Beginning as Fort Whipple in 1863 as one of the Defenses of Washington, Fort Myer continues today in its original mission of defending Washington DC. Fort Marcy may have a sign on the George Washington Parkway... Fort Stevens has been partially reconstructed and preserved as is Fort Ward. But ONLY Fort Myer continues to defend with the celebrated Oldest Infantry Regiment in the US Army - the 3d --- The Old Guard.
The acres have changed much in those century and a half. The drill field where hundreds of horses with mounted riders rode, kicking up dust or where the Wright Flyer flew overhead, the rustic trails where the troopers practiced their saber charge and trenches were dug to train for WW I and later where the Jeep from Bantam Car Company was tested and approved, are gone.
Where Rodney retired and a tribute to the US Army Remount Service was made with the movie "Keep 'Em Rolling" - The first commercial movie filmed on Fort Myer, including the first instance of "caisson drag racing" on the drill field.
South Post - Fort Myer where during WW II nearly 2000 WACs (Women's Army Corps) lived and a complement of Soldiers who worked in the newly built Pentagon. Also the site of the "Troop Chapel" dedicated by Chief of Staff George Marshall - and then was duplicated 500 times across the US Army. The Military Police school called South Post home from the beginning.
US Army units that have called Fort Myer home have included numerous Cavalry Regiments - Capped off by the 3d - "Brave Rifles" and squadrons of the 9th and 10th - The "Buffalo Soldiers". Home to the Signal Corps School where General Albert J Myer continued the use of the acres after the Civil War was over to teach the wig-wag system of signaling as well as the heliograph. The National Weather Service was born and developed on these historic acres with the needs promoting the exploration into aerial flight.
Alexander Graham Bell's invention saw its first use among the US Army Signal Corps as the first long distance line ran between Fort Myer and their headquarters across the Potomac in Washington.
The mark of Patton ... among each of his tours on Fort Myer, General George S. Patton, Jr., he left an imprint that affected the US Army and or the Post, from the Society Circus, to the iconic "Old Post Chapel" - the design borrowed by the US Navy. Patton Hall, known to most as "the O Club" is a standing tribute recognizing his contributions to Fort Myer.
Even the US Navy left an imprint upon the acres when it erected the first radio towers, "The Three Sisters" which enabled communication with the fleet and capability to communicate with Europe and across the United States.
Fort Myer is home to the US Army Band "Pershing's Own" since the 1940s. The other long time resident unit is the 3d Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard". Together. they form a partnership to perform all the ceremonial duties and events within the National Capital Region - the most honorable among those duties and events is the support for the final honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Whipple, Myer, Patton, Marshall, Pershing are only a few of the names that are among those who over the years set their mark on the Arlington Heights acres.
Happy Birthday Fort Myer!
PS ... You too can own an autographed copy of the book"Images of America - Fort Myer" ... The First Book About this Historic US Army Post. It contains over 200 "timeless historic photographs" which chronicle the first 100 years of the Post.
Reactions Are Important - Chief Ones Are VERY Important!
A creative work whether it be a photo, a painting, a sculpture or in this case a book -hangs in the balance of whether someone likes it or not. Getting a chief response, is unexpected! Each time it's put out there, there is a resulting response of like or not like.
When I began the work to produce what has now become the FIRST book ever about Fort Myer, I wanted it to be the best. After many months of extensive research, field trips to libraries, history offices, The Library of Congress, the National Archives in College Park, MD and more, the pile of "stuff" appeared intimidating. How to mold it into something that people would read. AND like. I had learned that it was more than a US Army Post that was named after General Albert J Myer. More than the home of the US Army Band (TUSAB) - "Pershing's Own" more than the home of the 3d Infantry Regiment - "The Old Guard" It was history that needed to be chronicled and told to the public.
The Beginnings were a Challenge
Along the way, my best friend from high school, who was career US Army, was my sounding board. He didn't see the "stuff" but was given ongoing "sit-reps" that often began "Did you know what I found yesterday?" After which he patiently listened as my latest find was being held up to the phone - he couldn't see it, but my words and excitement conveyed the import. The cover photo was long ago chosen and set, the back of the book proclaimed the work that I'd done for over a dozen years that prepped me for this event. I was fortunate to find a striking image of the 15th Cavalry - the same unit that George S Patton, Jr was initially attached to and brought him to Fort Myer for the first time in 1912. He competed in the Stockholm Olympics.
When the book finally released on 13 JUN 2011, my friend promptly purchased two copies, one for himself, the other for his son who was currently serving in the US Army, attached to the 10th Cavalry - one of the original "Buffalo Soldiers" regiments. It was several weeks before I heard from him. He normally calls early in the evening. This time it was later than usual.
He began the call by saying "I read your book and..."
I waited for the reaction.
He went on: "I expected it to be good. But no, it's not good, it's great. Over the months while you were gathering and composing, sifting and sorting, and finalizing, I concluded that you were doing your darnedest to make a good book. Well you ultimately set the bar high with this. And not only did you set the bar high, you jumped OVER the bar. Congratulations!"
FOUND A NOTE WORTHY ITEM
One of the nuggets in the book is a note from President Abraham Lincoln which opened up doors to the Whipple family (It's amazing what one family's role has been in the foundation and building of the United States of America!) Finding that first note (there's a second one that I'm still casually looking to locate) was a result of "God sitting on my shoulder..." Since it was not where it was supposed to be.
"...loves me like a rock...."
One of my special forces brothers - He's actually "the second older brother I never had." - invited me to exhibit and participate in the bi-annual conference of The Rocks, Inc., a great association. It provides mentoring to active duty and retired military, primarily the US Army. The conference was held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. One of the the guest speakers for the conference was the current Chief of Staff of the US Army GEN Raymond T Odierno. It was after his fantastic speech that I awarded him a copy of "images of America - Fort Myer" (He lives there in " Quarters One" Home to the Chief of Staff since 1906, when MG J Franklin Bell first occupied what was supposed to be the quarters of the post commander. It was built in 1899. It's historic too, since 1973, it's been on the National Historic Register)
The General thanked me for the surprise gift and was on his way to his next event / meeting / encounter. I didn't think much more about it. At least he got a copy of it.
Surprise from The Chief
I went to my post office box and there among the mail was a monarch sized envelope neatly addressed to me with the return address that showed it was from the Pentagon - the Office of the Chief of Staff -
I opened it immediately. Wanting to know just what was written inside. I beamed with joy when I read his words -How he liked the book and about My work at Arlington National Cemetery. And he's awaiting my next book too!
After the Civil War, the US Congress passed legislation which established several regiments of black Soldiers to reorganize the US Army. The first units which were established originally consisted of six regiments - four infantry - the 38th and 41st and the 39th and 40th which were ultimately consolidated and re-designated as the 24th and 25th Infantry Regiments respectively. The reorganization also provided for two Cavalry Regiments - the 9th and 10th Cavalry. When spoken about today, the Cavalry Regiments are always highlighted as "The Buffalo Soldiers."
It would be the 1890s before Fort Myer saw its first Buffalo Soldiers. General Guy Vernor Henry, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient would bring a squadron of the 9th Cavalry to Fort Myer in 1891. The troopers would stay on post until 1894 and then rotate out to their next duty assignment.
It would be 1930 before the Buffalo Soldiers would once again return to Fort Myer. This time it would be the Machine Gun Troop of the 10th Cavalry - Squadron K that would be stationed on Post until 1949. Troopers in this squadron would also be tasked to participate in many ceremonial duties including parades.
The stables, where the horses of these Troopers were kept, are still standing on Fort Myer and located on what was then called "Lower Post" - they no longer contain any horses, but are a reminder of the contributions of these men who helped settle the West during the Indian Wars and extended the United States to the western shores.
You can read more about the Buffalo Soldiers and Fort Myer in the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" - an autographed copy is available.
Fort Reno was built in July 1875, named for Major General Jesse L. Reno who was killed during the Civil War. The US Army Post was home to the Buffalo Soldiers of the the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25 Infantry - regiments who were stationed at the Post.
After the Congressional authorization to establish the US Army's Remount Service in 1909, it became a re-mount depot for the US Army until 1949. One of the last Quartermaster horses that came from Fort Reno's remount depot was the famed "Blackjack" - the caparisioned horse that appeared in many final honors at Arlington National Cemetery including President John F. Kennedy's. Blackjack was one of the horses among those that the Old Guard - 3d Infantry Regiment of the US Army had among its "herd" to conduct ceremonial missions within the Washington DC area. In the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" there are photos of these ceremonies among the over 200 historical photographs from the 1860s until the 1960s.
The availability date JUNE 13, 2011, is quickly approaching for the book - "Images of America - Fort Myer" Virginia. The reaction from those who have previewed the book and the over 200 historic images within has been very gratifying and complimentary.
From a noted historian: "You've done yeoman work here in both research and composition"
From a previous member of The Old Guard: "Outstanding work, it really goes back in time to tell the story of a significant US Army Post."
From a retired US Army Colonel: "Where did you ever find that note from Abraham Lincoln to General Totten? It's priceless!"
Within the book there are presented many different influences that shaped and molded Fort Myer. With origins during the US Civil War as Fort Whipple - one of the 70 fortifications which protected Washington DC - this US Army Post has contributed much to the United States through the efforts of :
From inception of military aviation, national weather service, implementation of communications, standardization of affordable transportation and... Fort Myer is a gem among military installations and the book "Images of America - Fort Myer" provides a history spanning the first 100 years.
Title: Arlington Reads - Images of America - Fort Myer Virginia
Location: Arlington Central Library - Arlington VA
Description: John Michael will discuss his new book about this unique US Army Post which has its origins in the US Civil War -
The book is from Arcadia Publishing and provides a comprehensive view in historical photographs from the 1860s to 1960s.
1015 N Quincy Street
Start Time: 19:00
Fort Myer – the unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War. Built in 1863 as Fort Whipple.