Tuesday, May 9, 2017

History of Fort Dix - Part I - 1917 - 1967

History of Fort Dix New Jersey – 50 Years of Service to the Nation 1917-1967
Prepared by the Information Office, United States Army Training Center, Fort Dix, New Jersey 08640


Appendix 1 – FORT DIX COMMANDERS 129
Appendix 2 – ROSTER (31 December 1966) 131

The history of Fort Dix, New Jersey, is a striking example of the changing attitude of the American people and their elected representatives toward the United States Army in the 20th Century. The United States has traditionally maintained a small standing army in times of peace and relied heavily on citizen militia and conscription in times of national emergency.

This was the case at the outbreak of World War I. The United States Army at the time of the declaration of war could not claim a single organized division. Its total strength numbered only 200,000, most of whom were recent enlistments in early stages of training. A crash program to build an Army of 1,000,000 authorized by Congress demanded new training facilities. Sixteen camp sites were selected throughout the United States, and Camp Dix in central New Jersey was designed as the focal installation for the heavily populated northeastern United States.

The camp site, although well selected, was constructed in haste in an atmosphere of impermanency within a few months after the United States entered the war. Throughout the war, the camp and its personnel did a prodigious job of training and processing troops for the American Expeditionary Forces as well as for other training camps in the United States. The camp reached a peak population of 55,000 men in August 1918. With the armistice, Camp Dix became the principal separation center of the entire United States.

Following demobilization, there was no longer a national emergency – the world was already made “safe for democracy.” In the 1920s and early 1930s, Camp Dix was left to fall into almost utter decay. Were it not for the need for barracks to house members of the Civilian Conservation Corps and other programs developed during the “Great Depression,” the camp site might not have survived. There was constant pressure to return the rich farmland to meet growing agricultural needs of the area.

With the threat of another war in Europe becoming more acute each passing year in the late 1930s, the American people and the Congress began to sense the need for greater preparedness than exited prior to World War I. Caught up in this changing reaction, Camp Dix became Fort Dix, and a spirit of permanency became apparent almost immediately. Careful plans were made for the rebuilding and expansion of facilities, but Hitler and his blitzkrieg forced drastic acceleration of many projects.

However, when the United States entered World War II, Fort Dix was ready to fulfill its mission. In mid-January 1942, less than five weeks after the United States had declared war on the Axis Powers, elements of the 34th Infantry Division had received final processing at Fort Dix and were already on the high seas bound for Ireland.
During World War II, Fort Dix trained and processed personnel, including 10 full divisions, for operations in every theater throughout the world. Peak loads in all respects exceeded those of World War I. The Columbia Encyclopedia credits Fort Dix as “the largest army training center in the country” during the Second World War. With surrender of the Axis powers, the fort again became the largest separation center in the country – more than a million soldiers were processed for return to civilian life.

Post World War II showed slight resemblance to the complacent attitude that had prevailed 25 years previously. One national crisis after another convinced the American people of the need for constant vigilance.

The Berlin Airlift, invasion of South Korea, Hungarian Revolt, Lebanon Affair, Berlin Crisis, Cuban Missile Confrontation, United States participation in the Dominican Republic, escalation of assistance to the South Vietnamese – these and more have proven beyond any doubt the continuing role that the ground soldier must play in the conduct of our nation’s foreign policies.

Fort Dix today is known as “The Home of the Ultimate Weapon.” There are many who see this as incongruous in relation to the atomic and hydrogen bombs, intercontinental ballistic missiles, advances in chemical and biological warfare, and developments in the use of outer space.

To the infantryman, each new war or military conflict introduced weapons which at the time convinced many that the ultimate had been achieved – witness the spear to the club, the longbow to the bow and arrow, shrapnel to cannon, machine gun to the rifle, tank to the horse, atom bomb to the blockbuster. Each had its time and place and yet the mission of the infantryman to take and hold the objective has remained unchanged.

The poisonous gases have remained in storage since their use in World War I. The atomic bomb has not dropped on an enemy for more than 20 years. But the infantryman turned the tide in Korea and remains in his age-old role in South Vietnam. Who knows how many times in the future his singular mission will have to be carried out.

Despite all the man-hours and dollars that go into research, science has yet to find a substitute for the Ultimate Weapon – the Human Soldier. It is he who ultimately must protect that for which we are fighting. It is he who must close with and destroy those who seek to destroy us.

Who is this man, the Ultimate Weapon, this highly trained and skilled practitioner of the art of War? You know him….and know him well. He is the boy next door, the lad down the street, a son, a husband, a father. He is a career soldier, a member of the National Guard or the Army Reserves, the mayor, the drug store clerk, the bank teller. HE is THE ULTIMATE WEAPON.

The need for him has never abated. Our country needed him at Concord Bridge and Remagen Bridge, at the banks of the Delaware and the banks of the Mekong, from Trenton to Seoul. He held the line at Gettysburg and stormed the ramparts at Vicksburg, took Guadalcanal and planted Old Glory atop Mt. Suribachi. He marches in parades in Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle, and patrols the Demilitarized Zone at Panmunjom and Taesong Dong. He recently crouched in an alley in Santo Domingo and today is successfully meeting the challenge to end communist aggression in Vietnam.

He is every alert, every ready for the fight he prays will never come. But he is there, poised, because he knows he must be there, ready to make whatever sacrifice is needed to preserve that which gave him his life’s first ever-free breath. Although he is trained for his job, the learning process for this man’s task at hand never ceases. But it does have a beginning. This beginning usually comes by visiting the local recruiting sergeant or by receiving an official envelope from the local board of the Selective Service System. From that beginning it is but a short trip to the haircut, combat boots, chow line and long hours of drill and marksmanship.

For thousands of young men each year, the first taste of military life and training comes at the “Home of the Ultimate Weapon.” Fort Dix…just a memory to some, nostalgia to others.

This is the story of Fort Dix and how it has provided, from 1917 to today, men for a man’s job.

This is the story of one camp, which continues to play a large role in perfecting THE ULTIMATE WEAPON.

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.

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 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
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. 


The two men who started the company that built the original military cantonment at Wrightstown NJ were both of Scottish and Irish descent.

Alexander Dickson Irwin (also known as “AD”), was born in Philadelphia in 1881 to an early merchant family that became quite prominent in society social circles. His father owned a mill and manufactured wool goods.

Archibald Ogilvie Leighton (aka “AO”) was born in Ballycarry, Ireland, near Belfast, the son of an Irish mother and Scottish lawyer –the son of a barrister who became a construction craftsman.
It was while working on the construction of the Sligo Post office in William Butler Yeats country, where he met Gertrude Ann Hamilton, and became engaged.

In April, 1906, in the wake of the great San Francisco earthquake, Leighton decided to go to California to help rebuild the city. When he got to Philadelphia however, he was asked to appraise a construction project by a family friend. It was while working on the construction of the Germantown Junction train station, designed by Theophilus Chandler, Jr. in north Philadelphia he met Irwin, who was working on the same project. They became fast friends and decided to go into business together, forming Irwin and Leighton in 1909, drawing straws to determine whose name would go first. It wasn't for 50 years that Leighton made it to San Francisco.

Leighton sent for his fiancé they were married in Philadelphia and lived in Abington as the company completed its first major construction projects “down the shore” in Atlantic City.

From the 100 Year History of Irwin & Leighton Company book.

The United States Army Cantonment at Camp Dix

The Camp Dix project, although one of Irwin & Leighton’s earliest, stands even today as one of its most meaningful because of the significance and importance of the project to the World War I effort, and the speed in which it was built.

Irwin & Leighton was chosen to build the Cantonment at Camp Dix when the site’s installment began in 1917. The initial project was required to be completed under a very aggressive time schedule to meet the impending demands of World War I. To do this, Irwin and Leighton directly employed and/or coordinated the efforts of hundreds of workers who, in accordance with the custom of the day, arrived at work in shirt and tie, changed into work clothes and changed again to go home.

Irwin & Leighton established an onsite Employment Office where seventeen clerks screened applicants who arrived by train and motorcar. A fleet of autos was required to make the weekly commutes to the Philadelphia National Bank for the worker’s payroll.

The project was started in July 1917, in farm fields. The scope involved ten sections of multiple barracks and support building as well as an extensive infrastructure work.

In less than sixty days, the entire project was substantially complete. In that time, Irwin & Leighton used forty million board feet of lumber, which was brought to the site by rail and erected in production fashion. When the company hit stride, it was completing one barrack per day. Irwin & Leighton’s onsite superintendent was E. M. Campbell.

The company further organized the project with “Heads of Departments” for survey, concrete, carpentry, sheet metal, plumbing, electrical, road construction, water and sewers, a pumping station, etc.

The 31,000 acre complex is located inside the Pineland National Reserve in Central New Jersey, and was named for Major General John Adams Dix, a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Civiil War.
Used as a staging ground and training area for units during World War I, it was made a permanent Army post in 1939 and was renamed Fort Dix.

In 1921, the Navy established Lakehurst Naval Air Station to serve as its headquarters for lighter-than-air flight after the pioneering use of zeppelins by the German forces in World War I.
In order to house large helium-filled dirigibles, the Navy hired Irwin & Leighton to build Lakehurst’s Hanger No. 1, a massive structure measuring 961 feet long, 350 feet wide and 200 feet high. The great spans and clear height were achieved through state-of-the-art design. Inside it, Naval engineers assembled the first American-built airship, the Shenandoah.

Lakehurst was also the location of the now-infamous Hindenburg disaster. The crash of the Hindenburg dirigible on May 6, 1937 over Lakehurst was the 20thcentury’s first transportation disaster widely captured by newsreel, audio recordings and still photos.

Fort Dix V - WWI
History of Fort Dix 1917-1967

Chapter V

When the United States entered World War I, the US Army could not claim a single active division. At the time, the largest operational element of the Army was the infantry regiment. Of these, only 31 Regular Army regiments and 110 National Guard regiments existed. The later varied considerably in strength and number of battalions.

The War Department had prepared plans and drawn up tables of organization to assign various regiments to infantry divisions using the triangular principle, i.e., elements grouped in threes. However, shortly after General John J. Pershing and his staff arrived in France, they determined that the square division, elements grouped in fours, demonstrated far greater power to penetrate the system of trenches peculiar to the Western Front. On 8 June 1917, two months after the US declared war, the Army activated the 1st Infantry Division in France utilizing four infantry regiments, the 16th, 18th, 26th, and 28th. The “Big Red One” became the prototype for all US Infantry divisions, which were subsequently organized in World War I.

General Pershing in his analysis of tactical organizations in an official report to the secretary of war, 20 November 1918, stated: “After a thorough consideration of allied organizations it was decided that our combat division should consist of four regiments of infantry of 3,000 men with three battalions to regiment and four companies of 250 men each to a battalion and of an artillery brigade of three regiments, a machine gun battalion, a signal battalion wagon trains and the headquarters staffs and military police. These, with medical and other units, made a total of over 28,000 men, or practically double the size of a French or German divisions.” 1 (Francis A. March, History of World War I, p. 702)

The changes in size and organization of the infantry division recommended by General Pershing and employed by him in organizing the 1st Infantry Division presented problems to the War Department. Not only would all of the tables of organization have to be re-written but National Guard and National Army cantonments which already were under construction would have to be adjusted and expanded to provide for the added units and the increased strength. There was considerable opposition in the War Department to revising the organization of the Army in mid-summer 1917 just at the time that the National Guard and the first draft of selective service men were being called. 

However, the secretary of war let it be known that the commander in chief in France who was to command our Army in battle should have the size division he wanted. Largely because of the strong support given to General Pershing by the secretary of war, the square infantry division concept was quickly adopted by the War Department and published in a series of tables of organization beginning on 8 August 1917.

Just prior to that date, on 5 August, official announcement was made by the War Department of the establishment of 16 infantry divisions of the National Army. Among these was the 78th Infantry Division, scheduled to organize and train at Camp Dix, Wrightstown, New Jersey. The division was allocated draftees from the first contingent as follows: Delaware, 1,202; New Jersey, 20,665; and New York, 21,160. On 13 August, the War Department directed that the 78th Infantry Division Headquarters be organized and the commissioned officers report for duty on 15 August. The next day, the division commander was directed to organize subordinate units of the division in accordance with Tables of Organization, dated 8 August 1917.

Major General Chase W. Kennedy assumed command of the division on 23 August and at the same time became the first commanding general of Camp Dix. He was destined, however, to command this New Jersey installation and its units only three months because of policies being developed in France.

In November 1917 from his headquarters in France, General Pershing wrote to the War Department of his concern regarding age of the generals who had been assigned for duty as division commander with the American Expeditionary Forces. He pointed out that the average age of the French and British division commander was 38 to 45. They had found this necessary because of the extreme mental and physical demands placed on combat commanders at the Western Front, even at the division level. Pershing requested he be assigned generals of comparable age to that of the French and British commanders. His request was honored, and one of those selected was General Kennedy at Camp Dix.

Kennedy was relieved from assignment at Camp Dix on 28 November 1917 and soon after sailed for France. Following his departure, Brigadier Generals John S. Mallory and James T. Dean served ad interim assignments as commander of Camp Dix and the 78th Division until 2 January 1918 when Major General Hugh L. Scott assumed both responsibilities.

General Scott had been chief of staff, United States Army, until 22 September 1917 when he was placed on a retired list but continued on active duty. Following a visit to Russia as an observer with the Root Mission, General Scott was assigned to the A.E.F. in France. By coincidence, he was one of the older generals whom General Pershing specifically had mentioned in his letter to the War Department. On 20 April 1918, Brigadier General James H. McRae, later to become major general, was assigned as commanding general of the 78th Division and served in that capacity throughout the remainder of World War I. General Scott continued as camp commander until 12 May 1919 at which time he was relieved of the post and placed on full retirement.

To return to the activities of the 78th Division, the organization of its subordinate units began during the last week of August 1917 from a cadre of Regular Army officers and organized Reserve Corps and National Army officers from the First Officers’ Training Camp, Madison Barracks, New York.
The 78th Division consisted of two infantry brigades, the 155th and `56th with the 309th, 310th Infantry Regiments, the 308th Machine Gun Battalion, respectively, the 153rd Field Artillery Brigade with the 307th and 308th Field Artillery Regiments (75mm), the 309th Field Artillery Regiment (155mm) and the 303rd Trench Mortar Battery; 303rd Engineer Regiment; 303rd Signal Battalion; 303rd headquarters and Military Police Trains; 303rd Supply, Ammunition, Engineer, and Sanitation Trains; the 309th, 310th, 311th, 312th Ambulance Companies and Field Hospitals, and the 153rd Depot Brigade.

At each of the National Guard camps, a depot brigade with the mission of training draftees as replacements was assigned as a component part of the National Guard divisions. The 153rd Depot Brigade was activated on 17 August 1917 with six training battalions, which became a part of the 78th Division after its formation. In October, three provisional training regimental headquarters were formed by the brigade, and these assumed direct supervision of the training battalions. The brigade remained subordinate to the 78th division until the 78th departed for France. At that time, it became an independent command, expanding to 10 training battalions, which was its organization throughout the remainder of the war.

In addition to the 78th Division, other major organizations were activated at Camp Dix and carried on training simultaneously with the division. The largest of these was the 167th Field Artillery Brigade (Negro), which was activated in November 1917. The 167th Brigade was part of the 92nd Infantry Division, which had its headquarters at Camp Funston, Kansas. The brigade remained in training at Camp Dix until the 92nd Division left for France in June 1918.

Other units were the 24th Engineer Regiment, activated in November 1917, and the 34th and 54th Engineer Regiments, activated in February 1918. All of these regiments departed for France in June 1918. Camp Dix also operated a Cooks and Bakers School, which provided personnel for units throughout the US Army. It was activated in September 1917 and remained in operation until long after the end of the war. It was inactivated in April 1922.

US Army medical activities began at Camp Dix with the arrival, on 27 August 1917, of an ambulance company of the 22nd Field Hospital and several medical officers. A month later the first group of 20 nurses reported from a Red Cross training center. Initially, a temporary field hospital was established in troop barracks during the construction of the Camp Dix Base Hospital. On 22 October, the Base Hospital opened in the area just to the east of the Wrightstown-Camp Dix entrance. The original structures was expanded throughout the war until it reached a maximum capacity of 2, 184 beds. At that time, the total assigned strength consisted of 104 officers, 650 enlisted men and 158 nurses.

The first draftees reporting to Camp Dix were confronted with military supply problems similar to the construction supply problems that faced contractors. Quartermaster records of September 1917 show the following items on hand for issue to the incoming soldiers: 204 cotton shirts, 84 service hats, 614 pairs of shoes and 500 pairs of leggings. Also on hand were 47,430 cotton undershirts, 39,350 cotton stockings and 24, 600 wool stockings. With this shortage and imbalance, it is understandable why many of the first men had to continue wearing their civilian clothes during the early stages of training.

The same situation existed with respect to food supplies. The records show available for issue: 135,000 rations of bacon, 169,000 of corned beef, 1,135,000 pounds of sugar and 2,575,000 of salt. With weapons it was the same. The first rifles used by the soldiers were the Krag, .30-40, which first came into use during the Spanish-American war, and the 1903 Springfield .30-06, went into full production that the US soldiers had a common rifle.

The training day for the doughboys of World War I was not much different from that of the infantrymen today. First Call came at 5:45 a.m., with Assembly 15 minutes later. Breakfast began at 6:20 a.m., followed by sick Call at 6:45 a.m., and stable Call at 7 a.m. First Call for drill was sounded at 7:20 a.m., with Assembly at 7:30 a.m. The noon break lasted from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Recall was blown at 5 p.m. Retreat was held at 5;35 p.m., with the evening meal following immediately. Night classes were conducted each evening during the week from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and Taps closed out the day at 10 p.m. A six-day work week was followed, and only on Sundays and holidays was there a break in training, when Revelle sounded one-half hour later.

The doughboys’ training consisted of heavy emphasis on close order drill, calisthenics, marches and bivouacs, filed inspections, range firing, bayonet drill, and defense and attack of mock trenches.
Despite the rigorous and long hours of training, it was not all work and no play” for the soldiers at Camp Dix. The moral and welfare of each soldier were considerations that occupied the time of many individuals and organizations. Personalities from the entertainment world visited the post to perform for the troops. The first well-known comedian to appear at the camp was Sir Harry Lauder whose Scottish brogue, put to tune in the inaugural act, was followed by other noted musicians, singer and actors of the day.

While all of the events were given on a large scale, there was no central agency such as today’s United Service Organization (USO) to organize and coordinate entertainment activities This lack of central organization did not affect the quality or quantity of entertainment supplied to the army camps. Private welfare agencies military personnel assigned to provide for the morale, welfare and entertainment of the soldiers filled the gap. Although their activities were not centralized, a number of agencies and facilities was in operation at Camp Dix.

The Y.M.C.A. maintained nine huts and an auditorium, which was the largest building on post. The Knights of Columbus had three huts and an auditorium, the latter located near the camp swimming pool at 8th Street and New Jersey Avenue. This site presently is occupied by the Army Education Center. The pool also was built by the Knights of Columbus but not completed in time for use in World War I.

The Jewish Welfare organization’s building was located at 5th Street and New Jersey Avenue, and the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey operated the Saint George Club in Pointville. The latter building later was sold to the government for one dollar and converted to a guesthouse. The Red Cross building was located at 8th Street and New York Avenue. It was later torn down, and the A.R.C. constructed a new building in 1942 near the old site.

The Salvation Army operated a club in Wrightstown as it does today. Fire consumed the first building, and the organization moved into quarters of the “Mole Tequop Club,” an Army service club located on the main corner of Wrightstown. The Mole Tequop operated under the Commission Training Camp Activities of the War Department and was one of three service clubs located in Wrightstown. The club’s unusual name was derived from an Indian phrase meaning “Sign Talker” which had been given to Major General Hugh L. Scott, camp commander, by an Indian tribe many years before.

The Christian Scientists maintained a facility near New Jersey and 8th Street; the Camp Community Service had a lodge near Wrightstown and there were two Hostess Houses for the entertainment of Negro troops, one of which was later converted into an officer’s club. Among other activities at the camp were a dramatic club, a post library with 2500 volumes, a full-time camp song instructor, a camp athletic director and a camp boxing instructor.

Each evening the latest silent films were presented at the post’s first theater. Often doubling as a sports arena, the spacious Liberty Theater could seat nearly 1,000 persons. Such classics as “West of Today,” and “Six Feet Four” were among the many films presented. “West of Today” starring William Russell was considered a film intended “only for people with red blood in their veins.”

To keep informed of the news, the soldiers had a variety of camp newspapers to choose from. “The Trench and Camp Weekly, “ “The Camp Dix Times,” “The Camp Dix News,” and “The Camp Dix Pictorial Review,” were printed by the “Trenton Times” for such agencies as the contractors and Y.M.C.A. for issue to workers and soldiers. One item the men read in August of 1918 concerned 370 Italian soldiers who had arrived at Camp Dix after crossing more than half the world on their return to Italy. It was an unusual story!

When Austria declared war in 1914, many Italians living in the provinces of Southern Tyrol, Treseste, Friuli, Istria and Dalmatia were compelled to join the Austrian Army. The impressed soldiers were sent to fight on the Russian front against a nation allied with their homeland. Taking advantage of every opportunity to surrender, the Italians fell into the hands of the Russians who held them prisoner until the arrival of an Italian military mission to Moscow. After release in December 1917, the men began a long and adventurous journey across Siberia. Eventually, they reached China and obtained passage to the United States. Upon reaching the US, the soldiers were sent to Camp Dix to await their voyage to Italy. At Dix, the Italians were joined by about 2,000 aliens who had requested return to Europe to join in the fight against the Germans.

The Italians were acclaimed to be the “bravest of the brave,” who would, when they finally reached front, “fight like demons because they have been through hell.” 2. (Camp Dix Times, vol. I, no. xxxxiv 1918, pp. 1 & 18)

The Germans never saw the fighting mettle of these spirited soldiers for, ironically, the war ended before they reached the front.

By the end of October 1917 the 78th Division still had not reached full strength, it numbered only 16,000 men. In the last drafts of 1917, which reported to Camp Dix during the period 19-24 November, only 5,000 additional men were furnished to the camp. During this period, the division was called on to provide fillers for units shipping to France. By 10 November, transfers had reduced the size of the division to less than half its authorized strength. It remained at the same level throughout the winter of 197-18, but in April and early May, the division was brought up to full strength by transfers from New England, New York, New Jersey and Illinois. This occurred just before the division’s movement to France, where it arrived in early June. After two and one-half months training with the British in Flanders, the division joined the First US Army and participated in the St. Mihiel and Meuse operations.

With the departure of the 78th Division, the War Department designated Camp Dix as an embarkation point for units departing overseas. The first division to use the camp as a staging area before movement to points of embarkation was the 87th Infantry Division (National Army), which had been activated at Camp Pike, Arkansas, at the same time as the 78th Division. The 87th or “Acorn” Division was composed of soldiers from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It’s troops began to move into Camp Dix on 18 June 1918 and remained until 18 August when its advanced elements began their movement in France. During its stay at Camp Dix, the division received 10,000 replacements from the 153rd Depot Brigade. The division did not see action in the war; it still was in training in France when the armistice was signed.

Almost immediately after departure of the 87th Division, parts of the 67th and 68thInfantry Brigades of the 34th Division (National Guard) began to arrive at Camp Dix. The 34th “Sandstorm” Division had trained at Camp Cody, New Mexico, and was composed of National Guard units called into service from Iowa, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Nebraska.

It was while the 34th Division troops were staging at Camp Dix that the influenza epidemic struck the reservation. The epidemic had been rampant throughout the United States resulting in the death of more than 500,000 people in a 10-month period.

The camp was placed under strict quarantine from early September to 12 October 1918. In this period, more than 12,000 cases of influenza and pneumonia were reported, and at one time, the Base Hospital had a peak load of 7,943 patients. The hospital had to utilize 18 barracks normally used for housing troops to provide for the overflow from the wards. Approximately 900 soldiers died during the epidemic. At the height of the attack, as many as 70 to 80 deaths occurred a day.

According to a newsman at Camp Dix during the epidemic, the first deceased soldiers were shipped to their homes in flag-covered coffins with military escort. However, the deaths occurred at such a high rate that eventually escorts could not be provided, and soon the post’s supply of flags ran out. During the latter stages of the epidemic, only plain wooden coffins carried the dead to their final resting place. In early October, the number of cases diminished, and the infantry brigades of the 34thDivision began their embarkation for France.

With the movement of the 34th Division to ports of embarkation, Camp Dix was preparing for the activation of the 102nd Infantry Division, one of the new divisions the War Department planned to commit in France for the big offensive scheduled in 1919. However, the abrupt end of the war in Europe came with only a small number of cadres of lower ranks assembled at Camp Dix. With the armistice, plans for activation of the division were dropped, and cadre personnel were reassigned to existing units. 

Thus Camp Dix ended it task as a training and later an embarkation center of World War I, but its service in the war was not finished.

Soon would begin the gigantic task of returning to civilian life a good share of the four million men to be demobilized. 

Although Camp Dix began to serve as a discharge point within a few days after the end of the war, it was not until 3 December 1918, when it was designated a Demobilization Center, that full impact of the problem was felt.

Fort Dix Chapter VI - Demobilization
Chapter VI


“The collapse of the Central Powers came more quickly than even the best-informed military experts believed possible.” 1 (U.S. Secretary of War 1tr. To U.S. Senator James A. Reed, 3 April 1919.)
Thus, wrote Secretary of War Newton D. Baker in a letter to Senator James A. Reed about the suddenness of the armistice on 11 November 1918. The abrupt end of the war found the United States even less prepared for demobilization than it had been for mobilization in April 1917.

When the war ended, there was only one officer, Colonel C. H. Conrad, Jr. in the entire United States Army actively working on plans for personnel demobilization, and he had received the assignment only one month previously.

General Peyton C. March, chief of staff, US Army, in speaking of the planning for demobilization said, “…There were no precedents afforded by the experience of our former wars which were of value in determining policy.” 2 (Peyton C. March, The Nation at War, p. 312)

Except the Civil War, no war in which the United States previously participated had involved the mass of personnel comparable to the millions who served in World War I. Then, too, the opportunities of economic and territorial expansion in the nation that existed after the Civil War were not available to the men released in 1918-19.

The War Department planners considered the welfare of the nation as well as the Army and concluded that demobilizing the emergency troops could be best accomplished in one of four ways: soldiers could be separated by length of service, by industrial needs or occupation, by locality (through the use of local draft boards), or by military units.

The decision favoring the military unit method of demobilization was made on 16 November 1918 and immediately announced to the press. The secretary of war, describing the plan in his report for 1919, said, ‘…the policy adopted was to demobilize by complete organizations as their services could be spared, thus insuring the maximum efficiency of those organizations remaining, instead of demobilizing by special classes with the resulting discontent among those not given preferential treatment and retained in the service, thus lowering their morale and efficiency and disrupting all organizations with the attendant general discontent,’ 3 (U.S. Secretary of War, War Department Annual Report 1919, vol. I, pt. I, p. 14)

Demobilization Centers, such as Camp Dix became on 3 December 1918, performed the task of discharging the troops. At these centers camp personnel conducted physical examinations, made up the necessary papers to close all records, checked property, adjusted financial and other accounts, and generally completed the processing. Many units in the United States were not immediately released. They manned ports of embarkation, convalescent and demobilization centers, supply depots, base and general hospitals, garrisons along the Mexican border, and bases outside the United States.
Camp Dix personnel had a taste of the inactivation process even before it was designated a Demobilization Center. This occurred on 30 November 1918 with the official inactivation of the 102nd Infantry Division, the new division scheduled for formation at Camp Dix that never got beyond assignment of cadre. In December 1918 demobilization got underway in earnest with the inactivation of the 333rd, 334th, 338th, 339th, and 346th Light Tank Battalions; the 351st 382nd, 383rd Heavy Training and Replacement Companies; and the 319th,,320th,321st Tank Repair and Salvage Companies. These tank units were elements of the 309th and 310th Tank Centers, which only had been transferred to Camp Dix in November 1918. They were part of the final war plan to augment tank participation of the A.E.F. in France during the scheduled 1919 buildup of United States forces. Although these organizations had received cadres of some trainees, systematic training barely began before the units were inactivated. The two Tank Center Headquarters remained at Camp Dix for a time, but they, too, were inactivated in June 1919.

Demobilization really got underway at Camp Dix beginning in January 1919. In quick succession, seven entire infantry divisions or their major elements were inactivated in the next six months. They were the 87th Infantry Division, January to March; 41st Infantry Division, February to March; 28th Infantry Division, April to May; 42nd Infantry Division, May; 29th Infantry Division, May; 78th Infantry Division, the first occupants of Camp Dix, May to June; and the 79th Infantry Division, May to June.

During the same period, inactivation of the following smaller units was accomplished at Camp Dix; 10 engineer regiments, two engineer trains, 26 transportation corps companies, three pioneer infantry regiments, one infantry brigade headquarters, six machine gun battalions, 30 base hospitals, four military police companies, two butchery companies, eight sales commissary units, and 14 U.S. guards battalions.

More than 300,000 men were discharged at Camp Dix by 31 July 1919. Of this number 16,485 were officers and 39 field clerks (similar to today’s warrant officer). In addition, 76,124 officers and men were transferred to other stations for reassignment or further processing prior to discharge. The largest number of discharges for a day was 5, 231 and transfers 4, 617.

Although the size and number of units inactivated during the period 1 July to 31 December 1919 began to fall off, the scale of inactivations continued to be significant. They included: nine engineer regiments, 63 transportation corps companies, two pioneer infantry regimens, six base hospitals, five ambulance service sections, 25 military police companies, 13 butchery companies, and eight sales commissary units. By October 1919, the demobilization requirements at Camp Dix had slowed to a point where no more than 500 men were handled per day. The War Department already had acquiesced in the requirement that a man be discharged within 48 hours of his arrival at the center.

It was in October that Camp Dix was chosen by the Treasury Department to be the site for filming of movies in support of the “Fifth Liberty Loan Drive.” More than $100,000 was invested in filming simulated battles with doughboys dressed in German battle dress.

Scenes took place in the mock trench area near the filtration plant at New Jersey Avenue beyond 8th Street. The trench area, which circled eastward toward Pointville and included heavily wooded terrain, afforded an ideal setting for producing battle scenes reminiscent of those fought on the Western Front.

By the end of January 1920, demobilization at Camp Dix had come to an end.

Dix Chapter VII - Between the Wars
Chapter VII


During the 1920s and early 1930s, World War I continued to have a tremendous impact on the size and structure of the United States Army.

Civilian Americans were determined to economize after the tremendous costs of World War I and try to forget warfare altogether. With almost four million men under arms in November 18, the authorized strength of the US Army slid to less than 150,000 by mid-1920. Even then the number of personnel the Army was able to retain n service fell well below that figure.

Regular Army facilities in the United States provided adequately for existing Army units; consequently there was little need for the original National Army Camps, such as Camp Dix, in the post-war military establishment.

Were it not for a decision by the assistant secretary of war in March 1919, it is doubtful if Camp Dix would had survived as a military reservation. He decided to purchase 14 leased National Army cantonments, one of which was Dix, to try to recoup a higher part of the war’s cost by selling all buildings and other assets in combination with the lands. Selling the combinations, he estimated, would result in 12 times more gain to the government. After the Camp Dix land was purchased, however, no information is available that any real attempt was made to sell the Army post.

When demobilization had ended, the caretaking responsibility for Camp Dix was placed in the hands of a quartermaster detachment, which at times consisted of as few as one officer, 10 enlisted men and five civilians. The quartermaster officer in charge of the detachment also doubled as commanding officer of the camp. For these few soldiers, Camp Dix in those years was a lonely place and well deserving of the name, “Military Ghost Town,” given to the quiet reservation by local residents.

It was the 1st Infantry Division, headquartered at Fort Hamilton, New York, that gave Camp Dix its last big moment of glory during the post-World War I period. In observance of the second anniversary of the armistice, the 1st Division assembled all of its units, which were spread widely along the east coast, at Camp Dix to put on a demonstration for a gathering of 1st Division veterans. Among the guests was General of the Armies John J. Pershing, as the division “went over the top” on the night of 10 November 1920.

Also present were 35 disabled veterans of the 1st Division who lay in ambulances to watch the show. They had been brought by special train from Walter Reed Army Hospital, Washington D.C., where for more than two years, they had been under treatment for war wounds. The demonstration consisted of a night attack from trenches employing all of the implements for such an attack. Soldiers with blackened faces made up wire-cutting parties, and the attackers were supported with star shells to heavy artillery and protected by tanks and machine guns. On the next day 11 November, a reunion of the 1st Division Society, held on the parade grounds, was attended by thousands of veterans from all parts of the United States.

As a result of this visit, the commanding general of the 1st Division, Major General Charles P. Summerall, wrote to the adjutant general. US Army, requesting an allocation of $5,000 to repair and modernize a building suitable for housing visitors to the post. In his request, he stated that the camp was located 18 miles from adequate hotel accommodations. He also noted the quarters provided for officers at the camp were so small, poorly constructed, and ill equipped that it was necessary to provide some place for guests of the officers and other visitors.

There is no evidence to indicate General Summerall ever got the money. Few appropriations were made by Congress for maintenance of buildings on the post. Consequently, the inevitable resulted. Nature, lack of repair, and insufficient guard personnel took their toll. Supplies were open to looting. Even gasoline was stolen from the fire engine, and on one occasion the vehicle had to be towed to a fire. Building after building burned to the ground. During the five-year period from 1917-1922, the camp’s fire loss was approximately $287,000. Much of the camp’s equipment, particularly motor vehicles, had long passed the point of efficient use.

Major General David C. Shanks, who had replaced General Summerall as commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, visited Camp Dix in August 1921. He later wrote to the adjutant general, US Army, complaining of the camp’s deficiencies. He noted the buildings were “all of the cheap and flimsy type” and apparently suffering from leaky roofs, extensive rotting, and general deterioration attributable to “hasty construction.”

General Shanks observed that the camp’s water supply was poor, no family housing existed, and the general isolation of the location was contributing to a high desertion rate. He endorsed General Summerall’s views that Camp Dix should not be retained as a permanent camp and recommended no further building programs be considered.

Despite the views of the two commanding generals, the 1st Division continued to use Camp Dix for its annual summer field training and range firing. Regiments of the division’s 1st Brigade, the 16th Infantry Regiment from Fort Jay, Governor’s Island, New York City, and the 18th Infantry Regiment from Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, New York, were the most consistent users of the camp’s training areas. Additionally, in the summer months, units of the New Jersey Guard took their two-weeks active duty training at the camp along with reserve officers of the 77th and 78th Infantry Divisions (Reserve) and officers of other Organized Reserve Corps (ORC) units whose home stations were close to Camp Dix. In the 1930s, students in training under the Citizens Military Training Corps (CMTC) in the II Army Corps Area made up a large part of the men assembled at the camp from June through August.

The small arms ranges were the most active facilities on post during these training periods. More than 3,000 men, not including CMTC and ORC groups, spent considerable time on the ranges qualifying and improving their marksmanship. In 1926, the firing range at Fort Hancock, New Jersey, was closed because of accidents, so troops from that post, principally engineers, completed their small arms firing at Camp Dix. During the summer of that year, approximately 400 marines stationed at Lakehurst, New Jersey, as part of the ground crew for the naval airship “Los Angeles,” came to Camp Dix for range practice. The marines continued to use the camp’s ranges for several more years.

Camp Dix as it existed in those days can be best understood through the reflections of soldiers returning to the “old” post after years of absence. One was Sergeant First Class John F. Nolan, who returned to Fort Dix in 1964 for an assignment with the Light Vehicle Driver Course of the 5th Common Specialist Training Regiment. Back in May 1934, then Private Nolan had reported to Camp Dix to staff a summer training camp for the Reserve Officers Training Corps, CMTC, and Civilian Conservation Corps.

Looking at the permanent, brick barracks of a basic combat training regiment, Nolan recalled that his company 30 years previously had been housed in tents during the summer period. “The only barracks on post,” he said, “housed about 18 members of the permanent party. Once we were ordered to move our tents so a road could be built.”

Reminiscing on changes that have occurred in Army life, the sergeant recalled, “Every outfit did its own recruiting. You just signed up and went straight to work. Until you were assigned overseas, you received no formal training. One day you might learn how to carry or fire a rifle, while another time they might teach you ‘right face.’”

As a private, Nolan was paid $17.65 a month. His first stop most paydays was the orderly room, where a book of 10 haircut coupons could be bought for a $1.50. In his unit in those days, a private first class was entrusted with handling payroll and personnel records. Mess halls were different, too. Service was family style, with heaping platters of food on the table. Mess sergeants did their own marketing, and they could be seen at nearby farms, haggling over the price of vegetables.

Frequently during the post-demobilization period, the governments had expressed its intention of abandoning the camp and returning all property to the original owners. However, due largely to the efforts of General Hugh L. Scott, the second commanding general of the 78th Infantry Division and Camp Dix, such a proposal was not carried out. He and many other farsighted military and government officials argued that the camp must be retained in the event of another mobilization. It was further pointed out that the reservation was the largest in the northeastern United States and well-fortified by its ideal location. It was near the large eastern cities and had great potential as an aviation center or training site for pilots.

After hearing these and other strong arguments, Calvin Coolidge decided to set aside most of the tract as a national forest preserve and any idea of vacating the camp apparently was dropped – at least so far as the federal government was concerned. By executive order in 1925, most of the land area making up the reservation was renamed Dix National Forest.

Even though the government had no intention of giving up the land, rumors of plans to abandon the property were often heard. Most of the rumors were based on expressed opinions of certain ranking individuals in the federal and local governments that the properties at Dix were needlessly being held by the government. The rumors brought a flood of inquiries to congressmen from local residents. The property and land at Dix became the subject of many such congressional inquiries in 1926. Late in the year, Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis answered these inquiries by announcing plans to reopen Camp Dix as the 11 Corps training area. He also announced the proposal of a million dollar construction project at the post. Thus, Dix’ retention as a military installation by the federal government was assured, and the tide of rumors and queries subsided.

Although the post was not very active after 1922 and no regular forces, other than the small caretaker detachment, were stationed there, the Army still received a number of claims for property damage from irate citizens. For example, an Asbury Park bus struck and killed an Army mule while the bus was traveling across the reservation on the Wrightstown-Pemberton-Camden Highway. After determining the amount of damage to the bus and cost of repair, the company filed a claim against the government in the amount of $54.45. But, to the dismay of the company, the government submitted a counterclaim for $160 – the cost of the mule. It was pointed out that the driver of the bus had exceeded the posted speed limit of 12 miles per hour. A witness had stated the bus was traveling a reckless 25 miles an hour and the driver apparently ignored the waring of a soldier to slow down. The disposition of the case is not known nor is it really important. However, it was typical of many such claims submitted to the government.

There were more serious claims during the early between-wars period. Field fires started from the narrow-gage railroad were frequent. One fire in the early 1920s resulted in more than $10,000 in claims for damage to cranberry bogs. In 1930, another fire was started from the railroad resulting in claims totaling $2,500. Finally it was discovered that the fires were caused when sparks from the train’s wheels ignited the nearby brush.

The largest fire during the period, however, was not caused by wheels of the railroad train. In 1932, soldiers of one of the reserve divisions were clearing brush from the track for a firebreak and began burning it. At noon, the soldiers took time out for lunch, leaving the burning brush unattended. In a short time, with the assist of a summer breeze, the fire spread to adjoining bogs. The result was one of the worst fires known in the vicinity, according to a letter received by the secretary of war from a civilian. The blaze could not be controlled, and a civilian fire department had to be called in.

After the fire, which caused extensive damage to the woodland area in the section that later became known as the Reception Center. This company did excellent work fighting soil erosion on the farms in the neighboring communities.

CCC – Civilian Conservation Corps

By August 1934, general supervision of CCC camps in southern New Jersey was administered by headquarters at Dix. Public opinion was divided as to whether material benefits accomplished by the CCC were worth the cost. However, it was generally accepted that improvement of workers’ personal character and knowledge was of tremendous value.

Character buildup, however, was sometimes questioned by the local populace. One incident took place on the afternoon of Friday the 13th of April 1934. On that day, 75 CCC workers on their way home from Camp Dix created a disturbance at the Bordentown, New Jersey railroad station. They removed a clock from the waiting room wall, damaged a candy vending machine and became involved in other miscellaneous malicious actions. State police were summoned and after quelling the outbreak permitted the men to go on to their homes. No arrests were made. This was not the only incident of bad conduct involving CCC workers. They were frequently involved in fights, brawls, thefts and acts of immorality. Although the majority of the conservation corps men did not display such immature behavior, the reputation of the entire CCC was quite a topic of conversation. 

Meanwhile, CCC authorities at Camp Dix continued to point out advantages of the corps. They shattered all charges of pacifists that the recruits were given military training. Dix authorities denied that the young men were undergoing training for the Army in the event of a future emergency. It also was stressed that while a civilian reserve officer directed each of the CCC camps, all other executive positions were held by men promoted from the ranks of the CCC recruits.

All CCC men enlisted had the privilege of quitting any time they were needed by their families. Transportation costs to return home in such cases were furnished, considering that pay of the ordinary CCC workman was only $30 a month, $25 of which was sent to dependents or families back home. This left the CCC worker $5 in pocket money each month, hardly enough to cover both transportation costs and other necessary purchases. In addition to educational, recreational, and religious benefits and activities, the worker received clothing and medical services.

In January 1935, 300,000 young men still were employed in camps scattered throughout the United States. For the most part, they worked in forest conservation. In the spring of 1935, preparations were made by the Department of Conservation and Development for reforesting state forests. This was accomplished by planting a total of 832,700 seedling trees of several different types. The plans were carried out, and the planting done by CCC. The Green Bank State Forest Nursery of Burlington County provided 210,200 seedlings, while the Washington Crossing State Forest Nursery of Mercer County furnished an additional 125,000 for the cause.

The Bass River State Forest of Burlington County, the Lebanon State Forest in Cape May County, the Jenny Jump State Forest in Warren County and Stokes State Forest in Sussex County all received seedling trees. In all cases the planting was done by the CCC. The CCC also was employed in road building and other jobs throughout the country. These jobs aided in the construction of various projects designed to improve living and recreational conditions in assigned areas.

In spring 1935, it was directed that New Jersey’s quota for the CCC be boosted from 9,343 to 19,700. This was the result of a federal government decision to enroll 600,000 youths and war veterans beginning 15 June 1935 to build up the number of personnel, which then stood at 353,000. Factors in determining the state’s quota were population and relief needs, each weighing equally.

Of the 600,000 youths and war veterans, 545,000 were juniors and the remainder veterans. The enrollment increase was completed on 31 August 1935. It was estimated that during the enrollment period, approximately 350,000 men, including replacements for men who had dropped out prior to 1 July, were sent to camps.

From March 1933 to July 1936, 115,000 CCC enrollees arrived and were processed at Camp Dix. During the same period, the camp, which also operated as a discharge center, sent out 43,000 men, who eventually returned to Dix and were mustered out of the corps to civilian life. In all, more than 200,000 men passed through the camp in the CCC program.

Activity at Camp Dix steadily increased, and in 1937 the CCC Discharge and Replacement Center was established. The center handled approximately 10,000 enrolments and discharges every quarter. At the beginning of every period 5,000 men were received from camps on the West Coast, processed for discharge and returned home. At about the same time, approximately the same numbers was received, enrolled, processed and shipped to camps on the West Coast as replacements. In September 1940, the Discharge and Replacement Center was moved temporarily to Sea Girt, New Jersey. It remained there until early in 1941 when it was returned to Fort Dix and inactivated. Because of the military buildup, workers at the post, more of whom were involved in soil conservation, were transferred to the Schenectady, New York, area.

Meanwhile the CMTC and ORC continued to use the camp regularly each summer, and training was more efficient because of the many improvements made by the CCC with government funds.
In 1937, General Hugh L. Scott’s foresightedness of the 1920s became a reality. During that year ground was broken for the Army’s first airfield at Dix. A small landing strip was built for light planes to be used in support of the post’s activities. Although hardly as extensive as today’s McGuire Air Force Base, the tiny single dirt strip was McGuire’s forerunner. Later, the strip expanded to a major air base and for years was known as the Fort Dix Army Air Field. 

The military had its problems in keeping the lid on classified information. A breach of security, which could be used as an example in an intelligence lecture, occurred on the post in 1938. World War II was just taking form in other parts of the world, even though the United States was not involved. Washington, however, was anticipating the country might become entangled; consequently mobilization and contingency plans were being prepared. Military installations were taking stock of their properties and making recommendations for improvement in the event facilities and equipment had to be used for building of our military strength.

In May 1938 a request carefully itemizing some $150,000 in needed repairs and constructions at Camp Dix was sent from Congress to the War Department. Congress felt the repairs were considered necessary for mobilization should the need arise. The list included all areas ranging from improvements of tent floors and a hay shed to renovations of an electronic power station.

Such a request may not seem out of place to most people. There was, however, one extraordinary factor – the request came from Congress and not through channels from Camp Dix. A security leak was suspected. This disturbed the War Department, considering that requests in channels from Dix at the time amounted only to $18,000. The War Department wanted to know why civilians apparently knew more about the mobilization readiness of the post than the Army.

Camp Dix’ commander was hard pressed to explain how this restricted list of needed repairs got to Washington before it was received at II Corps headquarters. After investigation on the part of military authorities at the camp, the answer was learned. At the time there were some 2,500 Works Projects Administration (WPA) workers on the post. They were involved in all types of projects and administrative functions at the camp. It was discovered that these civilians were not fully aware of their knowledge of security information. Because most of them were political appointees, it was not difficult for congressmen to obtain any information they wanted. After this discovery, the security leak was plugged here and at other posts.

In the late 1930s, War Department officials began to recognize that Dix was becoming an important permanent station. Permanent barracks and officers’ quarters were being constructed, and the post had the potential of becoming one of the largest training centers for ground forces in the county.
In view of this, the War Department believed the installation should be given the more appropriate designation of “Fort Dix,” so on 8 March 1939, the post was officially renamed – giving it an air of permanence.

At the time several permanent structures already were in existence and others in construction, using Public Works Administration and Works Projects Administration funs. Included in the million-dollar building project were an electric power substation, a 375-man barracks, eight sets of officers’ quarters, 13 NCO quarters, a fire station, bakery, guard houses, quartermaster warehouse, quartermaster utility shops, garage and motor repair shop, gas and oil storage area, headquarters building and an administration building.

Begun in 1938 the project was not completed until 1940. Most of these facilities are being used today. The post headquarters building are probably the most familiar to those currently stationed at Dix. Among the permanent-type buildings in existence prior to 1939 were the mess halls built for the Civilian Conservation Corps and the two infantry companies in 1934. These buildings on Maryland Avenue are still in use today – but not as mess halls. One is now used by the provost marshal and the other by the Communications and Pictorial Service Division.

Little change occurred in the routine at Dix by its redesignations as a permanent installation. The CMTC and the ORC continued with their regular training activities. War clouds were beginning to form on the horizon, but it was to be some time before their existence would be recognized by any variation in Fort Dix’ schedule.

In the summer of 1939, 21,000 young men were inducted into the CMTG regiment on the parade grounds, which marked the spot where the barrack’s famed “Lighting Division” stood. The regiment’s training was conducted by officers of infantry, quartermaster, signal and medical branches, who arrived regularly during the summer for two-weeks active duty.

March 1939 found Fort Dix the center of a controversy that raised a nationwide hue and cry. It concerned nine old mules, condemned to die after having been found guilty of the charge of “senility.” The over-age age of the animals was 25 years, and one had been in service with General Pershing on the Mexican border and in France. Publication of the sentence was picked up by the national press series and resulted in an avalanche of letters directed to the post quartermaster officer, Major David R. Wolverton, under shoes supervision the sentence was to be carried out.

Suggestions for pensioning the animals streamed in from all sides. Finally, in 1940, General Hugh A. Drum, commander of the II Corps Area, issued a reprieve. One newspaperman wrote that this decision brought “great joy” to the post. The mules were given extra allotments of feed. They were brushed and curried to an extent unknown in a tough mule’s life, and private citizens brought sweets to the favored beasts.

Even a radio news bulletin was issued, and it was thought that the old campaigners would spend the rest of their days on green pastures. But the reprieve came to an end, and the Army’s regulations prevailed. It was considered inadvisable to sell the mules to farmers, and no other recourse was available but to complete the sentence of the court martial. Decrepit mules could not live on an Army post, and the animals were given a ceremonial dismissal from the service.


The portrait of Major General Hugh L. Scott, the second commander of the installation and the man who was in great part instrumental in persuading the government to retain the camp after World War I, was presented to Fort Dix at appropriate ceremonies in July 1939. The portrait, painted as a WPA project by artists from New York, was presented by a group from the 78th Division Veterans Association.

During the same month, a portrait was presented of the birthplace of General Dix. This presentation was made by Mrs. Margaret Dix Lawrence, a granddaughter of the general. In 1956 Mrs. Lawrence presented a near-century-old oil portrait of General Dix, which is presently displayed in post headquarters. The portrait, exceeding four-by-three and encased in a heavy gilt frame of the period, was painted by Peter Hansen Balling of Norway. Balling was noted for his portraits of President Lincoln, Generals Sherman and Grant, Admiral Farragut and other Civil War leaders.

Late in 1940, quite a few Americans realized the United States might become physically involved in a second world conflict. It was at this time the federal government heartily welcomed the existing facilities at Fort Dix. The War Department had a place to train and stage troops in the event of mobilization – again thanks to General Scott and his farsighted colleagues.

The between-wars period was a time when Dix almost had passed out of existence only to snap back with the initiation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” CCC program. Upon entering the 1940s, the post was to be charged with other important roles – again in defense of the country for liberation of suppressed peoples. 

Chapter VIII - WWII


In the 1930s, the United States recovered slowly from its major crisis, the Great Depression. The minds of the nation’s people were preoccupied with earning basic necessities of food, clothing, shelter. There was no time for more than mild interest in the power struggles of Europe and Asia.
United States direct involvement in a second global conflict was far from the thoughts of this vast majority of American people, even though objectives of Japan’s ruling clique, Germany’s “Fuehrer” Adolph Hitler and Italy’s “Duce” Benito Mussolini were clearly evident. Generally in the late ‘30s, the US public was paying little heed to the world’s systematic dissection by the Axis powers – Japan, Germany and Italy.

Japan’s armies had overrun Manchuria (1931) and were storming China. Germany had reoccupied the World War I demilitarized zone of the Rhineland (1936) and annexed Austria and the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia (1938). Italy had invaded and annexed the independent nation of Ethiopia (1935-36).
Two days after Germany invaded Poland (1 September 1939), France and England declared war on Hitler’s “Third Reich,” and the Second World War began. In the same month, Russian forces struck into Poland to insure a share of that country. A year later, with the war proceeding badly for the Allies, President Roosevelt proclaimed a limited national emergency -- this country’s first real step in preparing for active participation in the world struggle. Immediately after the 8 September proclamation, an effort was made to expand the nation’s military forces. The Selective Service Act of 1940 was enacted to strengthen the Armed Forces, with the largest percentage of men to be inducted into the Army.

Fort Dix felt the impact of the buildup almost immediately. To meet requirements of building the largest Army in the history of the United States, new military installations had to be constructed and existing facilities expanded. By the end of 1940, Dix had become one of the largest posts in the country with a population of 17,929.

The “Battle of Britain” raged in the skies, and the British Commonwealth stood alone against Germany’s onslaught. But Germany changed direction and pointed her efforts, along with several other unlimited national emergency, and all-out efforts were made to build one of the strongest Armed Forces in the world. Fort Dix came into its own as one of the busiest Army training centers in the country.

In the next few years, the post became a primary staging and training area for troops shipping to the war fronts of North Africa and Europe. Army Air Corps units and men used the installation as a stopover before proceeding overseas. In addition, the huge military post was used as the air base in defense of Atlantic shipping and the North American continent itself. Fort Dix bustled with military buildup activity in preparation for the big push across North Africa, up the Italian Boot, and the invasion of “Fortress Europe.”

The land and facilities at Dix, however, were inadequate to handle the volume of men and materials necessary for the post to accomplish maximum results desired by the Army. Already the largest Army installation in the Northeast, more land had to be acquired and a great number of buildings constructed. America’s effort in the crash program at Fort Dix was completed just in time but not without a great deal of difficulty.

The acquisition of land was one of the most difficult undertakings of the expansion program at Fort Dix. Beginning in October 1940, the Post Judge Advocate’s Office held repeated conferences with farmers and their representatives to negotiate amicable acquisition by purchase, lease, or trespass rights of thousands of acres needed for airfields, maneuvers, range work and training facilities.
Condemnation proceedings were instituted, and approximately 16,000 acres acquired in November 1940. There was, however, considerable dissention among the farm owners affected. This was particularly true of occupants of the Pinewoods, an area to be used as an artillery impact zone. The Pinewoods people had been firmly rooted to the area for many years and required considerable persuasion before they would vacate their land.

Meanwhile, expansion activity brought Fort Dix into the limelight of national news. Because of this, the War Department invited newsmen from the eastern United States to the post for briefings and inspection of facilities and equipment. This was done to help newsmen interpret the needs and actions of the Army at one of its most important camps. To give them an idea of the size and importance of the camp, the newsmen were permitted to tour the entire post, which at the time covered approximately 25,000 acres. During their stay they inspected the Garand semi-automatic rifle, latest models of military vehicles, 155mm artillery pieces, antiaircraft weapons, and a host of other up-to-date items of war equipment.


By March 1941 federal expansion of Fort Dix resulted in an increase of nearly five million dollars in tax-exempt real estate property. The more valuable properties were located mainly on acquired land in New Hanover Township, site of many buildings. After repeated conferences with these and other property owners, the government acquired 17,000 acres of local land needed for infantry maneuvers. Tresspass rights were negotiated for an additional 70,000 acres. This tract encompasses the reservation extending south to the Lakehurst Road between Pemberton and Browns Mills and north to New Egypt, Jacobstown, Georgetown and Jobstown.

In addition, 2,500 acres bordering the water pipeline from Fort Dix to New Lisbon were condemned. Including in this acreage was the Clifford Borden farm on the Wrightstown-Jobstown Road and 129 properties in Pemberton and New Hanover townships. The Borden Farm was selected to be the site of a million-dollar hospital, later known as Tilton General Hospital. Approximately $200,000 was allotted to the War Department to purchase the properties, which included 71 houses.

The condemned property boundary extended from the Burlington County Farms eastward along the Browns Mills-Pemberton Road to Browns Mills. Included was everything north of the road except for one Lyman’s Hornor’s house. A large number of bungalows in Sherwood Forest also were included. The boundary cut cross country from Anderson’s gravel pit on the outskirts of Browns Mills to the Deborah Sanitorium woods. It continued along the Trenton Road and included Billingham’s garage and the Lake Tresing Housing development.

From the outskirts of Pointville, the line followed an irregular course to Lemmontown, continued westward to a farm occupied by a Mr. Baker, then southward to the Burlington County Institution Farm at New Lisbon.

On 14 August 1941, the United States Government formally took possession of 285 acres of land, which was part of the Burlington County Institution Farm. The land was sold by the Burlington County Board of Freeholders to the federal government for Fort Dix expansion at the offered price of $5,700. Most of the land constituted low woodland not used by the county farm system.

One of the seemingly impossible tasks in connection with the acquisition of land was determining individual owners of respective tracts. There were few maps or surveys to use as a guide. In order to obtain some idea of where the boundary might be, aerial photography was necessary. 


The photographs this provided title examiners with a practical means of checking description of the land as written in public records against lanes, paths, water courses and other physical boundaries. Many titles to the land were based on possession by members of a family for generations -- a possession often originated without deed but in the form of squatters rights. In order to trace the authenticity of titles to these properties, family histories also were also examined, for many titles had to be traced back to original proprietary grants.

In one of these searches, an interesting fact was uncovered. Near the boundary of the Fort Dix reservation (now the Fort Dix-McGuire Air Force Base military complex) ran the Quintipartite Line, which formed the division between East Jersey and West Jersey. Under the deed, the eastern half of the New Jersey Colony was conveyed to Sir George Carteret and the western half to William Penn, Gamen Lawrie, Nicholas Lucas and Edward Byllinge. Some of the sheepskin deeds, which proved transfers from these original owners, were still in existence and examined by title searchers early in 1941.

The record of titles to the land now comprising Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base as itself a history of the law and legend of New Jersey. Titles to more than 1,000 separate land ownerships were painstakingly examined. Each was an interesting story of the changing times and progressive development of the state. All of this research had to be accomplished within a year, the time set by the government for completion of the title searching. Size of the project to analyze and abstract title documents for this vast area of 25 square miles can be better understood by considering that almost 4,000 recorded documents existed in a single development. Each was examined.

Fort Dix expansion faced other problems. For instance, extension of the reservation included the site of the famous Hanover Bog Ore Iron Furnace that had manufactured cannon balls during colonial days. Burlington County Historical Society induced Army officials to set aside, as a marked enclosure, the small area that still retained visible reminders of an almost forgotten spot.

While land acquisition took place, the 44th Division, made up of New Jersey national guardsmen, was inducted into federal service on 16 September 1940 by executive order of President Roosevelt. Immediately, organizations and individuals of this unit began to move to Fort Dix. At first only small detachments arrived, while company commanders, first sergeants, supply sergeants and men of all grades labored vigorously at their home stations to make the transition from state to federal service and to prepare for the move to the post.

As each unit completed preparations, it was released by its federal instructor. Orders were received, and the units were sent by truck and train to their new home, Fort Dix. First to arrive were the 104th Engineers, the 119th Quartermaster Regiment and batteries of the 157th Field Artillery. These units were in camps by 18 September, two days after being activated.

During the next few days other units of the division, and some from out of the state to be attached to the division, rolled in, from as near as Mount Holly and others as far as Niagara Falls. By 25 September, all were here – 11,000 strong. Construction of buildings in the area to be occupied by the 44th Division began about 1 September, but the troops were assembled at Dix before the barracks and other facilities were completed. A tent city was erected to serve as living quarters.

Meanwhile, new volunteers began arriving daily. Men were enlisted for one year’s service with the division under a War Department ruling that permitted the unit to sign men on. The division’s recruitment station was set up at the Wrightstown entrance to the post. As new men came, they were temporarily housed in a special segregated area for the customary two weeks of quarantine. On 10 October, troops of the division had their first pay day since induction.

Then came the draft, and on 29 November the first bewildered selectees arrived on post to become members of the 44th Division, a unit already considering itself a veteran organization. By 4 December, more than 1,400 selectees were received by the unit. The men joined regiments and after two weeks of quarantine began 13 weeks of basic training. By February 1941 the division had “adopted” 6, 115 selectees, or 36 percent of its total strength. The men were drawn from New York, New Jersey and Delaware.

At its peak the division totaled 754 officers, seven warrant officers and 17,762 enlisted men. This figure was gradually whittled away by discharges, but the division was able to maintain an overall strength of about 16,500. When it was transferred from the post in December 1941, its strength was more than 16,000.

Considerable food and supplies were needed by the men at Fort Dix. In early 1941 it was estimated that 60 tons of food were required to feed the men on post each day. It was also reported that 13,000 pairs of footgear were issued to arriving soldiers each month. In a month’s time, 12,000 replacements of other garments were made to equip the modern soldier. Gasoline consumption was another item that ran into astronomical figures. In April 1941, 44th Division trucks consumed 160,000 gallons of gasoline, and this figure was expected to double considering more than 5,000 vehicles were to be added later in the year.

On 20 April 1941, the division’s training was interrupted when one of the worst fires to hit the area broke out, destroying hundreds of acres of woodland and parts of several towns and villages. In an area between Lakewood and Medford, the blaze came perilously close to the sprawling Army post. Some 10,000 men of the division teams up with civilian fire fighters and national guardsmen to battle the inferno, which lasted several days.

Army trucks carried food to weary fire fighters, and temporary kitchens were set up to supply coffee and sandwiches. The infantrymen worked in shifts and were “on call” constantly, while alternate shifts remained at their barracks ready to be transported anywhere needed. After days of fire fighting, the flames were checked, and the reservation untouched.

The job of physically preparing the post was ably performed by Major David R. Wolverton, post quartermaster. It was completed with speed and efficiency, and in a relatively short time, the fort was ready for the men inducted into service and assigned for training. Six million dollars were appropriated for the development of the post in 1940.

With the construction contract awarded to the George A. Fuller Company, approximately 850 buildings were erected in the area to accommodate troops of the 44th Division.

Other items included in the contract were construction of two theaters, miscellaneous signal barracks, roads, drains, waterlines and electrical distribution system. Additional funds were appropriated for building a new station hospital. The hospital contract was awarded to LaFountain, Christenson and Arace of Hackensack, New Jersey.

Improvements costing more than a million dollars were made to the water and sewerage facilities. The daily capacity of the water plant was increased from 2,000,000 to 4,000,000 gallons. These improvements consisted of enlarging the filtration plant, constructing an additional water tower, installing additional pumps at the New Lisbon station and doubling the size of the sewerage plant.
The gigantic task of land acquisition was perhaps equaled by the extensive construction projects on the post since the beginning of 1940. A recapitulation of buildings erected in the short period of two years presents and astounding picture. In all, more than 1,600 buildings were completed in this time. Included were 531 barracks, 173 day rooms, 178 dining halls, 172 buildings for company administration and storage, 35 recreation buildings, 41 administration buildings, 13 chapels, 14 infirmaries, 23 hospital barracks, 18 hospital quarters, 26 motor repair shops, 28 warehouses, 10 fire stations, 12 gasoline stations, six theaters and two morgues. The Fort Dix Station Hospital also was built in 1940 and consisted of a 1,000-bed cantonment-type structure of 80 buildings.


Within a year, another medical facility, Tilton General Hospital, was built on Florida Avenue. The completion of this hospital in July 1941 was the prototype of the Army’s World War II hospital building program throughout the country. Tilton construction was rushed by three shifts working day and night throughout the unusually server winter of 1940-41. The original construction schedule of 60 days could not be met because of heavy snowfalls and severe storms. Except for grading and surfacing, construction was completed in 87 days.

The original plan called for 79 buildings, including wards, mess buildings, warehouses and quarters. Nine additional buildings were added later that year. Finally, because of the ever-increasing war load, many more structures were needed, and by 1944, the main hospital comprised 178 buildings.
Tilton General Hospital, named in honor of James Tilton, surgeon general of the US Army from 1813 to 1815, was built to care for individuals in the II Army Corps Area requiring definite treatment or prolonged hospitalization. This was done on the basis of bed allotments to some 14 separate camps, posts and stations, including the New York Port of Embarkation. The first year’s peak load was attained on 29 December 1941 when 559 patients were being treated.

The organization of Tilton General Hospital began when orders were published assigning Colonel S. Jay Turnbill to duty at Fort Dix in January 1941. However, it was not until March that Colonel Turnbill was ordered to take command of the unfinished hospital. A few days later, other officers reported for duty, and on 25 March 1941, the first contingent of 75 enlisted medical specialists arrived from the Army Medical Center, Washington D.C. The enlisted medical detachment for Tilton was activated on 29 March and authorized a strength of 250.

Prior to 2 April 1941, Tilton officers were quartered at the Fort Dix Station Hospital, pending completion of the general hospital. During the next several months, additional officers and nurses arrived, and sufficient personnel were available during the early years of World War II to meet all problems as they developed. Medical Department officers were originally assigned to Tilton by the Surgeon General’s Office, but Second Service Command headquarters took over personnel assignments in mid-1942.

Officers were selected on the basis of professional qualifications, and each specialized position for the original staff was properly filled. During 1941, no significant losses of the hospital’s Medical Corps officer personnel occurred, primarily because the staff increased during the period to bring it to an authorized strength of 75.

The first nurses assigned to Tilton arrived in the spring of 1941 from Pine Camp (Now Camp Drum), New York. They supervised setting up wards and equipment in anticipation of the arrival of patients. The first civilians were authorized and assigned as early as March 1941 - - prior to arrival of the enlisted cadre. The civilians included professional as well as non-professional workers, who occupied clerical, administrative, fiscal and unskilled labor positions. The peak number of civilians at the hospital before the 1944 consolidation of Tilton and the Fort Dix Station Hospital was 323. After consolidation, the number increased rapidly to an August 1945 peak of 1,030.

During 1942 and 1943, it periodically became necessary to obtain replacements for transferred Medical Corps officer personnel. During these years, many Fort Dix doctors were sent to overseas assignments. Personnel assignments were made from Second Service Command Headquarters, and replacements for Medical Corps officers loses were adequate. At that time, the turnover was not excessive, and specialized assignments were well covered. However, in 1944 and 1945, personnel loses caused by overseas commitments and separations increased appreciably, resulting in the inability to meet replacement needs. These difficulties were felt, especially in the highly specialized fields.

The first overseas casualties, survivors of the Philippine Defense Campaign, were admitted to Tilton in March 1942, chiefly because of the surgeon general’s policy of sending general hospital cases to installations near their homes.

In late 1944, Tilton General Hospital was assigned the services of between 225 and 300 German prisoner-of-war workers. They were selected for hospital work on the basis of previous civilian and military training, and to some extent, the POWs compensated for existing personnel shortages. The scope of the activities in which POWs took part were commensurate with their backgrounds and training. While a number performed menial tasks at the hospital, others with specialized skills and training were assigned to duties in the laboratory, x-ray room, utilities section and orthopedic brace shop. A small number, who had medical training, were assigned to two German POW wards, which served the sick and wounded prisoners on post.

On 7 July 1944, Tilton absorbed the Fort Dix Medical Station Hospital, which was then named Tilton Annex. This resulted in the added responsibility of Tilton to function as a station hospital. The combined facilities had a normal capacity of 3,000, with an emergency expansion capability of 5,500.
At the height of activity during the war, 195 of the hospital’s 215 acres were used for buildings and tents. Tilton General Hospital was situated in the northwest quarter of the reservation, just west of the old remount area, and Tilton Annex was just inside the main entrance to Fort Dix from Wrightstown. This amalgamation of facilities came none too soon, for in December 1944 with an end of hostilities in sight, it became apparent that a large number of patients who then were hospitalized in the European Theater of Operations would be transferred to Dix.

In fact, in early 1945 an emergency expansion to 4,100 beds was authorized to accommodate the increasing number of patients from overseas. Services were further expanded to receive and care for patients air evacuated from the war zones of Europe and Africa. Another contributing factor was the increased availability of shipping facilities from overseas areas.

The expansion of facilities was accomplished by converting all available buildings into wards. Converted buildings included enlisted men’s barracks and such miscellaneous buildings as clinics and dispensaries that could be readily converted to 50-bed wards. By the middle of 1945, 4,448 beds were made available for patients.

At the Fort Dix Army Air Field, later to become McGuire Air Force Base, workmen had been employed on a $300,000 project to apply concrete surface to the three long runways.

These were soon to be used by the 119th and 126th Observation Squadrons, National Guard units inducted into federal service in 1941.

In addition to the expansion of flight facilities, many other improvements were made and temporary buildings constructed.

The field, under control of the Army Ground Forces at the time, was turned over to the Army Air Corps in 1942. Under jurisdiction of the 1st Air Force, the airfield was used in antisubmarine patrol operations. It afforded protection against German U-boats, not only for American ships and coastal points but for allied shipping as well.

Later in 1942 the Air Services Command, located at the Middletown Air Depot in Pennsylvania, and the Atlantic Overseas Air Services Command used the field. In 1944, the Fort Dix Army Air Field was used by the Air Transport Command as the eastern terminal of the Ferry Command. The airfield was one of the few that could base B-29s, the Army’s heaviest bomber at the time.

Late in the war many such planes left Fort Dix for service overseas. Toward the end of the war, casualties were returned from Europe for hospitalization in this country by way of the Fort Dix airfield. In 1945, control of the airfield was returned to Fort Dix until the creation in 1947 of the third branch of service - - the United States Air Force.

The effect of post expansion and construction on neighboring townships in 1941 was reminiscent of World War I days. Early announcement that more than 20,000 soldiers would be trained at Fort Dix created a real estate boom in the surrounding towns of Pemberton, Wrightstown, Browns Mills, New Egypt, Jobstown and Cookstown, where housing shortages already existed. Rents jumped, sometimes as much as two-fold, and the necessity for low-cost housing projects to satisfy the requirements of officers and noncommissioned officers was immediately apparent.

Hanover Homes, located on the Jobstown-Wrightstown Road, was a result of this need. The project was constructed by the Federal Works Agency at a cost of 4350,000. It was named in honor of the historic Hanover Bog Ore Iron Furnace. Dedication ceremonies were held on 4 July 1941. It was one of 30 housing projects throughout the country dedicated at the same time.

Fort Dix expansion affected the neighboring communities in still another way. For many years, residents of Burlington County enjoyed driving leisurely along the highways and secondary roads in this part of New Jersey. However, Fort Dix had become heavily populated and a virtual beehive of activity. Traffic on the highways leading to the post doubled and tripled. Traffic accidents increased as a result. Officials at Fort Dix were asked, along with state police and other enforcement agencies, to concentrate their efforts and facilities to eliminate rural highway slaughter. It was obvious that old roads had to be improved and new roads constructed.

In April 1941, such a task was begun, but conflicting applications to the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for a project to provide 47 miles of new highways on access roads to Fort Dix resulted in a delay. The reason given was that two conflicting project proposals were sent to the Washington WPA office. The first project, seeking release of funds to provide access roads to Fort Dix, estimated the cost of repairing the 47 miles at $200,000. However, that figure was too low for the long mileage of reconstruction needed. The type of paving to be laid would raise the coast to $800,000. The second project was submitted with the $800,000 estimate. The delay, caused by that mixup, was straightened out in a short time.

On 9 August 1941, the road project began. Nine country roads were reconstructed to provide better access to the Army post. Finally, the estimated cost of $800,000 was confirmed.

First of the nine-road-improvement program was the Pemberton-Fort Dix Road. A short while later, construction began on the military highway from Fountain Green at Fort Dix to Route 39 at Mansfield Square, via Georgetown.

The expansion of Fort Dix in 1942 caused another dire need for access roads to handle increased traffic in the immediate area of the installation. Existing roads were not adequate to handle civilian traffic, much less heavy military vehicles and other war machines.

Cooperating with the Army in the war program, State Highway Commissioner Spencer Miller, Jr., approved the alignment of an access road to Fort Dix through Burlington Country in May 1942. The concrete thoroughfare was 10 miles in length and left route 39 at Mansfield Square, two miles south of the Bordentown to Georgetown Road intersection. It followed the Mansfield-Georgetown Road to Georgetown at Hutchinson’s Corner. From that point it was carried over a new right-of-way to a traffic circle on the Pemberton-Wrightstown Road at Fountain Green, near the residence of the fort’s commanding general.

During the week of 12 July 1942, additional steps were taken to relieve traffic conditions in the Fort Dix area when the New Jersey State Highway Department announced that a three-and-a-half-mile section of dual highway between Mansfiled and Georgetown would be built. The federal government was to pay for the work. Meanwhile, following United States Public Roads Administration approval, Route 39 from Bordentown to Mansfield Square was widened, and four and a half miles of road from Georgetown to the Pemberton-Wrightstown Road, skirting Fort Dix, was constructed.


As roads to Fort Dix were being planned and constructed, the town of Pointville passed out of existence during the week of 31 August 1942. The United States Army moved in to take over New Hanover village, which for months had been surrounded by the constantly expanding Fort Dix reservation.

Monday, 31 August, was the last day for civilian business there. Efforts by the residents and by township officials to change the Army’s intentions had proven fruitless the week before.
As Pointville was drafted for military service, two old landmarks passed from the scene. One was the Pointville Methodist Church, which had been built in 1848, and the other was old Tom Harvey’s hotel.

A number of Army and Navy uniform and equipment stores also closed their doors. However, they weren’t “old timers,” having opened for business since Fort Dix expansion began in 1940. As Fort Dix gained more land, Burlington County lost some settled areas, and the townspeople had to find a different way of life.

The expansion of Fort Dix in the early 1940s affected the area’s telephone services. The increased training program resulted in heavier phone traffic through the Mount Holly office. District Manager Paul A. Coffee and his business office staff moved out of the Main Street building and into a larger facility in the Robert Peacock building at 105 High Street. Coffee stated, “Since designation of Fort Dix as a major Army training station, telephone traffic through the Mount Holly exchange has grown steadily. Nearly 9,000 calls on the exchange are made each weekday, compared with less than 5,800 a day in the first week of September 1940. About 2,000 calls a day are toll calls. More than 1,200 of the daily toll calls are made from Fort Dix coin telephones.” 1 (Mount Holly Herald, vol. cxvi, no. 50 1941.1.)

Also, with the expansion of Fort Dix in 1940, Burlington County officials prepared themselves for a crime wave. It was no secret that law enforcement authorities expected a great increase of crime from the Army post. Advocates of enlarging the Burlington County Prison in Mount Holly, built in 1810, used this theory as one of their most forceful arguments. Until the beginning of the war in December 1941, the crime wave had not materialized, and, considering the area’s great influx of civilian and military personnel, increased crime was nominal.

Until 29 January 1942, civilian authorities had jurisdiction in criminal cases occurring within the boundaries of Fort Dix. After that date all criminal acts on the installation were handled by military or federal authorities. Burlington County authorities were no longer asked to assume the responsibility. The most frequent complaint regarding soldiers during those days was auto theft. 

Many persons, both civilian and military, felt that such thefts were due mainly to the carelessness of the car owners. In almost all cases, keys were left in ignitions after vehicles were parked. The few soldiers who did steal cars were punished, and the reputation of Fort Dix suffered little.


Meanwhile, the huge job of classifying selectees was placed into the hands of the 1229th Service Command Unit, later renamed the 1262nd Reception Center.

Each man entering the center was given an intelligence test and interviewed by enlisted men specially trained for the job. The marking of papers was completed by machine, a report was made by the interviewer, and all results of the examination were fully cataloged. The method employed at the post was used as a model for other reception centers throughout the country.

The Reception Center itself was divided into battalions and a number of companies. In addition to the problem of adjusting the newly inducted men to the change from civilian routine, the center had the tremendous job of satisfying appetites of men who were accustomed to a variety of foods. To accommodate the inductees, there were 11 mess halls, three of which had a capacity of 1,000 men each. Often they fed more than this capacity.

In 1941, it was not unusual for any one of the mess halls to serve more than 100,000 meals per month. All of the center’s cooking and baking was done by permanently assigned enlisted personnel. The mess staff consisted of approximately 200 soldiers, including officers, cooks, warehousemen and other permanent party enlisted men.

In addition to regular mess facilities, the center also was responsible for feeding selectees who were shipped from the Reception Center to training centers throughout the country. Kitchen cars were attached to each train when the distance involved more than 24 hours of travel. Sometimes the cars would serve as many as 14 different meals en route.

Good food is but one factor in maintaining the health and morals of troops. Equally important is the furnishing of entertainment and recreation, and these needs received considerably more attention during World War II than during the days of World War I. A unique branch to handle this function was created, and the Army’s Special Services became most important in providing for the welfare and morale of the troops.

The Special Services branch at Fort Dix coordinated the functions of government agencies with those of the United States Service Organization (USO), the Red Cross, and other welfare organizations. Under Special Service’s supervision, project after project was initiated and completed.

The list of visiting personalities brought to Dix by Special Services and the cooperating agencies contains outstanding people of the theatrical, musical and athletic world. Mischa Elman, Yehudi Menuhin, Albert Spalding, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Lhevinne, Leopold Stokowski, Ossy Renardy, 
Dorothy Kirsten and Nelson Eddy are but a few who gave their time and talent to entertain troops of the post. To these are added Robert Woods, Igor Gorin, Lucy Monroe, Lucille Manners, Conrad Thibault, and Kay Kaiser and Vaughn Monroe with their orchestras. There were hundreds more.
In Mount Holly, plans for a soldiers’ retreat, where men of the fort could gather for relaxation and amusement, were discussed by ex-servicemen and clergymen in January 1941. Such a place existed during World War I when a building on the southwest corner of White and Washington Streets was made available as a local headquarters for visiting soldiers. The VFW post headquarters on Main Street was selected for this purpose and made available throughout World War II.

During the week of 22 August 1941, construction of three community buildings in the Fort Dix vicinity was approved by President Roosevelt as part of the Defense Public Works Program. The program was to provide facilities or services necessary for the health, safety and welfare of servicemen. The three buildings, costing the government $82,195 each, were operated by the USO.
By 1942, facilities on the post for entertainment functions and activities were numerous and varied. Plans were well under way to construct a large indoor Sports Arena. During the latter part of January 1942 the mammoth building was completed at a cost of $86,000. On 7 March, the Sports Arena, located on the parade grounds, officially opened with an exhibition tennis match featuring Helen Jacobs, former women’s singles champion. The arena is 217 feet by 131 feet with a n 8,000-square-foot sports floor - - large enough to accommodate three athletic games, such as basketball, simultaneously. Regimental and battalion dances often were held within its walls. Sergeant Joe Louis, world’s heavyweight boxing champion, used the arena for exhibition and training in preparation for his fight with Abe Simon.

Other athletic facilities operated by Special Services included a nine-hole golf course, seven tennis courts and several softball and baseball fields, for which the necessary equipment was supplied to commissioned and enlisted personnel alike. Organized unit intramural sports of all kinds took place on Special Services facilities. Softball and basketball were perhaps the most popular.


There was a swimming pool on post for wives and children of the men stationed at Dix. In addition, complete swimming facilities were made available at Soldier’s Island in nearby Browns Mills and Hanover Lake in Fort Dix Park.

Four service clubs, four cafeterias and four libraries also came under Special Services supervision. Two open air theaters with unlimited seating were sites for entertainment during the summer months. Special Services also operated a guesthouse for relatives of the enlisted men. However, the facility, which charges 75 cents per person for overnight accommodation, was later closed because of its location within staging areas of task forces.

To accommodate the growing influx of personnel, a gymnasium and an outdoor swimming pool were under construction in June 1945. Both of these structures were built on Tilton Annex area. To aid the off-duty leisure of post enlisted personnel further, a swimming pool located just west of the Sports Arena was reopened. This pool was built in 1918, but had fallen into disuse in the Twenties. At one time it had been used as a wash well for tanks and other heavy vehicles.

Shortly after the infamous Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the 44th Infantry Division left the post for extensive combat training. It remained in the country at various camps for three more years before shipping overseas. In September 1944, the division embarked for the European Theater of Operations.

Its first major assignment with the Seventh US Army was to secure passes in the Vosges Mountains. After accomplishing this and nullifying a German counteroffensive, the unit worked with the French 2nd Armored Division and advanced through Alsace-Lorraine, taking Laintrey, Avricourt and Sarrebourg. Elements of the division reached the Rhine River at Strasbourg.

Halting a savage German panzer attempt to retake Sarrebourg, the 2nd Battalion, 114thInfantry, 44th Division, was credited with saving the division from annihilation and checking a possible major Seventh Army defeat. By December the division reached the Maginot Line. In March 1943 the unit was relieved from its position. In the succeeding months, the division rolled deep into Fortress Europe, capturing Mannheim and slashing into Austrian Tyrol. VE-Day found the unit established at Imst, Austria. On that day elements of the 44th made contact with the Fifth US Army, which had fought north from Italy.

On 1 January 1942, the 34th “Red Bull” Division, activated National Guard unit made up of men from Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas, had arrived at Fort Dix from Camp Glaiborne, Louisiana. After completing staging procedures, the division departed for overseas in three increments. These first troops from Fort Dix to arrive in Europe since World War I went to northern Ireland in February 1942. By then of May the entire division was in Ireland. The unit eventually entered combat in north Africa late in 1942. From there it landed at Salerno and for the next 500 days took part in the liberation of Italy. At the war’s end the division was in north Italy. It returned to the United States on 3 November 1945 and was inactivated a week later.

A short time after the departure of the 34th Division from Fort dix in early 1942, other units streamed through the post in rapid succession. The 1st Armored Division, a Regular Army unit nicknamed “Old Ironsides,” arrived from Fort Knox, Kentucky, on 10 April 1942 for traditional training. 

Activated on 15 July 1940, the division already had completed considerable training at Knox. In addition, the unit participated with the Second US Army in maneuvers throughout Louisiana and the Carolinas. Upon arrival at Dix, the division underwent additional training and in May 1942 departed for Ireland. The division saw action in north Africa, where it joined with the 34th Infantry Division and later the British Eighth Army. After a short second stay in Ireland in 1943, the division went to French Morocco where it reorganized before participating in the Italian campaign. After the war, the unit traveled to Germany where it was assigned to occupation duty. It remained there until April 1946 when it returned to Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, for inactivation.

Shortly after departure of the 1st Armored Division and during the staging of the 8thComposite Air Force at Fort Dix, the 2nd Armored Division rolled into the post. Activated on 15 July 1940, this Regular Army unit, nicknamed “Hell on Wheels,” received its initial training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and held maneuvers in Tennessee, Louisiana and the Carolinas. In late 1941 the division participated in special amphibious training off the east coast of the United States and then reported to Camp Hood, Texas, for additional training. On 27 October 1942, the division’s Combat Command “B” departed Fort Dix for North Africa. The command was later joined by the remainder of the division in December. After taking part in the assault of Casablanca and prior to the invasion of Sicily, the division underwent intensive amphibious training in north Africa. Later, after activity in Sicily, the unit shipped to England and prepared for the invasion of Normandy. Fighting through Normandy, northern France, the Rhineland, Ardennes and central Europe, it fulfilled a three-year-old pledge in July 1945 when it became the first American division to enter Berlin. In early 1946, the division returned to Camp Hood for retraining.

Also active in north African battles was the 756th Tank Battalion, which had been assigned to Dix on 28 November 1942, processed overseas in February 1943, and joined the famed 3rd “Marine” Infantry Division during the African campaign. Later in Germany, the battalion distinguished itself on two occasions while still a part of the 3rd Infantry Division. In these actions, the tank units swept through the Vosges Mountains in August 1944 and cleared the Colmar Pocket from 23 January to 18 February 1945.

Many miscellaneous groups passed through Fort Dix in 1942. Among them were the 22nd Quartermaster Regiment, 551st Signal Air Warning Battalion, 382nd, 384th and 389th Quartermaster Battalions, 177th and 827th Engineer Battalions, 397th and 398th Quartermaster Port Battalions, 90th Quartermaster Railhead Company and 187th Quartermaster Depot.


The Post Naturalization Office, established in 1942 as an adjunct of the Post Judge Advocate’s Office, played an important part during World War II. Approximately 5,000 recruits became citizens in its first year of operation. During 1942 and 1943, an average of 400 persons per month were naturalized. Most of them were natives of European countries who later fought with other American troops overseas and again returned to the US.

The 4th Mechanized Division, another regular Army unit, arrived at Fort Dix in April 1943. Activated on 1st June 1940, at Fort Benning, Georgia, the division moved to Dix. While at the New Jersey post, the unit was redesignated the 4thInfantry Division. The “Ivy” (IV) Division left Dix in September for amphibious training at Camp Gordon Johnson, Florida. In December the unit moved to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and then was ordered to England for further amphibious training. This intensive waterborne training proved invaluable, for on 6 June 1944, elements of the division became the first allied units to hit the beaches at Normandy. From there, the Ivymen fought through Normandy, northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes and central Europe. By war’s end, the division had suffered 21,550 casualties. Shortly after VE-Day, the 4th began returning to the US for retraining. However, before the division could be redeployed to the Pacific, VJ-Day was announced, and on 5 March 1946, the unit was inactivated at Camp Butner, North Carolina.

In the spring of 1943, the 80th Division, an Organized Reserve unit made up of men from the Blue Ridge states of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia, arrived at Fort Dix. A serious transit strike in Philadelphia, which affected the military war effort by hampering the transport of men and materials, occurred during the stay of the 80th. With the authority of the President and orders from the War Department, a regiment of the division was dispatched to that city to participate in the handling of the strike-bound transportation.

Activated on 15 July 1942, the division had trained at Camp Forest, Tennessee. Upon completion of its organization and training, the 80th was shipped to Fort Dix where it stayed until July 1943.
From there it was sent back to Tennessee to participate in maneuvers and then to Camp Phillips, Kansas. After participating in a number of maneuvers in California and Arizona, the Blue Ridgers were sent to France where they entered combat on 8 August 1944. After 239 days of combat, fighting their way through northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes Forest and central Europe, the division returned to the United States. On 5 January 1946, the Blue Ridge Division was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

Meanwhile, in September 1943, many smaller specialized unites were staging in preparation for overseas shipment. Among them were the 741st Tank Battalion, 245thQuartermaster Battalion, 44th and 106th Evacuation Hospitals, 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 719th Military Police Battalion and 11th Combat Engineer Battalion.

Soon after the departure of these units in October, the 85th Infantry Division, another Organized Reserve unit, arrived at Fort Dix for staging. During its stay at the post, several smaller units also were staged, including the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions, 211th Field Artillery Battalion and the 537th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion.

The 85th, nicknamed the “Custer Division,” remained at Dix until December 1943, when it was sent to Hampton Roads, Virginia for overseas shipment. The division had received its nickname from activities in August 1917 at Camp Custer, Michigan. The unit adopted the name of its post and at the same time honored the famous General George A. Custer, who was killed during the great Sioux War. 

Debarking overseas, the 85th Division went to north Africa for amphibious training and then to Italy. Entering combat in March 1944, it fought in the Rome-Arno, northern Apennines and Po Valley battles. In August 1945, the division returned to Hampton Roads where it was inactivated.
Shortly after the departure of the 85th Division from Fort Dix, the 90th Infantry Division, an Organized Reserve unit made up of men from Texas and Oklahoma, arrived at Dix. After its activation on 25 March 1942, the men of the division, nicknamed “Tough ‘Ombres,” trained at Camp Barkley, Texas. Later they moved about the country participating in various maneuvers. Exactly two years to the day after activation, the division departed Dix for England where it underwent two months of amphibious assault training. In June, elements of the division took part in the landing at Normandy, and by the 10th of the month, the entire unit was in combat. From Normandy, after 308 days of combat, the Tough ‘Ombres had fought through northern France, the Ardennes, Rhineland and central Europe. On 16 December 1945, the division returned to the States and was inactivated at Camp Shanks, New York, on the 27th of the month.

Other units arriving at Fort Dix in early 1944 were the 628th and 807th Tank Destroyer Battalions, 15th General Hospital, 460th Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion, 297th General Hospital, Headquarters Special Troops of the XIII Corps, 179thEngineer Battalion, 3468th Ordnance Company, 628th Engineer Company and 168thQuartermaster Trucking Company. These units stayed only long enough to stage to the European Theater of Operations.

In July 1944, the 102nd “Ozark” Infantry Division arrived at Dix from Camp Swift, Texas, where it had been participating in maneuvers. Activated 15 September 1942 at Camp Maxey, Texas, the 102nd had taken part in extensive training exercises in Louisiana. The “Ozark” division, which originally included men from the Ozarks, remained at Dix until a September 1944 shipment to the European Theater of Operations.

Arriving at Cherbourg, France on 23 September 1944, the 102nd again trained for combat, which began 26 October in a northward drive to the Rhine area between Duisberg and Dusseldorf. In March 1945, the division captured the Rhine objective after a six-month battle that cost the Nazis 86 towns, a rocket factory, and numerous railroad and communications centers. The 102nd continued its push until VE-Day, when units were in position at Gotha. In late February 1946, the division returned to the United States and was inactivated on 12 March at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

At war’s end, it was estimated that almost 430,000 prisoners of war were in the United States. The Germans numbered 370,000, Italians 55,000, Japanese 3,000, and the remainder were from other Axis nations. It was further estimated that of the German POWs, 70,000 were officers and noncoms who either elected not to work or were refused the opportunity by US military authorities in the interest of military and national security. However, the others were permitted to engage in work not related to America’s war effort. Some 85,000 worked in agriculture, 55,000 in industry, and the remainder at military posts or stations throughout the country.

Fort Dix was one of the major holding areas for prisoners of war. On 5 January 1944, the post’s POW camp opened, and soon the first POWs entered the compound. Although the prisoners held at Dix during the war were mainly Germans, there were some Italians, and surprisingly enough, a few Russians. The Russians were captured by American forces on the western front of Europe. During the early part of the war, many Russians had defected to the Axis powers and elected to fight for Germany. Donning uniforms of the “Wehrmacht” and assigned to units in western Europe, they had fought in France against the liberation armies of Americans, British, French and Canadians. Upon capture, some of them were sent to prisoner-of-war camps in the United States – 154 of them to Fort Dix.

The POW camp at the post was often cited as a model camp. Officials of the International Red Cross and the State Department verified this after making frequent inspections of the camp.
In the latter part of 1944, German prisoners of war were allocated from the POW camp to various facilities on the reservation. Almost all of the prisoners were employed in a pay status, serving in the laundry, hospital, quartermaster supply, and camp maintenance. Tilton General Hospital received 225 to 300 of these prisoners.

Prisoner duties at the hospital varied from orderlies and administrative work to skilled medical functions. Their presence at the hospital contributed, to some degree, to the efficient operation of the facility, especially during a shortage of US Army medical personnel. POW doctors, working with US Army Medical Corps officers, were used to care for sick and injured prisoners. In addition to medical service provided by the post’s Station Hospital, the prisoners enjoyed recreation facilities and religious activities. The rations issued the prisoners were the same as those given to the troops on the post. They also received a full issue of quartermaster clothing.

With cessation of World War II hostilities in Europe, plans were made to repatriate American-held prisoners of war. All prisoners would be returned to their homeland.

In several issues of June and July 1945, the New York Times reported an astounding story. In late June 1945, after learning they would be sent back to the motherland and fearing retribution as traitors, the 154 Russian POWs at Dix rioted. In an attempt to force their way out of the compound, they attacked camp security personnel with mess kit knives and clubs made from chair legs. As they rushed their guards, the Russians were fired at with carbines and submachine guns. In the ensuing struggle, one prisoner was killed and several others wounded. One prisoner was injured while trying to scale the wire enclosure surrounding the compound. After this attempt for freedom was thwarted, three of the Russians committed suicide by hanging themselves from the rafters of their buildings.
On 29 June 1945, the remaining 150 prisoners were taken to Camp Shank, New York, each escorted by a military policeman, to board an Italian merchant marine vessel bound for Russia. The heavy escort was provided to prevent escapes and to forestall further attempts at suicide. Shortly after their 1:30 p.m. arrival at Camp Shanks and prior to the 3:30 p.m. scheduled sailing of the vessel, the escort received President Truman’s order to return the prisoners to Fort Dix. They were to be held at the post’s POW camp until a State Department study could be made of the situation.

The men were returned to the Fort Dix POW camp, still escorted man for man. Upon arrival at Dix, the POW camp was stripped of all furniture and equipment. The only item left was a mattress on which each Russian could sleep. It was then learned that apparently others had previously planned to commit suicide when an additional 15 lengths of rope and belts were found hanging from the rafters. The men were kept at Dix a while longer and eventually shipped somewhere. Final outcome of the incident is vague; government records still are classified.

In June 1946, the prisoner-of-war camp at Dix began to phase out. All remaining prisoners were readied for overseas shipment. In two and a half years, more than 15,000 POWs had been held at the post, the highest number at any one time totaling 5,580. These included prisoners at branch camps in Centerton, Bridgeton, Dias Creek and Glassboro, all of whom worked in canneries and on farms.
During World War II the post experienced a rapid growth of buildings, facilities and population. The growth, which started with the mobilization of the 44th Division and the arrival of the first conscripts at Fort Dix, continued to the time World War II hostilities ceased. Hundreds of thousands of Americans passed through the fort’s portals to train and prepare for shipment to combat areas across the Atlantic. With the war’s end, activities at this New Jersey post did not cease. Thousands of American soldiers were returning to Dix from overseas for separation processing or reassignment. 

Without breaking stride, the post, which had more than tripled in total acreage during the World War II period, continued to bustle with debarkation and separation activities.

Fort Dix History - Post WWII - 1950s
Chapter IX


As the war swung decidedly in favor of the Allies, thoughts were directed to future dismantling of America’s powerful war machine.

As a start, a small separation center was ordered into operation at Fort Dix by the War Department in April 1944 to hasten the discharge processing of enlisted men.

An experiment at the time, this embryonic organization was the first of a series to be established in each service command in the United States. The center was charged with processing and discharging enlisted men within 48 hours after their arrival. This program was a marked improvement over earlier discharge procedures, which had required several weeks.

All men on the East Coast eligible for discharge were transferred to Fort Dix, where original induction procedures were reversed. First, the soldiers underwent physical examinations. Then they were classified for civilian occupations according to their Army duties and former civilian positions. They also received orientation and, in some cases, civilian clothing. Lastly, they received discharge papers, final pay and travel tickets home.

To provide operating personnel for these centers, a school was activated in July 1944 at Fort Dix. The school trained officers and enlisted men for duty at separation stations planned throughout the nation. Training consisted of a four-week course in interviewing and counseling soldiers being separated from the service. After the school operated at Dix for about six months, it moved on 22 January 1945 to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where it became part of the Adjutant General’s School. While at Dix the school graduated a total of 746 officers and enlisted men and women.

Separation centers were not the cold impersonal disassembly lines one would imagine. Several personal guidelines were considered at all times. Before individuals were returned to civilian life, center operators attempted to bring the separate face-to-face with the realization that their home communities were probably changed by war, and that their own interests also may have changed. Men wishing to use Army-acquired skills in civilian life were informed how these skills could be used. Each separatee was provided a record of his military experiences to help him get a job. Those with handicaps or physical limitations, who needed rehabilitation or development of a proper mental outlook, were given counsel. Thus, those operating the centers guided soldiers from the world they knew before the war into the post-war contemporary world. This was the humanitarian approach followed during the maximum 48 hours allotted each individual prior to his release from active service.

The system was set up none too soon. Separation activities steadily increased until it seemed they would be overwhelmed by the hordes of troops returning from the war. Separation Center 26, which had begun operations at Dix in April 1944, processed only 323 men that month. The volume slowly increased, and at the year’s end, 38,554 officers, enlisted men and WACs had been separated. This number was but a trickle preceding the later flood.

With the cessation of hostilities in 1945, Fort Dix took on a new prominence. During that year, the Separation Center expanded and became the largest in the nation. “R” (Redeployment) Day, 12 May 1945, was a notable date at Fort Dix when more than 2,000 troops in process for overseas shipment were screened for eligibility and placed in the separation stream. In order to separate as many eligible men as possible that day, all military and civilian personnel who could be spared were put to work in the Separation Center. Separations on R-Day were given worldwide coverage by news and motion picture services with two national radio hookups.

In September 1945, the Separation Center was placed on a 24-hour schedule, with 16 hours of actual processing and eight hours preparation of materials and administrative work. This was made possible by the assignment of additional military personnel to the Fort Dix Personnel Center and station complement. During the following month, daily discharges passed the 4,000 mark. The all-time national high for one month was reached in October when 113,401 personnel received their releases. 
The present Post Headquarters Administration building played a key role in the separation process.
In March 1946, the 1262nd Reception Center returned to Fort Dix, and this Army post was not the site of the Second Service Command’s only reception and separation center. The famous 1262nd formerly had been located at Dix but was moved to Fort Hancock on 17 October 1945 after Fort Dix became inundated with a flood of returning servicemen awaiting separation. During its previous five years at Dix before moving to Hancock, the 1262nd had processed 712,740 inductees. When the tide of returning personnel had receded, there was again room at Dix for the 1262nd Reception Center. There also was room for the 1220th Reception Center from Fort Monmouth. This unit was inactivated and its personnel transferred to the 1262nd.

Fort Dix discharged 508,069 in 1945, and another 556,697 were returned to civilian life in 1946. In September 1946, Staff Sergeant Albert Cuchessi of Newark, New Jersey, a veteran of five and one half years and a prisoner of the Japanese for three years, five months, became the 1,000,000th World War II veteran to be separated at Fort Dix. Altogether Dix separated 1,182,118 World War II vets. Even this was a costly venture; total disbursements at the post for only a two-year period ending 31 March 1947 amounted to well over a half-billion dollars ($556,415,450.92) 

With the cessation of hostilities in Europe and the evacuation of fewer casualties from that theater of operations, the number of admissions to Tilton General Hospital from overseas dropped markedly during the last half of 1945. However, the work load of Tilton Hospital remained at capacity because of the rapidly increasing activities at the Fort Dix Separation Center. The daily tally at the hospital rarely fell below 4,000 for 1945, and the average was closer to 4,500 each day during the later months.

In 1945, cadet nurses of the Army attended the Second Service Command Nurses Basic Training School at Tilton to complete their final six months of training. Although the average number of cadets attending was 90, the graduating class of May 1945 numbered 400. Upon graduation some were assigned to Tilton and the remainder transferred to other medical facilities throughout the world. The program at Fort Dix was completed in the spring of 1946.

During the post-war years, Tilton General Hospital suffered an extremely high turnover among enlisted personnel when many qualified for overseas duty were so assigned. Replacements returned at a slow rate from overseas theaters.

The most rapid turnover in officer personnel came in the latter months of 1945 with the cessation of hostilities. Large numbers of Medical Corps officers returned from overseas, but many were eligible for release from active duty. Because of this, difficulties were encountered in filling hospital vacancies. This led not only to a critical shortage of medical officers at the hospital but difficulty in disposition of patients.

Towards the end of 1945, almost every chief of service, chief of section and qualified specialist became eligible for release from active duty, resulting in the assignment of practically a complete new staff. For quite some time, a definite shortage of personnel continued to exist in many specialties, including the Orthopedic Section, which alone had a monthly work load of 1,200 to 2,100 patients. 

The history of the Tilton General Hospital shows a peak load in January 1946 when there were 4,250 admissions and 3,650 dispositions. However, because of the sharply reduced level of activity in spring of that year, some of the converted ramp wards were closed and the remainder held ready for emergency use. But, the closed wards at Tilton had to be reopened late in 1946 because of a sudden increase in hospital admissions and the closing of other general hospitals in the East.

Thus, Tilton General Hospital continued to maintain a patient load of approximately 4,000. Difficulties were increased during the latter part of 1946 when turnover figures for the hospital’s medical officers reached a new high. Despite these setbacks, Tilton General continued to perform efficiently with a nucleus of skilled officer personnel and through the untiring efforts of all personnel assigned.

The Medical Administration Branch of the Army had a prominent role in the history of Tilton. It performed the many administrative duties necessary in so great an undertaking. During the first two and a half years of the war, a relatively small number of Medical Administrative Corps officers were assigned to Tilton. As more administrative officers became available upon graduation from Officers Candidate School, the number assigned to Tilton greatly increased until 85 were members of the Tilton staff. They relieved Medical Corps officers of a large share of administrative duties, thus giving the doctors more time to spend on their growing professional commitments. However, buy 31 December 1946, the number of medical administrative officers had been reduced to 52.

In January 1947, the average daily patient load of Tilton General Hospital was 4, 277, but as the year progressed, this figure gradually decreased. By the end of 1947, the daily average had dropped to 1, 590 patients and remained at that figure until the end of 1948. The decrease of patients solved many problems caused during peak periods. Among these had been overcrowding of available bed space for patients and limited housing facilities for duty personnel.


In 1949, Tilton General Hospital was redesignated Fort Dix Station Hospital and its functions as a general hospital terminated. Its area of responsibility for service was limited to that of a station hospital. During the next ten years, little change in the status, buildings or staff organization took place. Even during the Korean War, when large numbers of troops were trained on the post, few changes were made in hospital facilities. Buildings and contents were maintained and repaired. But the aging material and equipment gradually became increasingly more difficult to maintain.

However, a significant addition occurred in October 1958. To supplement the post’s Station Hospital complement, the 4th Field Hospital was transferred from Fort Devens to Dix. Activated on 30 June 1942 at Camp Young, California, the 4th Field Hospital was attached to the Desert Training Center and later shipped to north Africa. Arriving in Cairo, Egypt, on 11 November 1942, the unit saw service in Libya, Tripoli, Tunisia and Italy before inactivation on 10 September 1945. Reactivated 5 August 1949, the 4th Field Hospital completed assignments in Colorado, Canada, Alaska and finally Korea. Inactivated a second time on 1 November 1951, the unit was recalled again on 11 February 1952 and sent to Camp Rucker, Alabama. The 4th stayed there for a year before its transfer to Fort Devens, Massachusetts, where it remained until being ordered to Fort Dix.

In March 1946, the Army Service Forces had instituted a basic training program, and Fort Dix, along with its responsibilities as a separation center, was named a Signal Corps Replacement Training Center. Primarily designed to teach military fundamentals to recent inductees who had been assigned military jobs immediately on entering the service, the program included all men who had not received a minimum of six weeks’ basic training.

On a higher training level, a leadership school for enlisted men opened in September 1946. Its purpose was to prepare potential noncommissioned officers for promotion to the top three enlisted grades, which then were master sergeant, technical sergeant and staff sergeant.

The Fort Dix Army Field became an Air Force installation in 1947 when the unification act of that year made the US Air Force a separate department. The modern history of the base began on 17 September 1949, when it was officially dedicated in honor of Major Thomas B. McGuire, Jr., one of the leading fighter aces of World War II. Although McGuire Air Force Base is no longer an integral part of Fort Dix, the sight and sound of jet aircraft in the air over the post are a constant reminder of its presence.

On 15 July 1947, the 9th Infantry Division was reactivated and assumed responsibility for all post activities. With this move, Fort Dix and the 9th Division became one and the same. Units of the division had earned fame in World War I at Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Mouse-Argonne and Alsace-Lorraine. In World War II, the division fought in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sicily, Normandy, Falaise Gap, the Battle of the Bulge, Rhineland and the Ruhr. It spearheaded the breakthrough at St. Lo, earning the nickname “Hitler’s Nemeis.”

While at Dix, the 9th Infantry Division’s primary mission was to train newly enlisted personnel of the Army Field Forces in basic military subjects for a period of 14 weeks.
To provide for the continuing influx of troops, several modifications appeared in the structure of units on the post in 1948. In January, the 364th Infantry Regiment, which had been activated at Dix as part of the 9th Division in November 1947, began to cycle individual companies. In June, the 47th Infantry Regiment, which had been returned to the training picture eight months earlier but remained at zero strength, was named as the 9th Infantry Division Specialist Training Regiment. Its mission was to train mechanics, clerks and cooks. The unit had the capability to train more than 1,700 students at a time. Because of the growing numbers of trainees entering Fort Dix, the division increased to six training regiments in July. Later, in November 1948, the first contingent of New Jersey selectees arrived at Dix under the Selective Service Act of 1948, and in the same month, reenlistments at Fort Dix hit an all-time high.

Meanwhile, for months several hundred acres of woodland that surrounded the airfield at Fort Dix were used for target practice by jet fighter units from Andrews Field, Maryland.
In line with an economy program, Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, was inactivated and its Personnel Center ordered to Dix in 1949. Upon completion of the move, which started 15 November, the center began operations at Dix as a separate headquarters under the commanding general, 9th Infantry Division. However, following the outbreak of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, the Personnel Center closed its activities at Fort Dix and returned in September to a reactivated Fort Kilmer.
Because the Korean War had increased the flow of personnel to the post, the 364thInfantry Regiment, which had been inactive since July 1949, was reactivated at Dix in March 1951 to assist in the training load.

Among the influx of young men reporting to the post were 31 aliens who enlisted in Germany and started basic training at Fort Dix in October 1951 under a rather effective “buddy system.” Upon arrival in their basic training companies, they were assigned to individual trainees who guided and helped them adjust to the American way of life, both in military and in social spheres. In addition, special classes at the Fort Dix Information and Education Center were started in November 1951 to qualify them for citizenship before completion of their enlistments.

During the world tensions of the early 1950s, Fort Dix not only received men in ever increasing numbers but shipped them overseas at a greatly increased rate. Consequently, the installation experimented with a somewhat different overseas replacement concept. Under the system, adopted by the Army in July 1953, trained companies were shipped intact, and once at their new assignments, personnel served together, if possible. It was felt this system would inspire morale, instill men with a higher espirit de corps, and allow them to adjust more easily to overseas conditions.

Earlier, in 1952, President Harry S. Truman announced that men of the Regular Army, Enlisted Reserve and National Guard, whose expiration dates to active service were between 1 July 1952 and 1 July 1953, would be extended for nine months. However, during the closing days of the Korean War, the men were not required to fulfill the entire length of the extension. While some of the men were beginning to serve the extended time, reserve officers from 10 units in New York and New Jersey arrived at Dix in July 1952 to start a 15-day period of Organized Reserve Corps schooling. The schools were established for officers who desired to fulfill their summer camp obligation but for whom no vacancies existed in reserve organizations. 

During the closing months of the Korean War starting in April 1953, the number of authorized permanent party personnel with the 9th Infantry Division was increased by almost 350. The Food Service School at Dix enlarged and became the only school of its kind in the First Army area. Immediately, the number of students in this course doubled. Later in October, personnel increased again when the Reception Center at Fort Devens and Camp Kilmer were discontinued and reestablished at Fort Dix.

The basic training mission of Dix further expanded in July when it began to train men scheduled to attend such schools as transportation, quartermaster, chemical and adjutant general. Previously, most men slated for specialty schools of this type received their initial training at the posts that conducted the schools. For example, a soldier going to the Transportation School at Fort Eustis, Virginia, went there directly from a reception center to receive eight weeks of basic training before starting school. Under the revised procedure, a soldier would first come to Dix, complete his basic training, and then be shipped to Fort Eustis. This change insured greater training efficiency and proved more economical.

An important change took place at Dix in April 1954. The 9th Infantry Division was transferred to US Army Europe (USAREUR) to become part of the European Command. The transfer was strictly on paper, the movement of personnel was not involved. At the same time, the 69th Infantry Division was activated at Dix by the Department of the Army. All personnel and organic units previously assigned to the 9th Infantry Division were redesigned and assigned to the 69th Infantry Division.
Originally activated in May 1943, the 69th Division was assigned to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and then sent overseas to the European Theater of Operations in November 1944. Entering combat in the Morichau sector under V Corps of the Fifteenth US Army, the division helped crack the Siegfried Line in that area. On 25 April 1945, the 69th made the war’s first American contact with the Russians at the Elbe River.

In May 1954, the 365th Infantry Regiment was reactivated to assist in training and an expected increased number of inductees assigned to fort Dix due to the stepped-up summer draft and closing down of several other training installations. The 69th Infantry Division was tasked to conduct basic and advanced individual training. Training was divided into two phases, the first, eight weeks of basic combat training and then advanced individual training, qualifying soldiers in Army skills. The second phase of training was divided into two distinct groups, advanced and technical. Trainees assigned to advanced infantry training were molded into well-disciplined, physically conditioned soldiers with sufficient military training to enable them to be integrated into coordinated teams, such as rifle squads, mortar crews or machine gun squads. Trainees assigned to advanced technical training attended one of a variety of schools: administration, supply, bandsman, mechanic, radio operator or cook.

During the year the 69th was reactivated at Dix, the post was the site of several important raining methods research projects. In January, more than 1,000 trainees were involved in a six-month Department of the Army study aimed at discovering more efficient procedures for improving the Army’s basic training program. Several companies of the 47th Infantry Regiment were chosen for the study.

Dix was named one of six posts during February 1954 to organize transitional training units for inductees who in civilian life did not have the chance to raise their education above the fourth-grade level. Men in these transitional units were given two to four weeks of schooling preceding their basic training. This schooling further increased the men’s capacity to assimilate the basic training program.
According to the installation newspaper, the Fort Dix Post, 63 percent more soldiers completed basic training during Fiscal Year 1954, which ended 30 June 1954, than the previous year. But there was more to come. Fort Dix had a November 1954 population of more than 40,000, of which 25,000 were basic trainees in 74 companies. In addition, approximately 3,000 were taking specialized training in various schools. The largest input for any peacetime month occurred at the Reception Station during January 1955, when 8,910 processed into the Army. Of these, 4,310 were draftees, 4, 346 first team regulars; and the remainder enlisted reservists. The busiest day was 28 January, when 717 recruits filled the station – 554 enlisting for service as the Korean GI Bill deadline neared.

In the meantime, a radically different concept to replace major overseas units had been adopted by the Department of the Army in 1954. Dubbed “Operation Gyroscope,” entire overseas divisions and separate smaller units were replaced by like units stationed in the States. To meet the manpower requirements of these units destined for overseas, a great number of personnel was shuttled within the Continental Army Command.

Nine hundred trainees shipped from the Reception Station at Fort Dix to the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, during the first week of February 1955. The shipment of trainees brought the total number of off-post shipments since the first of this year to more than 3,500. Earlier, January shipments had gone to the 10th Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas; 101st Airborne Division, Fort Jackson, South Carolina; and the 5th Armored Division, Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. The 10th Division, after receiving additional Dix shipments in March and May, later was transferred to Germany, replacing the 1st Infantry Division.

Late in May, the input of the Reception Station dropped about 30 percent, and only four instead of the normal eight Fort Dix basic training companies began to cycle each week. The deceased number of trainees coming through the center resulted from a cut of Selective Service calls. The nation’s draft call dropped from an average of about 23,000 per month to 11,000, decreasing Fort Dix’ monthly training load of draftees from 4,500 to 2,500. However, the number of enlistees received and trained at the post each month remained at 1,500.

The 331st Military Police (Criminal Investigation) Detachment, which had been at Dix since March 1951, was transferred to Fort Smith, Arkansas, in February 1955. The 40th Military Police Detachment (CI), a unit that would stay at Dix until its reassignment to Vietnam in August 1965, was activated in its place.

The Fort Dix Noncommissioned Officers Academy opened its first class on 23 May 1955. Designed to train noncommissioned officers as cadre and junior leaders, the six-week course offered refresher or preparatory training to its classes. The first four weeks consisted of academic study and the final two weeks practical training in a unit.

When first activated, personnel of the NCO Academy, which included students in the Advanced Leaders Course, were housed in the 879th Field Artillery Battalion of the 69th Infantry Division Artillery. In retraining top three-graders, who were in over strength noncombatant fields, to a combat military occupational specialty. The next month, the NCO Academy was placed under supervision of the Specialist Training Regiment.

Meanwhile, it was announced that Camp Kilmer’s Personnel Center activities would shift to Fort Dix around the first of July 1955. Making the move to Fort Dix gradually and without a massive influx of personnel, the center took over areas formerly occupied by the inactivated 271st and 273rdInfantry Regiments.

The move of the 1264th Service unite from Camp Kilmer started on 18 June 1955, as 128 officers, 15 warrant officers and 1,083 enlisted men arrived at Dix on a permanent change of station. With the move, Fort Dix’ 1299th Service Unit was disbanded and its personal and activities made a part of the 1264th. While at Camp Kilmer, the 1264th had processed men en route to Europe and the Caribbean, received returning troops from those areas, and processed them for leave, reassignment or separation. The same missions remained with the unit while at Dix. The move to inactivate Kilmer, a temporary World War II camp near New Brunswick, New Jersey, was expected to save the Army about $1,400,000 with manpower reduced by 1,150 military and 400 civilian personnel.

In July 1955, Dix transferred approximately 1,000 operating personnel to the 74th Infantry Regimental Combat Team at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. The move was made in an attempt to bring all general reserve unites in the First Army area to full strength and combat readiness.

Early in January 1956, Department of the Army issued orders directing major units and installations to reclassify or retrain enlisted personnel in the top three grades (master sergeants, sergeants first class and sergeants) holding military occupation specialties in excess of the Army’s needs. The Armywide program transferred thousands of NCOs into the combat arms, e.g., infantry artillery, armor. At Fort Dix this reclassification affected administrative and military police NCOs and specialists. In line with this action to balance skills with requirements in the upper pay grades, the top three specialist grades, whose military functions were in the excess category, had an opportunity to regain noncommissioned officer status by volunteering for a number of critical specialties. Volunteers for the critical fields were either retrained or reclassified administratively if their previous training or experience qualified them for another job.

With the weeding out of excess personnel, a reorganization of the post’s Service Troops, 1262ndArea Service Unit, went into effect on 16 January 1956. The major change was the redesignation of two detachments and the discontinuance of two others.

Under the reorganization, Service Troops consisted of a Headquarters Company, a Faculty Detachment, the 69th Military Police Company and a WAC Detachment. Two other units were attached to the 1st Battalion – the 40th Military Police Detachment (CI) and the 19th Finance Disbursing Section, included in the 2nd Battalion were a Headquarters Company, 69th Replacement Company, first US Army Training Aids Subcenter, 1195th Service Unit, 664th Ordinance Company (Ammunition) and the 553rd Ordnance Detachment (Explosive Ordnance Demolition). Under a separate organization, and on a battalion level was the Post Stockade. The 716th Military Police Battalion, which was assigned to Vietnam in early 1965, and the 86th Engineer Battalion, a unit that remained on post until embarkation for Vietnam in September 1966, also were subordinate units of Service Troops.

This organizational structure, however, was short-lived, for in April 1956 another change occurred in Service Troops as the two battalion headquarters and their detachments were discontinued. All subordinate units, regardless of size, were placed directly under the commanding officer of Service Troops.

Shipments of recruits to Dix dropped off sharply and “Operation Gyroscope<’ which sent many men from induction centers in the East directly to the 8th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. Because of the basic training reduction at Fort Dix, gradual suspension of training activities was ordered in February 1956 as each company of the 272nd Infantry ended its cycle. After the March closure of the unit, the 364th and 365th Infantry Regiments assumed the full training load.

Meanwhile, on 16 March 1956, all Army training center divisions, including the 69th Infantry Division at Fort Dix, surrendered their numerical designations. On this date, the Army installations at Wrightstown became the United States Army Training Center, Infantry, Fort Dix, New Jersey, and the 69th was inactivated. 

The change in terminology provided a designation that clearly indicated the center’s basic mission of training, and in no way affected the strength of the post. The three training regiments took on other numerical designations, with the 365th becoming the 1st Training Regiment, the 364th and 2ndTraining Regiment, and the 272nd and 3rd Training Regiment Operation of common specialist courses was taken over by the Specialist Training Regiment. In July 1957, because of the increased number of recruits to arrive on the post, the 4th Training Regiment was formally activated. The increase was partly due to an added option of the Reserve Forces Act of 1956k - - the six-month program for reservists and guardsmen. A new era had begun at Fort Dix earlier in August 1956 when the first Reserve Forces Act trainees arrived to start basic training. The initial figure of 315 men arriving that month was greatly multiplied during the ensuing years as the six-month program grew in popularity and scope.

Meanwhile, a welfare committee was organized at Fort Dix in July 1957 to study and eliminate local regulations found to be unnecessary and particularly irritating to officers, enlisted men, and their dependents. The committee was established to implement an order issued to all installations in the First US Army area. According to the order, the committee must pay “special attention to those directives which are irksome and tend to take the joy out of life in the military service.” It was thought these unnecessary regulations seriously impaired the reenlistment program and that young officers were returning to civilian life for more enjoyable and rewarding careers.

Previously, in April 1956, the post’s NCO Advisory Council had been established. Its main function was to serve as a means of presenting to the commanding general problems, suggestions and recommendations concerning the welfare of enlisted men. Later, in November 1956, the First Army commander had directed installation commanders to take vigorous action to cut down on the high rate of resignations among junior officers by assigning these officers to duties commensurate with their rank, experience and educational background. Typical of the problems such committees considered were the allocation of post housing and excessive requirements to sign certificates indicating completion of a responsibility. Married personnel received special consideration from the committee.
Fort Dix was chosen in October 1957 by the Department of the Army to test the formation of “carrier companies,” which were shipped overseas intact upon completion of advanced military training. The companies were built around four-man teams, whose members were chosen by common backgrounds. Although the companies were sometimes dismantled upon arrival overseas, the teams normally remained intact.

An important phase of today’s basic training requirements originated in June 1958. Introduced for the first time was a training area called “Proficiency Park,” where basic trainees were tested on subjects they had learned during the previous weeks. The part placed trainees in an environment similar to the subject matter, such as barbed wire enclosure to simulate a miniature prison and a station to test aptitude with weapons. Each of the 15 stations at Proficiency Park was as realistic as possible.

A revised and accelerated eight-week basic combat training program returning bayonet and hand-to-hand combat instruction to the trainee was reintroduced to Fort Dix in January 1959. While the length of the cycle was not extended, the hours were readjusted to place greater stress on fundamentals of military training. Emphasis was placed on motivational training, in history and traditions of the Army and country.

Also stressed was increased proficiency in the use of weapons, drill and ceremonies and the physical fitness program. Tactical training, including anti-guerilla warfare, anti-infiltration warfare, and camouflage and concealment, was condensed into 14 hours. This enabled recruits to spend more time, from eight to 16 hours, on marching and tactical bivouac training. Dismounted drill (today known as Army drill) also was emphasized when training in the subject increased from 16 to 25 hours.
Because of disturbing reports concerning reports concerning poor marksmanship per volume of fire in World War II and Korea, Continental Army Command officials in 1953 began studying proposals to revive rifle training in the interest of realism and motivation.


It was noted during the Korean War that as many as 50,000 rounds were expended for every enemy casualty. The study resulted in the Trainfire system, which later became the Army’s Basic Rifle Marksmanship Course, replacing the Known Distance (KD) system. Under the old concept, a soldier would fire at a standard bull’s-eye from distances of 100, 200, 300 and 500 yards – which was great for precision shooting but not for combat practice. The combat-type silhouette Trainfire targets of the new system were concealed in woods and seen only fleetingly. Electrically operated, they popped up unpredictably at ranges from 50 to 350 meters.

The first part of the four-phase program was the 60-point and 110-point, 25-meter range. Without the aid of slings, trainees fired at semi-circular bull’s-eyes from sitting, kneeling and standing positions immediately after learning each position.  The next part was the 35-point, filed firing range. Here the trainee fired at silhouette targets, which popped up in full view at 75, 175 and 300 meters. The third area of instruction was target detection in which trainees scanned the woods for concealed human targets that they detected by sight, movement and sound. The final phase was the 16-point, record-fire range which tested the trainee’s ability to use the instruction received during phases two and three. 

This 480-meter firing line simulated an actual combat firing line. Each firer was responsible for concealed pop-up targets in a 30-meter wide sector. Sixty-four first-round hits on 112 targets qualified a firer as an expert.

Construction of the Trainfire ranges at Fort Di began late in 1958, and they were ready for use on 11 May 1959. Located along Range Road, the ranges were from five to eight miles from the post headquarters. Trainfire permitted an eight-hour reduction in rifle training and saved man-hours by eliminating pit details. When all of the programmed ranges were in operation, five companies could be handled each week with no problem.

Between the years 1952 and 1959, the 1387th Replacement Company underwent several redesignations before assuming its present nomenclature. In 1952, the unit was designated 9thReplacement Company, 9th Infantry Division, only to be renamed two years later the 69thReplacement Company, 69th Division. It remained the 69th until 1956 when it was redesignated Replacement Company, United States Army Training Center, Infantry. The year 1959 saw the unit renamed Replacement Company (1387-1), USATC, Infantry.

The 60th Explosive Ordinance Disposal Squad was activated 27 January 1952 at Raritan Arsenal, Metuchen, New Jersey. On 15 March, shortly after completing basic unit training, the squad moved to Fort Dix, where it was attached to Detachment 13, 1262nd Area Supporting Unit. On 8 March 1954, the 60th took on an added duty of providing explosive ordinance disposal support for Burlington County as well as Fort Dix. In June 1954, the unit was reorganized and its name changed to the 60th Ordnance Detachment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal).

As Fort Dix gained in importance as a training center, a considerable amount of capital improvement was undertaken. In September 1945, a post-war utilization study of Fort Dix by the Office of Chief of Engineers concluded that the post was considered “satisfactory for post-war retention.” The report noted that major improvements considered essential to maintain a permanent active installation with a strength of 25,015 men would include installation of concrete curbs and sidewalks and drainage structure as part of soil erosion control. Bridges needed to be strengthened and roads improved. The cost of providing permanent troop barracks, housing for married officers and NCOs, and remodeling of existing mobilization-type billets for post-war use was estimated to be in the neighborhood of $16 million. At that time, 90 percent of the post’s facilities had been constructed hastily during World War II and were of a temporary nature, made of wood and not meant to last more than five years. But with diligent maintenance, the five years were stretched to 20 and today many still are being used.

In the early post-World War II era, Fort Dix was bustling with activities of the Separation Center, Reception Center, and the training of new troops. But little construction activity took place. During the summer and fall of 1945, five tent areas housing 11,000 men were used. By the end of the year, the Separation Center included 223 World War II temporary barracks, 333 hutments, and 142 other buildings.

Other signs of the times were apparent at Dix as the old began to give way to the new. The Fort Dix narrow-gauge railroad, which had been constructed during World War I to move troops to the firing ranges and used during World War II, was retired from service after its last run in 1945. This miniature railroad was considered too costly to repair and maintain.

In October 1948, the Army attacked the housing shortage at Fort Dix by proposing construction of permanent facilities for both training and permanent party. The Army wanted to replace existing wooden barracks with permanent structures. The old barracks not only lacked comfort but required costly rehabilitation every few years. The new barracks, it was decided, should offer reasonable privacy, with troop bays divided into “units” of four to eight persons each. Existing open barracks housed 52 or more persons.

Nest to be considered was construction of sufficient permanent quarters for officers and senior NCOs. More than 700 officers had been forced to live off post, some as far as 65 miles away. More than 100 families of officers and enlisted men were living on post in trailers. Aside from new construction, the program called for a general rehabilitation and modernization of facilities then in use.

During the Korean War, actual construction began on new barracks and homes and continued at a rapid pace. An additional 398 family units were provide in June 1951 by converting unused facilities of the old Station Hospital (Tilton Annex) to accommodate enlisted personnel and their dependents. In addition, in the fall of 1951, natural gas came into use for kitchen appliances and water heaters, replacing coal. While only in the testing stage, utilization of gas was studied carefully for possible post-wide use.

To meet the continuing need to relieve crowded housing conditions caused by the swelling military population, Department of the Army authorized the addition of 300 family quarters for married personnel at Dix. These homes, built in the northwest sector of Fort Dix in the vicinity of Hanover Homes under the Wherry Housing Act, were opened for assignment to post personnel with families in February 1952. The Wherry complex, known as Sheridanville, was named after Private First Class Carl V. Sheridan, who was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving in Germany in 1944 with Company K of the 47th Infantry Regiment. Private Sheridan was killed while making the final assault on Frenzenburg Castle, Weisweiler, Germany, on 26 November 1944. As a bazooka gunner, Sheridan advanced alone under constant fire across the castle courtyard to the drawbridge entrance. There he calmly blasted the great oak door by firing three bazooka shells into it. As a final gesture he beckoned to his comrades to follow and charge through the opened entrance. Although his .45 cal. pistol was blasting, he was cut down by enemy fire that greeted him.

Other construction completed during the early ‘50s included a new officers open mess, a new fire headquarters, a civilian personnel building and a 21-classroom school for dependents, near the junction of the Juliustown Road and the Pemberton-Pointville Road.

In December 1952, construction of garden apartments at Fort Dix was completed, and 300 units became available to military families. This development, constructed under provisions of the Wherry Housing Act and named Nelson Courts, is located on Lexington Avenue between Sheridanville and the warehouse and railroad siding.

In 1955, Nelson Courts was dedicated in honor of Sergeant William L. Nelson, who had been posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery during World War II. Sergeant Nelson was mortally wounded at Djebel Daydys, northeast of Sedjenance, Tunisia, on 24 April 1943. Nelson had led his section of heavy mortars to a forward position. He then crawled alone to an advance observation point and directed a concentrated mortar barrage that repulsed the initial enemy counterattack. After sustaining a mortal wound during that action he advanced to another observation position and directed additional mortar barrages. He died only 50 yards from the enemy.

The problem of housing during the Fifties was an ever-present one. In December 1956, construction of a bachelor officers’ quarters on the corner of Maryland Avenue and West First Street was completed. Four hundred Wherry family units also were completed in 1956, taken over by the Army, and paid for by occupants from their monthly rental allowances. This project, known as Kennedy Courts, is located northeast of the post school in the area bounded by West 17th Street, New Jersey Avenue, Juliustown Road and Pemberton-Pointville Road. It was named in honor of Major General Case W. Kennedy, the first commanding general of Camp Dix and commander of the 78th “Lightning” Division when it was mobilized at Dix in August 1917.

Three years later, a 702-unit Capehart duplex housing development, located in a triangular section between the Pemberton-Pointville Road and Juliustown Road, to the rear of the post school, was completed. The 702 units, together with 90 company grade officers’ quarters and 100 NCO quarters were constructed earlier, brought to 892 the total number of units in the development. This complex, known as Garden Terrace, was the last housing project prior to 1960.

Meanwhile, during the middle Fifties, Fort Dix began a long-range troop housing project under the Military Construction Army (MCA) Program. Twenty-seven permanent barracks with mess facilities were constructed in two different complexes, as part of $31 million expansion program. Included were 11 barracks between Alabama Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, which are now occupied by Special Troops, its attached units, and Committee Groups.

The second complex includes 16 permanent company-sized barracks and a motor pool along Texas Avenue, currently occupied by the 1st Advanced Individual Training Brigade. Each dormitory-type barracks in the two complexes houses a complete company, equipped with a game room, stereo room and TV lounge. The barracks offer a greater degree of privacy to the soldier than the old open barracks. Platoons are housed in bays, which are divided into eight-man cubicles. Banks of wall lockers divide the bay down the center. 

In 1955, a $3.1 million improvement program to modernize 181 temporary wooden barracks at Dix took place. Automatic heating and hot water systems were among the improvements.

The construction of other capital structures during the latter half of the Fifties accounts for several of today’s large buildings. In October 1956, the quartermaster administration building, which now houses the clothing store, was completed. In addition to its normal stock of military attire, the store services the First US Army area for WAC uniforms.

In August 1956, groundbreaking took place for the Lakeside Service Club in the 1stTraining Regiment Area at Nashville and Tennessee Avenue. Dedicated 22 November 1957, the 27,000-square-foot, air-conditioned structure included all up-to-date service club facilities. At the same time, ground was broken for the $322,000 John S. Marshall Dental Clinic, which was opened 7 June 1958. The Main Post Exchange on New York Avenue was completed in October 1957. Another 60-man bachelor officers’ quarters was constructed at Maryland Avenue and First Street. Holly Crest, a development of 17 family housing units for colonels, and Grove Park, family housing area for 66 lieutenant colonels, also were built in 1957 and 1958. Groundbreaking for the new modern 500-bed Walson Army Hospital took place on 18 February 1957. Completed in 1960, this nine-story structure originally contained a gross floor area of 327,820 square feet.


In August 1959, a newly constructed theater with seating capacity of 1,004 was dedicated to the memory of First Lieutenat Karl H. Timmerman, Infantry. The air-conditioned theater contained the largest stereophonic and cinemascope facilities, plus a large stage completely equipped for live performances.

Lieutenant Timmermann had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his action at Remagen Bridge, Germany, 7 March 1945. During the action he was commander of Company A, 27th Armored Infantry Battalion, 9th Armored Division. Timmermann’s leadership was instrumental in Company A securing Ramagen Bridge, the first bridge over the Rhine River to fall into Allied hands. He received little personal publicity, though much has been given to capture of the bridge and its strategic consequences.

In The Battle at Ramagen, Ken Hechler vividly relates Lieutenant Timmermann’s heroic efforts and lack of national recognition. To quote in part from the final chapter: “The first officer across the Rhine, Lieutenant Karl Timmermann, returned to his hometown of West Point, Nebraska, after the war, a lone figure trudging into town with his barracks bag slung over his shoulder. His reception committee consisted of one little dog who snarled and snapped at his heels. The silence was oppressive. Lieutenant Timmermann rejoined the Army in 1948, fought in the Inchon Invasion of Korea, but then cancer struck him down and he died in an Army hospital in 1951. West Point, Nebraska, has no tablet to his memory. 1 (Kenneth W. Hechler, The Bridge at Remagen, pp. 189-190)
In the way of range facilities, 11 small arms ranges, three projectile ranges, and a Trainfire range were built during the post-war era and 1950s.

In March 1953 a new moonlight firing range, the first of its type to be built in the United States, was placed in operation at Dix. The range was created to train soldiers to fire accurately at night under simulated battle conditions. An automatic electronic firing course, including stationary and moving targets, was put into operation in May 1953 on Range 1A, the small arms night marksmanship range. The 1959 construction of the first Trainfire range marked the beginning of the Army’s Basic Rifle Marksmanship Course, which replaced the Know Distance system.

Much of the post maintenance and construction was handled by the 86th Engineer Battalion, a unit that supported engineering requirements of the First US Army. Assigned to Dix in March 1954, the 86th was stationed here until September 1966, when it left for Vietnam. During its 12 years at Dix, the unit constructed and maintained the post’s ranges and repaired utilities.

In September 1954, two companies from the 86th, then a construction battalion, saved the Army more than $100,000 by building two ranges themselves instead of contracting for outside firms to do the job. Not only were the ranges built for less money than was originally estimated, they also were finished in record time. In 1956, the battalion gained recognition by rapidly refurbishing Camp Kilmer for use by Hungarian Revolt refugees.

The 15 years after World War II saw the building of 48 storage facilities and warehouses, two dispensaries, 17 administration buildings, approximately 2,000 family housing units, 20 detached garages, 27 troop barracks with messes, and other miscellaneous projects and major structures already mentioned.

Not the least to be recognized was creation of the giant, charging infantryman known as “The Ultimate Weapon,” who stands tall in Infantry Park across the street from Timmerman Theater. The 3,000-pound statute of a foot soldier in action was unveiled by General Bruce C. Clarke, commander of Continental Army Command, on 20 March 1959.

The statute was created by two soldier-sculptors, Specialist Four Steven M. Goodman and Private First Class Stuart J. Scherr of Headquarters Company, Specialist Training Regiment, who worked for nine months to create The Ultimate Weapon from a photograph and an 18-inch clay model. They were assisted by Private Emilio V. Gamba and Theodore Dittmer, both of the same unit. The statue memorializes the modern infantryman in attack and stands 14 foot tall. On its 11-foot pedestal is inscribed, The Ultimate Weapon – The Infantryman.” Statistics of The Ultimate Weapon statue note a 13-inch broad forehead, a 40-inch neck, a 90-inch chest, 56-inch arms, 70-inch waste and six-foot legs. He carries 185 pounds of combat equipment, including a six-foot M-14 rifle and ammunition. This Fort Dix landmark honors infantry soldiers past and present.

The 1950s saw much of the construction that transformed Fort Dix into a permanent concrete post. However, this changeover still is not completed, and it may be left to the decade of the Seventies to see it finished.

During the Fifties, Fort Dix headquarters made greater efforts to encourage those who wished to improve their education. Opportunities for schooling were improved and library facilities enlarged.

In June 1950 plans were made to open an extension of Rutgers University at Fort Dix. Rutgers agreed to organize and conduct a program of schooling in liberal arts and business administration. Open to all Fort Dix personnel, excluding trainees, classes started in September 1950. To further the cause of advanced education on the post, it was announced in September 1956 that Temple University of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, would offer extension courses in education, investments and mental hygiene at the Army Education Center.

In support of the post’s expanding educational program, a Special Services Post Library had been opened in the fall of 1950. It was located in former Chapel #6 on Pennsylvania Avenue, which had been redecorated and furnished with the latest library equipment. The early Post Library offered more than 15,000 volumes, with thousands more in various branch units throughout the post. By 1956, the entire Post Library system contained 50,000 volumes. A system of bookmobiles supplied patients in Fort Dix Station Hospital wards with books. The library provided its avid readers with 56 newspapers plus magazines and duplicate subscriptions that numbered 386. Twelve hundred classical and light classical phonograph records were available for listening.

The Post Library moved its facilities on 15 August 1957 across from the old chapel site to a renovated building, which it continues to occupy. The new site, located next to the current Pennsylvania Avenue bowling alley, comprised 10,500 square feet and could seat 200 persons. It includes a music room, catalog room, reference room, MOS library, three administration offices and the main book shelf area. Branch libraries also were opened during the post-war period.

Besides libraries, Special Services operated various other facilities for the relaxation of troops, including service clubs, hobby shops and movie theaters. During the 1950s, service club facilities were improved and increased. Four Dix service clubs were completely refurnished and redecorated in 1955, and the new Lakeside Services Club (mentioned previously) was built in 1957. The clubs, enhanced by a pleasant atmosphere, provided television viewing rooms, music rooms with phonograph and musical instruments, games, writing desks, typewriters, branches of the post library, and a snack bar. During one quarter alone in 1955, the four older clubs handled 194,000 visiting civilians and soldiers.

Other forms of Special Services entertainment for soldiers included traveling showmen who performed in the Sports Arena or one of the theaters. Some of the entertainers were Louis Prima and his orchestra, Jimmy Dorsey’s orchestra, featuring vocalist Eleanor Powell; Dorothy Collins, the sweetheart of Lucky Strike’s “Your Hit Parade”: the famous television personality, Dagmar; number of others. Guy Lombardo and his orchestra; Blue Barron and his orchestra; Stan Kenton’s orchestra; and a number of others.

With the growing number of privately owned vehicles on post, mechanically inclined military personnel at Dix on 1 May 1957, with the opening of a Special Services six-bay Automobile Crafts Shop for use by Dix military personnel. Mechanics were present at the Special Services shop to advise and instruct car owners in the repair of their vehicles. The car owners, however, did their own work, and tools and equipment for all minor repairs were loaned in the shop. In addition, wash racks, grease pits and an outside ramp were available to Dix-stationed personnel. By 1967, an average of 2,500 car buffs made use of the facility monthly.

For those on the post with a spark of creativity, a Special Services Arts and Crafts Center, with 18,600 square feet of floor space, was opened in June 1959. With the opening, personnel discovered the center as a haven for creative activity, and novice craftsmen attended the center each evening. Before trying their hands at one of the crafts, most soldiers visited the center out of curiosity. Many stayed to develop unsuspected talents. Some cut and polished semi-precious stones to give as jewelry to wives or friends. Others tooled leather, made enameled jewelry, printed on textiles, spun potter’s wheels, built model airplanes, developed and enlarged film, painted, worked with wood and power tools, and repaired car radios and television sets.

Visitors entered the huge workshop through a lobby and gallery showplace for soldier art and photography. The gallery was softly lit in contrast to the flouorescent lighting of the main workroom, where benches, cabinets, pottery kilns and show cases were grouped by activity.

Operated by a full-time staff of soldiers and civilians and a few part-time instructors, the opening of the crafts center was fulfillment of an idea that began in 1942 when Special Services and Dr. Boris Blau of the Tyler Art School, Temple University of Philadelphia, organized an Arts and Crafts Center at Dix to sere men facing or returning from World War II combat. In a letter received for dedication of the center on 11 June 1959, Dr. Blau wrote that the idea for a certain center born at Dix was later adopted in many hospitals and centers for the Armed Forces. He expressed his happiness that the idea did not perish as evidenced by the dedication of the Fort Dix Arts and Crafts Center.

During the late Fifties and early Sixties, for movie theaters operated on post, including the modern Timmermann Theater. These theaters were open each night with frequent changes of first-run movies.
Post Exchange facilities expanded to include today’s main exchange, which was constructed in 1957. 
The PX, similar to any civilian department store, adequately served the needs of post personnel. 

Earlier, in March 1955, more than 300 families in storm-flooded New Jersey coastal areas were evacuated from their homes to safe havens by 22 artillerymen and five amphibious vehicles from Fort Dix’ 9th Infantry Division. They were dispatched to the disaster areas of Sea Bright, Keansburg and the Highlands were more than 1,000 persons were stranded by high waters. While operators were quickly drenched in near-freezing rain and lashed by bitter winds, the huge Army DUKW amphibious vehicles covered more than 30 miles of open highway, stopping at Fort Mamouth, where they were dispatched to the flooded areas to rescue marooned families from their homes.
Again, in mid-December 1953, 24 men were alerted for a similar mission. However, the new storm narrowly missed the north Jersey coast, and the men were not needed.

Fort Dix, together with other First US Army units, supplied food, equipment and rescue teams on 20-21 August 1955 to aid civilian communities on the eastern seaboard hit by the worst floods in years. Directly responsible for rescuing scores of flood victims were two amphibious rescue teams from the 69th Division Artillery. Consisting of two DUKW’s each, the teams operated in the upstream Delaware area of Pennsylvania – around Doylestown and Upper Black Eddy – and the western part of Trenton.

In addition to the active part played by Dix troops, the post supplied hundreds of blankets, mattresses and cots to the stricken of an area extending from Camden, New Jersey to Lambertville on the upper Delaware River. Trucks also rushed 1,000 cases of C-rations to Hartford, Connecticut, for emergency feeding of flood victims. Fort Dix, together with other First US Army units, won high commendation from General Maxwell D. Taylor, Army chief of staff, for its part in disaster relief work during the floods.

A black Friday the 13th weekend struck the area in July 1956. Fort Dix troops speedily responded to emergencies, which included the crash of an Air Force MATS C-118 in the southwest area of the post during the afternoon and a freak storm which shook the northeast corner of Fort Dix Saturday afternoon.

The plane crash, which took 45 lives and injured 21 others, was responded to by alert troops, medics, military policemen and Fort Dix volunteers, all of whom abandoned weekend plans to offer aid in the tragedy.

Another mishap occurred the next afternoon when a freak storm hit the area of the Fort Dix Bus Station, then located just inside the post entrance at Wrightstown. Swooping down on the terminal, the wind caught a portion of the roof hurling it into Fort Dix Street and causing considerable damage. Several power lines were snapped in the area and a number of drivers trapped in their vehicles until the current could be turned off. Post officials coordinated with the mayor of Wrightstown and state police to render necessary aid. Military police were called on to reroute traffic around the blowdown. Luckily, only a few civilians and no military personnel were injured.

DR. JONAS E. SALK – 1946-1954

Dr. Jonas E. Salk, who gained world fame with his discovery of polio vaccine, headed extensive field studies at Fort Dix from 1946 until 1954. He is credited by medical authorities with a major contribution to the Army’s battle against influenza. As director of a commission on influenza, Dr. Salk tested the preventive effect of several types of influenza vaccine on hundreds of soldiers.

After months of research and complex laboratory tests, the Salk Commission, in close cooperation with the Fort Dix Army Health Center medical staff, was successful in finding a most effective combination of tested influenza vaccines now in use throughout the Armed Forces. While directing the development of better vaccine in cooperation with the Fort Dix research program, Dr. Salk also carried on his research for a polio vaccine. As success in this field came within reach, the Army released him from his contract as a consultant to the Surgeon General’s Office, and, in July 1954, the influenza study was transferred to Columbia University.

The war against mosquitoes, initiated at Fort Dix in August 1953, reduced the number of winged nuisances by more than 85 percent, in addition to reducing the mosquito population in neighboring communities. To control mosquitoes at Dix, a team operation was necessary. First, the Preventive Medicine Service conducted insect surveys. Light traps were used nightly during the breeding season to check the types and numbers of mosquitoes in different areas of the post. Once the breeding sites were located, the Insect and Rodent Control Section of the post engineer was called to move in with powerful insecticides. The engineers then eliminated trouble spots by filling in water holes, draining ditches and clearing the underbrush.

Best evidence of the campaign’s success was offered by mosquito “traps.” During a check in 1952, the Post Surgeon’s Office said each trap had netted more than 11 mosquitoes on an average night. The 1954 average was one and a half. 

An episode charged with suspense took place on 4 November 1955, when Dix demolition experts of the 60th Ordnance Detachment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) were called to Raritan Beach, South Amboy, New Jersey. Their mission was to remove 164 anti-personnel mines jeopardizing the safety of Raritan Beach. These mines were remnants of a tremendous ammunition explosion five years earlier. They had been buried into shallow water and covered over by shifting sands. They remained hidden until November 1955, when the sea uncovered them. The mines were gently placed in a truck and taken on an extremely hazardous journey back to Fort Dix where they were exploded.

In 1955, as part of a nationwide move to strengthen civil defense units, the explosive ordnance units of Fort Dix conducted a series of lectures for 66 civilian plant safety and security officers from 59 New Jersey industries. The purpose was to develop a nucleus of explosive ordnance reconnaissance (EOR) agents. During an aerial attack, their job would be to spot and report any missiles with time fuses or duds that might land on or around their factories.

During the Fifties, Fort Dix displayed its community spirit annually with participation in the Community Chest fund raising campaign. Contributions by troops and personnel, plus fund raising events featuring famous entertainers, raised $100,000 each year.


The post’s public image was further enhanced during the Fifties by the appearance of Dix personnel on various television programs. In 1955, the all-soldier chorus of the 69th Infantry Division Band and frequently on Gary Moore’s TV show. In addition, the 69th Infantry Division Band, plus the all-soldier chorus, performed several times on Ed Sullivan’s national TV show “Toast of the Town.” The 69th Infantry Division Demonstration Platoon inactivated in December 1955, also performed on national TV several times.

In March 1956, the “Fort Dix TV Show” celebrated its second anniversary. The program was televised over station WFIL-TV, Philadelphia, on time donated by the station as a public service. The show featured musical entertainment and demonstrations furnished by Fort Dix. The year 1957 saw Fort Dix entries dominate the all-Army entertainment competition, with the winner appearing on the Ed Sullivan TV show.

During the post-war era and Fifties, Fort Dix reflected the new role of the United States as a responsible world military power. America, confronted by a cold war, was not allowed to disband her military might and retreat again into isolation. Thus, Fort Dix did not stagnate into the ghost town it had been after the Great War of ’17-18.

The US needed a large standing Army, and Dix became a permanent training center to help provide the necessary troops. By 1960, Dix’ role as a concrete and steel training center was accepted as a vital 20th Century institution. At the close of the Fifties, Fort Dix had lost much of its make-shift World War II appearance. A smoothly operated training machine, it reacted as a seismograph to every tremor in the East-West shift of power. 

Chapter X – The Sixties

From the first months of the Sixties, it was apparent Fort Dix would develop at a pace even greater than that of the previous decade.

One international crisis after another, in which the United States was involved, convinced the nation of the great necessity for a strong and ready Armed Force. Just two years before the Sixties, on request of Lebanese President Chamoun, US forces were ordered to occupy parts of that Middle East nation.
On 1 January 1959, President Batista fled Cuba, and revolutionist Fidel Castro began to communize that island, only 90 miles from the US. In 1960, a series of coups in the former Indo-Chinese country of Laos troubled the US government, resulting in significant increases of US aid and advisors to that nation. Again nearby in Cuba, the ill-fated Bay of Pigs fiasco on 17 April 1961 stunned the American people.
The “Berlin Crisis” in 1961 and the Cuban missile confrontation of 1962 brought the United States and Soviet Union face-to-face. In late 1962, the US provided massive support to India after its invasion by Communist China. Every ripple in the waters of the Cold War placed significant demands on the US Armed Forces, including Fort Dix, which was responsible for providing its share of any soldiers required.


Also in 1962, developments in South Vietnam reached a stage in which US had little choice but to increase its assistance. During the next four years, US Army strength in that war torn country escalated from a handful of advisors to more than a quarter-million combat troops. As if the Vietnamese situation were not a significant burden on the training responsibilities of Fort Dix, the 1965 revolution in the Dominican Republic and the continual buildup of American troops in Thailand added more. From June 1965 to the beginning of 1967, the number of trainees in the Infantry Training Center on any given day almost doubled – from 11,000 to 21,000.


At first glance, the construction program at Fort Dix provided the most visible changes during the Sixties. Opening of the post’s multi-million dollar Walson Army Hospital was the first significant step in this program. More than 600 guests were present on 15 March 1960 as Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker dedicated the modern 500-bed hospital.

The facility was named in honor of Brigadier General Charles M. Walson, whose widow was present at the dedication ceremony to unveil the commemorative plaque. General Walson had been born in Laurel, Delaware, on 24 August 1883 and was graduated from the Jefferson Medical College in Pennsylvania in 1906 and the Army Medical School in 1912. During World War I, he served as a major with the American Expeditionary Forces in France and the Army of Occupation in Coblenz until 1922. For his service as surgeon general of Second Service Command from November 1940 to July 1945, General Walson was awarded the Legion of Merit. He had fulfilled a significant role in the processing of 145,000 Americans and 7,000 prisoners-of-war patients who had passed through the port of New York during World War II. After his retirement, he served as administrator of the American Red Cross blood program for the greater New York area until his death in 1947.

The ultra-modern hospital, located at New Jersey Avenue and West Third Street, make use of the latest medical and recreational equipment and facilities. Patients are accommodated in one-to-four bed rooms or operating rooms plus and emergency operating room located near the ambulance entrance. A central food service section to the hospital prepares and serves all food, thus eliminating the need for special diet kitchens. In its first full year of operation, Walson admitted 22,999 patients.


Lack of adequate billets for troops was still an acute problem in the early 1960s. At the time, approximately 75 percent of the enlisted men at Fort Dix were still housed in “temporary” barracks, built in 1940-41, with an original life expectancy of only five years. Because of this, a special committee of four congressmen arrived on 12 June 1961 to investigate troop housing conditions. At the conclusion of their tour, they were convinced building appropriations should be increased for Fort Dix.

Representative Frank C. Osmers, Jr. of New Jersey stated that renovation of the 20-year-old buildings would be as “polishing rotten apples,” 1. (Fort Dix Post, vol. xx, no. xxiv 1961) and said a three-to-four year program to replace temporary troop housing should be carefully considered by the House Appropriations Committee. The other representatives, Richard E. Langford of Maryland, agreed with Osmers “that the Fort Dix staff had done a remarkable job keeping these old things on their feet at all times.” 2. (Ibid)

The acutance of the barracks situation was further aggravated in late 1961 with the call-up of the Army Reserves and National Guard. At that time, the post received hundreds of activated Reserve Forces personnel. The earlier congressional analysis led to a June 1962 announcement that an $11 million project for construction of nine permanent barracks and six mess halls. Then in November 1963, Congress appropriated more than $19 million for further troop billeting improvements at Dix during the Fiscal Year 1965. These were important steps in continuing the long-range Military Construction Army (MCA) plan to relocate and rehouse all personnel in permanent barracks by 1971.

Construction of an entire regimental complex was started in the area along Texas Avenue near McGuire Air Force Base in September 1963. Eventually occupied by the 2nd Basic Combat Training Regiment in 1964, it included 11 barracks, four mess halls, four battalion headquarters and classrooms, four supply and administrative buildings, regimental headquarters, dispensary, post exchange, chapel and gymnasium. A motor pool complex supporting this area was completed in July 1966.

Another regimental complex was begun along the Pemberton-Pointville Road in March 1964. The space allocated was almost entirely occupied by cleared training areas and drill fields. The new complex included eight barracks, each housing 326 men, regimental headquarters and classroom buildings, supply and administration buildings for each of the four battalions, post exchange branch, gymnasium, chapel, motor pool area, dispensary and central heating plant. Two-thirds of the complex was completed in the fall of 1965, and construction on the remaining one-third began in December 1965. This area was occupied by the 3rd Basic Combat Training Brigade.

Fort Dix suffered a major setback in its long-range troop housing improvement program in 1965. During that year, Congress appropriated $21 million for building additional permanent structures at Fort Dix. However, because of unprecedented costs of the Vietnam War, $17 million of the total was deferred by the secretary of defense late in 1965 only to be reinstated in February 1967.

All told, MCA projects, other than family housing units, completed since 1 January 1960, included 31 barracks, 12 administration and storage buildings, Post Chapel and Religious Education Center complex, two other chapels, three motor pools, 11 battalion mess halls, 11 battalion headquarter buildings and classrooms, three brigade headquarters, three post exchanges, three dispensaries, two gymnasiums, and addition to Walson Army Hospital for clinics and an Air Evacuation Center, quarters for 80 nurses, and an addition to the Telephone Exchange. Construction started but not completed by 31 December 1966 included three barracks, an administration and storage building, chapel, battalion headquarters building, battalion mess hall and a gymnasium.

During the first half of the decade, additional family headquarters were constructed, and a concentrated effort was made to improve the appearance of the post. Construction began on the first of a 200-unit Capehart housing project for noncommissioned officers in February 1961, which was partially available for occupancy in December. The project, located in the area west of 17th Street and extending to Gum Street along the Juliustown-Browns Mills Road, contained two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments. Costing $3,610,630 and completed in January 1962, the project – now known as Laurel Hill – consists of 43 two-story duplexes.

In 1963, enlisted men in pay grade E-4 (corporals or specialists four) with four or more years’ service were permitted to apply for family housing a Sheridansville, Nelson Courts or Kennedy Courts. Previously, the requirement for E-4s was seven years of active service.

Plans were drawn to beautify Fort Dix. Through the efforts and skills of the 86thEngineer Battalion, Dogwood Lake, Willow Pond, Deer Lake and Meadow Lake were completed by the summer of 1960. Dogwood Lake, one of the first man-made lakes to be constructed under the program, extends from Pennsylvania Avenue past Theater #5 to the Post Golf Course. It consists of a system of lakes connected by culverts.


Not only did the lakes add to the beauty of the installation, they also assisted in irrigation, water purification training, and served as sources of water supply in the event of emergency. They could be tapped to extinguish nearby brush fires. In addition, their construction was a practical exercise for members of the 86thEngineer Battalion. The use of heavy construction equipment and the skills of moving, compacting, and making earth hold water were required. Other lakes already in existence were Brindle Lake, Hipp’s Folly, Lake of the Woods, and Hanover Lake.


In the summer of 1961, increased tension in Berlin and other parts of the world caused President John F. Kennedy to ask Congress for standing authority to call 250,000 reservists and national guardsmen to active duty. In August, 14 such units were alerted to report to Dix. Arriving on post in October, the activated Reserve Components personnel represented seven states from Main to Indiana. First to arrive was the 920th Transportation Company from New York. Traveling in buses, the reservists received a warm welcome from the installation commander and an Army band as they passed through the post entrance. After the greeting, men of the 920thsettled down to the routine of Army life, which lasted until August 1962.

On 24 October 1961, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 173rd Medical Battalion of South Portland, Maine, and the 114th Surgical Hospital Detachment from Patterson, New Jersey, were assigned to Walson Army Hospital. The remaining Army Reserve or National Guard units were attached to Special Troops. Units arriving at Fort Dix included the 366th Medical Detachment from Cleveland, Ohio; 141st Transportation Company, Rochester, New York; 306th Medical Detachment, New York City; 435th Finance Disbursing Section, Indianapolis, Indiana; 834thSignal Company, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey; 134th Ordnance Company, Albany, New York; 445th Ordinance Company, Kearney, New Jersey: 340th Military Police Company, Garden City, New York; 322nd Military Police Detachment (Criminal Investigation), Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; 618th Transportation Company, White River Junction, Vermont: and the 321st Adjutant General Post Office of Troy, New York.

Approximately 14,000 reservists underwent summer training at Fort Dix in 1961, as did some 10,000 in 1962. The following year, 35,323 reserve personnel participated in weekend drills and field exercises at the post, and an additional 10,482 underwent two weeks of annual active duty training. In 1964, 44,137 reservists received weekend drill and marksmanship training at Fort Dix, and 12,534 underwent annual training. Personnel from 39 non-divisional unites, three training divisions and five Army Reserve schools, participated in annual active duty training programs during the summers of 1963 and 1964.

Fort Dix supported and coordinated the training of 12,423 citizen soldiers who arrived for their annual active duty between 5 June and 11 September 1965. During 1966 Dix units supported the summer training of 13,890 reservists and national guardsmen from four divisions and 39 separate units, representing 13 states from Main to Louisiana and as far west as Illinois. Following the 16-week summer training period that ended on 10 September, Reserve Forces Division of G3 hosted an additional 25,000 officers and enlisted men from 33 Army Reserve and National Guard units, who participated in weekend drills at Fort Dix during the remainder of 1966.


For the convenience of visitors and new arrivals to the post, the Information Bureau was opened 19 August 1961 on Route 68, replacing the one located in the Sports Arena. Operated to expedite the location of individuals, units and facilities on post, the bureau assisted more than 14,500 visitors during its first two months of operation. Staffed by the post’s military police, it operated seven days a week.

Paralleling dramatic improvements to the Fort Dix physical plant was the modernization of training methods and aids. In 1960, a Fort Dix-originated modification of Trainfire targets earned the government a net saving of $7,000 during the first year of adoption. The modification resulted in an all-weather, moisture-proof target, which was as durable as the fiberglass targets originally designed for the range. Cardboard targets were coated with paraffin, and tests revealed that the 19-cent replacement had a usable period equal to those of fiberglass, which cost $1.75 each. Other advantages of the inexpensive targets were resistance to breakage in strong wind or heavy firing and elimination of patching, refacing and repairing.

Fort Dix implemented another suggestion in October 1963 that saved $58,000 Army wide. Previously, each range contained as many as 35 marker panels, located approximately 300 meters from the firing line. Over a period of time these panels, which cost $6.20 apiece, suffered many hits and required replacement, which meant a constant expense to the government. The even-numbered panels that designated firing lines were eliminated, doing away with as many as 17 panels. The idea was forwarded to Headquarters First US Army, and then, Fort Benning, Georgia, where it was tested by students of The Infantry School. From there, the system went on to Department of the Army for Army wide adoption.

In June 1960, it was announced that Fort Dix was scheduled to receive its initial shipment of M-14 rifles and M-60 machine guns – the general purpose weapons of today’s modern Army. Some 550 M-14s and 40 M-60s arrived later that year. Both weapons fire the standard 7.62 millimeter (civilian .308) round adopted by NATO countries in December 1953. In 1954, the round was formally accepted in the United States as the standard military rifle cartridge. The M-14 replaced the (Garland) M-1 rifle, Browning automatic rifle, .30 caliber carbine and the .45 caliber machine gun. Today, all trainees at Dix are issued M-14s. Familiarization with the new M-16 rifle is given to personnel leaving for Vietnam.

Additional heavy weapons training was introduced to the curriculum of the 1st Advanced Individual Training Regiment in January 1962. The regiment, which had been conducting advanced eight-week courses in basic unit and individual training, began teaching the 106mm recoilless rifle and the 81mm and 4.2-inch mortars. To accommodate the new training program, four ranges and five training areas were built. The regimental Training Committee was increased in strength and new lesson plans written.

Meanwhile, constant research and evaluation by Department of the Army in training potential enlisted leaders resulted in the establishment of a trainee leadership school at Fort Dix in January 1962. The program of instruction, encompassing 10 weeks, was designed to train privates (E-2) to become effective leaders. The first two weeks of the program were devoted to formal leadership instruction in the school’s classrooms, and the remaining weeks were used for practical application in an advanced individual training company. In 1963 and 1964, average weekly enrollment at the school was 25 to 30 students, with more than 1,000 students graduating both in 1963 and 1964.


Instead of merely wondering who trainees could fire higher scores on the ranges, cadremen of Company K, 4th Basic Combat Training Regiment, put their heads together, pooled their ideas, and came up with a training aid called a wooden portable foxhole. Adopted in 1962, this training aid – three feet square and almost six feet high – made a noticeable difference in the scores of the regiment’s trainees. The foxhole was used mainly to instruct trainees in the correct firing positions before they went to the ranges. Once they had a basic knowledge of the proper positions, the soldiers were able to “make themselves at home” in the range foxholes. A higher percent of trainees qualified on the ranges when the portable foxhole was used. Built in June 1962, the ingenious training aid was the only portable foxhole on post and often loaned to other units.

On 6 June 1964, the chief of Faculty Group was assigned the responsibility of establishing an Expert Infantryman Badge test for Fort Dix. In addition, to improve the trainee test program of Faculty Group, a proficiency testing area was established on 15 July 1964. The earlier area could not absorb the necessary changes, and a new area, comprising eight permanent-type test stations and four other buildings, was built. Stations were set up for such subjects as first aid, bayonet, hand-to-hand combat, guard duty, and other exercises and techniques that every trainee must know.

In August 1964, the Faculty Group was assigned to teach field sanitation, a subject previously taught by the training regiments. To aid in the two hours of instruction, an elaborate three-station field sanitation display area was constructed. One station exhibited liquid waste disposal devices, another involved sold waste, and the third station displayed field expedients for washing, showering and laundering.


During September 1964, the present Basic Rifle Marksmanship Course replaced the Trainfire concept. Today, every basic trainee is taught the name of various parts of the rifle and to assemble and disassemble the M-14. He is told how and when to clean the weapon and to fire from proper positions. A period involving sighting and aiming was added to the marksmanship program. To accommodate this change, a new 100-point preliminary rifle instruction area was built behind Faculty Group headquarters.

In an effort to provide the most highly skilled cadre for training brigades, a Drill Sergeant School was established at Fort Dix and other training centers in October 1964. The school was the result of a study by the Secretary of the Army Stephen Ailes concerning the need for highly effective NCOs, under whose guidance the recruit would be turned into a top-notch soldier. Identical schools existed in each of the six other permanent basic training centers in the United States.

The first 70 men to graduate from the Fort Dix Drill Sergeant School received their distinctive campaign hats at the post’s Timmermann Theater on 30 November 1964. The class had begun with 90 noncommissioned officers from the basic combat training regiments, advanced individual training regiment, common specialist training regiment, US Army Personnel Center, and Faculty Company. The school’s cadre of 20 instructors and there tactical NCOs were picked prior to the start of the course.

During the five-week school, abilities of prospective drill sergeants were taxed physically and academically. Intensive study was designed to acquaint them with the general knowledge and specific skills required in handling training problems while performing duties as leaders, instructors or administrators at platoon level. Graduates were placed in a specialty classification and permitted to wear the famous Army campaign hat, which had been eliminated from service in 1940. For years, many top Army officials sought to have it reinstated because of the espirit de corps it imparts to the wearer.

In December 1964, consolidation of enlisted leadership training was effected within the fort Dix Leaders Academy. The academy was assigned the mission of conducting the Drill Sergeant School, the five-week NCO Academy Senior and Basic Courses, the two-week Trainee Leadership Training Corps. Effective 1 July 1966, Fort Knox, Kentucky, assumed sole responsibility for operation of the First US Army NCO Academy. All of the above Leaders Academy courses remained at Dix.
In 1965 a shortage of qualified cadre instructors existed because of increased trainee loads and the Vietnam buildup that required transfer of drill sergeants overseas. To provide immediate remedy, Major General Charles E. Beauchamp, commanding general, initiated a Drill Sergeant Assistant Course at Dix and submitted the proposal to Headquarters, United States Continental Army Command (USCONARC). The first class at Fort Dix – composed of candidates who had completed basic training, attended the Leadership Preparation Courses, and graduated from advanced infantry training – began in October 1965. The program, designed to provide cadre personnel who would assist drill sergeants in the training of recruits, was approved by USCONARC and adopted by the other Army training centers. Late in June 1966, the Drill Sergeant Assistant Course was redesignated the Drill Corporal Course.

Meanwhile, the five Fort Dix training regiments underwent modernization on 1 August 1965, when they were redesignated training brigades. The 1st Training Regiment was redesignated the 1st Advanced Individual Training Brigade, while the 2nd and 3rd Training Regiments became basic combat training brigades. The 5thTraining Regiment was renamed the 5th Common Specialist Training Brigade. Under the reorganization, the 4th Basic Combat Training Brigade was activated on 11th October 1965 and its companies assigned to the 2nd and 3rd brigades. The change, result of a study made by former Secretary of the Army Stephen Ailes the year before, placed five companies in each of the brigade’s five battalions. Each company had a capacity of 220 trainees. In addition, each of the basic combat training brigade’s headquarters and headquarters companies were redsignated as headquarters detachments.

With reorganization of the training brigades came the announcement that Faculty Group would be redesignated Committee Group on 2nd October 1965. Faculty Company, then attached to the post’s Special Troops, was transferred to Committee Group, with the group becoming a major command reporting directly to Infantry Training Center Headquarters. Its mission was to conduct standardized training through the committee system for units undergoing basic combat training, in conformance with programs published by USCONARC. It also conducted instruction of the Leaders Training School (NCO), Leaders Training School (Trainee) and later the Special Training Company (BCT).

On 10 December 1965, Special Training Company was activated within Committee Group to provide extra training for men having trouble with the requirements of basic combat training. The assignment of 23 cadre, including three drill sergeants to each platoon, provided personnel and time for special physical programs, counseling to enhance confidence and motivation, and close personal supervision. Special Training Company offered extra individual attention that an ordinary basic combat training company could not afford because it would distract from the overall training mission. During its first eight months of operation, 142 of the 200 men assigned to the company mastered their individual areas of weakness to the point that they were able to return to the basic combat training cycle to complete training. However, trainees requiring the completion of only one specific phase of training to graduate often were shipped to new assignments directly from Special Training Company once that phase was mastered. Most common deficiency was the lack of ability to pass physical training requirements.

On 19 March 1966, the 5th Common Specialist Training Brigade was redesignated the 5th Combat Support Training (CST) Brigade, in accordance with a message from USCONARC. It was felt that the title “common specialist training” did not accurately describe the mission of the brigade, which provides the Army with competent combat support specialists.

Five months later, in August 1966, expansion plans were announced that would make the 5th CST Brigade the largest of the four training brigades at Fort Dix, with an anticipated 75 percent increase in personnel. General Orders 276, issued on 19 August by Infantry Training Center Headquarters, organized five battalions within the brigade – an increase of three over the two provisional battalions – consisting of 25 companies in place of the previous eight. In mid-October, the brigade’s trainee strength had more than doubled, increasing from 3,500 to 7,300. As examples of the expansion, the number of students in the Supply Clerk Course almost quintupled, while enrollments tripled in another course and doubled in two others. This reflected the increased number of Selective Service calls during the preceding months, which were needed to provide trained individual replacements and to active new Army units, particularly for Vietnam.

Amid the expansion, the 5th CST Brigade launched its ninth annual “Operation Santa Helpers,” a project to collect outgrown or discarded toys, repair and repaint them, and distribute the “new” toys to needy military families and orphanages and charitable institutions in the surrounding communities. Toy pickup points were established in September. As in the past eight years, the toys – ranging from games and dolls to children’s cars, trucks and bicycles – were repaired by student-mechanics at the brigade’s Wheeled Vehicle Mechanical Course who had completed training and were awaiting orders. The cadre also aided in the project when not engaged in instruction. Members of the brigade took an unusual interest in the project and received a great deal of personal satisfaction from using all of the tools and equipment in the repair shop. More than 4,500 toys of an estimated value of $40,000 were repaired and distributed prior to Christmas 1966.

On 30 June 1963, a new unit, Special Processing Detachment, was activated and assigned to the 1387th Replacement Company. Currently the detachment administers AWOLs, deserters, and persons apprehended by military and civilian authorities in New York and New Jersey who are confined at Dix. The detachment also arranges their subsequent assignments or discharges. Its parent organization, the 1387thcontinues to process all incoming personnel returning from overseas for duty on post and reenlistees who do not require basic training.

The 60th Ordnance Detachment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) received orders on 6 April 1965 assigning it to Special Troops. Operational control remained with the 542nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, Fort Jay, New York, as it had since August 1957. Today’s 60th Ordinance Detachment is capable of detecting, identifying, rendering safe, recovering, field evaluating and disposing of unexploded United States and foreign explosive items. Such items include bombs, shells, mines, rockets, pyrotechnics, demolition charges, guided missiles, and special weapons that have been launched, dropped, placed or armed in such a manner that they constitute a hazard to personnel or material. They also include the disposal of explosive items rendered unsafe due to damage or deterioration.

Training explosive ordnance reconnaissance personnel, both military and civilian, is another responsibility of the 60th Ordnance Detachment. It provides instruction for explosive ordnance reconnaissance agents throughout New Jersey. Considering that the unit at any time may be called on to aid civilian communities in the event of a bomb threat or similar emergency, the importance of the 60th Ordnance Detachment is recognized well beyond the gates of Fort Dix. In such instances, the danger is just as great as if the unit were performing its mission on an actual battlefield or at some training camp where artillery firing is taking place.

Just such an incident occurred during 1965, when a rumor spread across the country that a number of Vietnamese dolls in the possession of United States residents might be booby trapped. Experts from the 60th aided civilian authorities in disposing of the dolls, once such action had , County on 25 October. It collected and destroyed 68 eight-to-15-inch dolls that had been turned in to police departments in the area. Authorities at Fort Benning, Georgia, said the rumor apparently began in Vietnam and spread to the United States in letters from servicemen. The oriental dolls turned up in almost every part of the country, but none was found to be booby trapped. Explosive experts at Fort Benning x-rayed and examined nearly 200 dolls without finding anything other than straw and rubber.


To provide the “Home of the Ultimate Weapon” with a distinctive musical symbol representative of the training mission and the pride and spirit of the trainee, CWO Samuel F. Brown, Jr., then commanding officer of the 19th and 173rd Army Bands, composed “The Fort Dix Proud Trainee” in April 1965. The song, which is heard at appropriate occasions involving trainee participation, was created to ease the transition from marching with cadence to marching with Band music.


Commanders of major and separate units were urged to compose a second verse, symbolic of their unit. With this musical addition, the Fort Dix trainees appeared to march with snappier cadence and more pride and spirit. 
The words of the song are:
We’re training, fighting men of the Army.
The rifle is our friend, in the Army.
We train to be prepared and never to forget,                     
The training on the rifle range and with the bayonet.
We’re the Army, the marching Army.,
Proud of our training, fighting team esprit de Corps.
Proficiency Park becomes the final test,
Where every soldier strives to be the best.
Prepared for all eventuality, is the FORD DIX PROUD TRAINEE,
Ready to fight for right and freedom,
Ready to fight ‘till victory’s won.
Ready to serve Old Glory.
Serve her proudly, ‘till the day is done.
Ready to fight on hill or lowland, in the defense of Liberty.
Ready to die, if it is Thy Will, Be Done,

Meanwhile, Fort Dix had made several contributions to civilian as well as military, life. Projects included medical research, support of the Project Advent Satellite Communications System, law enforcement assistance in riot-torn Mississippi, and the President’s youth opportunity programs.
Working in conjunction with the post medical service in 1960, a civilian research unit from Columbia University made a definite health contribution by developing an adenovirus vaccine for the reduction of influenza. To carry out research, two Columbia technicians worked closely with medical personnel assigned to the Fort Dix Health Center. The development of a vaccine illustrated the close relationship between Army medical services and civilian agencies in the joint search for better means to protect the nation and its soldiers from disease.


Fort Dix had a minor part in the “space race in 1961 by providing limited logistical support to one of two “Project Advent” instantaneous global communications ground stations in the United States. In July of that year, one of the stations was erected near dix and the other placed near Camp Roberts, California. A shipboard terminal, operating at sea in many parts of the world, tested communication capabilities. The system permitted simultaneous worldwide transmission of high speed radio teletype and voice broadcasts.

Project Advent called for stringent reliability requirements in space technology. Advent satellites were designed to remain operative for at least one year without failure. In addition, altitude control and tracking capabilities were built into each satellite to permit adjustment of its positon to synchronize with the earth’s rotation Horizon sensors were used to keep the satellites’ antennas continuously turned toward the earth. The satellites contained several receivers and transmitters for microwave communications with ground tracking stations and receiving signals. The communications and telemetry antennas were located on one end of the satellite.


A year later, fort Dix’ 716th Military Police Battalion was tasked to maintain law and order in riot-struck Mississippi community. The riot-control-trained battalion was airlifted on 30 September 1962 from McGuire Air Force Base to Oxford, Mississippi, to enforce desegregation at the University of Mississippi and to escort James Meredith, the first Negro ever to enroll in “Ole Miss,” to classes. The 716thwas the second Army unit to arrive at the university following rioting and other disturbances designed to prevent a Negro from enrolling in the previously all-white institution of higher learning.

The first unit to arrive was the 503rd Military Police Battalion from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Upon arrival, the 716th bivouacked near the Oxford airport and immediately set up road blocks around the campus and sent out patrols to prevent further rioting. In addition to escorting Meredith, the Fort Dix military policemen safeguarded the dormitory and other campus buildings, issued passes to students and faculty members, and patrolled not only the campus but parts of Oxford. Relieved of their chores in October, three of the 716th companies returned to Fort Dix. On 20 November 1962, the officers and men of Company B returned to the post. While at Oxford, Company B had patrolled the own and campus and secured Baxter Hall, on-campus residence of James Meredith. The 720th Military Police Battalion from Fort Hood, Texas took over the vigil at Oxford upon departure of the 716th.


In April 1963, Fort Dix again was called on to provide assistance to a civilian community – this time in the local area. Men and equipment from Fort Dix battled raging brush and forest fires that swept through southern New Jersey for four days. Area fire fighters had been unable to contain the wind-whipped flames and asked Fort Dix for assistance. Within 45 minutes of the first distress call, the Fort Dix Fire Department and soldiers of Company L, 1st Training Regiment, were dispatched to the scene. They were backed up by men of Company K, 1st Training Regiment, and assisted by the 716th Military Police and 86th Engineer Battalions. Military policemen aided local police officials in controlling traffic and establishing traffic control points. Using military radio patrol jeeps, a radio communications network coordinated civilian and military efforts. Men of the 86th Engineer Battalion battled the fires with giant bulldozers by cutting fire breaks and clearing away charred debris.

The two main areas of conflagration nearest the post were in Jackson and Pemberton Townships. The fire blazed its way south, leaving 60,000 acres of charred and smoldering woodland in and around Lebanon State Forest. At the height of the fires, almost 1,000 Fort Dix soldiers and miscellaneous military fire fighting equipment were at the scenes. The bulk of the men were from Company K and L of the 1stTraining Regiment and Companies D and P of the 4th Training Regiment. In addition 200 beds and mattresses and more than 400 blankets were sent to the Toms River Courthouse Annex to help the homeless.

In the interests of civil defense, another community service was provided the surrounding areas by Fort Dix personnel. On 1 January 1964, the post’s chemical officer was delegated the responsibility of training local civilian radiological defense monitors. The first class was conducted at Margate, New Jersey, on 25 January 1964.

When President Johnson’s Youth Opportunity Campaign was initiated at Fort Dix in June 1965, the Civilian Personnel Office announced that the post could hire 25 youths. This was in accordance with the federal government’s policy of hiring one extra civilian trainee for every 100 employees on the payroll to stimulate more than 500,000 work-training opportunities lcontinuing essential and critical operations, it was decided an additional 175 youths could be used during the summer. The request was forwarded to the Department of the Army for consideration. Upon receiving approval, the jobs were filled, resulting in Fort Dix exceeding the President’s requirements to create additional positions for young men and women between the ages of 16 and 21. In 1966, the Civilian Personnel Office at Fort Dix hired 310 economically or educationally disadvantaged youths, who worked during July, August and September as part of the President’s “War on Poverty” program.


The 1960s saw a continued program to improve morale, health and welfare services and facilities for military personnel and their dependents. Enhanced were Special Services programs and facilities, medical care, Army education opportunities, religious facilities, post exchanges, sports programs, and open messes.

More than 8,000 basic trainees from all of the basic combat training regiments at Fort Dix were entertained in 1960 by “Operation Entertainment,” which brought soldier variety shows to bivouac areas for infantrymen undergoing field training. Initiated by the post entertainment director, the shows provided relaxation and amusement for trainees who, while spending a week in the field, had little opportunity for recreation. The first of these shows took place in June 1960, and the project continued through September. A troupe of 16 performers in each show entertained trainees on bivouac, using the back of an Army truck as a stage. The group also entertained patients in Walson Army Hospital and went on to perform in service clubs. The program continued during summers of the next six years, with more than 10,000 bivouacking troops entertained in 1966.

The addition to Fort Dix of Walson Army Hospital in 1960 was not the end of new medical facilities built on this post in the Sixties. Quarters for 80 nurses, constructed in an area adjacent to the hospital at a cost of $750,000, were ready for occupancy in March. A huge, modern red-brick barrack, costing $691,000 and designed to house 326 medical enlisted men, was ready for occupancy near Walson the following year.

In June 1965, a $1.3 million construction program began on a two-story addition for clinics and a one-story Air Evacuation Center for Walson Army Hospital. The two-story addition increased medical facilities at the hospital by 32,000 square feet. Opened 22 June 1966, it was occupied by preventive medical facilities for Army health nurse programs of immunization, physical examinations, and child and adult health care and the following clinics: dental, dermatology, neuropsychiatric, pediatrics, pharmacy, surgical and medical, and eye, nose and throat. After these facilities moved into the addition, the builders returned to expand the areas vacated by some of the clinics and modify activities remaining on the first floor of the original hospital.


The Air Evacuation Center, a joint operation involving Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base, moved into its newly built facility at the hospital in May 1966. The addition is 14.5 feet high and expands floor space by 6,000 square feet. Responsible for giving medical care to air evacuation patients en route to their final destination, the center handled between 750 and 825 patients a month between July and October.

Despite the expansion of the Sixties, not all medical facilities are located in the hospital complex. The Medical Activities Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, formerly known as the Health Center, houses facilities for the Mental Hygiene Consultation Service, the First US Army Medical Personnel Procurement Office, the veterinarian, and the Columbia University Research Team. The Medical Processing Center of the Department of Hospital Clinics, located on Florida Avenue, conducts physical examinations.

During 1966, a staff coordinator from Walter Reed Hospital arrived at Walson Army Hospital to develop plans for WRAIN-University of Maryland, a program for training student nurses at the hospital. Plans call for the first group of student-nurses from the University of Maryland to arrive at Fort Dix in July 1967 under the WRAIN (Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing) program.
The Army Education Center located at 8th Street and New York Avenue, offered a variety of services to raise an individual’s education level through collegiate training, on-and off-duty instruction, self-study and examination. Additionally, high school and college courses through the United States Armed Forces Institute were offered. Nearby colleges, including Rutgers, Trenton State, Temple, Rider, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, offered evening courses, which permanent party soldiers could attend. In 1964, Trenton Junior College offered a program of courses to Dixans to complement those already available. By 1965 a broad field of courses ranging from sociology to data processing was available to post personnel.

Continued emphasis on education brought a marked increase in the number of high school graduates or equivalent among the ranks of enlisted personnel. With a goal of at least a high school education for enlisted men in the Army, a general educational development test was administered and diplomas issued. In February 1961 alone, a record of 413 permanent party enlisted personnel successfully completed the high school equivalency test.


In the Sixties, the post’s six libraries continued to serve the interests of Fort Dix personnel. By the end of 1966, the Main Post Library contained 30,000 volumes with more than 1500 phonography records in the music room. In addition to the main library, branch libraries are located in four of the service clubs and Walson Army Hospital. Also, a library bookmobile serves personnel at Nike Army Air Defense Command sites in Clementon and Swedesboro, New Jersey and Edgemont, 
Pennsylvania. The total number of volumes in the Fort Dix Library system exceeds 65,000. On-post libraries serve the entire Fort Dix community, with emphasis on nonfiction and reference materials.

The time-worn cleche, “better late than never,” properly describes an incident involving the Post Library in 1964. Bruce Williams of Westfield, Massachusetts, was a civilian employee at Camp Dix in 1917, At that time he “borrowed” a book from the Post Library. In mid-1964, a small package arrived at the Post Quartermaster’s Office. In it was a book of John Greenleaf Whittier’s Complete Poems, along with a note from the man who had borrowed the book 47 years before. Said Williams in his letter, “I would rather return the book now than have folks think I failed to return it to its rightful owner. Please forward this to the librarian.”

Today the library’s scope is supplemented by arrangement with New Jersey’s Public and School Library Services Bureau. This arrangement provides practically everything in the way of reference material. A microfilm viewer has been purchased, and microfilm of the New York Times and several periodicals, spanning the years 1961 to the present, are available for viewing.

Religious facilities on the post received a major boost on 11 April 1963 when groundbreaking ceremonies were held for a 600-seat Post Chapel and Religious Center. The center, featuring complete religious education facilities, was dedicated on 3 September 1964. Earlier, on 29 June, construction of a 300-seat regimental chapel had begun in the 2nd Training Regiment Area. At the time the post chapel opened, 13 others were in operation. Each had chaplains available to servicemen and their families. Regular services were scheduled for Protestants, Catholics and Jews. In addition, services were conducted for specific denominations, such as Christian Scientists, Episcopalians, Latter-Day Saints and Lutherans. Each of the chapels provided an active religious program, which included religious instruction, baptism, and marriage, in addition to general programs of Sunday school, catechism classes and Hebrew School.

Meanwhile, after extensive renovation, the Main Post Exchange was reopened in June 1964. Two snack bars, two filling stations, a beauty shop and tailor pick-up point were added to the exchange system. Sales of all exchange facilities during 1965 totaled $13 million and in 1966, almost $15 million.

Other changes were made on post to improve morale and welfare programs and facilities. Among them were revision of the Army sports program, opening of additional Special Services facilities, refurbishing the Fort Dix Officers Open Mess, and construction of a new Fort Dix NCO Open Mess.
The post golf facilities were complemented in 1962 with construction of a driving range. In 1963, five softball fields, two tennis courts, a baseball field, and a football field were added to Fort Dix.
Also during 1963, a 24-lane bowling alley was constructed. When it neared completion, a wire service story with a Washington D.C., dateline was carried in the local newspapers quoting the mayor of Wrightstown, New Jersey, the community adjoining Fort Dix. He stated he would appear before the Senate Armed Forces Committees to air his complaints against ‘unfair competition by the services.” News stories in the local papers, including publications in Philadelphia, Trenton and Newark, followed. Although queried by many press representatives, Fort Dix officials did not comment on the mayor’s remarks. Opening on 30 September 1963, the $338,000 Fort Dix Bowl was considered one of the finest bowling alleys on any military installation.

Since its 1917 inception, Fort Dix has had successful sports programs, and this was well exemplified during the 1960s. however, a 1965 change in the Army sports program eliminated many of the post-level teams and interinstallation competition. Too much military training time was used by individuals to train, travel and compete in such sports. Until this change, Fort Dix had excelled in competition between installations. Presently only those sports that lead to international competition, such as boxing, basketball, wrestling, track and field, triathlon and soccer, are supported. Teams travel only once – to the site of the Army’s area championships.

Over the last 10 years of interinstallation competition, Dix captured 61 First US Army championships, 42 runner-up awards and 12 third-place finishes. In 1960 Fort Dix won the First US Army basketball, boxing, volleyball, table tennis, flag football, bowling and horse shoes championships. 1961 saw the post-level teams repeat in the first five sports above and add the baseball title to their string of victories. Fort Dix athletic teams won six of nine First Army championships in 1962 and continued their winning performances in 1963. Softball, baseball and horseshoe championship laurels were added in 1964, although the track and field team failed to retain its championship.

In 1965, Fort Dix won First US Army championships in boxing and basketball, the two sports during the Sixties in which Dix athletes always excelled. At the time of the Army sports program change, the boxing team had won six consecutive championships and the basketball team an even more impressive 11 straight. On their way to the First Army basketball championships, the “Borros” had posted some phenomenal season records, such as 43-2 in 1960 and 34-1 in 1962.


Fort Dix also played host to a number of important sporting functions during the Sixties. The post was the headquarters and training camp for the 1960 United States Olympic Boxing Squad, which faired so well in the Olympics at Rome. Among the team members was a classy young boxer named Cassius Clay, later to become the professional world heavyweight boxing champion.

In May 1961, the 14th Conseil International du Sport Militaire Boxing Championships were held in the Sports Arena at Fort Dix. Nine countries were represented in the bouts conducted from 9 through 12 May. The teams represented Italy, West Germany, United Arab Republic, Belgium, France, Iraq, Austria, Tunisia and the United States. The United States team won the championship.


Famous professional athletes also have trained or been stationed at Fort Dix. Pole vault star Don Bragg was assigned to Fort Dix when he was a member of the 1960 Olympic track team and holder of the world’s indoor pole vault record.

The football world has been represented by such all-pro standouts as linebacker Jim Houston of the Browns and former Giant tackle Roosevelt Grier.

Baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers might have been in trouble during recent years if they had two of their “Dix-trained” stars. Trading baseballs for hand grenades did not seem to bother Dodger hurlers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

Nor did it seem to hinder 1965 American League home run leader Tony Conigliaro of the Boston Red Sox. All-American cagers Sihugo Green from Duquesne and Al Ferrari of Michigan State trained here before making successful transition to professional basketball.

Today, Fort Dix offers an excellent and varied sports program for the athletically included soldier. Currently there are 18 major sports in the installation’s sports program. Offered are bowling, basketball, table tennis, badminton, volleyball, track and field, tennis, golf and swimming. Also included are softball, horseshoes, flag football, boxing, wrestling, soccer, weight lifting, skeet shooting and handball. The current Army sports encourages maximum participation by personnel for physical development, teamwork, and the enhancement of the esprit de corps. This is accomplished through company intermural competition. At the discretion of the commanders, a maximum of two hours daily during duty hours is authorized for sports training at installation level and below. All competition between teams is held during these two hours and off-duty time only. Two fully enclosed, lighted softball fields were completed at Dix in October 1966, making it possible for soldiers to participate in softball games during the hours of darkness.

Both the NCO and officers’ open messes witnessed major improvements in their facilities in 1963 and 1964. In the last quarter of 1963, the bar, cocktail lounge and TV room at the officers’ open mess were completely renovated and refurbished. On 1 December 1964, ground was broken for a new $650,000 NCO open mess. The air-conditioned structure, which had its grand opening in February 1966, contains a ballroom with a seating capacity for 550 persons. The building is complete with bandstand, performers’ dressing room, 175-place dining room, 20-man stag bar, barber shop, snack bar, cocktail lounge, television lounge and service bar.

In February 1965, the Fort Dix Community Service Center was established to assist in meeting the social welfare needs of military personnel and families who live at Fort Dix or in the surrounding communities. Located in the old hospital area in Building S3648, the center is staffed by professional military social service workers and a host of volunteers. The center is guided by a board of governors and meets family needs through two broad programs: family services and youth activities.

The family service program is designed to assist families on an emergency basis, when hardships result from illness, death, moving, financial crisis or other unexpected events. A committee was established to provide information to newly arrived families about services available, such as the location of the commissary, post exchange, theaters, hospital and religious facilities. Referral services are provided in the areas of marriage, finance and welfare services in New Jersey.

The broadest of the programs is the youth activities program, which operates on a year-round basis for children of all ages. Activities include the Fort Dix Teen Club, brownies and girl scouts, cubs and boy scouts, and youth sports such as bowling, baseball, football and basketball.
A youth employment bureau was established to provide such summer jobs as camp and recreational counselors, as well as on-and off-post employment for interested teens and college students. The service of volunteers in every activity – recreation, arts and crafts, athletics and baby siting – illustrates the service center’s slogan, “The Army Takes Care of Its Own.”

The Community Service Center, which had been singled out in the summer of 1966 for having the best operation of a major installation in the First US Army area, was commended as outstanding in the US Continental Army Command. In August, its record reviewed again, it was proclaimed “best in the United States Army” by Department of Army.

The Dix center was cited by the Department of the Army for assistance given servicemen and their families “during the 1966 expansion of the Army which necessitated moves on short notice for thousands.” In winning the Continental Army Command award several months earlier, the center’s activities had been judged outstanding in all areas of management and in the use of professional personnel, community resources, volunteer workers and an advisory council.

As the first half of the 1960s drew to a close, a change affecting all installations in the eastern United States took place. It was decided by Department of the Army to merge Second US Army with First US Army. The merger added a larger area, New Jersey and parts of New York and eastern Pennsylvania, to Fort Dix in its responsibilities of supporting off-post units and activities. However, its mission of training troops continued as if no merger had taken place. The phase-in of the merger, which inactivated Second US Army, began in July 1965 and was completed on 1 January 1966. First US Army headquarters moved from Governors Island, New York, to Fort Meade, Maryland, previously the home of Headquarters, Second US Army.

During the Phase-in period, Fort Dix hosted the visit of civilian aides to the secretary of the army from the then First and Second Army areas. On 28 and 29 September 1965, they met with the commanding generals of the two armies as well as those of the II, XX and XXI US Army Corps. During their stay at Dix, members of the group were briefed on the merger of the armies and the training mission and activities of the United States Army Training Center, Infantry, Fort Dix. They also visited training and other activities on the post.

The aides are civilian advisors to the secretary of the army, the Army chief of staff and the commanding general of the Army areas in which they live. Their function is to interpret Army missions and objectives to the community and civilian views and reactions to the Army. The group’s visit came at the end of the first half of the Sixties – a period when the nation faced perplexing crisis. Cold War activity and the challenge to freedom’s frontiers had continued throughout the five years, then exploded with active combat in the Vietnam War.

Again the American soldier was called on to fight in a land thousands of miles away from home. Young men in increasing numbers were inducted to fulfill their obligation in the military service of their country. Fort Dix’ continuing mission of training such men and preparing them for combat never diminished during the sixth decade of the 20th Century. Just as their older brothers and uncles in the Korean War, their fathers in World War II and their grandfathers in World War I, the Fort Dix-trained soldier of the 1960s displayed the courage, loyalty and love of country for which US Army men long have been noted. Never had the US Army received men who responded so well to training and assimilated it so fast. Perhaps this speaks well for the training abilities and dedicated of their trainers.

And so, the primary mission of training troops did not change over the years – only the methods to perform that mission. In a world where different types of war – nuclear, conventional and unconventional – could be fought, lighter and more efficient weapons and equipment plus up-to-date methods and tactics were furnished and taught the modern soldier – America’s Ultimate Weapon.

Chapter XI - Fort Dix Today - 1967


“Let, then, each and every individual connected with the Wrightstown Cantonment make high resolve to put into the work every ounce of intelligence, energy and ability that he can call into play, to the end that when the story of Wrightstown is written we may point with justifiable pride to our part in its accomplishment.” Thus wrote Irwin and Leighton, the original contractors, in the first issue of the “Camp Dix News,” published on Thursday, 16 August 1917.

Today, 50 years later, a brief trip around Fort Dix is enough to convince any observer that the plea of the first builder has been answered. Although little remains of their work, they laid the foundation and instilled the spirit of dedication that has characterized the efforts of the thousands of “builders” – military and civilian – who followed them to construct the Fort Dix of today.

In the final analysis, however, the true value of the “Home of the Ultimate Weapon” can be measured only through the men who trained at this post – - the millions that Fort Dix readied to serve with distinction in every armed conflict in which the United States participated since World War I. Throughout a half century, the primary mission of the post has been to prepare US soldiers for the defense of their country. This purpose is still paramount and will continue so long as American soldiers are needed in Vietnam or any other place in defense of freedom.

In order to carry out its mission in 1967, Fort Dix is organized into four major activities: Infantry Training Center, US Army Personnel Center, Walson Army Hospital, and the US Army Garrison. Although each of these activities plays a singular role, the one most directly concerned with the development of the individual soldier is the Infantry Training Center. It conducts four separate programs, which, in progressive stages, mold the raw recruit into a finished soldier prepared to take his place in a combat unit.

Of the four programs, the most fundamental is the eight-week basic combat training program conducted by the 2nd Basic Combat Training Brigade “Proud Rifles” and 3rd Basic Combat Training Brigade “Pioneers.” These two brigades provide the initial training to produce a soldier well grounded in basic military subjects and principles of ground combat. Reports from commanders in Vietnam confirm that this training is the best they have noted during their long Army careers. Under the expert leadership and guidance of his drill sergeant, the trainee masters those combat skills that instill confidence in himself, his individual weapon, and his ability to meet an enemy in ground combat and destroy him. Currently, more than 10,000 trainees in 50 companies of the two brigades are undergoing basic combat training. In 1966, more than 50,000 men were graduated from this course at Fort Dix.

Following completion of his basic combat training, the soldier moves on to more technical training in his field. He may be assigned to advanced branch or combat support training.

At Fort Dix, the advanced infantry training program is conducted by the 1st Advanced Individual Training Brigade – the “Blue Bolts.” This brigade provides the trainee with eight weeks of general instruction in the organization, mission, and functions of the infantry, to include general subjects, light weapons, heavy weapons, and tactical training. Upon successful completion of the course, trainees are assigned to regular units as light weapons infantrymen, infantry indirect fire crewmen, or infantry direct fire crewmen. At the beginning of 1967, more than 2,300 men were receiving advanced infantry training in nine companies of the brigade. Beginning in April 1967, both the number of trainees and companies are expected to double. In 1966, some 12,000 soldiers completed this type of training at Fort Dix.

Combat support training is conducted by the 5th Combat Support Training Brigade (the “Crusaders”), which instructs trainees in nine specialist fields as basic administration and personnel specialists, supply clerks, chaplain’s assistants, cooks, field communication crewmen, radio operators, light vehicle drivers, and wheeled vehicle mechanics. In 1966, almost 25,000 combat support trainees were graduated from the 5th Brigade. At the beginning of 1967, 7,000 students were attending formal courses and another 500 men were receiving on-the-job training. In early 1967, the number of students is expected to increase to 9,000.

Committee Group (the “Paragons”) provides all committee-taught subjects to basic combat trainees. These include marksman-ship, hand grenades, night firing, close combat, chemical-biological-radiological warfare, and individual tactical training. Committee Group also directs the Leaders Academy.

To provide a corps of qualified instructors, the Fort Dix Leaders Academy trains specially selected enlisted personnel as leaders for the training brigades. The Academy, under the direction of the Fort Dix Committee Group, conducts a seven-week Drill Sergeant Course, four-week Drill Corporal Course, and a two-week Leaders Preparation Course. Periodically, the Leaders Academy also holds a two-week Effective Military Instruction Course and a one-week Drill Sergeant Orientation Course.

In addition to the above regular programs, the Infantry Training Course also provides for training of US Army Reserve (USAR) and National Guard units. The 78thInfantry Division, the first to make its home at Camp Dix, is now a USAR training division from New Jersey, which has conducted its annual active duty training (ANACDUTRA) at Fort Dix. The 76th and 98th Training Divisions, from New England and New York, respectively, also perform ANACDUTRA at the post. Elements of the 80th Training Division have trained at the fort each year since 1960. In 1966, some units of the 85th Training Division from Illinois spent two weeks at Fort Dix. In addition to the Army Reserve, a considerable number of National Guard units train at the post on weekends.

Another major activity of Fort Dix is the United States Army Personnel Center (the “Centermen”), which is concerned with processing men as they enter the Army from civilian life, when they ship overseas, and as they leave the service. During 1966, almost 200,000 were processed in one way or another through the Personnel Center – Reception Station. 68,907; Overseas Replacement Station, 88,713; and Transfer Station, 39,481.

The newly inducted or enlisted soldier can expect to stay at the Reception Station for three to five days. During this time he is given special medical and dental examinations, classification and aptitude tests, personal interviews to help determine his future army training and assignment, his new military clothing, and orientation on military justice, PX privileges, pay scale, and conduct and discipline in an effort to make his transition to military life as smooth as possible.

The Overseas Replacement Station processes and assembles personnel for overseas shipment. Means of transportation to the new unit is coordinated with Eastern and Western Area of the Military Traffic Management Terminal Service, and is determined by the availability of spaces aboard military or civilian aircraft.

At the end of a tour of active duty, many officers and enlisted men receive final processing for retirement, separation, or transfer to reserve units at the Transfer Station. The wide range of personnel passing through this activity include persons arriving by air at McGuire Air Force Base, from units in the vicinity of Fort Dix, and individuals permanently assigned to this Army post.

The personnel commitments of the Army are extensive and variable. In times of crisis, buildups, and reductions, the Personnel Center has a ready organization through which it can react quickly and effectively with the personnel requirements of any situation.

Walson Army Hospital and the post’s health facilities provide medical care and hospitalization for Fort Dix, McGuire Air Force Base, and Lakehurst Naval Air Station military personnel and their dependents, military personnel overseas, and retired military personnel and their dependents living in New Jersey – Pennsylvania area. Staffing the medical complex are 1,357 military and civilian personnel, including 104 doctors, 68 nurses, 447 medical specialists, two veterinarians, 236 administrative personnel, and 500 civilians. Specialized clinics include dermatology, cardiology, radiology, radioisotope therapy, gastroenterology, internal medicine, pulmonary functions, obstetrics, gynecology, orthopedics, urology, neurology, psychiatry, pediatrics, surgery, preventive medicine, anesthesiology, veterinary medicine, and eye, ear, nose and throat. The hospital provides training residency programs in general practice, pre-specialty surgical and preventive medicine.

During 1966, the hospital had a total of 32,780 admissions, an increase of almost 10,000 over the previous year. The number of major and minor surgical procedures performed during the year was 16,980. Outpatient clinic visits reached a total of 586,028, an increase of 200,000 over 1965. Even with completion of the new wing, pressure of an ever increasing patient load eventually will necessitate further expansion of the Fort Dix medical facilities.

Attached to the hospital to assist its normal staff are the 4th Field Hospital and the 461st Medical Detachment. These units maintain themselves in a state of operational readiness for deployment elsewhere, if needed.

The Dental Service Unit, which staffs six on-post clinics, provides complete care and treatment to all eligible persons, with emphasis on maintaining military personnel ready for combat. The unit also conducts the preventive dentistry program and the dental intern and dental resident training program.
Another major activity of the post is Special Troops, US Army Garrison. This unit houses and administers the servicemen and women who perform thousands of administrative and supporting tasks required for the smooth functioning of this 45,000-man training center. Special Troops (the “Garrisoneers”) comprises more than 20 separate units, including communications and ordnance units; engineers, military police, and band units; Women’s Army Corps Company, which supplies stenographers, medical aides, and receptionists; and units that supply all the administrative personnel to operate the training center headquarters, garrison headquarters, and all post agencies. In addition, Special Troops receives, processes, prepares, trains, and ships units departing for overseas.

These organizations, operating under the direction of the Headquarters, United States Training Center Infantry, commanded by Major General John M. Hightower, carry out their duties at the largest military organization in the northeastern United States. Fort Dix today has come a long way from the 7,500-acre, 1,600-building camp that existed in the early days of World War I.

The post has grown in size until it comprises 32,605 acres, of which 1,566 acres are improved lad, 13,274 acres unimproved, and 17,765 woodland – all used for training. Fort Dix can take pride in a total of 2,611 major buildings, including 397 barracks without mess halls, 27 barracks with mess halls, 56 separate mess halls, 283 supply buildings, 197 administrative and personnel structures and 742 on-post housing units. There are also 12 chapels, the hospital complex, five theaters, 32 post exchanges facilities, and a variety of small administrative, supply and maintenance structures.
At the beginning of 1967, there were approximately 33,000 military personnel and 4,097 civilian dependents of military personnel living on- and off-post and several thousand retired personnel and their families living in the area. Military population of the post will increase because of additional requirements by higher headquarters, particularly in the advanced individual training brigades.

The economic impact of this military establishment on the New Jersey communities surrounding the post is considerable. For the last six months of calendar year 1966, $50.7 million was disbursed by the Post Finance Office. Of this amount, $32.1 million was for military pay, $1.9 million for travel pay, $8.9 million for civilian pay and $7,8 million for commercial payments. For the month of November 1966 alone, the total disbursed was $14 million, which was $3 million more than was disbursed for the month of May 1966. A large part of this money was fed into businesses of the local community, and over the years, Fort Dix spending has been credited as a major contributing factor in the prosperity and continued growth of the cities and towns of the surrounding area.

This brings to a close the story of 50 years at Fort Dix. By no means, however, will the post’s essential service to the nation end here. Perhaps the first 50 years will prove only a superficial beginning compared to its future. Although Fort Dix has experienced good years and lean years since its humble beginning in the cornfields and cranberry bogs of central New Jersey, the post today exudes and aura of permanency – not only in the construction of its buildings but in the expansion of its programs.

For five decades, Americans at Fort Dix have served their nation well. To their successors, they leave a legacy of accomplishment and a challenge to carry on with ardor and dedication in furthering the cause of freedom.


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 CampDix.
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 CampDix 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 of Camp Dix.
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 CampDix
May 1918 – 78th Infantry Division, under Maj. Gen. Chase Kennedy leavesDix 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 CampDix
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 CampDix
10 August 1925 – Lieutenant Colonel James T. Watson commander of CampDix
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 CampDix
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 FortDix
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 Dixreception, 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 FortDix
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. 
2016 – DOD and USAF Recommend JBMDL as one of the bases for new air refueling tankers.
2017 – JBMDL Tankers refuel B2 bombers that attack ISIS bases in Libyan desert.
July - 2017 – 100th Anniversary of Camp Dix-JBMDL 


Lucien said...

My dad served during World War I. I have been going through his stuff and posted to my blog iweararedhat.blogspot.com. He was a cartoonist for the Camp Dix Times and I have many of his works that I am now adding to my desktop.

Michel Babun said...

The United States has more than 900 military bases in all over the world, where Camp Lejeune is one of them. This military base is located in the North Carolina. This military base received Commander-in-Chief’s Award for Installation Excellence six times. Camp Lejeune military bases