Installation Info: Zip Code: 60088, Area Code: 847, DSN: 792
Commissioned in 1911, Great Lakes Training Center in Illinois has remained the Navy's largest training center and home to the Navy's only Recruit Training Command, more commonly known as "boot camp." President Theodore Roosevelt authorized construction of the training facility and directed the Navy to make Great Lakes the " biggest and the best naval training station in the world." The result was the 1,628-acre complex about 30 miles north of Chicago. Great Lakes has been a pioneer in many aspects of the Navy, most notably in 1942 when the first African-American reported for training. Only two years later after the racial boundary was broken, 13 African-American officers were commissioned. A new recruit in-processing center, now know as the "Golden 13," was dedicated in their honor.
Since WWI, more than 2 million new sailors have passed through the Recruit Training Command and an equal number through its technical schools. Great Lakes Naval Hospital has 136 beds for inpatient care and also provides emergency care.
About midway between Chicago and Milwaukee, Great Lakes is an ideal place to be stationed. Chain O'Lakes State Park offers activities for all the seasons, hiking and biking through the summer and cross-country skiing and ice fishing in winter. Illinois Beach State Park offers 6 1/2 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan. For activity closer to home, the base offers bowling, swimming, golf, movies, tennis, sailing, fishing and crafts. Chicago, the nation's third-largest city, has a full array of museums, zoos, theaters and other cultural sites and events, such as the annual Taste of Chicago food fair. Chicago also has two major-league baseball teams as well as professional football, basketball and hockey teams. Milwaukee has professional baseball and basketball teams, plus a very popular annual Oktoberfest celebration.