THE PINEY WOODS 185 the Jim Crow system, left for wage labor jobs in cities such as St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit. For the first time in over 100 years, in 1950 African Americans composed less than one-half of the total population of Mississippi as a whole. Those who remained would strive to change the system of segregation and work toward equal treatment under the law and regaining the right to vote in a Civil Rights Movement that began in the 1940s and continued for the next three decades. While the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor marks the official beginning of American involvement in World War II, military mobilization took place as early as 1940. In the Piney Woods, Hattiesburg and Laurel became active military sites. Located south of the city of Hattiesburg, Camp Shelby became a major training center for the Armed Forces. Deactivated after the First World War, even the rails reaching the camp had to be re-laid. Hattiesburg became a beehive of activity, as workers vied for the much-desired 17,000 civilian construction jobs required to build some 1,800 buildings to prepare the post for an influx of soldiers. Soldiers slept in almost 14,000 tents, and at one time an estimated 100,000 soldiers called the base home. In addition to at least six infantry divisions, the 442 Regional Combat Team made up of Japanese soldiers trained at the base. Members of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) also trained at the base. A nearby prisoner of war camp, now Paul B. Johnson State Park, housed 5,300 Germans from Rommel’s famed Afrika Korps. In Hattiesburg, separate white and African American USOs served the needs of the troops at Shelby. Hattiesburg’s segregated business districts, white and African American, welcomed soldiers and the many civilians who flocked to the Hub City to take advantage of the wage labor jobs created by the influx of troops. Local manufacturer Komp Equipment Company re-tooled its factory to produce ammunition, employing a majority female workforce. In Laurel, the recently completed airfield became home to the Laurel Army Airfield in December 1942. The field was utilized by the Third Air Force; its first mission was anti-submarine defense over the Gulf of Mexico. Late in the war, medium-range and long-