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!
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:
Escort to First Unknown Soldier
Display of Skills and Talents
- War of 1812
- Mexican-American War
- American Civil War
- Indian Wars
- Spanish-American War
- Philippine-American War
- World War II
- Iraq War
Nostalgic VideoThe 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
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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The Remaining US Civil War Era PostIt sits on Arlington Heights overlooking Washington DC and has seen its share of firsts since 1863 when it was first built as Fort Whipple. It was among the 70 fortifications surrounding the National Capital during the US Civil War, but unlike the rest which fell into disrepair and were abandoned, Fort Myer continues until this day (though they've hidden the name slightly - it'll always be Fort Myer because of its significance and contributions.) Some of the early firsts that this US Army Post holds are:
- First home of the US Signal Corps School
- First home of the National Weather Service (1870)
- First US Army Cavalry Showcase
- First military aviation flight (1908)
- First military aviation fatality (1908)
- First ROTC training