“Images of America – Fort Myer” became a reality on 13 JUN 2011, one day before the US Army’s birthday – very appropriately mind you. As the FIRST BOOK ever about this historic US Army Post with origins back to the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple and part of the nearly 70 forts which surrounded and defended the US Capital – “The Defenses of Washington”. Fort Myer continues that duty uninterrupted until today from the heights of Arlington. What’s on the acres has changed. There’s no more drill field where the thundering hooves of the nearly 1,500 horses carried their Cavalry troopers or pulled their cassions with field artillery. There’s no more trolley line. Instead it’s the home of the elite units of the US Army.
The reason I wrote the book? Besides breaking new ground, which has become my hallmark, especially within the last decade, it needed to be done. This fort has been the site of many events which have molded or changed the world around us, and no one is aware of it and those milestones and contributions, until now. With over two years of research based on a foundation of working and walking among the US military since 2000, the result is over 200 historical photographs which cover from the 1860s to the 1960s. The book also fills a void in the US Army story and as one of those who bought the book said “You set the bar high and you jumped over it.” - a nice critique for a first work.
Thanks to General Albert J. Myer and his visionary initiatives, the fort continued to be used after the War Between the States as the home for the Signal Corps School. It was later General of the Army Philip H. Sheridan upon a petition to the US Congress turned it into a military reservation and showcase for the US Cavalry - The Remount Service begun in 1909 and the Front Royal Depot from 1911 provided Fort Myer with a fresh source of horses to keep the Army moving.
THE Key item in the book is a note from Abraham Lincoln which I discovered during my research. Until I found it at the National Archives sandwiched between two photographs, no one, not even the Fort Myer historian knew of its existence. It opens up another branch of the Lincoln Legacy Tree and published for the first time in my book.
Highlights of some of the milestones at Fort Myer include:
- 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”)
The impact that General George S. Patton had with his four tours on Post is amazing. The book helps remember South Post Fort Myer which served strongly as where the WACS and 12th Infantry were located during World War II. South Post also is where the MP School was established and a chapel was built that would be replicated over 500 times across the US Army (many of which are still providing a place of worship for the Soldiers, their family and friends.
(*The Soldiers of the US Army’s 3d Infantry Regiment who’s dual mission includes defending the Capital and performing the ceremonial work in Arlington National Cemetery and around the Capital region including White House, Pentagon, Andrews AFB, etc.)
The real treat are the over 200 historical photographs which chronicle over time the first one hundred years of this historic US Army Post. Many of which have never been seen before or published.
“Preserving the memories so others will remember…” ™
It was late April of 1935, Easter Sunday was on the 21st and the dedication of the Post Chapel that would bring a formal place of worship to Fort Myer. The project was begun and carefully watched over by then MAJ George S. Patton, Jr., another of his legacies to this historic US Army Post.
In an OCT 1933 report to then Post Commander, COL Kenyon Joyce, Patton outlined the specifics of building a principal chapel and nixed the idea of a separate mortuary chapel on Fort Myer. His conclusions were drawn after a field trip to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington DC where he surveyed the chapels on the grounds.
Highlighted within the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” among the other historical photographs and images are images of the chapel and Patton Hall which was first used as a chapel before the “Old Post Chapel” was built. Ground-breaking for the construction of the chapel began on 04 FEB 1934 and then cornerstone was placed both of which without much fanfare or ceremony.
Over time, this one building would become the iconic representation when one thought about Fort Myer. It was the focal point proudly occupying the center of the garrison’s insignia. In addition to providing a place for worship for the Fort Myer Military community, it hosted many weddings and also provided the starting place for many of the final honors which would end in adjacent Arlington National Cemetery.
It is also known for it’s unique stained glass windows.
Few people know the early contributions of General George S. Patton, Jr. He’s known for his robust accomplishments in World War I commanding the US Army’s Light Tank Corps and in World War II commanding the 3d Army.
While at Fort Myer, Patton left his mark on the US Army and the post with some of his contributions continuing until today. Few people know about his involvement in the construction of the Old Post Chapel – the icon of the installation, the tennis courts. But then there’s the “Society Circus” – a concept that began as a way for the Soldiers to continue to hone their skills, demonstrate their talents while raising money for the Army Relief Fund.
It began during the “between the wars” period when Patton returned from his successes in Europe in the US Army Tank Corps. He once again returned to his beloved cavalry where he had earlier distinguished himself by designing “The Patton Sword” – M1913 which was produced by the Springfield Arsenal – some 34,000 swords were produced and the cavalry outfitted. However this time it was “The Society Circus” which some say has evolved into today’s “Spirit of America” which still is produced and performed by Soldiers from Fort Myer as they take the show “on the road”
Back then, for ten weekends during the late Spring and all Summer, the horsemanship skills of the cavalry along with vignettes depicting events or places in history were presented.
This augmented the ceremonial duties which the Soldiers executed which included final honor support at Arlington National Cemetery.
Several historic photographs within the book “Images of America – Fort Myer” provide a small glimpse of this segment of history on this unique US Army Post with origins during the US Civil War when it was known as Fort Whipple. An autographed copy of the book can be purchased here on the website.
George S. Patton Jr. was stationed at Fort Myer four times during his early career. From the first time, he would have an impact on the Post and the US Army that would carry on until today. He truly left his mark.
Patton Hall, once the Post Headquarters, now known by most as “The Officers’ Club” or “The O Club” is named for this great icon in US Army, military and world history. A fitting tribute to one who has contributed much, most visible to all who visit Fort Myer is the Old Post Chapel, which was dedicated in 1935.
Patton’s postings at Fort Myer include: The first from 1911 to 1913 when he was selected to compete in the 1912 Olympics in Europe representing the United States in the pentathlon, the second from 1920 to 1922, the third from 1932 to 1935, and the fourth from 1938 to 1940, when he was both post Commander and commander of the 3rd Cavalry – “The Brave Rifles”
The book, “Images of America – Fort Myer” presents over 200 historic photographs and within that set of images, the lasting impact of George S. Patton, Jr is told.
- John Michael on Happy Birthday Fort Myer – Defending the Capital for 150 Years
- Happy 150th Ft. Myer, VA | A | I on Happy Birthday Fort Myer – Defending the Capital for 150 Years
- Don Krapohl on Happy Birthday Fort Myer – Defending the Capital for 150 Years
- John Michael on When the US Army Moved by Horse
- Tina Garcia Slagle on When the US Army Moved by Horse