Historic California Posts, Camps,
Stations and Airfields
(Camp Gigling, Camp Ord, Camp
Fort Ord operated as a permanent
installation of Headquarters, Department of the Army, Forces
Command. The primary mission of Fort Ord was to train troops.
It provided command, administration, and logistical support and
other functions necessary to operate and maintain facilities
at Fort Ord and its subinstallations, the Presidio of Monterey
and Fort Hunter Liggett.
Fort Ord is near Monterey Bay in Monterey
County, California, approximately 80 miles south of San Francisco.
The base consists of about 28,000 acres near the cities Seaside,
Sand City, Monterey, Del Rey Oaks, and Marina. Laguna Seca Recreation
Area and Toro Regional Park border Fort Ord to the south and
southeast, respectively. Land use east of Fort Ord is primarily
Fort Ord was established in 1917, originally
as Camp Gigling, as a military training base for infantry troops.
In 1917, the US Army bought the present day East Garrison and
nearby lands on the east side of Fort Ord to use as a maneuver
and training ground for field artillery and cavalry troops stationed
at the Presidio of Monterey. Before the Army's use of the property,
the area was agricultural, as is much of the surrounding land
today. No permanent improvements were made until the late 1930s,
when administrative buildings, barracks, mess halls, tent pads,
and a sewage treatment plant were constructed.
This facility was designated as Camp Ord
in 1939 and became Fort Ord in 1940. In 1938, additional agricultural
property was purchased for the development of the Main Garrison.
At the same time, the beachfront property was donated to the
Army. The Main Garrison was constructed between 1940 and the
1960s, starting in the northwest corner of the base and expanding
southward and eastward.
From 1947 to 1975, Fort Ord was a basic
training center. After 1975, the 7th Infantry Division (Light)
occupied Fort Ord. Light infantry troops operated without heavy
tanks, armor, or artillery.
In 1990, the US Secretary of Defense announced
that the military would begin a process to reduce the number
of nationwide military installations and Fort Ord was one of
the bases named for closure. In 1991, it was formally announced
that Fort Ord would be downsized to a small enclose (closed).
The 1991 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC91)
recommended that Fort Ord be closed and troops of the 7th Infantry
Division (Light) be relocated to Fort Lewis, Washington.
Although Fort Ord was closed in September
1994, the Army retained approximately 5 percent of the property
for a Presidio of Monterey (POM) annex and reserve center. The
POM annex is on a 785-acre parcel near Gigling and North-South
Roads. The Army retained a 12-acre parcel near Imjin Gate at
Reservation Road for continued use as an Army reserve center.
The Defense Language Institute is located on the Presidio of
Monterey (POM), about eight miles from the Presidio of Monterey
Annex, where the majority of students and permanent party assigned
to the Institute live in military housing on a portion of what
used to be Fort Ord. Also located on the Annex are the commissary,
post exchange, main chapel, the Youth Services Center, Army Community
Service, AAFES gas station, the Thrift Shop, the library, a Child
Development Center, a grammar school and a middle school.
A local Community Task Force was formed
to address the impacts of this announcement and prepare a strategy
report. This report helped set direction for many activities
that were to follow. Following completion of the report, the
Task Force disbanded and a new group was formed to develop a
Base Reuse Plan. The new group, called the Fort Ord Reuse Group
(FORG) was formed. The Base Reuse Plan was in initial preparation
stages when special State legislation was passed changing FORG
into a governing body known as the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA).
FORA became responsible for planning, financing, implementing,
and regulating a base reuse plan to receive former Fort Ord property
from the U.S. Department of the Army for development by the local
A Multi-Range Area (MRA) is located in
the south-central portion of Fort Ord. Lands within the boundaries
of the MRA are expected to have the highest density of ordnance
and explosives (OE), with specific target areas having the highest
densities. OE is defined as bombs and warheads; guided and ballistic
missiles; artillery and mortar; containerized and uncontainerized
explosives and propellants; and all similar and related items
and components explosive in nature or otherwise designed to cause
damage to personnel or material; soils with explosives constituents
sufficient to be reactive and present an imminent safety hazard.
Known OE sites are posted with warning signs and are off-limits
to unauthorized people.
The area's climate is characterized by
warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. The Pacific Ocean
is the principal influence on the climate at Fort Ord, causing
fog and onshore winds that moderate temperature extremes. Daily
ambient air temperatures typically range from 40 to 70 degrees
Fahrenheit, but temperatures in the low 100s have occurred. Fog
is common in the morning throughout the year. Winds are generally
from the west.
The average annual rainfall of 14 inches
occurs almost entirely between November and April. Because the
predominant soil is permeable sand, runoff is limited and streamflow
only occurs intermittently and within the very steep canyons
in the eastern portion of Fort Ord.
Located six miles east of Monterey on
28,000 acres as an artillery base called Gigling Field Artillery
Range, this post became one of the Army's largest training and
replacement centers. It was designated Camp Ord by General Orders,
No. 11, War Department, 1933 in honor of General E. O. Ord. Born
in 1818 in Cumberland, Maryland, General Ord was the direct descendent
of King George IV. Edward Otho Cresap Ord graduated from West
Point Army Military Academy in 1839. He was commissioned a Second
Lieutenant and assigned to the Third Artillery and sent to Florida
where he saw active service in the Seminole War. He was sent
to Monterey where he did garrison duty during the American Conquest
of California. He saw active service against the Indians in the
Northwest. He was given the rank of Brigadier General of Volunteers
at the outbreak of the Civil War and was advanced to Major General
on December 20, 1861 and commanded the Left Wing of General Grant's
Army. He was appointed Commander of the 18th Army Corps on July
21, 1864 and took part in the Richmond Campaign. In 1868 General
Ord was made Brigadier General in the Regular Army and mustered
out of the Volunteer Service. He retired in 1880 and in 1881
by Special Act of Congress was commissioned Major General. He
died in 1883 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Little improvements occurred at Camp Ord
until 1938. Then with the clouds of war hanging over Europe the
modern history of the reservation began. WPA construction crews
began work on permanent buildings as well as the wooden barracks,
mess halls and other temporary structures needed to serve the
men and officers of the newly reactivated 7th Division.
On August 14, 1940 Camp Ord, under command
of then Brigadier General "Vinegar" Joe Stilwell, was
designated Fort Ord. By the end of 1941, some $12 million in
improvements were completed.
The 7th Division trained at Fort Ord and
used it as the base for its defense of the west coast until it
was made a motorized division and sent to the Mojave Desert to
train. The 7th returned to Fort Ord later for amphibious training,
remaining till deploying to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska in
1943 to expel the Japanese invaders.
Fort Ord was a staging area for other
famous fighting units during World War II who were to be deployed
to the Pacific Theater. These included the 3rd, 27th, 43rd and
35th Divisions. At the height of its activity as a training and
replacement center during World War II, the post housed over
50,000 troops. Its average population stood at nearly 35,000
soldiers. Following the war, Fort Ord became a training center
for the Infantry, offering basic and advanced training. The 4th,
5th, and 6th Infantry Divisions all conducted training at Fort
Ord. In 1957 the 6th Army assumed that mission and continued
through the Vietnam era. During the 1960s Fort Ord also served
as a staging area for units departing for Asia, while continuing
its mission as an infantry-training center. In 1959 Fritzsche
Army Airfield was completed with a 3,000-foot runway. It had
five hangars, the largest some 20,000 square feet.
In 1974, the 7th Infantry Division was
reactivated at Fort Ord, bringing it full circle. In 1975 basic
and advanced unit training was ended.
During the early 1980s the 7th Infantry
Division was chosen to become the newly established "light"
infantry divisional concept. The 7th Infantry Division remained
at Fort Ord throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
In April of 1991, the Secretary of Defense
announced the proposed closure of bases; Fort Ord was one of
100 bases on the list. In closing the Fort the Army retained
portions of the Fort for the Defense Language Institute and the
Naval Postgraduate School to be known as the Presidio of Monterey
Annex. Disposal implementation of the rest of the Fort was by
the Corps of Engineers. At its closing Fort Ord had 6,000 family
housing units and 4,200 structures. A major part of the Fort
eventually became a state university campus. The 7th Infantry
Division and Fort Ord Museum were established in 1990 using five
of the original buildings located at the 12th Street Gate. With
the transfer of a brigade of the 7th infantry to Fort Lewis in
Washington State and the disestablishment of the rest of the
division the museum was closed and the artifacts transferred
to other organizations. Fritzsche Army Airfield became the municipal
airport of the City of Marina. The Fort Ord Realignment Authority
(FORA) was formed to help local governments work with the Army
to transfer various parts of the Fort to their jurisdictions.
of the 7th Infantry Division and Fort Ord Museum.
Ord in World War II
From the Fort Ord Panorama Newspaper
Fort Ord began its evolution into what we
would recognize today in June 1940. The area purchased in 1917
and known to the troops at the Presidio of Monterey as the devils
own acres had been used by them as a training and maneuver
area since World War I. The area sometimes known as the Gigling
Reservation then consisted of 15,000 acres of manzanita scrub
brush and sand. Elements of the 3rd Infantry Division participated
in exercises here in early 1940 before building began in earnest.
The 7th Infantry Division was activated
by order of the War Department on 1 July 1940 at Fort Ord with
the soon to be famous Brigadier General Joseph Stilwell as its
first commander since World War I. It began moving into a tent
city at Camp Ord (later called East Garrison), while a more permanent
post was hurriedly constructed in an area close to Highway 1,
known as Camp Clayton. One of the units stationed at the Presidio
of Monterey during the inter-war years, 2/76th Field Artillery,
became the first unit of the new division. The other unit that
was stationed at the Presidio of Monterey, the 11th Cavalry, was
soon moved to southern California for duty on the Mexican Border.
The 17th Infantry Regiment, a unit traditionally associated with
the 7th Infantry Division, was pulled from various posts throughout
the country and assembled at Fort Ord. Other units assembled or
activated at Fort Ord for inclusion in the Division were: the
32nd Infantry, the 53rd Infantry (activated 1 August 1940), and
the 31st Field Artillery (activated 1 July 1940). Non-divisional
units at Fort Ord were: the 19th Engineer Regiment (Combat, Corps)
-- this unit originally activated as the 39th Engineer Regiment
(General Service) on 27 June 1940 was redesignated as the 19th
four days later -- and the 1st Medical Regiment.
As units moved into newly built barracks
at Camp Clayton, the tents at Camp Ord became available for National
Guard units called to active duty during the national emergency.
The 147th Artillery (South Dakota National Guard) arrived Camp
Clayton at Camp Ord after a remarkable overland journey from South
Dakota that began in a blizzard. The, artillery regiments were
later broken up to provide the separate field artillery battalions
that were married with regiments throughout the army to form the
regimental combat teams that were used during World War II and
after. The 76th Field Artillery, for instance, was split into
the 74th, 75th, and 76th field artillery battalions in January
By December of 1940, Fort Ord had 1,098
buildings finished or in progress. Just under $15 million in contracts
had been let for construction at Fort Ord by that time. A 1,500-bed
hospital on the new post opened in February 1941. Additional land
was acquired that expanded the post to about 30,000 acres. Facilities
at the Hearst Ranch, acquired in October 1940 and later renamed
Camp Hunter Liggett were also constructed
by elements of the 19th Engineers. Fourth Army conducted a large
command post exercise there in the summer of 1941. Another unit,
the 250th Coast Artillery (National Guard), was assembled at Camp McQuaide near Watsonville. This
post later became a coast artillery replacement training center
and then a large military confinement facility.
These posts were all included in the Fort
Ord-Presidio of Monterey area. In December of 1940, the III Corp
headquarters was installed in the post headquarters buildings
at the Presidio of Monterey. The corps was comprised of the 7th
Infantry Division and the 40th Infantry Division (National Guard)
at Camp San Luis Obispo.
In January of 1941, Stilwell became the
III Corps commander. In spite of this transfer, and subsequent
duty in the China-Burma--India Theater, Stilwell would be forever
associated with the division he activated and built. Brigadier
General White, the assistant division commander, was appointed
as the new commander of the division.
Throughout this period the Presidio (and
Fort Ord) was a regional reception center for draftees called
to duty during the general mobilization. As most of the draftees
that arrived at Fort Ord were from California and other western
states, the 7th Infantry Division had an unusually large
percentage of Mexicans and Indians. Records indicate that
there was a training establishment of some sort as there is mention
of 11th and 13th training battalions at Camp Clayton but it unclear
when and how these units were used. Many of the new inductees
went straight to units as they were activated or expanded without
benefit of basic training, as we know it today.
Just prior to the Japanese attack at Pearl
Harbor, the 53rd Infantry was transferred to the Presidio of San
Francisco to replace the 30th Infantry, which had been transferred
after many years of duty there. The 159th Infantry of the 40th
Infantry Division from Camp San Luis Obispo replaced them at Fort
Ord. Much of this information was culled from yellowing copies
of the Panorama. After the attack on Pearl Harbor and throughout
the war years, the Panorama, by necessity, omitted any mention
of specific units or movements. Fort Ord units guarded the coast
and critical facilities in central and northern California for
months after the attack. The 3rd Infantry Division, which went
on to fame in, the European Theater trained here before heading
off to the East Coast and the landings in North Africa in November
1942. The headquarters of the 27th Infantry Division was activated
at Fort Ord in January of 1942 before moving to Hawaii the following
month. The precursor to XVIII Corps (Airborne), the II Armored
Corps, was also born at the Presidio of Monterey in January of
that year. In the fall of 1942, the 43rd Infantry Division was
at Fort Ord before departing for New Zealand. XVIII Corps was
born at the Presidio of Monterey on 10 October 1943 by the redesignation
of the II Armored Corps headquartered there. Another unit of interest,
the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment, was activated in April and
eventually included a few veterans of fighting on Bataan that
had been wounded, evacuated, and returned to duty in the United
States. Black troops were also at Fort Ord. Most were in smaller
colored quartermaster units. Monterey had its own
colored USO and (lest you think that awareness of
black history was a new thing) the week beginning 8 February 1943
was designated Negro1 History Week. The first contingent
of German prisoners-of- war arrived in March 1943.
As the war went on, most of the large units
had already been activated and had deployed overseas or were deploying.
Emphasis shifted from activating and preparing units for overseas
movement to supplying individual replacements for existing units.
Problems with the readiness and training of individuals already
sent overseas led to the formation of two centers with specific
intention of preparing replacements for ground combat forces for
overseas movement. One was established on the East Coast at Fort
Meade, the other was established on the West Coast at Fort Ord.
As the last major units departed the continental United States
for campaigns in such places as the Aleutians in the summer of
1943, room was available on the installations like Fort Ord. Army
Ground Forces (similar to TRADOC) Replacement Depot 2 opened in
World War II placed increased emphasis on
amphibious warfare particularly in the Pacific Theater and Fort
Ord with access to the many beaches of the Monterey Bay became
the home of an amphibious training unit designated the 18th Armored
Group. Pictures in the Panorama of the various types of amphibious
equipment used in and around Fort Ord as the war progressed, reveals
the evolution of amphibious warfare during World War II from simple
over-the-side Higgins boats to sophisticated tracked vehicles
and drop ramp landing craft. Fort Ord amphibs participated
in the D-Day landings and in all the Army amphibious operations
in the Pacific. New equipment for amphibious warfare tested and
reviewed by the Landing Vehicle Board established by the Army
here on 11 April 1944. The Amphibious Equipment Branch superceded
this shortly after the war in Oct.1945.
Other notable events in the Monterey area
during the rest of the war included the opening of the Stilwell
Hall enlisted club on 24 September 1943 and the movement of the
newly reactivated Fourth Army Headquarters to the Presidio of
Monterey from San Jose. After the departure of Fourth Army for
Texas in 1943, III Corps returned to the Presidio of Monterey
from Fort McPherson in January 1944. Headquarters III Corps departed
in August 1944 and was replaced be a new type of headquarters
that became a model for others around the country, the 1st Headquarters
and Headquarters Detachment, Special Troops, Army Ground Forces,
was established at Fort Ord in August 1944. As large headquarters
that had been responsible for miscellaneous units inn the United
States deployed overseas, units like this were established to
exercise command and control over these units. There was an unsuccessful
attempt by 500 German POWs to escape by tunnel in early August
and Italian Service Companies consisting of former Italian POWs
who had volunteered for service with US forces (Italy had surrendered)
began arriving in September.
After VE day and preparations were
underway for intensified operations in the Pacific culminating
in the invasion of Japan. A combined Army-Navy Civil Affairs Staging
Area (CASA) was established to prepare military government personnel.
Another headquarters, XXXVI Corps, was formed at the Presidio.
After the first atomic bomb was dropped in August, this corps
was replaced by the famous VII Corps, returning from Europe in
preparation for service against Japan and had most recently been
at Camp San Luis Obispo. As the war wound down the discharge center
that originally been at the Presidio of Monterey was moved to
Camp Beale (now Beale Air Force Base). Fort Ord continued on its
training capacity after the war.
1 All descriptions of ethnicities are as
indicated on the original historical documentation.
Units Assigned to Giglang Military Reservation, Camp Ord and
Order of Battle 1919-1940
91st Division (Organized Reserves)
and Headquarters Company, 79th Infantry Brigade (California National
and Headquarters Companies, 181st and 182nd nfantry Brigades
and Headquarters Troop, 162nd Cavalry Brigade (Organized Reserves)
and Headquarters Battery, 166th Field Artillery Brigade (Organized
Regiment (Regular Army Inactive)
184th and 185th Infantry Regiments (California National Guard)