John Adams Dix
and the history of Fort Dix
On the morning of June 1, 1917, Capt. George Mulheron and 19 soldiers Company C, 26th New Jersey Engineers arrived in the village of Wrightstown. Their mission: establish a camp dedicated to training Army soldiers for World War I. Wrightstown was selected for its close location to the railroad and major ports. The soil – a mixture of sand, clay and gravel – made Wrightstown a prime location for construction.
The area was originally named Camp 13. It was one of 13 camps established by the War Department to train Soldiers for World War I. Camp 13 consisted of 5,000 acres and a rifle range leased from local landowners. Local farmers also received compensation for providing food for the camp.
The name was changed to Camp Dix on July 18, 1917 to honor Maj. Gen John Adams Dix, a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Civil War. A native of New Hampshire who studied law, Dix had a long history of military and civil service. Dix was a U.S Senator, Secretary of Treasury, Minister to France and Governor of New York.
Men from the local area were hired to construct Camp Dix. Their experience ranged from college professors to unskilled laborers. The men were paid 60 cents an hour, while skilled laborers, such as electricians and plumbers, were paid 62.5 cents an hour. Together, more than 11,000 workers quickly developed Camp Dix into a sprawling complex of 1655 buildings.
Camp Dix served as a staging and training platform during World War I and World War II. After each war, the camp provided demobilization services for Army active duty, Reserves and National Guard components.
On March 8, 1939, the name was changed from Camp Dix to Fort Dix after the installation became a permanent Army post. Fort Dix served as the reception and training center for men inducted under the draft of 1939. At the end of World War II, the reception center became the separation center, returning more than 1.2 million Soldiers to civilian life.
Fort Dix became a basic training center on July 15, 1947. The installation expanded rapidly during the Vietnam War. A mock Vietnamese village was constructed and Soldiers received Vietnam-specific training prior to going overseas. In 1988, Fort Dix began training Air Force Security Police in ground combat skills. Air Base Ground Defense Command trained security police enlisted and officers to better defend Air Force installations around the world.
Due to the 1988 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission recommendations, Fort Dix ended its active Army training mission. The installation became a major center for the training, mobilization, deployment and demobilization of reserve component forces. Fort Dix maintained its training facilities for numerous occupational specialties within the combat arms, combat support and combat service support branches.
In August 1990, Fort Dix began around-the-clock operations preparing soldiers for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The installation also served as a replacement center for soldiers taking part in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, deploying troops to Bosnia peace missions and resettling more than 4,000 Kosovo refugees. In the post 9-11 world, Fort Dix continued its mobilization, training, deployment, and demobilization of soldiers for the various operations in the Global War on Terrorism.
Before its mobilization and demobilization mission ended in April 2015, 136,541 military from all services had trained at Fort Dix and deployed for contingency operations around the world, including Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Post personnel supporting these operations also demobilized 92,148 Soldiers in the 14 years serving as a premier power projection platform. As a result of concluding its mobilization mission, Fort Dix began to see its military training numbers revert to pre-9/11 levels.
Fort Dix now hosts two large annual Army Reserve training exercises known as WAREX and CSTX, in addition to supporting weekend range and schoolhouse training.
Under the 2005 BRAC recommendations, Fort Dix, McGuire Air Force Base, and the Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst formed a joint operation for base operations under Air Force lead. Stretching across Burlington and Ocean Counties, New Jersey. The 60-square miles of contiguous land was the first and only Air Force-Army-Navy installation with significant Marine Corps and Coast Guard assets. The tri-service base complex became a blend of Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard military personnel. On 30 September 2009, Col. Patrick Slowey fired the salute gun and members of the garrison staff lowered the U.S. flag for the last time during the final Fort Dix retreat ceremony. The following day, on 1 October, the 2005 BRAC recommendations were realized and Fort Dix entered a new phase in its nearly century-old history as it transformed into the United States Army Support Activity, Fort Dix (USASA, Fort Dix) and became part of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.