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100 Years of History at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

In this part of the country, any institution celebrating 100 consecutive years in operation is amazing - these milestones are certainly few and far between.  The fact that the organization is a place that serves our greater good, protects us, and fights for our freedoms - well, that is simply awe inspiring.  What started as Camp Lewis in 1917, became Fort Lewis, added McChord Air Force Base and is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, turns 100 this year, and we explore those 10 decades in the magazine you now hold in your hands, or are enjoying online (at northwestmilitary.com).

It has been known by many names, including the Evergreen Post and Guardian of the Northwest, but one fact has remained constant, the connection between the base and the community has been tight.  Through it all, the ups and downs, the people here have championed our base, and frankly, vice-versa as well.

Community leaders first and foremost advocated for the situating of Camp Lewis in the South Sound for economic reasons.  Local leaders knew the impact government paychecks could have on Tacoma and the surrounding towns, and they lobbied hard to bring the base here.  In fact, the people of Pierce County literally voted to give the land to the War Department.  Today, that economic interest is still true - this is a military town, evidenced by the fact that in Pierce County alone, one-third of all paychecks cashed in area banks come directly from JBLM.  That is billions in annual payroll, not to mention government contracts, school impact funds and much more.

There has always been an economic interest in maintaining a military base in the area, but there are reasons we are lucky that far extend beyond our cash registers.  We are fortunate to have such a diverse group of people in uniform and their families, from all political and religious persuasions living among us.  They volunteer and support our schools, civic clubs, churches and communities.  They bring fresh ideas, patriotism and service, and a can-do attitude that enriches the South Sound.  

They come and go, and thanks to social media, it's easier to stay in contact with now, but even if we only remember them as first names in our third grade class, or the mom that volunteered at the bake sale, we are better for knowing them.

JBLM's 100th Anniversary is more than dates and unit movements - it's a reminder of those friends we once had - of the lasting positive impacts military people have made on our community - and it's about looking forward to more of the same over the next 100 years.

'Trench and Camp': the official WWI military camp publication

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'Trench and Camp': the official WWI military camp publication

"Camp Lewis built at lowest cost," read the Sept. 12, 1917 headline in the Tacoma Daily Ledger. Capt. David Stone, a West Point graduate, was assigned as Quartermaster for the cantonment to be built on land at the south end of American Lake.

Soldiers find no sign of D.B. Cooper

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Soldiers find no sign of D.B. Cooper

Forging through the brush and forest near Lake Merwin, Washington, 3rd Armor Cavalry Regiment soldiers from Fort Lewis returned to the base at the start of the 1970's without finding the famed hijacker D.B. Cooper.

Doolittle raid: History began on McChord Field

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Doolittle raid: History began on McChord Field

On the day after the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, flight crews from McChord Field's 17th Bombardment Group began patrols along the Washington and Oregon state coastlines, searching for Japanese submarines to prevent another attack on the...

A well-deserved 100 candles

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A well-deserved 100 candles

In this part of the country, any institution celebrating 100 consecutive years in operation is amazing - these milestones are certainly few and far between.

It began with a glacier

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It began with a glacier

Joint Base Lewis-McChord was once covered by a mile-thick sheet of ice. Geologists believe the greater Puget Sound basin was carved out by this ice (named the Vashon Glacier), which scraped and drove across the region 30,000 years ago.

The start of something great

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The start of something great

The first soldier of any influence to recommend the construction of an Army post at American Lake was Maj. Gen. Arthur Murray.

A gate of logs and stone

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A gate of logs and stone

Spokane's famous Davenport Hotel, the Spokane Chronicle Building, even a modest home in Metaline Falls that now is used as a community theater, are just a few examples of the many early 20th century buildings designed by an Ohioan who came west...

A camp, a castle and a courtship

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A camp, a castle and a courtship

Tucked behind a moss, encrusted brick wall, sits an imposing 500- year-old Tudor, gothic mansion, the only English castle in the Pacific Northwest, and, just across the bustling I-5 corridor, sits the imposing Joint Base Lewis-McChord, considered...

Camp Lewis at full steam

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Camp Lewis at full steam

Once Camp Lewis was built, soldiers in-processed, trained and shipped out to Europe, including the 91st Division, which left in the late spring of 1918.

Keep terms or give it back

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Keep terms or give it back

Following World War I, two events of consequence affected Camp Lewis. First, the vast majority of jubilant doughboys hurried home from Europe and immediately separated from the military. Second, the green timber, which had been rapidly hammered...

Lewis comes into its own

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Lewis comes into its own

Soldiering at Fort Lewis was different in the 1930s than it is today. Those were the days when the troops wore wrap-around leggings, felt campaign hats and wool olive drab uniforms.

A monument in the way

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A monument in the way

The top flag officer on Joint Base Lewis-McChord has enjoyed the nicest home on the base for decades, however one thing has been a little in the way - the monument to the 91st Division.

War redefines the Evergreen Post

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War redefines the Evergreen Post

Unlike its reputation in the 1920s and 30s, Fort Lewis, after 1940, would never again be seen as a deteriorating, low-population installation.

McChord brings airpower to NW

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McChord brings airpower to NW

McChord Field became the headquarters of the GHQ Air Force Northwest Air District in 1940.

A decade of change

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A decade of change

Servicemembers that served at Fort Lewis in the 1950s might look back wondering with whom they served. Was it the 2nd or the 71st, and what was Gyroscope and STRAC?

Back to war for troops

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Back to war for troops

Home wasn't much more than a stopover between maneuvers for many 4th Division soldiers during the early 1960s. Division troops were involved in joint exercises with the Navy and Air Force and spent their share of time spitting out sand in the...

A familiar pattern at Fort Lewis

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A familiar pattern at Fort Lewis

The war in Vietnam had a diminishing effect on Fort Lewis as we entered the 1970s.

Jane Fonda was here

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Jane Fonda was here

"I shall return!" With those parting words, actress and political activist Jane Fonda was escorted off then Fort Lewis property by military police following her raid on the Evergreen Post, March 7, 1970.

The HTTB and beyond

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The HTTB and beyond

Ninth Division soldiers and their machines were the big news in the early 1980's as officials began developing a revised future for the Army.

Ebb and flow in the 1990s

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Ebb and flow in the 1990s

The Department of Defense announced officially in January 1990 the end of the 9th Infantry Division (Motorized) - a crushing blow for the local community now wondering whether Fort Lewis would remain open.

A decade of war

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A decade of war

Fort Lewis became the leader of the Army's model Transformation Initiative process, which would serve as a model for change in the U.S. Army to create a new combat power.

JBLM and the Strykers

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JBLM and the Strykers

From the horse-mounted soldiers of 100 years ago to the 450 horse-powered Strykers that characterize a significant portion of the post's mission today, the post has steadfastly served the country.

War from inside a Stryker

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War from inside a Stryker

In the damp of an April morning in 2004, soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division prepared for a "Lancer Challenge."

The rise of the joint base

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The rise of the joint base

Goodbye North Fort Lewis, Main Post, even McChord Air Force Base, as the second decade of the 21st century began, so did a major name change at Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.

Memories of McChord

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Memories of McChord

As Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) nears its Centennial Celebration, many influential leaders of not only JBLM, but also the community that supports the military, are sharing some of their memories, good and bad, of their tenure at JBLM.

Don and Joan Brown: A McChord life

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Don and Joan Brown: A McChord life

Back in the far-off days of 1976, when Peter Frampton ruled the airwaves and Fort Lewis and Air Force Base McChord were separated, Maj. Gen. (retired) Don and Joan Brown moved onto McChord, and the four years they spent there are ones they will...

An Army life

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An Army life

Marion Sydenham Ball was born in 1923 in Ft. Missoula, Montana, as she puts it, "a child of the 4th Infantry Regiment."

A candied history

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A candied history

At the beginning of World War I in 1914, Harry Brown and J.C. Haley started a candy company in Tacoma, Washington.

Ranger newspaper celebrates 66 years

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Ranger newspaper celebrates 66 years

The Ranger newspaper may not be 100 years old like Joint Base Lewis-McChord, but it's been covering the base longer than it hasn't.

JBLM's history includes amusement park

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JBLM's history includes amusement park

In 1917, when 91st Division commander, Maj. Gen. Henry A. Greene, sought to put young Camp Lewis recruits on a straight and narrow path, Progressive Era political reform and social activism emerged in the form of an amusement park just outside...

What's in a name?

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What's in a name?

A lot has gone into the history of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which celebrates 100 years in 2017. Some of the places we've all known and loved have a history worth noting in this centennial year.

Headstone history

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Headstone history

Standing in the gently falling snow added to the sense of reverence to those who are a part of Joint Base Lewis-McChord's history.

History in an old inn

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History in an old inn

It's no surprise that the Lewis Army Museum comes with almost 10 decades of history behind it.

A green and white house of history

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A green and white house of history

In 1917 there were almost 2,000 buildings on Camp Lewis, and all of them wore nothing but the splinters of the wood they were made of.

WWII POWs at Fort Lewis

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WWII POWs at Fort Lewis

During World War II, between 1942 and 1946, Fort Lewis held between 4,000 to 4,500 German prisoners of war.

Major Alexander P. Cronkhite killed during training exercise at Camp Lewis

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Major Alexander P. Cronkhite killed during training exercise at Camp Lewis

On Oct. 25, 1918, Maj. Alexander P. Cronkhite (1895-1918) is shot and killed during a training exercise at Fort Lewis. An Army Board of Inquiry rules the death accidental, finding that Cronkhite shot himself while firing at a target.

Teeing up history

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Teeing up history

Brig. Gen. Caster assumed command of Fort Lewis in 1929, during a period in which a great deal of construction occurred. Soon after taking command, he made it clear that he would leave Fort Lewis in better shape than it was when he arrived.

A portrait and a news article

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A portrait and a news article

A photograph of a soldier's father, an Army artist, and a soldier-journalist who wrote an article for The Ranger newspaper, created a paragraph of serendipity in the history of Fort Lewis.

A history of healing

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A history of healing

Army Medicine walked in the main gate in 1917 with the construction of Camp Lewis. By the time the camp was renamed Fort Lewis in 1927, there were four dispensaries, which comprised the Fort Lewis Station Hospital.

History before JBLM's history

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History before JBLM's history

Being focused on the present can obscure the past.

A bridge to a base

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A bridge to a base

Ten years after the construction of Camp Lewis in 1917, Pierce County voters passed a bond to purchase 900 acres for a municipal airport.

The Gulf War via JBLM

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The Gulf War via JBLM

On Aug. 7, 1990, violent events altered the lives of many soldiers, family members and civilians in and around then Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.

A balloon flight and Fort Lewis

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A balloon flight and Fort Lewis

Several Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" biplanes flew from what would become Sand Point Naval Air Station in Seattle to a grass airfield at Camp Lewis.

The Wild West Division

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The Wild West Division

A memorial honoring the 91st Division stands silent at the western edge of Watkins Field at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Marching in honor

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Marching in honor

A part of Camp Lewis, Fort Lewis and now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the field takes its name from Master Sgt. Travis Earl Watkins.

New education center name steeped in history

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New education center name steeped in history

The John "Bud" Hawk Education Center is a building with a history.

A general center of support

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A general center of support

Waller Hall adds a distinctive element to Joint Base Lewis-McChord's history.

A gate, trees and generals

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A gate, trees and generals

Trees are Mother Nature's generals.

The Infantryman's history

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The Infantryman's history

The opening of Camp Lewis in the middle of World War I Sept. 5, 1917, continued the role of the infantry in American history.

Grandstaff's legacy

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Grandstaff's legacy

Libraries are quiet places where books - those special strings of words between covers - can be checked out, read and contemplated.

An elegant hall

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An elegant hall

Between World War I and World War II, Camp Lewis became Fort Lewis, which in turn took on a pronounced sense of permanence.

Cowan Stadium

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Cowan Stadium

There is a connection between sports and military service.

Nisei valor

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Nisei valor

The Okubo Medical & Dental Clinic on Joint Base Lewis-McChord North honors a hero.

Streets of honor

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Streets of honor

Three streets on Joint Base Lewis-McChord are named after four Medal of Honor recipients.

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