.
While in Jackson, army officers inspected twenty-seven local defense factories and the battalion baseball team played a local team at the Sharp Park baseball diamond. After leaving Jackson, the tour was bound for Muskegon, Holland, Grand Rapids, Benton Harbor, and Niles.