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John Adams Dix and the history of Fort Dix

Fort Dix is named for Major General John Adams Dix, a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Civil War. During his distinguished public career, he was a United States Senator, Secretary of the Treasury, Minister to France and Governor of New York. Construction began in June 1917, and on July 18 the War Department named the cantonment Camp Dix. During World War I, Camp Dix was a training and staging ground for the 78th, 87th and 34th Divisions. Camp Dix grew quickly and became the largest military reservation in the Northeast. Following the armistice, the camp became a demobilization center.

MG John Adams Dix

During the period between the wars, Camp Dix was a training facility for active Army, Army Reserve and National Guard units. The Citizens’ Military Training Camp conducted summer training under the 1st, 77th, 78th and 99th Infantry Divisions. From 1933-1941, Camp Dix was also a reception, training and discharge center for the Civilian Conservation Corps. On 8 March 1939, Camp Dix became Fort Dix as the installation became a permanent Army post. Fort Dix served as a reception and training center for men inducted under the draft of 1939. Ten divisions and many smaller units trained and staged here before entering the battlefields of World War II. At the end of the war, the reception center became the separation center, returning more than 1.2 million Soldiers to civilian life.

On 15 July 1947, Fort Dix became a basic training center and the home of the 9th Infantry Division. In April 1954, the 9th Division was transferred to Europe and the 69th Infantry Division moved onto Fort Dix. The 69th Division’s stay was short-lived; it was deactivated on 16 March 1956. On that date, Fort Dix became the United States Army Training Center, Infantry. Fort Dix expanded rapidly during the Vietnam war. A mock Vietnam village was constructed and Soldiers received Vietnam specific training before going overseas. In July 1973, Fort Dix became a part of the newly formed US Army Training and Doctrine Command. In 1988 Fort Dix began to train Air Force Security Police in ground combat skills. Air Base Ground Defense Command trained enlisted, NCO and officer security police to better defend Air Force installations around the world.

In August 1990, Fort Dix began around-the-clock operations deploying troops for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In January 1991, Fort Dix was chosen to train selected Kuwaiti civilians in basic military skills. After a brief course, they boarded planes to take part in the liberation of their country. As a result of Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations of 1988, Fort Dix again ended its active Army training mission.

Because of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations of 1988, Fort Dix again ended its active Army training mission and became a major center for the training, mobilization, deployment, and demobilization of reserve component forces. Fort Dix maintained its training facilities for numerous military occupational specialties within the combat arms, combat support, and combat service support branches. As a mobilization and deployment center, the installation was a replacement center for soldiers taking part in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, deploying troops for the Bosnia Peace missions, and resettling over 4,025 Kosovo refugees fleeing their war torn country. 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.

Under the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) recommendations of 2005, 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-base complex became a blend of Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard military personnel. On 30 September 2009, Colonel 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 BRAC recommendations of 2005 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.