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Fort Lewis and The Great War

Local historian to present the story of the indispensible role Fort Lewis played in WWI

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On Sunday, Feb. 18, at 2 p.m., the DuPont Museum and Historical Society will present a program by local historian, author and artist, retired Army Sgt. Alan Archambault at the DuPont Community Presbyterian Church. The presentation will feature the history of Fort Lewis and its integral role in the United States' involvement in World War I. The public is invited, and admission is free.

"My illustrated program will present the story of Camp Lewis, which actually begins prior to World War I," said Archambault, who has co-authored more than a dozen books, including several coloring books, about the military history of the United States. "During the late 1800s, the Army realized that the American Lake area would make a great military training site due to the climate, terrain and the gravelly land, which allowed good drainage for the rain. I use vintage photographs, maps and illustrations to illustrate the presentation.  I will also cover the establishment of Camp Lewis, its role as the largest training camp in World War I and its fate following the end of the war.

"I try to make my talks interactive," he added, "(and allow) attendees to participate, either by adding information or asking questions during the presentation."

Archambault's fascination with military history began early. Raised on a farm that dates back to the 1700s, he was surrounded by history.

"Members of my family had served in every American conflict dating back to the Revolutionary War," he said. "I remember my grandfather, who served in the 7th U.S. Cavalry during the Spanish-American War, and my father knew his grandfather, who fought in the Civil War. As a result, I feel a strong connection to the soldiers who served in the past."

While still in high school, Archambault enlisted in the Army. He served from 1969 to 1972. After returning to civilian life, he received a degree in history from Rhode Island College. Following his graduation, he worked first as a curator for the Ft. George G. Meade Museum in Maryland, then as the director of the Ft. Lewis Military Museum, and finally as the supervisory curator of the U.S. Forces Command (FORSCOM) Field Museums at the United States Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C. He returned to the Pacific Northwest after he retired in 2011.

Archambault may have retired, but his interest in American military history hasn't faded.

"I currently write and illustrate articles and monographs on historical topics," he said. "I remain interested in the history of this region, particularly the Army's role in the exploration, settlement and defense of the Pacific Northwest."

The DuPont Museum and Historical Society, which is proud to present Archambault, "operates the museum and helps to preserve historic sites," said Carol Estep, spokesperson for the society. "We offer educational programs, tours of the museum, fundraiser events (and) research materials, and (we) care for the artifacts and exhibits."

Ft. Lewis and The Great War presentation, 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 18, free admission, DuPont Community Presbyterian Church, 502 Barksdale Ave., DuPont, 253.459.4339

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