Historic Flights Originated on Fort MyerOn 02 August 1909 another military aviation milestone was reached. It was when the US Army Signal Corps secured the Wright Flyer from the Wright Brothers. For the sum of $30,000.00 of which $5,000.00 was a bonus for exceeding the requirements of speed of flight, - They flew from the Fort Myer to Alexandria Virginia and back at the speed of 42.5 mph. It marked the Future of Aviation as the United States was now the first country in the world to own an aircraft. The saga began in September 1908 when the first military flights began on Fort Myer - circling the drill field with Arlington National Cemetery as the backdrop to history being made on this US Army Post. Orville Wright had appeared with his Wright Flyer prepared to answer the US Army Signal Corps' request for a heavier than air flying machine. He successfully demonstrated the capability of the Wright Flyer. Despite the crash caused by a shattered propeller that dropped Orville and LT Thomas Selfridge from the sky at about one hundred feet. Orville suffered broken bones in his leg and broken ribs. Selfridge fared worse with a concussion that later resulted in him passing. He then became the first military aviation fatality. Section 3 in Arlington National Cemetery is where he is at rest.
Wright Brothers Return in 1909When the US Army agreed to a return appearance, the Wright brothers, both Orville and WIlbur returned in June 1909 with a brand newly built airplane designated the "Military Flyer". It was then flown several times for both duration of flight and speed. After the second speed test flight which included Orville flying from Fort Myer to Alexandria Virginia and return, the US Army was convinced of the value of what the Wright brothers produced. The US Army bought the future of aviation with the acceptance of the Military Flyer. Later in August, after a balloon reconnaissance by Lt Frank Lahm, land in College Park, Maryland was leased to become the first US Army Signal Corps Airport. The airport continues until today thus holding the distinction of the oldest airport in the world. An aviation museum sits alongside the runway where the Wright brothers trained the first US Army pilots. Later other aviation companies would get there start among those acres.
OVER 200 Historical Images"images of America - Fort Myer" chronicles the first one hundred years of this historic US Army Post from when it was built in the 1860s and known then as Fort Whipple until the 1960s when among the 3d Infantry regiment appeared the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. An autographed by the author copy of the book is avail able at BUY THE BOOK.
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. 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 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. 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. 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. 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 BOOKIf 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
SELECT PHOTOGRAPHS FROM 1972 DISCOVEREDWhen 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! 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... 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. 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. 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. 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 BOOKIf 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
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 ChallengeAlong 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 ITEMOne 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 ChiefI 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! Thanks Chief!
- Birthplace of military aviation,
- Birthplace of the National Weather Service,
- Home of the US Army Signal Corps School,
- The JEEP was tested and approved on Fort Myer,
- Home of the US Army Band since 1942,
- Home of The Old Guard since 1948
- Society Circus (which I believe evolved into "Spirit of America")