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Camp Pinedale
(Pinedale Assembly Center, Fresno Army Air Forces Specialized Storage Depot)
 
 
The Main Gate
 
This assembly center was located 8 miles north of downtown Fresno on vacant land near an existing mill-workers housing area. The area is now within the Fresno city limits, north of Herndon Road 1 mile west of Blackstone Avenue.
 
The Army officially acquired the site on 24 March 1942. At the time of acquisition there were 21 warehouses and 11 other buildings which had been used to store cotton, sugar, and machinery. From 7 May 7 to 23 July 1942, the Pinedale Assembly Center housed a total of 4,823 evacuees, with a maximum of 4,792 at a time. The evacuees were from Sacramento and El Dorado counties, and Oregon and Washington. Ten barracks blocks, each with 26 buildings, were constructed for the evacuees, and a separate block was built for the military police and administration.
 
 
The large industrial/warehouse complex visible in the 1942 aerial photograph, above, is still present, which provided confirmation of the assembly center location. However, the site of the assembly center is now a subdivision; the architectural style and mature vegetation suggest the housing development dates to the 1950s or 1960s. Subdivision roads appear to generally follow the assembly center roads.
 
Established on August 1, 1942, on the site of a Pinedale Assembly Center became Camp Pinedale began receiving soldiers selected for training as Army Air Forces signal technicians in December of that year. The proposed use was for the Air Service Command to store clothing, parachutes, equipment, office supplies, and salvage material. In July of 1944 Camp Pinedale became the home of the 840th Army Air Forces Specialized Depot. The Fourth Air Force decided to concentrate all unit and team training of certain Signal companies used by the Army Air Forces.
 
The Signal units organized and trained at Camp Pinedale were:
 
 
The Fourth Air Force was made responsible for the administration of the Training Center, and was to supervise the training, subject to the requirements to be specified by the
Directorate of Communications, Army Air Forces.
 
By war's end, the post had trained 25,000 soldiers as electronic specialists and for allied army assignments, clerks, truck drivers, chemical warfare specialists, camouflage specialists, ordnance technicians, and cooks. The camp was deactivated in February 1947, when the Corps of Engineers assumed custody of the sprawling base and began preparations for the disposal of the post's building and other installations.
 
Camp Pinedale was a busy and populated area. Records indicate that approximately 10,000 officers and enlisted men were stationed there in 1944. The number decreased to 4500 by the end of 1944. Records are sketchy for 1945, but further research indicates that 3600 soldiers were left at the installation during the period 1 January 1946 to 30 June 1946. Prisoners were kept at Camp Pinedale also, averaging 46 in the stockade one month. Besides troops and prisoners, there were civilian personnel on duty, but total numbers
of personnel are unknown.
 
The 840th AAF Specialized Depot used their approximately 190 acres for storage, salvage, and a reconditioning depot. The Western Signal Aviation Unit Training Center used their approximate 380 acres for a signal training center. A rifle range and railroad facilities were also located at the site.
 
During the period June to December, 1946, Camp Pinedale's operations were rapidly drawing to a close. Effective 3 December 1946, approximately 380 acres of the installation were declared surplus. The remaining 190 acres occupied by the 840th AAF Specialized Depot were declared surplus effective 1 March 1947. On October, 1947, the property reverted to its owner, the Pinedale Compress and Warehouse Company (formerly Valley Compress). Four years later it was sold to the California Cotton Cooperative Association Ltd (Calcot).
The industrial area later occupied by the 840th AAF Specialized Depot
 
Known Units Stationed at Camp Pinedale
 
Western Signal Aviation Unit Training Center
462nd Army Air Force Base Unit (Signal Aviation Training)
6th Radio Squadron, Mobile
7th Radio Squadron, Mobile (J)
8th Radio Squadron, Mobile. Formed in March 1944 and in September of that year moved to Lawton Staging Area, near Seattle, Wash.
324th Signal Company, Wing. The activation of the 324th took place at Camp Pinedale on 10 January 1943, where it was also inactivated on 14 November 1945
326th Signal Company, Wing.
331st Signal Company, Wing. It inactivated on 17 October 1945
334th Signal Company, Wing. Activated 10 January 1943 at Pinedale, inactivated 7 November 1945 at Camp Pinedale
339th Signal Company, Wing
342d Signal Company, Wing
414th Night Fighter Squadron, 19 October 1945-6 March 1946
425th Fighter Squadron, 23 October 1945-8 March 1946
583rd Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion
840th Army Air Forces Specialized Depot
953rd Radio Intelligence Company
958th Radio Company, Aviation. It was transferred to Camp Pinedale in January 1943. Became 8th Radio Squadron, Mobile
 
Monuments to the Pinedale Assembly Center and Camp Pinedale
There is an historical marker just east of Blackstone Avenue on the site of the railroad stop where the Japanese were brought to Fresno. The tracks were removed and are now a bike trail. The granite maker is on the side of the trail below an overpass of Freeway 41.
 

Updated 18 May 2008


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