Friday, March 24, 2017

History of Fort Dix - IV Construction

History of Fort Dix

Chapter IV 


Although the area southeast of Wrightstown, New Jersey, seemed ideally suited for a mobilization camp, the task of completing sufficient facilities at the site to receive the first draftees by 1 September 1917 seemed impossible. The few Army personnel who began to arrive at Wrightstown in early June expected to see construction underway or at least in an advanced stage of preparation. When these soldiers saw only vast expanses of carefully cultivated fields devoid of any activity, it is easy to understand their disappointment. The weeks of June and early July 1917 passed as they had for more than two centuries with only the crops in the fields showing any signs of growth.

Major Harry C. Williams, who reported as the first camp commander on 12 June 1917, later described the early weeks as ones of inactivity in which “make-work” projects had to be created to prevent boredom among the troops. Williams summed up the frustration of all in an article which later appeared in the Camp Dix News when he stated, “the visions of mushroom growth were painfully dissipated.”

The discouragement of Major Williams and his men was understandable, but the slow start in construction was not without good reasons. The War Department faced the almost unbelievable task of constructing within a period of three months not only Camp Dix and 31 similar camps but more than 500 other military posts of varying sizes. The problems of procurement of building materials, labor, transportation, and other equipment were of a magnitude beyond any previous experience of the American people. Yet, even though it was not apparent in Wrightstown, progress had been made in laying the groundwork for the building of Camp Dix.

The quartermaster general of the State of New Jersey was negotiating with owners of farms and forests to use their land for the military reservation, and on 17 June 1917, a one-year lease on 6,500 acres was arranged and signed by the parties concerned. Additional land was procured later by other leases and outright purchase. Of the $700,000 allocated for land acquisition, only $550,000 was ever spent. Some landowners, especially those whose families had occupied their land for generations, were understandably hesitant to leave their homes. Most, however, displayed a high degree of cooperation with the war effort. One prosperous farmer, when asked by a newspaper reporter what his reaction was to vacating his premises gave a reply that revealed the feeling of patriotism which most Americans had during those days of World War I. He answered simply, “If I had a boy in the new Army, I’d want him to live in a decent place; wouldn’t you?” 1. (Camp Dix News, vol. i, no. I 1917 7.)

Concurrent with negotiations for land were those for construction of buildings and camp facilities. A contract was signed with the firm of Irwin and Leighton of Philadelphia on 4 June 1917. It was the same type of contract made with all construction firms for the 16 National Army camps. It called for construction of buildings and facilities required to provide for an infantry division of three regiments, known as a triangular division, on a “cost-plus basis with a graded scale of percentages decreasing from 10% to 6% on the cost of the work as the total cost increased.” 2. (Erna Risch, Quartermaster Support of the Army. A History of the Corps 1775-1939, p. 607)

These terms were favorable to the contractors and were undoubtedly an important factor in the rapid deterioration of the National Army camps once the contracts were completed.

Irwin and Leighton had only two and one-half months in which to complete sufficient buildings and facilities to provide for the first draftees. The size of the task in this short time was gigantic in proportion. More than 7,000 carpenters, electricians, plumbers and laborers had to be assembled, housed, fed and cared for at the campsite. Millions of board feet of lumber, miles of piping and wire, plumbing fixtures in the thousands, plus a myriad of other supplies, tools and equipment had to be purchased, transported and assembled at Wrightstown. This was accomplished at a time when skilled workers were in demand throughout the country, building materials were in short supply, and transportation already was overtaxed.

To further complicate the construction problem, the War Department on the recommendation of General Pershing and his staff revised the organization of the infantry division in late July 1917. The new division, commonly referred to as the “square” division, called for an addition of a fourth regiment and half again as many troops. As one writer commented, “The effect upon the cantonment arrangements was much the same as building a tall building, then adding ten stories, putting the elevators in a new place, and lowering the ceilings on each floor by a foot.” 3 (Frederick Palmer, Newton D. Baker-America at War, vol. i., p. 255)

The changes in the number of buildings to be constructed resulted in the contract continuing long after Camp Dix was to have been completed.

By mid-July 1917, the campsite began to see “visions of mushroom growth,” of which Major Williams dreamed. Workers began to arrive by the hundreds each day. More than 30 million board feet of lumber and 28 miles of various sized piping for the water system arrived in the railway siding in a few days time. Buildings began to appear in the cornfields at a fantastic rate of speed. On 5 September, sufficient buildings had been erected to receive the first draftees to Camp Dix. During the month of September, 17,000 draftees arrived and were processed at the camp. However, even after their arrival, construction went on throughout the fall and into the winter of 1917. Oftentimes, the new soldiers moving into their bleak barracks had to clean up debris from the carpentering before they could set up cots.

Construction of the largest single facility at the camp was not begun until late in August. The Camp Dix Base Hospital during the early days was housed in buildings intended for use as troop barracks. By giving top priority to construction of the medial installation, a 61-building, 1,000 bed hospital was completed in record time and received its first patients on 29 October 1917. During construction of the hospital, a system of teams of workers was best demonstrated.

Contractors were constantly plagued by a shortage of skilled workers. To overcome this problem, unskilled workers were organized into teams similar to those working on manufacturing assembly lines. On 24 September 1917, 200 men operating in teams of carpenters established an unofficial record when they erected seven barracks buildings, 24’ x 157’, in a seven-hour period. The buildings were complete in every detail – floors laid, stairs placed, doors hung, windows fitted, and even screens emplaced. In addition, all scaffolding was removed, and the workmen had gone to new sites.

The influx of thousands of construction workers with plenty of money in their pockets quickly created pressures in the villages and towns of the area surrounding Camp Dix. The horde of hard-working builders looking forward each evening to the gaiety of night life in the few populated areas that prior to the war had been nonexistent. It was only natural that Wrightstown, the nearest village, developed quickly into a boomtown. The village, which claimed a population of less than 200 before the war, within a few weeks in July 1917 grew into the thousands. Gamblers quickly arrived on the scene to help workers spend their “excess” money with such devices as poker, dice, faro and three-card monte games. As all boom times, the philosophy of “wine, women and song” quickly became the standard of Wrightstown.

This situation developed in the vicinity of nearly all developing National Army camps, and the federal government recognized that something had to be done before the young men of the new Army entered the service. The result was a federal order prohibiting the sale of liquor either in camps or within a radius of five miles of the campsites. In the Camp Dix area, aid for enforcing the newly passed bans came from the Philadelphia office of what is now the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Two special agents were sent to Camp Dix to work with the military police in determining the source of apparently illegal whiskey which somehow seemed to find its way to soldiers’ hands. The agent in charge of the operation at Camp Dix was Richard Hughes, father of the present governor of New Jersey, Richard J. Hughes.

Vice and corruption were not the only problems that faced the area municipalities. Housing workers and the many families accompanying them became a matter of deep concern. Within a few days, there was no available lodging within miles of the encampment, and the few stores in the formerly quiet country village were literally swamped with customers.

Camp Dix itself rapidly became a fair sized, self-sufficient city capable of handling its own problems and many relating to neighboring communities. Adjoining townships delegated by ordinance to the Army the right to police, regulate and restrict traffic within reasonable regulations on the Wrightstown-New Lisbon and Pointville-Pemberton Roads.

The Camp Dix Fire Department was organized in October 1917 and operated six stations and a fire truck and hose company. 

A huge bakery with a daily capacity of 36,000 pounds of bread per day was built. A complete water system was installed, including a pumping station on the Rancocas Creek which supplied the cantonment area with 3,000 gallons of water per minute. A series of water storage tanks also were constructed to facilitate the system. One, a 200,000-gallon steel tank, built on the Wrightstown-Pemberton Road, is still in service today, 50 years later.

A sewage disposal plant and a sewage system also were constructed. Stables and horse shops were built to house and care for the 7,000 horses and mules assigned to the camp. Approximately eight and one-half miles of standard gauge track were laid into the camp by the Pennsylvania Railroad.

By 15 December 1917, the contractors reported that in the period since 14 June, the company had employed a maximum of 11,000 workers operating in 400 teams and utilizing 40 trucks. They had constructed a total of 1,660 buildings of 143 types and sizes. At the time, Camp Dix consisted of 7,474 acres, of which 3,500 acres were used for artillery and rifle ranges. In the winter of 1917-18, the strength of Camp Dix averaged about 25,000 men per month.

New construction at Camp Dix continued well into the year 1918. Events in Europe such as the loss of Russia as an ally, the defeat of the Italian army at Caporetto, and the terrific losses of French and British forces in the spring of 1918 forced the War Department to revise its estimates of US forces to be committed in Europe from one-half million to a million and then a million and a half.

Camp Dix was destined to do its share in providing for this increase. The strength of the camp gradually rose until it reached a peak of almost 55,000 men in August 1918.

Insofar as the cost of construction is concerned, War Department records indicate that $13 million had been expended on construction of Camp Dix by 30 June 1919.

Almost 50 years later some of it still would be in use….for escalation of the War in Vietnam. In 1967 Congress appropriated more for a single brigade complex than the entire original construction cost of Camp Dix. 

History of Fort Dix 3 - Maj. Gen. John Adams Dix

Fort Dix History

Chapter III 

MAJOR GENERAL JOHN ADAMS DIX, U.S. V. 1. (United States Volunteer)

“In the early morning of June 1, 1917, Captain George W. Mulhern 2. (Offical post return lists Captain George W. Mulheron, Commander of Company C, 1st Battalion Engineers New Jersey, arriving on 25 June 1917) and a small band of 19 officers and privates from Company C of the 26th New Jersey Engineers arrived at the quaint, sleepy, straggling village of Wrightstown.” 3 (Quoted by Camp Dix Pictorial Review, January 1918, p. 1, from William Maxwell, Historical Record of Camp Dix 1917). 

This advance detachment was the first unit to look over the area which would one day become the largest military installation in the north-eastern United States. When these personnel arrived at what was to be the cantonment site, no name had yet been given to the Army reservation. During the ensuing weeks, they and the construction workers who soon followed their arrival referred to the site by various names such as “Camp Wrightstown” and “Wrightstown Cantonment.” It was not until 18 July 1917 when construction already had been under way for some weeks that a War Department general order designated the area to be known as Camp Dix in honor of Major General John Adams Dix, soldier, politician, statesman, foreign diplomat and railroad pioneer who had ably served his country for a period of more than 60 years.

Dix was born in the village of Boscawen, New Hampshire, on 24 July 1798. His father, a prosperous storekeeper, was instrumental in the formation of a local militia. Young Dix at a very early age became intrigued by the activities of these hometown “heroes.” In his memoirs, he described how they fired his imagination to the point where he “caught the contagion, and made to myself a sacred vow that, if ever I grew into manhood, I would become a soldier or perish in the attempt.” 4 (Morgan Dix, Memoirs of John Adams Dix, vol. i. p. 21)

Following the death of his mother in childbirth, Dix was sent away to a series of boarding schools including Phillips Exeter Academy and the College of Montreal. His dream of becoming a soldier did not diminish. With the approach of the War of 1812, Dix’ father received an appointment as a major in the infantry and became commander of a battalion in Baltimore. Although his father wanted young Dix to continue his education, the latter succeeded in becoming a cadet in the US Army in 1812 and managed to join his father’s unit in Baltimore. 

In 1813, four months shy of 15 years of age, Dix received a commission as an ensign in the infantry. In April of that year, father and son were in Sackett’s Harbor, northern New York, performing duty at what was later to become Madison Barracks. In autumn, their unit joined with a force from Plattsburg for a march up the St. Lawrence River to meet the British at Montreal. The combined force failed to reach its destination, but on the march, they fought several skirmishes with British troops which gave young Dix his first view of battle and death in combat. During the return march to Lake Ontario, the older Dix fell ill with pneumonia and died en route to Sackett’s Harbor.

A succession of military posts and duties followed for Dix including, at the age of 16, an assignment as aide-de-camp to Major General Jacob Brown, commander of the Northern Department of the US Army. In this capacity, Dix came into contact with many important personages of the times. Jefferson, Madison, Calhoun, Van Rensselaer were only a few of the many described by Dix in his memoirs. In 1919, Dix began to read law with an eye to resigning his commission and setting up practice in New York State.

On 29 May 1826, Dix married Catherine Morgan, the daughter of a distinguished citizen of New York, John Jordan Morgan. After a European honeymoon, Captain Dix and his wife were stationed at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, and then West Point, New York. At the latter post, he became increasingly disenchanted with peacetime military life and resigned in 1828.

Dix and his wife settled in Cooperstown, New York, where he pursued the life of a country squire managing his father-in-law’s lands and practicing law. He was appointed adjutant general of New York State in 1830, and in 1833 Dix took on the additional duties of secretary of state and served in these capacities until 1839. During this period, he became a leading member of the so-called “Albany Regency” – the controlling group in the state Democratic Party.

With the victory of the Whig Party in 1838, Dix became politically inactive until 1845, when he was appointed to fill out the term of Senator Silas Wright. In a complicated political maneuver, Wright had been elected in 1844 to governorship of New York State and as governor appointed Dix to fill out his term in the Senate. As US Senator, Dix aligned himself with antislavery Democrats, and the resulting antagonism of the southern wing of the party led to his temporary retirement from politics when his term was completed in 1849.

During the next decade he was active in railroad promotion and law practice in New York City. He continued his contacts with the Democratic Party, and in January 1961, he was appointed secretary of the treasury by President James Buchanan and served until March of that year. In this short period of time, Dix rallied reluctant northern financers to support what they thought was a failing government. While in this post he coined the memorable phrase, “If anyone attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot.” 5 (Ibid,., p. 371)

The words were part of a message sent to treasury agents in New Orleans, ordering the arrest of the captain of a revenue cutter for his refusal to sail his ship to New York.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Dix, as head of the Union Defense Committee, organized 17 regiments and was commissioned a major general of volunteers. Although he saw no fighting, he helped to save Maryland for the Union cause by his active defense measures. Historians have termed the refusal of Maryland to secede crucial to the North’s eventual victory. In May 1663, Dix was sent to Fortress Monroe in Virginia as commander of the VII US Army Corps. The highlight of his tour come when he marched several thousand troops up the peninsula toward Richmond in an unsuccessful move to cut off Lee from his headquarters. General Lee then was preparing for the attack at Gettysburg.

After the New York draft riots in July 1863, Dix was appointed commander of the US Army Department of the East in New York City. He served in this capacity until his retirement on 15 July 1865. Despite his advancing years, Dix continued serving as the first president of the Union Pacific Railroad, United States minister to France (1866-69), and, though a staunch Democrat, was elected governor of New York on the Republican ticket in 1872. Defeated for reelection in 1874, Dix finally retired from the public scene until his death 21 April 1879.

The memory of John Adams Dix and his many accomplishments are largely forgotten. The perpetuation of his contribution to the American heritage rests principally with the Army reservation that now bears his name, as it has for the past 50 years. Fort Dix today continues to train young men for the task of protecting that to which John Adams Dix devoted his entire life – the United States of America. 

History of Fort Dix 2

History of Fort Dix – 1917-1967

Chapter II


In the spring of 1917, the US Army had barracks space sufficient to house only troops of the Regular Army. The problem facing the War Department was to provide facilities for the new increments to the Regular Army, then for the 16 divisions of the expanded National Guard when they were called to active service, and finally the additional 16 divisions planned for the National Army of draftees. The camps for the National Army had to be completed by the 1 September date established by the secretary of war as the initial reporting date for the drafted men.

The US Army General Staff had early developed plans to expand the existing facilities for the National Guard and National Army would have to be situated at new sites on newly acquired lands with complete new construction. In order to take best advantage of climatic conditions for training purposes and to utilize tentage already available to the US Army, the southern states were selected as the location for National Guard divisions. Political considerations, population distribution and other factors indicated that the camps for the National Army should be located in areas from which the draftees came.

“The decision as to the camp sites rested with the Secrtary of War. His was the power to say where all the millions of money for construction and camp supplies should be spent; his the power to gratify local pride and civic patriotism, to give government approval to the realtors’ exploiting of suburban subdivisions.” 1 (Frederick Palmer, Newton D. Baker – America at War, vol. I, p. 239)

Secretary Baker early decided that an arbitrary selection of sites would be unwise. He delegated his authority to the US Army Department commanders who were advised to appoint boards of officers to survey locations “known to them or suggested to them and to select for recommendation to the (War) Department the best sites.” 2. (Ibid. p. 240)

Even though no secrecy was attached to the adoption of this procedure, the secretary of war, the War Department and even the President were deluged with delegations, applications and letters from committees and individuals seeking the location of camps near their cities or in their states. In late May 1917, President Wilson received a letter from an old friend in New Jersey suggesting the location of a camp in that state. In his reply, the President advised his friend that “he knew nothing about the War Department’s plans for mobilization camps, but observed that he would like to serve New Jersey in any way practicable.” 3. (Ibid., p. 239) 

The letter was referred to Secretary Baker who in a subsequent memorandum to the President advised that he had delegated the authority to the department commanders. He added, however, “Whether New Jersey sites will be recommended I do not know, but I shall be glad to ask General Bell (department commander for the area including New Jersey) to have his board consider carefully any such sites as may be suggested.” 4. (Ibid., p. 240)

It was not until 7 May 1917, when the draft law was well along to receiving congressional approval, that the War Department directed the commanding generals of the seven military departments to select sites for the construction of cantonments for the National Guard and the National Army. Major General J. Franklin Bell, commander of the Department of the East, on receipt of the order, appointed a board of officers under the chairmanship of Colonel W. C. Brown to survey possible sites in his department.

After careful consideration, the board selected several sites, one of which was located in Burlington County, New Jersey, near the village of Wrightstown. This site was recommended to the War Department, and late in May 1917, it was approved as the location of the 78th National Army Division’s mobilization camp. It is not known if political influence played a part in the selection of the site in Burlington County, but the passage of time has revealed the vision and foresight of the men who recommended this location for a military camp.

The area near Wrightstown was only 30 miles from Philadelphia and fewer than 100 miles from New York City with their vast port and rail facilities. Additionally, a spur of the Pennsylvania Railroad connecting both cities ran adjacent to the planned campsite and the city of Trenton, New Jersey, only 18 miles distance by road. Located in the heartland of the “Garden State” (New Jersey) and the extensive agricultural regions of Pennsylvania, the area provided a ready access to markets to feed the anticipated thousands of soldiers. With a good supply of surface water only three miles from the proposed cantonment site and an underground water table at reasonable depths, water posed no major problem.

Other physical characteristics of the area were equally favorable, Extensive cleared land as well as an expanse of Jersey pines lay within short hikes. Terrain of the type needed for training in trench warfare as fought in Europe was easily accessible. The soil of this region – a mixture of clay, sand and gravel extending to depths of hundreds of feet – was ideal for drainage, and the sloping terrain was suitable for the use of a gravity sewage system. With respect to the climate, the survey group concluded that the area was not “cursed with an overabundance of humidity in summertime,” was relatively free of mosquitos, and in general provided “a very healthful location.” 5 (Camp Dix News, vol. i, no. v  1917, 2. )

Historically, the land comprising the modern Fort Dix had been settled by a group of English Friends, or Quakers, from Yorkshire and London, England, in the year 1677. The region was first part of the Province of West Jersey. The nearby city of Burlington frequently served as a meeting place for the provincial assembly until 1702 when the boundaries of New Jersey were established along the lines as they exist today. To hear the sounds of marching feet would not be something new to Burlington County. In August 1757, a draft of Burlington County militia was mustered and reviewed at Mount Holly prior to its service in the French and Indian War. This was the first recorded military information within the county, although a number of men from the area had served within the New Jersey militia in King George’s War against France, 1744-1748.

During the long struggle for independence from Great Britain, Burlington County witnessed the movement of elements of both the British and Continental armies across its soil. Communities, particularly Burlington City and Bordentown, were frequently occupied by British regulars and their Hessian mercenaries. Mount Holly, nearby to present Fort Dix, was occupied on Christmas Eve, 1776, as continental Militia drew Hessian troops away from Bordentown. This action was in preparation for General Washington’s historic crossing of the Delaware River and the defeat of the Hessian troops in Trenton on 26 December 1776. Mount Holly was again occupied for several days in June 1778 by 15,000 British troops with 1500 wagons under the command of General William Clinton. This force destroyed the town’s iron works which had been supplying the Continental Army with weapons. 

After the defeat of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, it was a Burlington man, Elias Boudinot, who as “President of the Congress” signed preliminary articles of peace with Great Britain on 30 November 1782.

Since the Revolution, thousands of Burlington County men and women have served the nation with distinction. Captain James Lawrence, commander of the American frigate in the War of 1812 and famed for his dying order, “Don’t give up the ship!,” was born in Burlington City. His home still stands, as does that of James Fenimore Cooper, author of the famous Leatherstocking Tales and The Last of the Mohicians, who was born in the house next door. 

In 1917, today’s Fort Dix joined this proud heritage to make its contribution to the history of Burlington County.

History of Fort Dix - Chapter 1

Chapter 1


When the Imperial German Armies invaded Belgium and France in August 1914, the military reservation now known as Fort Dix, New Jersey, did not exist. In fact, even at the time the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, no definitive action had been taken by the War Department to locate any of the 32 new training camps that would provide the bulk of the troops for the American expeditionary Forces in Europe.

Yet, in the short period of five months, training camps capable of handling more than a million soldiers sprouted throughout the United States. To understand this phenomenal development, it is necessary to review the events leading to United States participation in the “war to end all wars.”
The war in Europe in the summer of 11914 came as a complete shock to the American people. Almost every shade of American opinion had assumed that a general European war was unthinkable. Numerous seemingly successful international conferences had lulled the American public into believing that small wars between petty princes might continue but the “big” war was a thing of the past.

The initial reaction was horror, disgust, and determination to keep out of it. President Wilson proclaimed American neutrality on 4 August 1914, and in a message to the Senate on the 19th declared, “The United States must be neutral in fact as well as in name…” 1. (1. Samuel Eliot Morision, The Oxford History of the American People, p. 848)

Throughout the early years of the war, President Wilson and a majority of the American people held firmly to the principles of neutrality. In the Presidential election of 1916, Wilson won reelection by a narrow margin, largely on the campaign slogan, “He Kept Us Out of War.”

Although Wilson made no promises to keep the United States out of the war, he was convinced that by determined efforts to serve as arbiter, he could bring the warring nations to the conference table. In carrying out his idealistic program to achieve “Peace without Victory,” Wilson even discouraged Untied States military preparedness “fearing least too much build-up would suggest to Germany that we really were preparing for war.” 2. (Ibid. pp. 857-858)

It was not until the German Government openly announced in early February 1917 that it would pursue a policy of attack on all shipping, whether combatant or neutral, in a zone around the British Island and the Mediterranean that even Wilson began to realize “neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable.” 3. (3. Ibid. p. 859)

With the sinking of a number of unarmed United States merchant ships in March 1917, the interception and publicity of a plot by the German Government to form an alliance with Mexico against the United States, and the discovery of large-scale propaganda and espionage activities within the United States, the American people demanded retaliation.

To a special session of Congress assembled on 2 April 1917 for the purpose of formalizing a state of war with the Imperial German Government, President Wilson set the stage for the establishment of a wartime army. In his message, Wilson outlined the measures which would have to be taken to mobilize for war. He stated in part, “It will involve the immediate addition to the armed forces of the United States already provided for by law in case of war at least 500,000 men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service, and also the authorization of subsequent additional increments of equal force so soon as they may be needed and can be handled in training.” 4.

A joint resolution was passed by the Congress and on 6 April 1917, the President signed the document declaring that a state of war existed with the Imperial German Government.
In his message to Congress, Wilson had referred to “the immediate addition to the armed forces of the United States already provided by law.” 5. 

This law was the National Defense Act of 3 June 1916 which erected the framework for the expansion of the military establishment in the event a conflict were to come. Insofar as it pertained to the United States Army, the act recognized four elements in the land forces: the Regular Army, the National Guard, the Reserve Corps, and in wartime, the Volunteer Army. When the act was passed in June 1916, the possibility of the United States entering the war in Europe was still remote. The Congress in considering the law had assumed that in the event of hostilities, the bulk of the men needed to pursue a war would come as volunteers as they had throughout the history of the United States.

On the day that war was declared, the strength of the United States Army was slightly more than 200,000, of which 67,000 were national guardsmen. The latter were still on active duty after being called into service for protection of the Mexican border against Pancho Villa’s raids. The training camps in existence in April 1917 had a capacity for only 125,000 men. It was from this base that the United States would have to recruit the manpower and construct the facilities to develop an army of a million and a half, which the General Staff estimated would be needed for participation in the war in Europe.

During the months immediately preceding the United States’ entry into the war, President Wilson and the War Department came to recognize that only a conscript army could provide the quantities of men needed to wage trench warfare as it had been carried out in Europe for almost three years. As early as February 1917, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker made the statement to the Army War College, “We are going to raise our Army by draft.” 6.

This was a new concept for a nation that had always relied on volunteers in times of national crisis. Conscription had been tried only once before by the Federal Conscription Act of March 1963. The draft riots of New York City in July 1863 demonstrated the utter failure of the system. However, President Wilson was convinced that this method was the only fair one for all the American people; hence, his reference in the 2 April message: “men, who should, in my opinion, be chosen upon the principle of universal liability to service.” 7.

A universal conscription law, whatever its merits, required the approval of Congress. Following the declaration of war, a bill to this effect was introduced. The debate over the new concept was long and often bitter. It was not until 13 May 1917 that the bill “An Act to authorize the President to increase temporarily the Military Establishment of the United States” was approved.

In the meantime, the War Department and the US Army General Staff could not make final plans for the organization and training of the increased army until it had assurance that the manpower was to be made available. Consequently, it was not until mid-May 1917, almost a month and a half after United States entry into the war, that orders were sent out to select sites for the training camps and negotiate for construction of cantonments for the new army.

The draft law that gave the go-ahead to the War Department was signed by the President on 18 May 1917. It provided for the drafting of an army of 500,000 men, between the ages of 21 and 30, both inclusive. It also provided for raising the Regular Army and National Guard of the United States to their full legal strength, for the incorporation into national service of the National Guard of several states, and for a day of general registration. By proclamation, the President assigned 5 June 1917, as the day of registration. Despite the views of many that a draft would not work, 9,660,000 men were registered in an atmosphere of patriot calm on 5 June 1917.

On the morning of 20 July, Secretary Baker presided at the drawing of the “national lottery.” Baker drew number “258,” which designated the first man in each precinct throughout the United States to report to his local draft board. Sufficient numbers were drawn to provide 687,000 men -- the total estimated to fill vacancies in the National Guard. The first contingent of the draft received subsequent orders to report to their training camps on 1 September 1917.  The term “Volunteer Army” as defined in the National Defense Act of 1916 was scrapped, and the draftees became the “National Army” to distinguish them from other elements of the land forces.

The date for the reporting draftees set the deadline for the War Department. On 1 September, the National Army camps would have to be ready to receive and train the hundreds of thousands of men. One of these camps was to be named Camp Dix, New Jersey.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

B2 Bombers Hit ISIS Refuled by JBMDL Tankers

B2 Bombers Hit ISIS in Libya

Refuled by JBMDL Tankers 

B-2 Bomber Being Refueled in the Air. 

By William Kelly 

One of President Barack Obama’s last orders as Commander in Chief was for the U.S. military to attack Islamic State camps deep in the Libyan desert.

To accomplish this mission the military called on two B-2 Spirit bombers based at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, where planners coordinated the tanker missions, ensuring that the refueling aircraft were at the right place at the right time to get the bombers to their targets and back.

The 32 hour, 5,700 mile sortie was supported by more than a dozen KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extender Air Force tankers from five different bases, some from the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JBMDL), New Jersey.

Col. Colonel Darren Cole, the 305th AMW commander said several units had to come together from different locations and commands and function together as a team to make this mission happen.

“It’s a big team that has to execute things on time to make it work right,” he said. “It’s pretty impressive to be able to hit a target globally at a moment’s notice with so many people participating.”

As detailed in a Popular Mechanics article – To Libya and Back - (  Joe Pappalardo writes:

"The mission is easy to describe, but hard to execute. Two B-2 Spirit bombers, each with two people in the cockpit, take off, fly to the target, drop enough bombs to eradicate the ISIS camps, and fly back home to Missouri. Things get more complex as planners weigh in on everything from the pilot's diets to the size of the bombs loaded in the airplane."

"'It takes a symphony of people,'" says Major General Scott Vander Hamm, assistant deputy chief of staff of operations at the Air Force headquarters and a former B-2 pilot."

"Eventually, it's time to refuel. The B-2s meets KC-135 Stratotankers at least twice on the way to Libya. It's a coordinated dance that must occur no matter what the weather or time of day. The airplane in need of fuel flies directly behind the tanker. The tanker then extends a telescoping fueling boom. The end of the boom—the fuel nozzle—latches into a small hole in the receiving aircraft, and the fuel pumps as the conjoined aircraft fly in harmony."

"The B-2's fuel port is on top of the fuselage, so a pilot can't tell how close the boom is to the bomber's receptacle. They watch lights under the tanker plane's fuselage that tell him to move forward, left, or right. Once the connection is made, a dashboard screen says "LATCH" and the fueling begins. As thousands of gallons of flow, the B-2s flight control computer routes it to the appropriate tanks as a way to preserve the bomber's center of gravity."

News reports said: "U.S. military strikes in Libya on Wednesday night have killed more than 80 fighters from ISIS, some of whom were believed to be actively plotting attacks in Europe, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday according to Reuters."

“We need to strike ISIL everywhere they show up. And that’s particularly true in view of the fact that we know some of the ISIL operatives in Libya were involved with plotting attacks,” Carter said.

A Pentagon spokesman said an initial assessment indicated the U.S. military strikes destroyed two camps southwest of Sirte, Libya, the Reuters report continued."

Col. Clint Zumbrunnen, the 305th Operations Group commander, said the 305th AMW keeps two aircraft on continuous alert just in case such a mission should come up. He said that, coupled with an efficient operations team, made sure the 305th OG would fly on time.

“The crews grow up here being conditioned for short-notice missions, to show up, plan and get the fuel to the fight,” Zumbrunnen explained. “Our current operations team is also particularly skilled at making operations happen on short notice. It makes us particularly well-equipped to do this sort of mission.”

Cole said he’s proud of the role his Airmen played in this mission.

“As always, they do an outstanding job when their nation calls upon them to do the tough tasks,” he said. “And it came off extremely well. It’s air refueling that puts the ‘global’ in ‘global strike.’”
The Libya strike is just one example of how the command facilitates the tanker war against ISIL, said Brig. Gen. Lenny Richoux, the 18th AF vice commander.

"The air bridge our planners and tanker crews create enable U.S. and allied strike aircraft to continuously hit (ISIL), or any enemy, no matter where they hide," Richoux said.

"Missions like this one are merely one of many executed every day,” he added. “The mobility enterprise conducts a massive amount of planning every single day, and we coordinate with customers around the globe for each mission. America's air refueling tanker (capabilities) are one of the key missions that set us apart from every other Air Force in the world. Everyone needs air refueling and we deliver it."

Although the 305th Air Mobility Wing at JBMDL performs such missions on a routine basis, such a dangerous, high-profile, successful mission that took many levels of coordination reemphasizes the need for the base to acquire a fleet of the new KC46A Pegasus - the next generation refueling tanker.
Since the KC will be used by all branches of the service, the joint base status is a real plus ensuring the continued mission of refueling military aircraft in flight.

Friday, October 28, 2016

JBMDL Chronology


1798 – John Adams Dix born in Boscawen, New Hampshire 
1812 – Dix serves in War of 1812
1861 – Dix named chairman of the Union Defense Committee in New York and made Major General in US Army. 
1872 – Dix elected Governor of New York 
21 April 1879 – Dix dies in New York City 
1909 – A.D. Irwin and A.O. Leighton form Philadelphia construction company
1915 – Lakehurst Munitions Storage facility opens.
6 April 1917 – US enters World War I – Congress authorizes the construction of 16 Army Camps to be built
19 May 1917 Selective Service Act 
12 June 1917 – Major Harry C. Williams named first commander of Camp Dix.
June 1917 – Irwin & Leighton given $13 million contract to convert New Jersey corn fields into army mobilization and training camp. 
June 1917 – First American troops arrive in France 
28 June 1914 – Construction begins on 1,655 buildings. 
16 July, 1917
1917 – Harker family house sold to government and converted to the residence of the base commander. 
23 August 1917 – Major General Chase W. Kennedy named commander of Camp Dix.
September 1917 – First 17,000 troops arrive at Camp Dix. Eventually 35,000 troops in training, filling all barracks and tents used to house the rest, including 87th and 34th Infantry Divisions, 349th and 350th Field Artillery Battalions of the 92nd Division, and 15th Infantry of New York (369th). 311th Ambulance Company. 153rd Depot Brigade. British, French and Scottish solders at Camp Dix to advise US soldiers on the role of tanks and trench warfare. 
October 1917 – Camp Dix Fire Company organized by soldiers, and the library opens with volunteers from the American Library Association. Howard L. Hughes, Harold F. Brigham librarians. 
22 October 1917 – Camp Dix base hospital opens with 61 buildings with 1,000 bed capacity, located east of the Wrightstown Circle. 
28 November 1917 – Brigadier General John S. Mallory (ad Interim) assumes command 
28 December 1917 – Brigadier General James T. Dean (ad interim) assumes command of Camp Dix.
2 January 1918 – Major General Hugh L. Scott assumes command of Camp Dix
May 1918 – 78th Infantry Division, under Maj. Gen. Chase Kennedy leaves Dix and sails to Europe. 
May 1918 – YMCA, Red Cross and Knights of Columbus begin providing programs and services to entertain the soldiers.
August 1918 – Fort Dix has 55,000 soldiers in training.
September - October 1918 – 7,970 cases of influenza and pneumonia reported, 774 deaths.
11 November 1918 – War ends. 
3 December - Camp Dix demobilization center opens that processes over 300,000 soldiers.
8 March 1919 – Camp Dix becomes Fort Dix – named permanent Army post. 
12 May 1919 – Major General Harry C. Hale assumes command of Camp Dix
31 July 1920 – Commander Hale promoted to Brigadier General.
1 August 1920 – Thomas Buchanan McGuire, Jr. born in Ridgewood, N.J. 
3 September 1920 Brigadier General William S. Graves assumes command of Camp Dix
1 October 1920 Brigadier General Clarence R. Edwards assumes command of Camp Dix
1 November 1920 Major General Charles C.P. Summerall assume command of Camp Dix
10-11 1920 – 1st Infantry Division observes first anniversary of end of WWI at ceremony presided over by Gen. John J. Pershing.
1920 – Camp Dix used as a training center for Army Reserves, National Guard and the Citizens Training Camp.
1921 – Navy establishes Lakehurst Naval Air Station 
1921 - Animal Transportation School operating. 
July 1921 – Major General David C. Shanks assumes command of Camp Dix
November 1921 – Major General Charles T. Meneher assumes command of Camp Dix.
December 1921 – Major General Harry C. Hale returns to command of Camp Dix
November 1922 – Brigadier General William S. Graves returns to command of Camp Dix
17 January 1923 – Captain Noe C. Killian commander of Camp Dix
16 May 1923 – Brigadier General William S. Graves returns to command Camp Dix
5 September 1923 – Captain Noe C. Killiian commander of Camp Dix
1923 – Camp Kendrick is open at Lakehurst Proving Grounds
8 April 1924 – Lieutenant Colonel James T. Watson commander of Camp Dix
19 May 1924 – Brigadier General William S. Graves returns to command Camp Dix
21 June 1924 – Colonel Charles Gerhardt commander of Camp Dix
26 June 1924 – Colonel John J. Bradley commander of Camp Dix
3 July 1924 – Brigadier General Frank Parker assumes command of Camp Dix
26 July 1924 – Lieutenant Colonel James T. Watson commander of Camp Dix
27 April 1925 – Colonel Stanley Ford commander of Camp Dix
21 May 1925 – Brigadier General Preston Brown assumes command of Camp Dix
10 August 1925 – Lieutenant Colonel James T. Watson commander of Camp Dix
25 September 1925 – Major Nicholas W. Campanole commander of Camp Dix
15 October 1925 – Captain Herbert D. Gilison commander of Camp Dix
16 November 1925 – Captain Richard L. Pemberton commander of Camp Dix
1925 – Mock Invasion staged at Fort Dix – first landing of an airplane on base.
6 May 1926 – Captain George Rankin commander of Camp Dix
1 June 1927 – Brigadier General Frank McCoy commander of Camp Dix
22 July 1928 – Colonel Arthur Poillon commander of Camp Dix
21 September 1928 – Brigadier General Otho B. Rosembaum commander of Camp Dix
1 October 1930 – Captain Charles Perfect commander of Camp Dix
20 October 1930 – 1st Lieutenant Richard T. Mitchell commander of Camp Dix
17 December 1930 – Major Andrew G. Gardner commander of Camp Dix
1930 – Federal Bureau of Prisons establishes prison on site. 
1930s – Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) offers signal, infantry, cavalry, artillery, and engineering training. After 4, 30 day courses qualify for commission in Army Reserve. 
December 1931 – Captain Samuel L. Metcalfe commander of Camp Dix
March 1932 – Lieutenant Colonel Lewis H. Watkins commander.
June 1932 – Brigadier General Howard L. Laubach commander
September 1932 – Captain Horace K. Heath commander
November 1932 – Major Alexander C. Sullivan commander
March 1933 – Lieutenant Colonel Lewis H. Watkins commander
31 March 1933 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs bill creating CCC that continued until 1942 – Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) planted trees, controlled soil erosion, constructed roads, dams, bridges and fire towers, operates reception, training and discharge center with two forestry companies, a physical conditioning company and cook and baker’s school. The CCC built the first airplane runway at Camp Dix. 
April 1933 – Brigadier General Howard L. Laubach commander
December 1933 – Lieutenant Colonel Torrey B. Maghee commander
March 1934 – Brigadier General Howard Laubach commander
August 1934 – Brigadier General John L. DeWitt commander
October 1934 – Major Ford Richardson commander
April 1935 – Lieutenant Colonel Albert S. Williams commander
November 1936 – Colonel Robert S. Knox commander
1936 – Telephone switchboard installed.
6 May 1937 – Hindenburg dirigible disaster at Lakehurst 
23 October 1937 – Colonel Arthur Poillon commander
1938 – Works Progress Administration and Public Works Administration funds construction of new buildings – Building 5416 – housed field grade officers. 
8 March 1939 – Camp Dix named a permanent installation and renamed Fort Dix
9 January 1940 Colonel Bernard Lentz commander
13 May 1940 – Colonel John W. Downer commander
1940 – Federal government purchases 17,000 additional acres of adjacent land and constructs new runways. 
8 September 1940 – President Roosevelt declares limited national emergency and approved the first peacetime draft. 
16 September 1940 – Peacetime draft inductees begin arriving at Fort Dix reception, training and deployment center. 44th Infantry Division assigned to Fort Dix for training. Ten other divisions trained at Fort Dix before being deployed overseas.
25 October 1940 Major General Clifford R. Powell commander
1941 – Pointville cemetery and town acquired by government for base expansion. 
18 March 1941 Colonel Cassius M. Dowell commander
1941 – McGuire leaves Georgia Tech to join US Army Air Corps, Randolph Field 
May 1942 – Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps established 
April 1943 – Dodgers and Giants play a baseball game at Fort Dix baseball field. 
July 1943 – Auxiliary Corps renamed Women’s Army Corps (WACS), working as administrative clerks, truck drivers, photographers and mechanics. 
18-19 August 1943 – McGuire with 431st Fighter Squadron Wewak, New Guinea, shoots down five Japanese Ki-43 and Ki-61 fighters, eventually scoring 38 aerial victories, second only to Maj. Richard I. Bong, US AF all time ace (40)
1 October 1943 – Colonel Holmes G. Paullin commander
25-26 December 1943 – McGuire downs seven Japanese fighter aircraft over Luzon, Philippines, and earns Medal of Honor for action on these days. 
19 January 1944 – Brigadier General Madison Pearson commander
7 Jan 1945 – McGuire killed when his P-38 crashes over Fabrica aerodrome, Negros Island.
1945 – At war’s end Fort Dix becomes demobilization center processing 1.2 million soldiers back to civilian life. 
26 October 1945 – Major General Leland S. Hobbs commander
16 March 1946 – Major general Frederick A. Irving commander
7 August 1946 Major General W. W. Eagles commander
1947 – United States Air Force established and air base transferred to Air Force 
15 July 1947 – Fort Dix becomes a Basic Training Center and home of 9th Infantry Division. 
8 April 1948 Major General Arthur A. White commander of Fort Dix
September 1948 – USAF names McGuire AFB
1949 – McGuire’s remains recovered and returned to the United States
17 September 1949 – USAF base at Fort Dix renamed McGuire Air Force Base
1 October 1949 – Major General John M. Devine commander
17 May 1950 – McGuire buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery
25 June 1950 – Korean War begins, basic training reduced from 14 to 8 weeks. 
1 September 1950 – Major General William K. Harrison commander
January 1952 – Major General Roderick R. Allen commander
July 1952 – Major General Homer W. Kiefer commander
31 July 1953 Major General C. E. Ryan commander
1954 – 9th Infantry Division assigned to Europe and 69th Infantry Division moves in
28 February 1955 – Major General John W. Harmony commander
16 September 1955 – Major Robert W. Ward commander
1956 – Chubby Checker entertains the troops
16 March 1956 – 69th deactivated and Fort Dix renamed U.S. Army Training Center, Infantry
1 November 1956 – Majro General Earl C. Bergquist commander
20 March 1959 – The Ultimate Weapon statute unveiled – designed and constructed at Fort Dix by soldiers Steven Goodman and Stuart Scheer.
1 September 1959 – Major General Sidney C. Wooten commander at Fort Dix
5 June 1960 – BOMARC anti-missile missile catches fire and two nuclear warheads melt in Broken Arrow event. 
10 June 1961 - Major General Reuben H. Tucker, III commander at Fort Dix
1 February 1962 – Major General Charles E. Beauchamp commander at Fort Dix
3 September 1964 – Fort Dix chapel dedicated
1 May 1966 – Major General John M. Hightower commander at Fort Dix
1967 – Fort Dix Information Office publishes a History of Fort Dix New Jersey – 50 Years of Service to the Nation 1917-1967
2 November 1968 – New York City students picnic at Wrightstown-Fort Dix
5 June 1969 – 250 prisoners in Fort Dix Stockade riot over conditions and torture. 38 were prosecuted and became known as the Fort Dix 38.
1973 – New brick reception center opened.
1978 – First female recruits enter basic training. 
1982 – 10 Stained glass windows installed in the Fort Dix chapel honoring WW I soldiers.
20 May 1982 – Last train to Fort Dix ends rail service that began in 1917.
1985 – Fort Dix Headquarters renamed Sharp Hall in honor of Gen. Richard Sharp
1987 – USAF Security Police Air Base Ground Defense School moved from Camp Bullis Texas 
1988 – Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommends ending basic and advanced individual training at Fort Dix.
17 August 1990 – A new The Ultimate Weapons statute constructed of bronze replaces original
1990 – Around the clock operations begin mobilizing and deploying troops for Desert Shield and Desert Storm. 
1991 – Kuwaiti civilians trained in basic military skills 
1991 – Active Army training mission ends. 
1992 – Fort Dix begins mobilizing, deploying and demobilizing soldiers and providing training areas for Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers
1992 – Reception center that opened in 1973 transferred to Air Force as Air Mobility Warfare Center.
1992 – Department of Defense Police replace military police
1992 – US Department of Justice – Bureau of Prisons opens a federal prison 
1993 – Somalia 
1995 – Bosnia 
1995 – Telephone switchboard, installed in 1936 replaced with fiber optic system. 
1999 – Albanian, Kosovo refugees resettled. 
August 2000 – Range 65 tank training area opens. Bryant Range named after Larry Bryant
2005 – Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst – JBMDL Established 
2007 – A memorial to McGuire placed at his fatal crash site on Negros Island by former fighter pilot David Mason 
2010 – Census 7,716 people living in 784 households with 590 families residing in CDP
2016 – Cassidy and Associates issue report on the future of the base and the state of NJ grant them another contract to continue their work. 

July - 2016 – 100th Anniversary of Camp Dix-JBMDL