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December 3, 2009 “HONORING ORD’S HISTORY” Otter Realm Newspaper of CSU Monterey Bay, Lucas Anthony: Staff Reporter

December 3 2009

Honoring Ord’s History
Lucas Anthony, Staff Reporter

From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument reflects in the shallow pool of the National Mall. Nearby, soldiers are honored with the Iwo Jima, Korean and Vietnam War memorials.

Tributes to American military history residing in and around Washington D.C. can serve as reminders of the triumphs and sacrifices that have shaped the United States during the last 233 years.

A significant part of military history also resides at Fort Ord Army base, which opened in 1940 and has seen soldiers through four foreign wars. Before closing in 1994, Fort Ord trained more than 1.5 million soldiers. Along with the mechanization of World War II, Fort Ord witnessed an end to the use of horses in the Army. Some feel Fort Ord and the soldiers who trained on the Peninsula deserve respect on par with the historically accurate tributes erected in Washington D.C.

After the base closure, the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) decided the only historically significant part of Fort Ord was the Stillwell Hall Soldiers Club, located at what is now Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Some people seemed to write off all other history and buildings of the old Army base. Consequently, the base was divided into parcels distributed among Marina, Seaside, CSU Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and the federal government.

Threatening to fall into the ocean, Stillwell Hall was deconstructed, serving as a symbolic gesture that the quest to save the physical history of Fort Ord had possibly come to an end.

However, a number of CSUMB departments making up the Fort Ord Museum Archive (FOMA), are working to secure permanent facilities to house a museum full of historical archives from the former Army base. FOMA also seeks to restore at least one of the World War II-era buildings as a physical reminder of the history of Fort Ord.

Contrary to the hopes of FOMA, CSUMB made its stance clear on the matter at the 2008 State of the University Address. CSUMB President Dr. Dianne Harrison said, “One of our ongoing frustrations - at least it’s mine - is all of those old, empty barracks and other buildings and unidentifiable things. I honestly don’t know what they are. If only we could afford to take them all down today, I would be a very happy person.”

Harrison later clarified the comments from her speech by citing FORA’s historical findings. “Before my time at CSUMB, there was a formal review to establish if any of the buildings had historical value. The answer was no,” she said. “That is why we want to clear them out. From a CSUMB standpoint they are a safety hazard. We have students who decide to go [exploring in them]; it’s very dangerous, they are magnets for scavengers, wildlife, and full of lead and asbestos.”

However, Harrison said she still wants to preserve and honor Fort Ord and its traditions by erecting something front and center in a high traffic area, like in front of the library.

“I think building something really respectful which honors the tradition of where CSUMB started and what used to be here would be fabulous,” she said.

Fort Ord’s lengthy and diverse history could make agreeing on a memorial a struggle. Additional challenges arise in honoring the local history when it is not clear, from the university’s standpoint, which historical accounts are correct. Whether or not the remaining buildings of former Fort Ord have historical significance, it may be beneficial for all parties to make sure the historical recollections of those in leadership are similar, accurate and not hearsay.

For example, based on information given to her from her former Chief of Staff John McCutchon, Harrison said the stables located on Fourth Avenue were hardly used for horses and, in 1938, were converted into truck facilities.

Disputing Harrison’s claim, Army Veterinary Corps Researcher Greg Krenzelok said that the very same stables actually held more than 1,400 Army horses in the early part of World War II. It was not until 1942 when the units were mechanized and those stables might have taken on other functions.

Even FOAA board member and retired Army Major General Fred Lawson was unaware of the significant horse presence at Fort Ord. “I knew Fort Ord was built in ‘40-41 and the 7th division formed in ‘41, but I thought from there on it was mechanized,” Lawson said. “I found out differently based on Greg’s research. It was an eye opener for me to learn there was a large horse presence up to ‘43 or ‘44, even after mechanization.”

Defense Language Institute and Presidio of Monterey Deputy Command Historian Cameron Brinkley helped guide Krenzelok through the archives located at the Chamberlin Library and also learned more about the horse presence, the Veterinary hospital and stables at the former Army fort.

“I understand CSUMB needs facilities up to code, free from lead and asbestos. There are a lot of good reasons to tear the buildings down,” Brinkley said. “But I think history is important and in the physical structures. We should keep some remnants of the past as a reminder of how we got where we are and they might give us an idea as to where we are going.”

While budgets might not allow for a memorial the caliber of those in Washington D.C., Krenzelok, Brinkley and Lawson find it important to remember all of Fort Ord’s history accurately and save a portion of the physical evidence to honor the history and traditions of Fort Ord and its soldiers. If something is not done, Brinkley feels that, over time, the complete history of Fort Ord could be forgotten.

“If you bury the past and forget it,” Brinkley said, “there are so many things you will never know, and you will never even know you don’t know.”

Note: Just for the record I find Dianne Harrison’s idea “Erecting something front and center in a high traffic area, like in front of the library” totally unacceptable when there is so many present buildings with historical significance including the General Stilwell’s 7th Division’s Headquarters’ buildings that are still standing. If this is the best that the college can do in remembrance of the WW2 section of Fort Ord I feel this is a very poor effort – Greg Krenzelok

May 2011: “A TRAGIC LOSS OF HISTORY AT FORT ORD, CALIFORNIA” just after Memorial Day the last complete example of our country’s end of the U.S. Army Warhorse which were still being used at the beginning of World War II. The Series 700 temporary type buildings: artillery, cavalry stables along with their blacksmith shops were demolished on the California State University at Monterey Bay Campus, California. Leaving only the Fort Ord Station Veterinary Horse Hospital the only buildings remaining to testify of the memory of the “Fort Ord Horse Soldiers” that were there from 1940 to 1942. President Diane Harrison who I personally hold responsible for this action and the university’s failure or interest to recognize the historical significance is one of the greatest tragedies to fall upon this university, this action ending a two year long battle for their recognition and preservation. The “Honoring” of the history of Fort Ord has not been served by this action.

Greg Krenzelok
U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Preservation Group

Words cannot express what is in my heart at seeing and walking the grounds of where the Fort Ord Field Artillery and Cavalry stables once stood.

I was in Alaska at the time and was not able to document the buildings being demolished. A friend of mind did, Efren Lopez a military combat photographer did. I would like to thank Efren from sharing these posted images. This is my first real good look at these pictures as a tear rolled down my face. - Greg Krenzelok, U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group

May 2011 Fort Ord horse stables and blacksmith start to come down. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez

What's left of T-1442, incinerator, dated completed November 30, 1940, 5- ton. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez

Stable being demolished by excavator using demolition bucket "The Jaws of death for this stable", May 2011. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez

Overview of the old stable and blacksmith shop area. Demolition is about complete except for T-1672 (SP-14 Motor repair shop). Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez

Fort Ord horse stables being demolished, May 2011. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez

Fort Ord horse stables and blacksmith are now down and all that is left is clean-up, May 2011. Courtesy photo by Efren Lopez

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Fort Ord U.S. Army Station Veterinary Hospital (Horse) WW2

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11th Cavalry Presidio of Monterey, 1919 to 1940

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76th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Battalion

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The Army Veterinary Service During the Great War, WW1

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Sergeant Leonard Murphy Veterinary Hospital No. 18, A.E.F., WW1


Motto: “Illic est Vires in Numerus” There is Strength in Numbers

“Working Hard to Preserve Our Country’s History wherever it is being lost”

U.S. Army Veterinary Corps Historical Preservation Group is a group of individuals that are concerned about the preservation of the History of the Veterinary Corps, Remount Service and Cavalry or wherever our country’s history is being lost in conjunction with our beloved “Horse and Mule”. There is no cost to join and membership is for life. We believe by uniting together in numbers we will be a more powerful force to be heard. Our membership list is private and only used to contact our members. Email us and become a member.

Greg Krenzelok

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