- Camp Edwards
Infobox Military Structure
partof=Massachusetts Nationsl Guard
United States Army Reserve
caption= Aerial of Camp Edwards (center) and Otis Field (right) in 1943
type=National Guard Training Camp
builder=United States Army
open_to_public= Prior Permission needed
controlledby= Massachusetts National Guard
occupants= U.S. Army, Massachusetts National Guard
World War I, World War II, Cold War
Camp Edwards is located in
Falmouth, Massachusetts. It was named after Major General Clarence Edwards. It is home to the 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation. It is also home to two training centers for National Guard troops. These training centers are the only ones in the Northeast other than those at Fort Drumand Fort Dix. They are meant to simulate an Iraqi town.
Early Training on Cape Cod
Camp Edwards' beginnings can be traced back to 1908 when the Massachusetts State Militia practiced weekend and annual training in the
Shawmee Crowell State Forest. The area was looked at in 1931 when the National Guard deemed Camp Devensto be too small and began to look for a new training area. People who supported and were against the military on the Cape made their voices heard to the Commonwealth and the War Department in 1935 when Governor James Curley signed a bill extablishing a Military Reservation Commission. In September, the War Department approved acquisition of up to convert|200000|acre|km2 on Cape Cod for the purpose of military training. In 1936, troops began setting up camp and began training. These soldiers were often equipped with World War Iera equipment, wooden guns, and Enfield rifles. This really reflected the isolationist policy of the American people.
The Construction Years
Between 1935 and 1940, Massachusetts and the federal government, primarily using
Works Project Administrationfunds, constructed 63 buildings (all but Buildings 102 and the old Williams Hospital have since been demolished) and two, convert|500|ft|m|sing=on wide turf runways at Otis Field. The project was the largest WPA project in state history, employing over 600 workmen. In 1938, Governor Charles Hurleydedicated Camp Edwards, named after the former commander of the 26th Infantry Division, Major General Clarence Edwards. In 1940, the biggest construction project in the camp's history began when the Army leased Camp Edwards. Construction was completed under the command of Major Thomas Waters, of the 68th AA Regiment. The Walsh Construction Company of New Yorkwas the company chosen to build the initial 1300 buildings in the cantonment area. These buildings were to house over 30,000 men. The goal was to have the area finished by the beginning of 1941 when the 26th Infantry Divisionbegan a year of training.
A railroad spur was built from Falmouth and a constant procession of trucks transporting material to the camp began. Peak of construction occurred in November 1940, with 18,343 employees working three shifts, a weekly payroll in excess of one million dollars, and completion of 30 buildings a day. The project was completed in a mere 125 days (September 1940 to January 1941) and served as the national prototype for other camps built during
World War II, using the 700 series drawings.
o Long Dear, I'll Be Home In a Year
In January 1941, the
26th Infantry Division, which was recently federalized, consisted entirely of Massachusetts National Guardmembers. Over the next 3 months, its ranks filled up with members from New Yorkand New England. Starting for 7 months in April 1941, the 26th Infantry Divisionleft Camp Edwards to participate in the Carolina Maneuvers and the Coastal Patrol, while other National Guard and Army Divisions came to train the camp. The 26th returned to Camp Edwards on December 6 1941, with the expectation of completing their year of service soon. The bombing of Pearl Harboron December 7 1941, and the subsequent declaration of war by the United States, resulted in extension of federal service for the division through 1944.
Camp Edwards during World War II
In 1941, the
101st Observation Squadronwas inducted into fedeal service and moved to Otis Field. The first concrete runways were laid in 1942 and expanded in 1943 because of the advancements of allied aircraft. The field became an important anti-submarine base because of its proximity to the ocean, and subsequently the Army placed the 14th Anti-Submarine Patrol Squadron at the field from 1941-1943. The Navy took over all anti-submarine missions in 1944.
The Second Battalion, 64th Coastal Artillery Regiment (anti-aircraft) was placed at the field from 1942-1944. It comprised the core of the Anti-aircraft Artillery Training Center, which was comprised of 42 battalions before it was deactivated and relocated to Florida in June, 1944.
Engineer Amphibian Commandwas activated on June 10 1942. It was later renamed Amphibious Training Command. The command began operating at Camp Edwards, being under the command of Brigadier General Frank Keating. Amphibious training was conducted at the nearby Camp Candoitand Camp Havedoneitas well as at Marthas Vineyard. The 36th Infantry Division and the 45th Infantry Division were the divisions involved in training. Those divisions later fought on the beaches of New Guinea. The first seasickness pill was also tested by the divisions.
The "Convalescent Hospital" was established at Camp Edwards in 1942. In addition to serving wounded coming back from both theaters, the hospital became famous for its convalescent trains that crossed the country and for its WAAC training program for
New Englandnurses. Over 2500 nurses stopped for training at Camp Edwards before going overseas between 1942 and 1944.
A mock German village was constructed at Edwards in 1942. This was one of the first instances of training for urban warfare.
The East Coast Processing Center was established in October, 1943. It was the first such facility in the United States. The center housed men who went
AWOLat the time their units were shipped overseas. Most men stayed for a month before being shipped out. Between 1943 and 1945, more than 40,000 men were processed through this center.
After the Allies' began their
North African Campaignin 1944, the US Army built a prisoner-of-war camp for captured German soldiers. The camp, located at the south end of the runway, housed up to 2,000 POWs at a given time, many of whom were from Rommel's famed Afrika Korps. The prisoners worked around Camp Edwards much of the time, but were also sent to work in the area's farms and cranberry fields. German prisoners also assisted in salvaging millions of board feet of lumber after the Otis vicinity was devastated by a hurricane in September 1944. 4 sawmills were supposed to be built at the base to cut up this lumber [http://www.barnstablepatriot.com/home2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6072&Itemid=30 Early Files 2-11-05 ] . The 1114th SCU maintained security and managed the camp throughout the war. By the end of the war, the POW camp had received, processed, and repatriated up to 5,000 POWs.
In its last act of the war, Camp Edwards was the location of a Temporary Separation Centers for the dischargement of returning GI's. More than 12,900 men were discharged from the armed forces from 1945-1946.
Cold War, Camp Edwards remained active and continued training troops. During the Korean War, the base was activated and levels approaching World War II were again seen at the base. In 1958, the Atomic Energy Commissionrecommended that nuclear processingbe conducted at the camp. [http://www.capecodtoday.com/blogs/index.php/2007/12/29/today_in_cape_history_camp_edwards_recom?blog=161 Camp Edwards recommended for nuclear reprocessing plant] It never did happen though.
Growth of Otis Air Force Base
Deactivated in 1946 and moved to caretaker status by the Army, Camp Edwards was used primarily for Air National Guard and Army National Guard training. The runway was also extended to convert|8000|ft|m and the
101st Observation Squadronwas reactived as the 101st Fighter Squadron. In 1948, the Air Force obtained Otis Field, renaming it Otis Air Force Base. Camp Edwards was reactivated in 1950 for troop training support for the Korean War, with levels approaching that of World War II. In 1954, Congress authorized the transfer of the camp from the Department of the Armyto the Department of the Air Force, for the purpose of operating a military airfield. The Army still used it's usual areas while the Air Force expanded. Between 1951 and around 1956, the Air Force constructed numerous new hangars and other buildings on the south side of Otis. Otis became one of three Air Defense Commandbases in the northeast, the others baing Hanscom Air Force Baseand Ethan Allen Air Force Base. Air Defense Commandbuilt a series of fighter alert hangars at Otis in the 1940s and 50's. Otis fulfilled its role through the crews and aircraft of the 33rd Fighter Interceptor Wing, whose headquarters were established at Otis. The 564th Air Defense Group, consisting of the 58th and 437th Fighter Squadrons, was also based at and conducted missions from Otis. The 564th was later redesignated the 33rd Air Defense Group. In 1955, the Air Defense Command's 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wingwas assigned to Otis Air Force Baseto conduct reconnaissance missions and expand the country's defensive perimeter. The 551st operated the EC-121 Constellationthat were modified to conduct long-range flights over the Atlantic Ocean. Other Air Defense Commandunits conducting air defense missions from Otis AFBat this time included the 4707th Defense Wing, the 33rd Fighter Wing, and the 58th and 60th Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Otis AFB played a role in the technologically advanced national defense Semi Automatic Ground Environment, which was under the command of North American Aerospace Defense Command. Otis AFB served as a node in gap-filler radar and flight support. In 1959, the Air Force constructed a counterpart to the Army's Nike missiles, the Boeing Michigan Aeronautical Research Centeranti-aircraft missile facility, on a site northwest of the airfield as part of a nation-wide surface-to-air defense system. Otis was one of eight such facilities in the country.
JFK at Camp Edwards
As a result of
John F. Kennedybecoming president in 1960, Otis became an important stop for Air Force One, because of the proximity of the Kennedy Compound, called the Summer White House during his tenure in office. in nearby Hyannisport. Kennedy maintained office space in Building 102 and used Building 110 (Kennedy Cottage) as a staging area for meetings and public affairs events when arriving or leaving from the airfield.
National Guard resumes control
In 1973, the Army began its withdrawal from Camp Edwards.
Otis Air Force Basewas also closed this year. In 1975, Otis reopened as Otis Air National Guard Baseand all operations on the land occupied by Otis and Camp Edwards came under the control of the new Massachusetts Military Reservation. In 1978, the Air Force returned with the Perimeter Acquisition Vehicle Entry Phased Array Warning System, more popularly known as PAVE PAWS. This new facility was known as Cape Cod Air Force Station.
Camp Edwards has continued to provide training for Army National Guard units across the nation. It has recently been talked about as being the home for a new
Department of Homeland Securitytraining center. This would be the second known one for Edwards, the first being the mock German village set up during World War II.
In 1998, Congressman
William Delahuntproposed closing Camp Edwards [http://www.barnstablepatriot.com/home2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2469&Itemid=30 Delahunt says close Camp Edwards ] . When the Base Realignment and Closure Commissionof 2005 voted to close Otis, people cited his decision as the reason behind the suggestion of closure. In 1999, Governor Paul Cellucciproposed turning the northern 15,000 acres (6,000 ha), which includes Pine Hill, the highest point on Cape Cod, into a state conservation area [http://www.barnstablepatriot.com/home2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1624&Itemid=30 News: August 12, 1999 - Camp Edwards to become state conservation area] . This was met by protests from those in the Massachusetts National Guardand the proposal was later dropped.
Hurricane Katrina Relief
During the aftermath of
Hurricane Katrina, Camp Edwards opened its arms to 2,500 evacuees. The people slept in aging military barracks that were at the time unoccupied by the military.
Today, as an attempt to make the base more attractive to the military, Camp Edwards is undergoing a massive transformation. Many training areas have been created over the past few years so that National Guard soldiers have an area to train. Local leaders have also proposed building a homeland security training area at the base. Currently, the skies the limit as far as local leaders are concerned.
Massachusetts National Guard(1908-Present)
1st Battalion, 25th Marines(1977-2000)
3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation(???-Present)
*26th Infantry Division
*104th Infantry Regiment - ARNG Recruit Sustainment Battalion
*Engineer Amphibian Command
*East Coast Processing Center (1943-1945)
*Second Battalion, 64th Coastal Artillery Regiment (1942-1944)
504th Infantry Regiment(1943)
*242nd AAA Group (1952-1953)
*Combat Aircrew Refresher Training Unit (Otis Field)
**36th Infantry Division
**45th Infantry Division
*14th Anti-Submarine Patrol Squadron (1941-1942)
1st Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force(1977-2000)
US Army Corps of Engineers
Federal Aviation Administration
Department of Agriculture
Eddie Waitkus-544th Engineer Boat & Shore Regiment, 4th Engineer Special Brigade US Army [http://www.garybed.co.uk/player_biographies/waitkus_eddie.htm Eddie Waitkus]
*24/7 Operational Support
*NBC Training Area
*Land Navigation Courses
*Infantry Battle Course
*Engineer Dig Sites
*Coast Guard Indoor Range (special request)
*Training Support Center
*Leadership Reaction Course
*Meggitt FATS IV (Fire Arms Training System)
*Howitzer Crew Trainers
*Collective Training Control System
*JANUS Battle Focus Simulation
*Close Quarter Battle Site
*Driver Training Area
*Officers Quarters/Enlisted Quarters
*Unit Training Equipment Site
*Regional Training Institute
*Helicopter Landing Zones
Lifestyle and Recreation
*Softball, Volleyball and Soccer Fields
* [http://www.mass.gov/guard/Camp_Edwards/history.htm A History of Camp Edwards]
* [http://www.barnstablepatriot.com/home2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6732&Itemid=112 Camp Edwards and the 'Foxholes at Sea']
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