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161st Infantry Regiment, Washington National Guard
The 161st Infantry Regiment is a unit of the Washington National Guard that has served in U.S. military operations since World War I. Washington's National Guard began with the formation of the 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments in 1886 and 1887. The two regiments were combined and in 1917 the unit was renumbered as the 161st Infantry Regiment and assigned to the 41st Division along with National Guard units from neighboring states. The 161st was called to federal service in World War I and its troops served as replacements. During World War II, the regiment was again federalized and assigned to the 25th Infantry Division. It fought at Guadalcanal, New Georgia, and the Philippines. The regiment's soldiers performed bravely in tough battles on these South Pacific Islands, and many received awards for valor. The 161st Infantry Regiment was reorganized several times during the Cold War, and its one remaining unit served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005.
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Boeing B-29 Superfortress Bomber
Famed for its World War II exploits, Boeing's Superfortress was conceived before the war. The B-29 was born near the war's midpoint, flying on September 21, 1942, built and employed in large numbers during the conflict. It successfully performed several roles during 15 months of combat, including bomber, minelayer, photoreconnaissance, search and rescue, and electronic warfare. B-29s fought in the Pacific theater, flying mostly from small islands with the world's largest airbases, over vast stretches of ocean, to enemy targets that could be more than 2,000 miles distant. Known as the only aircraft to drop atomic bombs in war, the B-29 contributed a major share to the Allied victory over Japan with its firebomb attacks and mine laying missions in the waters surrounding the home islands.
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Boeing B-47 Stratojet Bomber
Sleek. Rakish. Seemingly poised to thunder into the wild blue yonder sits an Air Force Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber, guarding the south entrance to the Seattle Museum of Flight. Contemporary in appearance and perhaps the best-looking Boeing aircraft, the Stratojet flew for the first time on December 17, 1947. Swift and lethal, the B-47 introduced to production aircraft the sweptback wing with under-wing, pylon-mounted turbojet engines. This basic airplane configuration is now the accepted standard worldwide for all large turbojet powered airliners and transports. Just over five years separated the initial flights (in 1942) of the B-29 Superfortress, a very advanced propeller-driven bomber, and the B-47, its turbojet driven, nearly twice as fast, younger brother.
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Clark, General Mark Wayne (1896-1984)
On July 27, 1937 Major Mark Wayne Clark received an assignment to the Third Division, Fort Lewis, Washington, as Assistant Chief of Staff. This would be the start of an association with the state, including consideration of retirement to Camano Island. During World War II he would become a famous general. After the war in 1949 Washington honored him by naming the new bridge from Stanwood to Camano Island, Washington, the General Mark Clark Bridge.
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Fort Lawton to Discovery Park
During the 1890s Seattle, to boost its economy, actively sought an army post. The War Department also desired an army presence and encouraged the City to provide free land. The land was conveyed in 1898, construction began, and the new post was named in honor of General Henry Lawton (d. 1899), recently killed in action in the Philippines. Seattle expected it to be a major installation, but it remained a small post. The post is best known for events other than military accomplishments: a 1944 soldier raid on Italian prisoner camp, a court martial with injustices corrected more than 60 years later, a 1970 Indian demonstration and occupation, and struggles to convert the fort into Discovery Park.
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Fort Lewis Golf Course
In 1929 General Joseph Castner, using troop labor and army engineers, laid out the first Fort Lewis golf course on prairie land west of the fort. In 1938-1940, a professionally designed Work Projects Administration (WPA) 18-hole course and clubhouse replaced the original. This course contributed to troop morale during World War II and many soldiers learned to play golf here. Some of them became life-long golfers. A number of top professionals have been involved. They include Professional Golf Association champion Bob Hamilton (1916-1990), who taught golf and played on the Fort Lewis team. Since World War II some soldiers perfected their skills here and went on to successful golf careers. The course continues to enhance soldier well-being and help create outstanding golfers.
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Fort Lewis Prisoners of War (World War II)
During World War II, Fort Lewis in Pierce County held about 4,000 German prisoners of war. The POWs were confined there between 1942 and 1946. A few died from illness or from their war wounds, but most enjoyed food and living conditions far better than they had in the deserts of North Africa or in the battlefields of Europe. International Red Cross inspectors judged their prison conditions strict but fair.
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Fort Lewis, Part 1, 1917-1927
In 1916 Tacoma civic leaders promoted the development of a United States Army camp on the Nisqually Plain, located in Pierce County south of Tacoma. They succeeded in gaining War Department support and in January 1917 Pierce County voters overwhelming approved a bond to purchase about 70,000 acres and donate the land to the federal government for a military camp. In May 1917, Captain David L. Stone (b. 1876), Quartermaster Corps, arrived at the American Lake site to supervise camp construction. Hurley-Mason Construction of Tacoma started work on June 15. They erected 1,757 major buildings with a troop capacity of 44,685. On July 18, 1917, the camp was named in honor of Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and it opened on September 1, 1917. The Ninety-First Division, Major General Henry A. Greene commanding, arrived and launched into rigorous training. The Ninety-First Division served with honor in France and as they fought, the Thirteenth Division trained at Camp Lewis, but then World War I ended and the division dissolved. Camp Lewis demobilized soldiers and then went into dramatic decline. Pierce County became concerned over lack of use and some even argued that the county should take back the land. However, the camp recovered and in 1927 a large building program made the post permanent and in recognition of that status became Fort Lewis. This is Part 1 of a two-part history of Fort Lewis, located in Pierce County, south of Tacoma.
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Fort Lewis, Part 2, 1927-2010
The permanent Fort Lewis went up between 1927 and 1939 with the construction of stately brick buildings in an attractive layout. In 1939 the permanent construction program ended and temporary wood buildings then became commonplace. During World War II new compounds were erected at North Fort Lewis, Northeast Fort Lewis, and South Fort Lewis and within the main cantonment area. Training and preparedness intensified leading up to and throughout World War II. Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), the future general and president, served at Fort Lewis from 1940 to 1941. The post functioned to train soldiers for other wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Global War on Terrorism. Following World War II, the fort modernized, but retained its historic core of original permanent buildings. In 2010, Fort Lewis merged with neighboring McChord Air Force Base to form Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This is Part 2 of a two-part history of Fort Lewis.
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Fort Lewis: Convalescent House/ Family Resource Center
During World War I, the American Red Cross built and operated a convalescent house at Camp Lewis (and another at Vancouver Barracks), maintaining the center for about a year, until the wounded war veterans could return to their homes. The Red Cross operated the Camp Lewis house (sometimes called Hostess House) as a very homelike convalescent facility from February 1919 until January 1920, when the army announced a reduction in the Camp Lewis hospital patient count. The Red Cross concluded operations, turned the facility over to the army, and it became an Army Service Club. After two or three more re-uses, the building was restored and in 1997 won the Washington State Historic Preservation Office’s Annual Award for Outstanding Achievement in Historic Rehabilitation. Today it serves as Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Family Resource center.
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Fort Lewis: Gray Army Airfield
Aviation came early to Camp Lewis with flights in October 1921 from Sand Point, Seattle, to the camp's sod runway. In 1922 the first hangar went up. Soon after that a dirigible Mooring Mast was erected and a dirigible landed. The first major construction occurred in 1938. Also, that year the field was named Gray Army Airfield (GAAF) in honor of balloon pilot Captain Lawrence Gray (1889-1927) . Gray Field served observation squadrons, first balloon and later aircraft units. During World War II patrol planes flew from here. In 1949 a most unusual event happened, an accidental pilotless plane flight to Ellensburg. Gray Field played an important role in helicopter operations in Vietnam and helicopter missile operations. This airfield continues to train and provide air support as well as search and rescue missions on Mount Rainier.
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Fort Lewis: Mount Rainier Ordnance Depot
The Mount Rainier Ordnance Depot served the United States Army between 1942 and 1963 as a primary vehicle-, arms-, and missile-repair facility. This depot provided ordnance equipment to the Pacific area and Alaska in World War II. During the war nearly half the depot workers were women, most employed in mechanical work for the first time. These women workers, WOWs (Women Ordnance Workers), made a substantial contribution to the war effort. Following World War II, depot activities declined, but picked up during the Korean War and the Cold War. As weapons changed, the depot mission responded, in the 1950s assuming missile-repair duties. The facility, located at the northeast corner of the Fort Lewis Military Reservation and known today as the Fort Lewis Logistics Center, continues to serve as an important hub for deployment, repair, and salvage activities.
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Fort Lewis: Red Shield Inn (Fort Lewis Museum)
The Red Shield Inn, located on present-day Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Mile 119 on interstate 5 (Pierce County), opened in December 1919. Camp Lewis had opened in September 1917 and soon was home to over 25,000 soldiers, creating a demand for guest housing to accommodate family visitors. In response to this need the Salvation Army war-relief effort built a 150-room hotel across the Pacific highway from the camp. In 1921 the hotel became army transient housing and served in that role until 1972, when it was closed due to safety issues. The former Red Shield Inn became the Fort Lewis Museum in 1973 and was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Today it functions as a museum and training center.
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Fort Steilacoom (1849-1868)
Fort Steilacoom, located in south Puget Sound near Lake Steilacoom, was established by the United States Army in 1849. Protection of settlers in the area had become an issue. As well, the United States was anxious to plant the flag on land claimed by Britain. (Britain had ceded the territory south of the 49th parallel in 1846, but claimed this land as a commercial enterprise. Fort Steilacoom was established in what was then Oregon Territory. Congress would create Washington Territory in 1853.) In August 1849 the U.S. Army moved onto the Joseph Heath farm to establish the fort, leasing the land from the British Hudson’s Bay Company. The fort served as a headquarters in the 1855-1856 Indian Wars, but there were no hostile actions here. A major event was the incarceration of Nisqually Chief Leschi (1808-1858) in the fort guardhouse. The post commander and other officers protested his trial and murder conviction, arguing that he was probably not guilty, as a state of war had existed. Fort Steilacoom was closed in 1868 and became the site of the Western State Hospital, a psychiatric facility. Today (2012) the Fort Steilacoom Museum is also located on the site.
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Fort Walla Walla
There were no fewer than four outposts named Fort Walla Walla, but the last and most enduring was established as a cavalry post on March 18, 1858. This military reservation housed soldiers who would fight in the Pacific Northwest Indian Wars and help to bring law and order to early communities of settlers, but the fort and the army were disgraced in April 1891 when soldiers stationed there shot and killed a local gambler in Walla Walla. During its first 40 years repeated efforts to close the fort were rebuffed, but in 1910 it finally was shut down. In the 1920s it became a veteran’s hospital. Since then its use has changed to meet new needs. The facility was renamed in 1996 as the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial VA Medical Center to honor a famous World War II general and hero who was born at the fort in 1883.
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Forts of Washington Territory, Indian War Era, 1855-1856
The era of the treaty wars in Washington Territory lasted from 1855-1856.Territorial Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs Isaac Stevens (1818-1862) ordered the building of forts and blockhouses to provide settlers safe refuge. Blockhouses were erected in settler communities around the territory. Only a few had stockades and minimal housing. Most were constructed by the militia, the Washington Territorial Volunteers. The U.S. Army built a few forts and individuals created blockhouses or defenses for themselves and neighbors. These defenses lasted only a short time. The threat was over by the end of 1856 with treaties signed in which Indians gave up huge land areas. With the 1856 treaties most of the forts were abandoned. A few survive today to recall that era.
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ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles) in Washington State
During the Cold War Washington state served an important role in defending the United States and in deterring attacks. Eighteen intercontinental ballistic missiles installed near Moses Lake and Spokane were a significant deterrence element. The intercontinental ballistic missiles served as a warning to the Soviet Union that any attack on the United States would bring about its destruction. The Atlas E and Titan I missiles were installed, and during 1961-1962, the ICBM bases became operational. By 1965 these missiles were outmoded and the bases closed. All but one of the missile complexes were sold to private individuals and today they remain in private ownership.
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Larson Air Force Base -- Grant County International Airport
In November 1942 the United States Army established a training airfield at Moses Lake in central Washington's Grant County. The base became inactive at the end of the war but the airfield, with its long runways and excellent flying weather, was used by Boeing as a test field. The U.S. Air Force reopened the base in 1948, and it was soon named to honor Donald A. Larson of Yakima, a World War II fighter ace. Larson Air Force Base became an important Cold War facility intended to protect the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. It also became a bomber base where B-52s were stationed. The base closed in the mid-1960s as an economy measure. The property has been effectively reused as an airport, aircraft training field, industrial park, and home of Big Bend Community College.
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Love, Linnie (1893-1918): Singer Who Gave Life for Camp Lewis Soldiers
Linnie Lucille Love was a child actress, dancer, and singer in early Washington popular vaudeville. She advanced her skills by studying grand opera at New York City music conservatories. Upon completion of her New York training she appeared on Broadway and then toured the country with the Metropolitan Opera Quartet. She teamed up with singer Lorna Lea and they joined the YMCA Entertainers to tour Western military camps during World War I. While performing at Camp Lewis, Linnie Love was stricken with the influenza virus. She died of it on November 12, 1918. Ten years later, a national campaign led to the U.S. Congress funding a monument at her grave.
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McChord Field, McChord Air Force Base, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord: Part 1
McChord Air Force Base, now part of Joint Base Lewis-McChord and located south of Tacoma, started out as a municipal airport serving Pierce County before being taken over by the military in 1938. The federal government converted the civilian facility into a major air force base, with the Public Works Administration (PWA) building permanent barracks, hangars, housing, and administration buildings in the Moderne style. The former Tacoma Field was named McChord Field in honor of Colonel William C. McChord (1881-1937) on May 5, 1938. During World War II McChord Field served as a major bomber-training base. Nine airmen who participated in the April 1942 Doolittle raid had their B-25 training here. Following the formation of the U.S. Air Force in 1947 the field became McChord Air Force Base.
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United States Army establishes Camp Columbia at the Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Vancouver on May 13, 1849.
On May 13, 1849, Companies L and M of the United States Army First Artillery arrive at the Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Vancouver and establish an army post that they initially name Camp Columbia. The post, later called Columbia Barracks, Fort Vancouver Military Reservation, and Vancouver Barracks, is located on a bluff above the north bank of the Columbia River on the future site of the city of Vancouver, Clark County. The Army maintains a major presence at the base for nearly 100 years, until after the end of World War II.
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Private Gustavus Sohon accompanies the U.S. Army expedition exploring Eastern Washington in the summer of 1853.
In the summer of 1853, U.S. Army Private Gustavus Sohon (1825-1903) accompanies the first official American expedition to explore the territory between the Snake and the Spokane rivers. He travels as a military escort to Lieutenant Rufus Saxton, who conducts a pack train from Fort Dalles to the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana, where he meets the eastern arm of the Pacific Railroad Expedition under Isaac Stevens (1818-1862), the newly appointed governor of Washington Territory.
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United States establishes Fort Simcoe at the foot of the Simcoe Mountains on August 8, 1856.
In August 1856, U.S. Army Colonel George Wright (1803-1865) establishes Fort Simcoe at the foot of the Simcoe Mountains about 30 miles west of what will become Toppenish, in the future Yakima County. Wright and military leaders hope that the post will keep peace by preventing white settlement of Indian lands. The Army will abandon the post in 1859 and it will become an Indian agency.
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Captain George Pickett begins construction of Fort Bellingham on August 26, 1856.
On August 26, 1856, U.S. Army Captain George Pickett (1825-1875) arrives on Bellingham Bay from Fort Steilacoom to construct a military installation. Pickett's job is to build a fort that will deter the attacks by "northern Indians" on the bayside villages of Whatcom, Sehome, and Fairhaven. Fort Bellingham will bring prestige and security to the area.
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Yakama, Palouse, Spokane, and Coeur d'Alene warriors defeat the U.S. Army under Lieutenant Colonel Edward Steptoe on May 17, 1858.
On May 17, 1858, Yakama, Palouse, Spokane, and Coeur d'Alene Indians attack a column of U.S. Army troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Edward Steptoe (1816-1865). The year 1858 is a time of high tension in the Inland Northwest, as wary Native Americans face the oncoming encroachment of Euro-Americans in ever greater numbers, including miners, farmers, and stock raisers who have their eye on lands that were the ancestral homes of the tribes. Steptoe's failure in his foray into the heart of Indian lands temporarily gives hope to the Indians, but a punitive invasion by Colonel George Wright (1803-1865), several months later, will result in military defeat and oppression.
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U.S. Army founds Fort Colville on June 20, 1859.
On June 20, 1859, Captain (Brevet Major) Pinkney Lugenbeel (also spelled Lougenbeel) (1819-1886) arrives in the Colville Valley and selects a site near the present town of Colville, Spokane County (later Stevens), for establishing a new fort. Initially it is called Harney's Depot, named for Brigadier General William S. Harney (1800-1889), his commanding officer, who has authorized the fort as a means of defending miners and settlers encroaching into Indian tribal areas as yet unsecured by treaty. The establishment of Fort Colville in 1859 comes on the heels of the 1858 defeat of Colonel Edward Steptoe (1816-1865) by Indians near present Rosalia and the subsequent victories of Colonel George Wright (1803-1865) in the battles of Four Lakes and Spokane Plains during the Indian War of 1858. The fort will also serve as the headquarters and provide escorts for the American contingent of the International Boundary Commission charged with locating and marking the 49th parallel as the boundary with Canada. The name of the fort soon changes to Fort Colville (not to be confused with the earlier Hudson's Bay Company fur trade post, Fort Colvile, spelled with one "l" in the second syllable, and located 15 miles west on the Columbia River at Kettle Falls). A civilian village, Pinkney City, named for Lugenbeel, develops just across the creek to serve as a supply and trading center for the fort and surrounding countryside. Fort Colville continues under a succession of commanders until its closure in 1882.
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Civil War ends on April 9 and news reaches Olympia on April 11, 1865.
On April 11, 1865, word reaches Olympia, Washington, that on the afternoon of April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee (1807-1870), Commander of the Confederate Army, surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), Commander of the Union Army. The response was "joy unbounded."
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Fort Vancouver is renamed Vancouver Barracks on April 5, 1879.
On April 5, 1879, Fort Vancouver, in Clark County, is renamed Vancouver Barracks. This army post will become the oldest on the West Coast and the most historic in the Northwest. Vancouver Barracks will provide troops in the Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. However, because Fort Vancouver lacked adequate maneuver and training space, Fort Lewis in Pierce County will replace it as a major military installation. In 1946 the post will become an Army Reserve facility, and portions of it will later be turned over to the U.S. National Park Service's Fort Vancouver National Site, with the final United States Army parcel closing in 2011 upon completion of a new Army Reserve Center at a different Vancouver location.
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U.S. Army establishes Fort Spokane at the junction of the Spokane and Columbia rivers in 1882.
In 1882, President Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886) formally establishes Fort Spokane, the U.S. Army's last frontier outpost in the Northwest, at the junction of the Spokane and Columbia rivers in what is now Lincoln County. The post is intended to confine the Colville and Spokane Indians on reservations north and west of the rivers, and remove them from the fertile farmland to the southeast, around the developing city of Spokane. The Indians do not forcibly resist, and the troops stationed at the fort over the two decades of its existence never fire a shot in anger.
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General William T. Sherman visits Seattle beginning August 21, 1886.
On August 21, 1886, Civil War hero William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) arrives in Seattle for a five-day visit. He will take a steamer tour of both Lake Washington and Lake Union, speak at a "camp fire" at Brown’s Pavilion, and attend a fantastic clambake on Alki Point during his visit, which will be remembered by all for decades to come.
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U.S.S. Oregon is first battleship to dock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton on April 11, 1897.
On April 11, 1897, the U.S.S. Oregon
docked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard at Bremerton. She was the first battleship to be docked there.
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Samuel Burdette volunteers to raise an African American regiment for Spanish American war in 1898.
In 1898, Dr. Samuel Burdette, a Seattleite and a U.S. Army veteran, volunteers to raise an African American regiment for the Spanish American War.
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First Washington Volunteer Infantry Regiment musters for the Spanish American War on May 1, 1898.
On May 1, 1898, the First Washington Volunteer Infantry Regiment musters at Camp Rogers south of Tacoma for the Spanish American War. Governor John P. Rogers (1897-1901)
appoints U.S. Army First Lieutenant John H. Wholly, Professor of Military Science at the University of Washington, as the regimental commander with the rank of Colonel. The 1,126 men of the First Washington will be sent to the Philippine Islands, but instead of fighting the Spanish, the regiment will battle Filipino insurgents.
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Fort Lawton is established on February 9, 1900.
On February 9, 1900, the U.S. Army designates the military installation on Magnolia Bluff, on the present-day (1999) site of Seattle's Discovery Park, as Fort Lawton. It becomes part of the system of defenses protecting Puget Sound from naval attack. The fort is named after Major General Henry Ware Lawton (1843-1899), a veteran of the Civil War and of the Indian Wars, who was killed in action in the Philippines.
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Fort Ward on Bainbridge Island is officially named on June 12, 1903.
On June 12, 1903, Fort Ward on Bainbridge Island is officially named. The fort is a Unites States Army coastal defense post constructed to protect the Bremerton naval shipyard. It will be an active installation until the 1920s. It will close in 1928, and become a summer camp for needy boys and girls. In 1938 the navy will take it over as a recreational camp for sailors. In 1939 the post will become a secret navy listening post (Station S) for intercepting Japan's military messages, and will also help track enemy shipping. In addition, a Naval Reserve Radio School will operate there from 1940 to 1953. In 1953 the navy will close activities at Fort Ward, and in 1960 the waterfront area will become Fort Ward State Park. In 1971 Battle Point Station will close and subsequently become Battle Point Park.
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Army and National Guard troops hold American Lake Maneuvers beginning on July 1, 1904.
On July 1, 1904, troops from the U.S. Army and the Washington and Oregon National Guard hold large-scale maneuvers at American Lake, south of Tacoma. The exercise is a success and will lead the Army to select the area for Camp Lewis, later Fort Lewis, in 1917.
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Great White Fleet visits Seattle on May 23, 1908.
On May 23, 1908, the Great White Fleet arrives in Seattle. The visit is part of a 14-month cruise around the world by the 16 battleships and 14,000 sailors of the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet, a feat never attempted before. The cruise is a exhibition of U.S. fighting abilities, particularly to the Empire of Japan, which had recently defeated Russia in a sea battle.
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Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle celebrates Puget Sound Navy Yard and Port Orchard Day, and Children's Day on June 5, 1909.
On June 5, 1909, the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, along with the towns of Port Orchard Bay, celebrates its Special Day alongside the festivities for Children's Day, making for a boisterous day at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (A-Y-P) Exposition. The exposition took place on the University of Washington campus in Seattle between June 1 and October 16, 1909. More than three million visitors came from around the state, the nation, and the world to view hundreds of exhibits, stroll the lushly manicured grounds, and be entertained on the midway, while Seattle promoted itself as a gateway to the rich resources of Alaska, the Yukon, and Asia. Each day (except Sundays) of the A-Y-P was designated as a Special Day for one or more groups. Special Days drew people involved in the featured organizations, and the resulting programs, lectures, ceremonies, parades, and athletic competitions gave local people a reason to visit again and again. The Navy Yard closed for the day and the towns of Port Orchard, Charleston, Manette, and Bremerton nearly emptied as residents took the opportunity to enjoy the fair and boost their communities. The fair hosted several Children's Days that showcased the children of the state, while also giving the fair an opportunity to highlight programs of interest to children and their parents.
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Buffalo Soldiers are stationed at Fort Lawton beginning on October 5, 1909.
On October 5, 1909, the 25th Infantry, one of the four African American regiments in the U.S. Army, arrives at Fort Lawton after a tour of duty in the Philippines. These African American soldiers were called Buffalo Soldiers by Plains Indians in the 1870s and 1880s. The regiment has the best non-professional baseball team in the country, as well as an outstanding band.
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Black soldier Nathaniel Bledser of the 25th Infantry Regiment at Fort Lawton is accused of assault, reflecting racial prejudice, in June 1910.
In June 1910, black soldier Nathaniel Bledser of the 25th Infantry Regiment (so-called Buffalo Soldiers) at Fort Lawton is accused of "assault with intention to do sexual mischief." This incident, and the court case resulting in a swift guilty verdict and harsh sentencing, reflects racial prejudice in Seattle in the early twentieth century.
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A Proud Day by Vern Nordstrand
This is the story of a proud day in the life of Boeing mechanic (later Superintendent of Tooling) Vern Nordstrand (1918-2009). Nordstrand lived in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle with his wife, Dorothea Nordstrand (1916-2011).
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Boeing B-17 Tail Gun Turret: A Story from the War Years by Vern Nordstrand
Vern Nordstrand (1918-2009) worked at Boeing for 40 years, retiring in 1979. In this story he recalls how during World War II he helped to build a tail gun turret for the B-17, and how he gradually realized what a vital piece of equipment this was for American flyers.
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Captain Aaron Bert, Washington National Guard, writes home from Iraq
Aaron Bert worked in the finance department of the City of Seattle until his Washington Army National Guard unit was activated for service in Iraq in 2004. In this email, he relates the death of SGT Damien Ficek on December 30, 2004. SGT Ficek grew up in Oregon and after active service in the U.S. Army, he went to work for Washington State University in Pullman and joined the National Guard.
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Masters, Clarence William "Molly" (1897-1975): A Coal Miner's Life and His Reminiscence of World War I
Clarence Masters, known to everyone as "Molly," was a coal miner who worked in east King County mines for his whole life. As a boy he had lived with his family in Port Blakely, but was made an orphan by the disaster of the steamer Dix,
which collided with another vessel and sank on November 18, 1906, with a loss of at least 39 lives, including the mother, father, and stepbrother of Clarence Masters. Clarence went to his older brother in the coal town of Wilkeson, and eventually became part of the George Morris family, first as an orphaned child and helper, and then, after growing up, by marrying his "sister," Marian Mae Morris (1902-1978). This People's History contains four parts: A short biography of Clarence "Molly" Masters by Betty (Morris) Falk (1920-2006), the story of how Clarence Masters came to be called "Molly" by Evan Morris Sr. (1922-2006), Masters' own reminiscence of his life as a soldier in World War I, and a poem composed by Molly Masters. Molly Masters retired from coal mining in 1964 and died in Enumclaw in 1975. This People's History was contributed by William Kombol, Manager of the Palmer Coking Coal Company, in Black Diamond.
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Racism in Seattle and Fort Lewis During World War II: An Oral History of Arline and Letcher Yarbrough
This oral history of Arline and Letcher Yarbrough concerning racism during World War II in Seattle and at Fort Lewis was conducted at the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) on January 26. 1985, and is edited by MOHAI historian Dr. Lorraine McConaghy.
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Remembering 1968 by Dale Eldon Lund
For most young men who reached their late teens in the late 1960s, mandatory military service was a looming reality. At the other end of the fun spectrum were the early rock festivals, which, for a time, were another rite of passage, at least for members of the "counterculture" and for the curious. In this People's History, Dale Eldon Lund recalls his experiences with both, along with some other adventures and misadventures of youth. This account first appeared on Dale's blog, the Rum Butter Cartoon (http://oldelephantwings.blogspot.com/) and is reprinted by permission.
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Second Lieutenant Glenn W. Goodrich, Killed in Action, July 18, 1944.
Colleen G. Armstrong of Des Moines, Washington, contributes this account of the death of her brother, Ellensburg High School graduate Second Lieutenant Glenn W. Goodrich, in France in 1944, and how her family and the community of Longnes in Northern France remembered his sacrifice and heroism 60 years later. This story was originally presented to the Rotary Club in Olympia on November 9, 2005. This People's History comes to HistoryLink through the good offices of former Secretary of State Ralph Munro of Olympia.
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Siting the Hanford Engineering Works: I was there, Leslie!
Louis Chesnut served in the Federal Land Bank system for 35 years, 10 years as vice president. This is his recollection of his involvement in the selection of the Hanford site for the development of the atomic energy project in 1943. Regarding documentation for this account Chesnut says, "All records relating to acquisition of the zone became the property of the Army Engineers, and those of us who worked there have only memories, no recorded data." Chesnut's account originally appeared in the Spring 1986 issue of The Pacific Northwesterner
, published by the Westerners of Spokane. It is reprinted here with their permission.
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