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Friday, June 1, 2012

Fort Ord, Monterey, CA

Fort Ord was a U.S. Army post on Monterey Bay in California. It was established in 1917 as a maneuver area and field artillery target range and was closed in September 1994. Fort Ord was one of the most attractive locations of any U.S. Army post, because of its proximity to the beach and California weather.
The post was named after Major General Edward Cresap Ord.  General Ord's fame in the history books includes some information on being an Indian fighter. In 1847 He was a lieutenant with Maj Gen J C Fremont's Army when the present site of the nearby Presidio of Monterey was brought into existence. But His actions as a Civil War commander established His military career. He distinguished himself during the  Civil War in the Battle of Iuke, Mississippi, operations against Petersburg, Virginia, and the capture of Fort Harrison, Virginia. General Ord is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery.

The 7th Infantry Division (Light) was its main resident for many years. When Fort Ord was converted to civilian use, space was set aside for the first nature reserve in the United States created for conservation of an insect, the endangered species Smith's blue butterfly.
While much of the old military buildings and infrastructure remain abandoned, many structures have been torn down for anticipated development. California State University Monterey Bay and Fort Ord Dunes State Park, along with some subdivisions, the Veterans Transition Center, a strip mall, military facilities and a nature preserve occupy the area today.

In it's hey-day, Fort Ord covered over 28,600 acres.

It began during the Mexican-American War in 1846. Com John D. Sloat claimed the Monterey area along with the rest of California for the United States.

Army troops occupied the fort for a few months at the end of the Civil War when it was known as Ord Barracks. From 1865 to 1902 the post was inactive. 

While visiting the area in 1879. Writer Robert Lewis Stevenson wrote, "The beaches are white with weathered whale bones." The inland area was mission property. This would become the extensive training areas of Fort Ord.

In 1917 the US Army purchased from a Mr. David Jacks the title to what is known today as the East Garrison for the amount of 160,000 dollars.  As it developed Fort Ord was considered one of the nation's permanent Army posts.(3)

The area was known as the Gigling Reservation, U.S. Field Artillery Area, Presidio of Monterey and Gigling Field Artillery Range. The name Gigling originated from a German family that had once held title to the property in that general area. So the fort's official title became Camp Gigling.
 In 1933, the artillery field became Camp Ord, named in honor of Maj. Gen. Edward Ord, a Union Army leader during the American Civil War who also served in the Second Seminole War and Indian Wars. Primarily, horse cavalry units trained on the camp until the military began to mechanize and train mobile combat units.
In 1940, the 23-year-old Camp Ord was expanded to 2,000 acres (8.1 km2; 3.1 sq mi). In August 1940, it was re-designated Fort Ord and the 7th Infantry Division was reactivated, becoming the first major unit to occupy the post.

In 1941, Camp Ord became Fort Ord. For the next thirty years, the fort was the primary facility for basic training for the Army.

In 1947, Fort Ord became the home of the 4th Replacement Training Center. During the 1950s and 1960s, Fort Ord was a staging area for units departing for war, and at one time had 50,000 troops on the installation. The 194th Armored Brigade was activated there under Combat Development Command in 1957, but departed for Fort Knox in 1960.
In 1957, land on the eastern side of the post was used to create the Laguna Seca Raceway which served to replace the Pebble Beach road racing course that ceased operations for safety reasons in that same year.


During the  Vietnam War conflict it became the major training center in the nation. In 1964 a Drill Sergeant School was opened. It once again was home to basic combat, advanced infantry, and basic unit training for over half a million soldiers. It was the highest overall training of combat ready troops in the fort's history. In 1973 the last American troops departed Vietnam. Another training era had ended. The total number of soldiers trained at Fort Ord from 1940 to 1975 is estimated at 1.5 million. (3)

The post continued as a center for instruction of basic and advanced infantrymen until 1976, when the training area was deactivated and Fort Ord again became the home of the 7th Infantry Division, following their return from South Korea after twenty-five years on the DMZ.

In 1988, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) legislation was passed by Congress.

In 1991, the decision to close Fort Ord was made.

In 1994, Fort Ord was officially closed. The fort was the largest U.S. military base to be closed at the time.
During the last few years, basic training for National Guard and Reservists was conducted by regular army personnel, but there was a shift at that time to focus on the mental and emotional, as well as the traditional physical aspects of basic training. This was done to prepare the Guard and Reservists to better handle the unique challenges of serving in the domestic "theatre," acknowledging the unique mental and emotional stresses inherent in a typical reservist deployments.

Fort Ord's former golf courses, Bayonet and Black Horse, are now public golf courses. They have hosted PGA golf events and were recently renovated.
A small portion of Ft. Ord remains under Army control originally called the Presidio of Monterey Annex. It is now called the Ord Military Community (explained below).
The military still has a presence at Fort Ord, in the form of several California Army National Guard units, facilities administered by the Presidio of Monterey, and the continued operation of the base PX and Commissary catering to the active duty military stationed in the Monterey area as well as retirees who chose to settle in the area and are entitled to shop at such facilities. Management of the military housing has been outsourced to private firms, but the homes are still occupied by personnel stationed at the Presidio of Monterey and Naval Postgraduate School and retired military members.(2)

On April 20, 2012, President Obama signed a proclamation designating a 14,651-acre portion of the former post as the Fort Ord National Monument. [1]

Jerry at least practiced here from
4/12/60 to late 08/??/60
Jerry joins the army. He goes to Fort Ord and brings his 2nd electric guitar, a Sears Silverstone, into the army with him. He learned the rudiments of acoustic fingerpicking during this time period.(4)

2.)^Townsell, T. K. (2009). Monterey Area Veterans Transition Center offers assistance to all local vets. Retrieved 04-11-2011 from, the official homepage of the U.S. Army:
4.)^Jackson, Blair, Garcia: An American Life, pg 24-26


  1. I, Steve Schlah, took Basic there from Feb67 to April but my best rememberance was 4 of us from F "Troop", 2-3-1, leading 1,200 trainees in a chorus of "How What A Night", during a lull in "bivouwac", and having the "DI's" trying, unsuccessfully, to shut us up. Those were the says.

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