A 1972 TOUR OF FORT MYER – PART II

SELECT PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 1972 DISCOVERED (continued)

  In Part I of this 1972 Tour of Fort Myer, several newly discovered images were presented.   Here in Part II, several more of that cache of photographs from 1972 are presented below.   As mentioned in Part I, when exploring America's attic, the findings can sometimes be surprising.
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-13
Quarters 6 on Generals' Row - Grant Avenue
One of the several homes on Grant Avenue, also known as "Generals' Row"  It once was the quarters of General George S. Patton Jr.  Whipple Field is not too too far away (it's across the street!) That's where the Civil War era fortification "Fort Whipple" was located.  One of two of the nearly 70 fortifications located within the acres of present day Historic Fort Myer - the other was Fort Cass which were part of the Defenses of Washington
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-12
Building #59 - Post HQ previously the Post Hospital
Some nearly turn of the century building that contained the Post hospital (It was where Orville Wright and Lieutenant Selfridge were taken in SEP 1908 after the Wright Flyer crashed during a test flight on Fort Myer) In later years, the hospital was closed and the building became Post Headquarters where the command staff is located.
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-10
Caisson Platoon Stables - McKinney Stables
At one period of time, Fort Myer was a showcase for the US Cavalry.  With about 1,500 horses which were serving the field artillery and the cavalry, there were many more stables on post.  That all changed in February 1942 when the 3d Cavalry - "The Brave Rifles"  relinquished their mounts and were shipped south to get mechanized.  The Army's Remount Service only lasted until 1948 when all the depots,  including the one at Front Royal, Virginia were turned over to the US Department of Agriculture. Many of the stables on post were re-purposed or in the case of those used by the field artillery units, were torn down - their gun sheds also were scrapped.   The stable in the photo is the McKinney Stable where the Old Guard's Caisson Platoon spends most of their waking hours tending to the horses that provide the transport of the veterans in Arlington National Cemetery. Other stables to the north of this one have been repurposed - one is the home of the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.  Down below Whipple Field are several other stables which were used by the Buffalo Soldiers while they were stationed at Fort Myer.  Both the 9th and 10th Cavalry were stationed at the Post.
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-09
Comny Hall - Once the Riding Hall
Comny Hall, named for COL Joseph B. Conmy Jr. who commanded the 3d Infantry - "The Old Guard" in 1962.  Back in the day, when Fort Myer was a Cavalry Showcase, this was the riding arena where the troopers kept their skills sharp during the winter months.  The hall, with it's floor of ground also provided the location where the Society Circus was held to entertain those from the city of Washington and surrounds. After the cavalry left in 1942, the building was repurposed and over time became the location where ceremonies would be held -  retirements, changes of command / responsibility and even events such as Twilight Tattoo, Prelude to Taps and even Spirit of America. Since 1948 when the 3d Infantry was re-activated and the regiment became a "permanent resident" of the Post, their soldiers in concert with the US Army Band - "Pershing's Own" provided all the ceremonial troops for the events.
Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-08-
The original commissary buildings in 1972
COMMISSARY - these buildings back in 1972 is where the Soldiers and their families came to shop for their provisions.  It was before the current commissary was built near the southwest corner of the Post.  These buildings are now used for other purposes such as the Post thrift shop.

BUY THE BOOK

If you've enjoyed this small glimpse of Fort Myer, then perhaps you should BUY THE BOOK.  An author autographed copy is available here on this website. Coming next  A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer - Part III Or a look back at A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer - Part i            
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A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer – Part I

SELECT PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 1972 DISCOVERED

When you are poking around in America's attic, it's amazing what sometimes just drops into your lap. It's only been around since 1863 when it was known as Fort Whipple  -  though the constant on Fort Myer is change.  It began as one of then nearly 70 forts during the US Civil War as part of the Defenses of Washington.  Unlike the other forts, it is the only remaining and still doing what it was designed to do - Defend the Capital City!
Map of Fort Myer
Map of Fort Myer
  The map above shows what is in the present time.   At one point in the post's history it was referred to as "North Post" since in the 1940s up until the mid 1970s there was a "South Post"  Fort Myer that was originally established to provide housing for the WACS and Soldiers who worked in the Pentagon and other agencies in downtown Washington DC.  It also provided housing for the women who also worked downtown.  By the 1980s, South Post was a faint memory.  It's barracks and other buildings - PX, HQs, Chapel, Gymnasium, Pool and more were gone.  Its acres became part of Arlington National Cemetery as the cemetery needed to expand.   Explore and enjoy this 1972 tour of Fort Myer. What follows below are some historic and 1972 era photos found while doing further research...   Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-19 The photo above shows when the post primarily consisted of wooden buildings.  The building in center of the photo is the post hospital and access to it was via the bridge seen in the foreground.  The bridge is long gone as are the other buildings in the photo.  Around the turn of the 19th century, a concerted building project resulted in a new set of buildings primarily constructed of brick.     Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-14 In the above photograph, the view down Grant Avenue looking to the North shows some of the "Generals Row" homes. Quarters One, home to the Chief of Staff of the US Army is at the end of this street. To the right side of the photograph would be Whipple Field where the original Fort Whipple stood during the US Civil War.   Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-18 Building #246, back in 1972 was headquarters of the 3d Infantry - "The Old Guard"    The regiment would eventually relocate from this building and it would become barracks for one of the operating companies of the regiment.   Fort-Myer-Photos-1972-11   This building was a puzzle when first found, but upon further research it was learned that this was Bachelor Officer Quarters (BOQ) that was placed nearby to Wainwright Hall on Fort Myer.

BUY THE BOOK

If you've enjoyed this small glimpse of Fort Myer, then perhaps you should BUY THE BOOK.  An author autographed copy is available here on this website. Coming next  A 1972 Tour of Fort Myer - Part II
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Happy Birthday Fort Myer – Defending the Capital for 150 Years

Headquarters - Fort MyerBeginning 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. Chapel on South PostSouth 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 The Old Post Chapel on Fort Myer Virginiaand 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.Made in the United States of America

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Hail From the Chief

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

Images of America Fort Myer, home of the Chief
Images of America
- Fort Myer
  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...."

The Rocks, Inc.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 - WOW! 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! Note from the Chief, General Raymond T Odierno                                             Thanks Chief!
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Virginia Festival of the Book

Virginia Festival of the Book 2012DATELINE - Charlottesville Virginia: "Images of America - Fort Myer" has been selected as one of the books to be featured at this annual March 2012 event. From a field of nearly 1,000 books submitted, it was selected. Author John Michael will be onsite to present and discuss his ground-breaking first book about this unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War as part of the Defenses of Washington, when it was named Fort Whipple Fort Whipple was built in JUNE 1863 on Arlington Heights, Virginia within the acreage that was the Custis-Lee estate.   It was in honor of General Amiel Weeks Whipple who was the commander of the Defenses of Washington's southern fortifications, who used Arlington House as his headquarters. The Post was later renamed Fort Myer to eliminate the confusion with the other Fort Whipple located in Arizona and to honor General Albert J. Myer, the US Army's first Signal Officer who located the US Army's Signal Corps School on the acres. Home to the US Army's two elite units: The US Army Band - "Pershing's Own" and "The Old Guard - 3d Infantry Regiment of the US Army,  Fort Myer continues to provide defense of Washington DC - the Capital of the United States of America. More information about the event and times and locations within Charlottesville is at Virginia Festival of the Book 2012
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Happy Birthday Blackjack !

Some 65 years ago on 19 January 1947  from the US Army's Quartermaster - Remount Service came a foal that would become one of the most famed and visible horses that ever came from the service's four decades of operation. January 19th is the birthday of some really famous people - Robert E. Lee, Confederate General and from which the estate his wife, Mary Custis-Lee owned became Arlington Farms, Arlington National Cemetery and Fort Myer (earlier Fort Whipple & Fort Cass). Edgar Allen Poe - American writer and poet and an upcoming author "The History Guy" - William S. Connery, native of Baltimore, MD and author of the book  'Civil War Northern Virginia 1861' "Blackjack" caparisoned horse at a state funeral   But back to "Blackjack" - He was named for one of the famed Generals - John J. Pershing who was in charge of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) during WW I ...  He got his nickname "Blackjack" from when he commanded a unit of the Buffalo Soldiers.   Pershing is one of the two 5-star Generals - known as "General of the Armies" - a distinction awarded him in 1919.  (the other was George Washington)  It was fitting indeed that the horse which was destined to become one of the most famous caparisioned horses be named after General Pershing.   "Blackjack"  came from the US Army Remount Service, one of the most positive influences on the horse industry in the United States of America, if not the world.  Three remount depots were the prime provisioning locations Fort Keogh in Montana,  Fort Reno in Oklahoma and Front Royal in Virginia (later Fort Robinson in Nebraska would replace Fort Keogh)  although after World War I, there were 39 remount depots/sub-depots across the United States providing the horses to keep the US Army moving.   According to all published accounts,  Blackjack  was the last of the Quartermaster issued horses foaled at the then Remount Depot Fort Reno.   He became part of the US Army's 3d Infantry Regiment - The Old Guard -  and attached to the Caisson Platoon's fine horses in 1952.  Despite all attempts to have him saddled and draw a caisson, his temperment suggested otherwise.   A fine looking horse with an air about him, his destiny was to become a caparisoned (riderless) horse - which is an honor reserved for those of officer rank of colonel and above in the US Army and Marine Corps.  Those who became his "walker" were constantly challenged by his spirited personality.   One attempted to ride him once and it was not a pleasant experience for both the rider and Blackjack.   After participating in over 1,000  final honors, including his appearance in PresidentBlackjack Memorial on Summerall Field - Fort Myer John F. Kennedy's final honors procession, Blackjack was retired in 1973.  When his health deteriorated, it was thought best to put him down, and in 1976 under the careful eye of a US Army military police officer watched the procedure.  The  horse who gave spirit to the final honors ceremonies at Arlington National  Cemetery was then cremated and his ashes put in a pine coffin that was ultimately buried on the east side of Summerall Field on Fort Myer.   "Images of America - Fort Myer" with over 200 historical photographs tells the story of one of the most unique US Army Posts with origins during the US Civil War when it was know as Fort Whipple.    An autographed copy is available for purchase.    
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He Bought the Book

We were sent this message and here in his own words is the reaction to the book about Historic Fort Myer:
Recently I purchased a copy of John Michael's outstanding book, "Images of America: Fort Myer", where he is recounting the history of Fort Myer, Virginia, a military outpost, if you will, that is bathed in American Military history. His work is truly a mini-museum laid out before you on 127 pages, that are filled with photographs, and I mean priceless photographs, and reinforced with factual information relating to the chronological events that not only shaped America, but its Army. I couldn't begin to share with you all that I read and saw within the pages of the magnificent book, because I don't think I could do it it justice. John Michael has truly poured his heart into his prose, and I personally believe that if you are either a history buff, or a Soldier who has once served on this Post of Generals, this book needs to be in your library, with many a "dog eared" page.
Bernie Bernwall (Wilson) Author of "What Wouldn't Jesus Do?" And, And, veteran of The Old Guard of the US Army, 3d Infantry Regiment" Get a copy of Bernie's book from Amazon:
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Brave Rifles – The First “President’s Own”

Troopers from the 2d Squadron Brave Rifles - 3d Cavalry
"AI-EE-YAH!” the Regimental Battle Cry of the Brave Rifles announced their arrival...
It was 1919, World War I was over and those who went  "Over there..." began to return home to the United States.  The 3d Cavalry Regiment came home to Boston with Headquarters and 1st Squadrons moving onto Fort Ethan Allen in Vermont.
Fort Myer would then receive 3d Squadron, but it would be re-designated 2d Squadron when the 3d Squadron was deactivated.   Over the next two plus decades, the troopers of 2d Squadron would  defend the nation's capital and also be called upon to provide ceremonial support - honor guards and escorts for visiting dignitaries, final honors support within Arlington National Cemetery which earned them the title of the "President's Own" for their service.

Escort to First Unknown Soldier

In 1921 when the first unknown was laid to rest within Arlington National Cemetery near the amphitheater, the "Brave Rifles" provided the ceremonial escort.  It was the regimental bugler, Staff Sergeant Frank Witchey, who would sound TAPS at the ceremony.  Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were provided by the 3d Cavalry until 1941.

Display of Skills and Talents

"Brave Rifles" - Saddle Blanket Insignia
Saddle Blanket Insignia
Over the years while at Fort Myer, the troopers of the "Brave Rifles" would delight and entertain the residents of Washington DC with their excellent horsemanship skills and talents during horseshows, polo matches and  the Society Circus.  The latter  is an event that has evolved into today's Spirit of America hosted by the US Army and executed by the US Army's 3d Infantry Regiment - "The Old Guard" and The US Army Band - "Pershing's Own" within the Washington DC area and several US cities.
The "Brave Rifles" would ultimately relinquish their horses and leave Fort Myer in February 1942.  They would head to Georgia - Fort Ogelthorpe first then onto Fort Benning to get mechanized in preparation to deploy during World War II.
"Images of America - Fort Myer" which is based on over two years of research, contains over 200 historical photographs that presents the first one hundred years of this US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple.
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Two Months and Counting

Proudly Made in the United States of AmericaThe 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. Images of America - Fort Myer
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Sixty Three Years Ago

US Army 3d Infantry Regimental Coat of Arms The date 06 APRIL is a significant milestone in Fort Myer history, for it was on that day in 1948 that one of the most historic and oldest infantry regiments within the US Army would be re-activated after World War II and call this historic US Army Post home.  The regiment, like many after World War II, was inactivated, however there was a major need  for a unit to provide for the defense of the National Capital of Washington DC while also providing  ceremonial support.  Military District of Washington did have a cermonial company to provide for ceremonial company that did ceremonies.  So when the US Army's  3d Infantry Regiment was reactivated, they were included within the regiment. The 3d Infanry of the US Army, also known as The Old Guard, a name given to them by General Winfield Scott can trace its beginnings to the United States revolution with the date of its origination of JUNE 1784.  From the start, the regiment has served and fought valiantly to protect and defend the United States. Since its beginnings, the 3d has fought in
  • War of 1812
  • Mexican-American War 
  • American Civil War 
  • Indian Wars
  • Spanish-American War
  • Philippine-American War
  •  World War II  
  • Vietnam
  •  Iraq War
So it was 06 APR 1948 when the US Army 3d Infantry Regiment was reactivated on the steps of the US Capitol and then took up home at Fort Myer.  Known also as "The Escort to the President" - The Old Guard is the primaryunit within Presidential Inaugurations and state funerals.

Nostalgic Video

The video below, courtesy of the US Army, provides an historic look back in time to about 1955.  Accompanied by the US Army Band - "Pershing's Own", it shows the dual mission which the Old Guard continues until today.
Within Arlington National Cemetery, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded day and night all year round by Sentinels who are carefully selected and trained as Tomb Guards from this regiment.  Over the years, the regiment has added several distinguished specialty platoons / companies to address the ceremonial needs of the Military District of Washington and the US Army.  These include:
  • The Presidential Salute Battery
  • The Caisson Platoon
  • The Continental Color Guard
  • The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps
  • The US Army Drill  Team
  • The Commander-in-Chief's Guard
In the book "Images of America - Fort Myer"  many historic photographs of the 3d Infantry Regiment are displayed along with many more about Fort Myer.   

Note:  06 APRIL was officially designated as Army Day by Congress.  The last one that was celebrated nationally was in 1949.

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