BCT & AIT

HISTORY

  What remains of Fort Ord, is located on the historically rich Monterey Bay Peninsula in central California. In it's hey-day, Fort Ord covered over 28,600 acres. The local topography made it ideal as an infantry training center. This would become it's primary mission. It began during the Mexican-American War in 1846. Com John D. Sloat claimed the Monterey area along with the rest of California for the United States. From 1852 to 1898 the fort was in disuse. While visiting the area in 1879. Writer Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote, "The beaches are white with weathered whale bones." The inland area was mission property. This would become the extensive training areas of Fort Ord. In 1917 the US Army purchased from a Mr. David Jacks the title to what is known today as the East Garrison.  As it developed Fort Ord was considered one of the nation's permanent Army posts.

  It is bordered on the North by the city of Marina and on the South by Sand City. It's just a few minutes from Seaside, Monterey, Pacific Grove and beautiful Carmel. The agricultural community of Salinas is 14 miles to the East.  San Francisco is 115 miles further to the North and Los Angeles is 340 miles to the South.

  The post was named after Major General Edward Cresap Ord.  General Ord's fame in the history books includes some information on being an Indian fighter. In 1847 He was a lieutenant with Maj Gen J C Fremont's Army when the present site of the nearby Presidio of Monterey was brought into existence. But His actions as a Civil War commander established His military career. He distinguished himself during the Civil War in the Battle of Iuke, Mississippi, operations against Petersburg, Virginia, and the capture of Fort Harrison, Virginia. General Ord is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.

  Army troops occupied the fort for a few months at the end of the Civil War when it was known as Ord Barracks. From 1865 to 1902 the post was inactive. It was not until after the Spanish-American War, {Remember The Maine} that a force of significant size would garrison the fort once again. The 15th Infantry Regiment and the 9th "Buffalo Soldiers" Cavalry returning from duty in the Philippines were assigned to the fort in 1902. Some small refinements were made to the fort during that period. But Fort Ord's true origin of development dates back to the year 1917. In August of that year the US government purchased 15,000 acres next to the area known today as the East Garrison, for the amount of 160,000 dollars. At that time the property was known as the Gigling Military Reservation. The name Gigling originated from a German family that had once held title to the property in that general area. So the fort's official title became Camp Gigling. Between the end of World War I and pre-World War II. Camp Gigling was primarily used as a maneuver area for the 11thCac 11th "Black Horse" Cavalry and a artillery target range for the 76th Field Artillery. Both units were stationed at the Presidio of Monterey. During the summertime the 30th Infantry Regiment came down from the Presidio of San Francisco to use the reservation for maneuvers as did other Reserve and National Guard units.

  By 1933 when the reservation's name was changed to Camp Ord. It's landscaping was brush covered and almost impenetrable in many places. A simple dirt and gravel road connected the East Garrison and Gigling railroad spur located on Highway #1. There was a water well, a caretaker's house in the center of the reservation and a few bivouac sites. But other than these limited improvements. No additional changes were made at Camp Ord until 1938.

  The major changes of 1938 marked the excelled growth of the post. Colonel Homer M. Groninger, who was promoted to Major General at a later date, was in charge of the work and renovation. Utilizing the benefits of President Franklin D.Roosevelt's/ Works Projects Administration program. Col. Groninger supervised the expansion of the post into a large camp about a mile from the Gigling railroad spur and saw to it that the dense brush areas were cleared for future construction., Road Construction Photos! Col. Groninger was working with an original WPA appropriation of $800,000. That amount would grow to over $6,000,000 for additional construction at the post.

  On Jan 4th 1940 the first joint Army and Navy maneuvers were held at the fort. A total of 10,000 troops and 1000 vehicles, boats, and horses took part in the maneuvers. Later in 1940 Col. Groninger gave instructions to build the first wooden barracks and mess halls. He included the tent city slabs in the East Garrison. The wooden barracks were suppose to be temporary. Not to last much longer than 5 years. The construction was so well done.They are still there today. The 7th Infantry Division was re-activated on the 1st of July that year. War was becoming a real threat. As a result Congress approved a peace time draft. As fall approached Camp Ord was filling up with new recruits. The plans for a million dollar Soldiers Service Recreation Complex was the result of this large population growth and was beginning to take shape. Its frame work was the brain child of the 7th Infantry's divisional commander, General Joseph W. Stilwell. His nickname was "Vinegar Joe," because of His strong personality. It was His belief that the soldiers should have someplace to go and relax. "This project was started on the basis that it was high time to stop talking about suitable recreational facilities for enlisted men....and doing something about it." Gen Stilwell picked the site and the engineers to construct the buildings. The first to be constructed in the complex was the Soldiers' Club. It was designed by 1LT Savo Stoshitch, 13th Engineers and 2LT Orville W. Pierce 74th Field Artillery. With multiple donations from US soldiers and some additional WPA grants. The building was finally completed in September 1943. It would turn out that the $500,000 enlisted men's club was the only building to be completed in the proposed post recreation complex which originally called for a gymnasium, stadium, NCO's Club, tennis courts and athletic fields, as well as a chapel. When it first opened it's doors. It was known as the Soldiers' Club. Later the club's name was properly changed to, "Stilwell Hall." Fort Ord held a special place in Gen Stilwell's heart. He delegated that his ashes be scattered along the scenic Monterey Peninsula beaches.

   Growth of the Camp's boundaries continued in 1940 to the size of 20,000 areas. In the fall of that same year, Camp Ord became known as Fort Ord. It was also established as a permanent Army installation. More than $12,000,000 worth of improvements were contracted by the end of 1941. The continued growth of Fort Ord's Main Garrison took place over the next twenty years, between 1940 and the 1960s. The construction started in the northwest corner of the post and then it expanded southward and then finally eastward.

  When World War II broke out. Ft Ord became a jumping off point for other training areas like, Camp Roberts, and Fort Hunter Liggett. Fort Ord was also a staging area for many famous fighting divisions and units. Fort Ord's honorable alumni included the 3rd Inf Div, 6th Inf Div, 7th Inf Div, 27th Inf Bde, 32nd Inf Div, 35th Inf Div, and 43rd Inf Div. The 738th Field Artillery Battalion was activated at Fort Ord on June 25, 1943. They were assigned to Gen George S. Patton's 3rd Army. Other units that where not well known. But just as important to the war effort. Were the 2nd Engineer, the 3rd Engineer and the 4th Engineer. As well as the 593rd Amphibian and the 533rd Amphibian, These five engineer and amphibias groups had trained at Fort Ord before being shipped to the pacific theater. World War II demanded new innovative tactical training with weapons, artillery, air defense and amphibius landings. The concept of combat readiness training was first introduced at Fort Ord. In 1942 the WACs was formed to handle the administrative and non combat duties. After the D-Day invasion many German soldiers were taken prisoner and were interned at the fort's east garrison. The POWs were used to make improvements around Fort Ord. So American troops could concentrate on their training for overseas duty. The largest congregation of troops at any one time was totaled at 50,000. But the average population of soldiers was closer to 35,000.

  Once the allies defeated the axis and World War II came to its conclusion. Fort Ord took on a much slower pace. 1946 was the year that Fort Ord officially became a training facility for basic combat and advance infantry training. This would be it's main objective for the next 30 years. In 1947 it became home to the 4th Replacement Training Center. Then on July 15, 1947 the 4th Infantry Division was reactivated and took up residence at the fort. The 4th Inf became responsible for the training of troops who were headed for the Korean conflict which began in June 1950. The 4th Infantry Division moved to Fort Benning, GA on September 22, 1950. It was replace by the 6th Infantry Division who took over the mission of training troops for assignment in Korea. The 6th infantry continued this task until January 1956. There was continued growth at Fort Ord. The concrete barracks were constructed on 'The Hill.' The airfield was built. The 5th Division being reassigned from Germany moved in until it was deactivated on June 5, 1957. It was re-activated during the 1960s to fight in southeast asia. Civilian employees were hired during the 1950s. Many of them ex-military personnel. This created a housing demand that resulted in the creation of the cities Marina, Sand City and Seaside.

 It was sometime during the 1950s that the US 6th Army took up quarters at the fort. {I've been informed by veterans via email. That the patch was worn as early as 1952.} Fort Ord became known as the United States main Army Infantry Training Center. It's activity increased with the training of troops headed for southeast asia. During the Vietnam War conflict it became the major training center in the nation. In 1964 a Drill Sergeant School was opened. It once again was home to basic combat, advanced infantry, and basic unit training for over half a million soldiers. It was the highest overall training of combat ready troops in the fort's history. In 1973 the last American troops departed Vietnam. Another training era had ended. The total number of soldiers trained at Fort Ord from 1940 to 1975 is estimated at 1.5 million.

The defense department first considered an all volunteer Army in 1971 with Project VOLAR. The WACs were abolished. Women were allowed the same advantages as men. It was Oct 25, 1974, when the 7th Infantry Division (Light) occupied Fort Ord. Light infantry troops operate without heavy tanks, armor, or artillery. The fort officially curtailed all training archives in 1976. In 1985 the 7th IDL became the Army's premier light infantry division. The Cold War ended in 1989. During 1988 'The Base Realignment and Closure Act' had already been passed. Fort Ord was being considered as 'Property In Excess.' In 1989 the 7th IDL was deployed to Panama to restore order and captured dictator Manuel Noriega. In 1990 the 7th IDL joined the coalition troops sent to the middle east to defeat Iraq during Desert Storm. One of their last deployments was to the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Two years later on 15 Jun 1994. The 7th Infantry Division Light was deactivated. In September of 1994 Fort Ord closed it's gates and became part of US military history. 121 military bases have closed since the passing of the 1988 B.R.& C. Act.



Statue
D.I. Statue


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