Timeline: From Camp Lewis to Joint Base Lewis-McChord

By JBLM PAO on August 14, 2017

Jan. 6, 1917 - Pierce County bonds itself for $2 million to buy 70,000 acres of land at American Lake to donate for federal military use. Bond paid off in October 1937.

April 9, 1917 - An Army-engineer company started survey work at the American Lake site for a military camp.

May 18, 1917 - The War Department selects the American Lake site as one of 16 national Army training camps for divisions comprised of drafted Soldiers

May 26, 1917 - Capt. David L. Stone and staff arrive to plan and supervise camp construction.

June 12, 1917 - A Regular Army Motor Truck Company arrives to transport materials during camp construction.

June 14, 1917 - Hurley Mason Construction, of Tacoma, awarded contract to build the camp; construction starts the next day.

June 25, 1917 - The first two buildings completed and camp area graded and ready for rapid construction.

July 18, 1917 - War Department names the site Camp Lewis in honor of Captain Meriwether Lewis of the Corps of Discovery, Lewis and Clark expedition.

Aug. 17, 1917 - Officers start to arrive to form the 91st Division units. Maj. Gen. Henry A. Greene assumes command of the 91st Division and Camp Lewis.

Aug. 31, 1917 - Camp Lewis is in effect complete and ready for troops. There were 1,200 officers, ambulance companies and Regular Army motor truck companies at the camp ready for recruit arrival.

September 1917 - 1,757 Buildings and 422 other structures were built costing $7 million to support 44,685 Soldiers. Camp Lewis was built in record time and at the lowest cost of the 16 National Army camps.

Sept. 4, 1917 - Draftees from King County were to be the first to report to Camp Lewis. The day before reporting, Seattle gave the local draftees a patriotic send-off with a parade, concert and dance.

Sept. 5, 1917 - First drafted recruits arrive for training with the 91st Division for World War I combat in France

Arthur W. Goff, an eastern Oregon draftee, mistakenly reported to Camp Lewis instead of to his local draft board. Goff arrived hours before the Seattle conscripts to become the first draftee to enter Camp Lewis.

The 91st Division, "Wild West" Division, was made up of drafted Soldiers from the Western states. (Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada).  Over a 10-year history, 112,000 Soldiers served at Camp Lewis.

Sept. 23, 1917 - YWCA Hostess House completed. Designed by distinguished California architect Julia Morgan, the center became famous for its homemade pies and good food. It had one of the first Army day care centers.

Oct. 15, 1917 - The Camp Lewis Cemetery was completed in a peaceful and serene area near the camp.

November 1917 - Construction started on Greene Park, an amusement zone across the highway from the cantonment. It would open in the spring of 1918 with two theaters, pool halls, restaurants and stores. It's most well-known storekeeper was Tacoma Mayor Angelo Fawcett.  

Nov. 11, 1917 - Camp Lewis had its first rodeo. A Camp Lewis rodeo in 1918 drew 30,000 spectators.

Dec. 6, 1917 - The 7th Infantry Division activated as the 7th Division of the Regular Army at Camp Wheeler, Ga.

Jan. 1, 1918
- Camp Lewis plays Mare Island Marines in the Pasadena Rose Bowl, losing 19 to 7.

Jan. 15, 1918
- I Corps activated; its divisions were the first units of the American Expeditionary Force to land in France during World War I. On Jan. 20, Maj. Gen. Hunter Liggett took command.

Jan. 26, 1918 - The Liberty Gate was dedicated. Hurley Mason Construction volunteers paid for and built this iconic stone and timber archway. It was designed by the famous Spokane architect Kirtland Cutter. It was relocated to its current location during the construction of Interstate 5 in 1957.

April 18, 1918 - Camp Lewis acquires 3,353 acres of Nisqually Indian reservation land for an artillery range. It was about two-thirds of the reservation.

June 1918 - The 91st "Wild West" Division ships out to France. Four of its Soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor. The 13th "Lucky" Division replaced the 91st Division at Camp Lewis and was still training when Armistice was signed.

October-November 1918 - Camp Lewis suffers 157 deaths from the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Camp Lewis mortality rate was low compared to Camp Sherman, Ohio, with highest death rate of 1,777. Civilian singer Linnie Love was at Camp Lewis to entertain troops. She performed in the hospital and died of influenza Nov. 12, 1918.

Oct. 12, 1918 - The world's tallest flagpole, 314 feet, with the largest flag, 60-by-90 feet, was dedicated on the camp. The flagpole broke when the flag was raised, and was replaced by a 214-foot pole. Located near the Camp Lewis headquarters, its 60-ton concrete base was found in 2015 and is visible today near Pershing Circle.

Feb. 23, 1919 - The American Red Cross Hostess House opened at the Camp Lewis hospital.

Dec. 1, 1919 - The Salvation Army Red Shield Inn hotel opened in Greene Park across the Pacific Highway (I-5) from the camp. Today, the Lewis Army Museum is housed in this historic building.

Jan. 18, 1920 - General of the Armies John J. Pershing visits Camp Lewis and the Red Cross Hostess House.

Oct. 18, 1924 - The USS Shenandoah airship ties down at a mooring mast on what is today, McChord Field. The Shenandoah was the first rigid airship to make a transcontinental flight.

March 1926 - $800,000 was authorized for the construction of permanent brick barracks at Camp Lewis.

1927 - The movie "Patent Leather Kid," filmed at Camp Lewis; has its world premiere at the Greene Park Theater.

May 30, 1930 - The 91st Division Monument honoring its World War I service dedicated at the east end of the parade ground.

Sept. 30, 1927 - Camp Lewis becomes a permanent military post; designated as Fort Lewis, Washington.

October 1927 - The first permanent barracks building is completed. Today, it's on North 4th Street in the Garrison Historic District.

April 16, 1929 - A memorial tree is for Major General Greene, first Camp Lewis commander planted at Liberty Gate as part of the Boulevard of Remembrance: oak trees planted along Hwy. 99 (I-5) from Nisqually River to Ponders Corner.

1934 - Ten-year rebuilding program half completed; Fort Lewis resembles a self-sustaining city.

January-May 1938 - In January a project began on an 1,800-acre Army airfield north of Fort Lewis -- later called Gray Army Airfield -- on Fort Lewis, and May 5, 1938, Pierce County officials sign deed passing the 900-acre Tacoma Field to the War Department -- later to be called McChord Field.

April 24, 1938 - The Army's best-trained regiment, the 15th Regiment, arrives from China duty.

June 24, 1940
- First elements of 17th Bombardment Wing arrive at the Army Air Force's newest bomber base.

July 3, 1940 - The airfield north of Fort Lewis named McChord Field in honor of Col. William Caldwell McChord.

July 1940 - The soldier population of Fort Lewis climbs to 26,000 with start of war in Europe.

Fall 1940 - Post strength swells to 37,000 with arrival of IX Corps and 3rd and 41st divisions.

October 1940-April 1941 - Construction of the 41st Division cantonment area took place including 1,000 buildings, 301 two-story wood-frame barracks and was named North Fort Lewis, today called Lewis North.

1941 - Former president and General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower served as chief of staff of IX Army Corps from March 1, 1941, to June 24, 1941, at Fort Lewis.

October 1941 - The Mount Rainier Ordnance Depot opens adjacent to Fort Lewis. Today, it's the JBLM Logistics Center.

Nov. 15, 1941 -  The first Army ski unit is formed at Fort Lewis. During President Franklin D. Roosevelt's secret 1942 visit to Fort Lewis, the unit passed in review with their skis over their shoulders in place of rifles.

World War II - During WWII, McChord Field was one of the largest training fields in the United States Army Air Corps where American and British aircrew members were qualified.

April 1942 - The Doolittle raid shocks Japan. Nine air crews had trained at McChord in the 17th Bombardment Group.  

July 1943 - Fort Lewis Hospital construction begins. A prisoner of war camp also established and operated for three years.

Sept. 22, 1944 - The Fort Lewis Hospital was named Madigan General Hospital, in honor of Col. Patrick S. Madigan.

April 1946 - The 2nd Infantry Division returned to Fort Lewis after World War II.

July 28, 1947 - The 62nd Troop Carrier Wing was activated at McChord Field; inactivated June 1, 1950; reactivated Sept. 17, 1951.

Winter 1948-49 - The 62nd Troop Carrier Wing airlifts hay to livestock stranded by extreme snowfall, saves thousands.

July-August 1950 - The 2nd Infantry Division becomes the first division to deploy from U.S. for fighting in Korea.

1961 - The Fort Lewis 57th Helicopter Company is one of the two first helicopter companies in Vietnam.

1961-1971 - Fort Lewis becomes an Army Training Center for recruits and a processing and deployment center for the Pacific. Fort Lewis trained more than 300,000 Soldiers and deployed more than 2.5 million for combat in Vietnam.

1964 - The Infantryman statue is erected, known as Iron Mike. It stands today on 41st Division Drive.

Aug. 5, 1966 - The C-141A Starlifter era begins at McChord Air Force Base. The C-141A supports the Vietnam War.

July 1, 1968 - The 62nd Military Airlift Wing assumes command of all units at McChord Air Force Base.

Nov. 21, 1971 - Two F-106 fighters from McChord attempt to follow Northwest Orient plane hijacked by D.B. Cooper, but fighters could not fly slow enough to trail the plane and observe where he jumped. Fort Lewis troops were involved in the unsuccessful ground search for D.B. Cooper.

1972 - The 446th Airlift Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve, activated as the first classic Air Force associate wing.

April 21, 1972 - Reactivation of the 9th Infantry Division, the "Old Reliables," as a test division for improving Soldiers' quality of life. It was the first division formed entirely under the all-volunteer concept.

1980 - The 9th Infantry Division becomes Army's High Technology Test Bed (HTTB) to evaluate equipment and tactics for light infantry. The division tested fast-attack vehicles, basically dune-buggies with a mounted machine gun or grenade launcher. The 9th ID inactivated in 1991.

Oct. 1, 1981 - I Corps transferred from Korea and was activated at Fort Lewis.

August 1984 - Gray Army Airfield becomes test center for the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.

1990 - A stream of McChord Air Force Base C-141s poured into to deter Iraq's aggression after invading Kuwait. During Desert Shield/Storm, Fort Lewis deployed 34 active and 25 reserve units. The 62nd Military Airlift Wing airlifts 210,000 troops to Saudi Arabia.

1991 - Fort Lewis becomes the only post to support summer ROTC training.

April 1995 - The 62nd Airlift Wing transports 61-person FEMA team to Oklahoma City after Murrah Federal Building bombing.

July 1996 - The 62nd Airlift Wing evacuates 68 injured troops from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, after Khobar Towers bombing.

1999 - Fort Lewis population is now 20,000; McChord Air Force Base population is now 6,000.

July 30, 1999 - McChord Air Force Base is second base to receive the C-17A Globemaster III aircraft, replacing the C-141. McChord AFB christens its first C-17 as "The Spirit of McChord."

Oct. 12, 1999 - Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki announces 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, both at Fort Lewis, would transform into what would become Stryker brigade combat teams.

Jan. 4, 2002 - SFC Nathan R. Chapman, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Lewis: first combat casualty in Afghanistan.

November 2003 - The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, deploys to Iraq: becomes first Stryker brigade to deploy.

Feb. 4, 2004 - Elements of I Corps Headquarters form Task Force Olympia and deploy to Mosul, Iraq.

2005 - The Base Realignment and Closure Commission directs Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base to become one of 12 joint bases Department of Defense-wide.

Sept. 30, 2005 - Captain Meriwether Lewis, and his dog Seaman, statue dedication ceremony at Lewis Memorial Park, main gate Lewis Main

Dec. 12, 2008 - McChord Field Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

February 2009 - I Corps HQs deploys to Iraq -- first time the entire Headquarters had deployed since the Korean War.

July 16, 2009 - Memorial Park dedicated.

December 2009 - Fort Lewis has more than 18,000 Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.

Aug. 19, 2010 - The 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, makes the "Last Patrol" of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Oct. 1, 2010 - Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base merge to become Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

May 2011 - I Corps Headquarters deploys to Afghanistan -- leads International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Headquarters.

2012 - Warrior Forge, Summer ROTC training camp, relocated from JBLM to Fort Knox, Ky.

Oct. 10, 2012  - The 7th Infantry Division re-activation ceremony.

2013 - JBLM service member population peaks at 46,000 (active, guard, reserve).

March 14, 2014 - The 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Inactivation Ceremony; JBLM population drops by about 4,000.

May 4, 2015 - Unity Bridge opens to connect JBLM Lewis Main to JBLM McChord Field

July 5, 2017 - The 62nd Airlift Wing christens the newest of the 48 C-17 Globemaster aircraft permanently assigned to McChord Field, as "The Spirit of Joint Base Lewis-McChord."

Aug. 18, 2017 - Camp Lewis / JBLM Centennial celebrated on Watkins Parade Field on JBLM Lewis Main.

Aug. 31, 2017 - Camp Lewis / JBLM Centennial.

Dec. 6, 2017 - 7th Infantry Division Centennial.

Jan. 15, 2018 - I Corps Centennial.

Today, Joint Base Lewis-McChord consists of more than 40,000 men and women in uniform, more than 60,000 family members, and more than 14,000 dedicated civilian employees serving our installation and taking care of our service members and families.