Fort Meade history

Photo of General George G. MeadeFort George G. Meade
Fort Meade became an active Army installation in 1917. Authorized by an Act of Congress in May 1917, it was one of 16 cantonments built for troops drafted for the war with the Central Powers in Europe. The present Maryland site was selected June 23, 1917 because of its close proximity to the railroad, Baltimore port and Washington D.C. The cost for construction was $18 million and the land sold for $37 per acre in 1917. The Post was originally named Camp Meade for Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade, whose victory at the Battle of Gettysburg proved a major factor in turning the tide of the Civil War in favor of the North.

World War I
During World War I, more than 400,000 Soldiers passed through Fort Meade, a training site for three infantry divisions, three training battalions and one depot brigade. During World War I, the Post remount station collected over 22,000 horses and mules. Major Peter F. Meade, a nephew of General Meade, was the officer in charge of the remount station. The "Hello Girls" were an important part of Fort Meade history. The women served as bilingual telephone-switchboard operators in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. In 1928, the Post was redesignated Fort Leonard Wood, but Pennsylvania congressmen, angry at removing the name of native son George Meade, held up Army appropriations until the Army agreed to name the new permanent installation Fort George G. Meade on March 5, 1929.

Tank Corps Joe
Around 1923, the famed tank riding dog, Old Joe, befriended the Soldiers who manned the infantry's light tanks. Joe became the Sixty-Sixth Infantry's official pet by order of the commanding officer of Fort Meade and acquired fame by becoming the Army's only tank-riding dog. Joe died in 1937 in the post hospital. The entire Sixty-Sixth Infantry honored Joe with a military formation and a procession of tanks and military trucks escorted Joe to a grave near one of the tank parks.

World War II
Photo of Fort Meade, circa 1940.Fort Meade became a training center during World War II, its ranges and other facilities used by more than 200 units and approximately 3,500,000 men between 1942 and 1946. The wartime peak-military personnel figure at Fort Meade was reached in March, 1945 ­ 70,000. Fort Meade was home to many services. The Cooks and Bakers School supplied bread for the entire Post (approximately 20,000 people including families of married men). In 1942, the Third Service Command opened the Special Services Unit Training Center where Soldiers were trained in all phases of the entertainment field. Entertainers, musicians, and others involved in the entertainment industry, including swing-band leader, Glenn Miller, served in Special Services. Fort Meade was home to a number of German and Italian prisoners of war. In September 1943, the first shipment of 1,632 Italian and 58 German prisoners arrived at Fort Meade. Some of those prisoners, including a highly decorated German submarine commander named Werner Henke, died during their captivity and were buried at Fort Meade. Over 150,000 American women served in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II. Members of the WAC were the first women other than nurses to serve within the ranks of the United States Army.

The Cold War
With the conclusion of World War II, Fort Meade reverted to routine peacetime activities. One key post-World War II event at Fort Meade was the transfer from Baltimore, on June 15, 1947, of the Second U.S. Army Headquarters. This transfer brought an acceleration of post activity, because Second Army Headquarters exercised command over Army units throughout a seven-state area. A second important development occurred on January 1, 1966, when the Second U.S. Army merged with the First U.S. Army. The consolidated headquarters moved from Fort Jay, N.Y. to Fort Meade to administer activities of Army installations in a 15-state area.

The Modern Era
In August 1990, Fort Meade began processing Army Reserve and National Guard units from several states for the presidential call-up in support of Operation Desert Shield. In addition to processing reserve and guard units, Fort Meade sent two of its own active duty units ­ the 85th Medical Battalion and the 519th Military Police Battalion ­ to Saudi Arabia. In all, approximately 2,700 personnel from 42 units deployed from Fort Meade during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

Around the post

Many buildings around the post have been named to honor Army Soldiers.

  • Abrams Hall (2793 Hawkins Road), named after Gen. Creighton Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff.

  • Brett Hall (4707 Ruffner Road), named after Medal of Honor recipient 2nd Lt. Lloyd M. Brett, the American Indian Wars.

  • DeKalb U.S. Army Reserve Center (1251 Annapolis Road), named after Maj. Gen. Baron DeKalb, military hero of the Revolutionary War.

  • Hale Hall (4554 Llewellyn Avenue), named after Revolutionary War hero Capt. Nathan Hale.

  • Heard Hall (4709 Ruffner Road), named after Medal of Honor recipient 1st Lt. John Heard, killed in action during the Spanish American War.

  • Hodges Hall (4551 Llewellyn Avenue), named after Maj. Gen. Courtney Hodges, First Army commander in the European Theater of Operations, World War II.

  • Kuhn Hall (4415 Llewellyn Avenue), named after Maj. Gen. Joseph Kuhn, 79th Infantry Division, and first Post Commander of Camp Meade.

  • MacArthur Junior High School (Rockenbach Avenue), named after Gen. Douglas MacArthur, World War I, World War II and the Korean War.

  • Pershing Hall (4550 Parade Field Lane), named after General of the Armies John J. "Blackjack" Pershing, Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, World War I. He was also the first commander of First U.S. Army.

  • Pulaski Hall (4216 Roberts Avenue), named after Gen. Casimir Pulaski, Gen. George Washington's Aide-de-Camp.

  • Quick Hall (9804 Love Road), named after Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Maj. John Quick, U.S. Marine Corps, during the Spanish American War.

  • Smallwood Hall (4650 Griffin Avenue), named after Maj. Gen. William Smallwood, Revolutionary War military hero.

  • Argonne Hills Chapel, named after World War I battle/campaign area in France.

  • Burba Park, named after Gen. Edwin Burba, First U.S. Army Commander, 1968-1970.

  • Ernie Pyle Street, named after Pulitzer Prize winning World War II journalist.

  • Llewellyn Avenue, named after 1st Lt. Robert C. Llewellyn, killed in action in France during World War I.

  • Mapes Road, named after Sgt. Marvin E. Mapes, killed in action during World War I.

  • McGlachlin Field, named after Maj. Gen. Edward McGlachlin, commander, 7th Infantry Division during World War I.

  • Reece Road, named after Sgt. Sam Reece, killed in action during World War II.

  • Roberts Avenue, named after Cpl. Harold Roberts, Medal of Honor recipient, killed in action during World War I in France.

  • Rock Avenue, named after 2nd Lt. William C. Rock, Distinguished Service Cross recipient, killed in action during World War II.

  • Rockenbach Avenue, named after Brig. Gen. Samuel Rockenbach, who helped develop tank warfare. The Army Tank School was originally located at Fort Meade after World War I.

  • Zimborski Avenue, named after Cpl. Albert J. Zimborski, Distinguished Service Cross recipient, killed in action during World War II.

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