The July 2015 shootings at two US military facilities in Chattanooga were another in a long series of military base shootings across the US. Since World War II, shootings have taken place where soldiers attacked their fellow soldiers, or civilians have attempted to enter restricted facilities, with deadly results. Some were racially motivated, especially in the pre-Cold War segregated military. Others are acts of domestic terrorism, planned and carried out to inflict maximum damage.
But while the Chattanooga shooting looks to be the work of a radicalized convert to Islam, most of these attacks aren't. In fact, most military base attacks in the US have nothing to do with Islam, and instead are the work of soldiers or contractors with undiagnosed mental trauma. Many of the shooters had completed multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some had been wounded - suffering blows to the head that might have contributed to their later crimes. And a few look to be crimes of passion or disgruntled former employees out for revenge. As in the civilian world, the motives are widely ranging.This is a complete list of the known shootings on US military bases, including those at Army bases or Naval bases, since World War II.
Camp Shenango Shooting, 1942
During World War II, racial tensions between black and white soldiers often escalated into violence. One of the worst of these incidents was a shooting at Camp Shenango, a replacement soldier training depot outside Pittsburgh. On July 12, 1943, a racially-based dispute at the base’s post office turned into a riot, as black soldiers stormed the armory to grab weapons and arm themselves. In the ensuing melee, a black soldier was shot dead by a white MP, and many others (the number isn’t fully known) were injured.
Phoenix Massacre, 1942
In a shooting generally known as the “Phoenix Massacre,” black soldiers of the 364th Infantry Regiment (the US armed forces were segregated until 1947) were fired on by black MPs at Camp Papago Park in Arizona. At least three men, including a civilian on the base, were killed and scores of others were wounded. Rumors persist that many more black soldiers were killed, and that the shootings were covered up by the Army.
Camp Van Dorn Shooting, 1943
Camp Van Dorn in Mississippi saw racial tension involving the 364th continue, and culminate with a black soldier shot dead by the County Sherriff outside the base in July, 1943. Rumors persist to this day that the US Army systematically massacred the rest of the unit to put an end to the racial problems that followed them, but this has never been conclusively proven.
World War II Fort Dix Shootings
Another racially charged shooting incident took place at Fort Dix in New Jersey in 1942, when an argument between white and black MP’s over the use of a phone booth turned into a gun battle that killed three men. Fort Dix also saw three soldiers killed in a brawl at the Fort Dix USO during a dance.