Army Bases

Fort Jackson, South Carolina 1963-Present

Part 3

A reorganization of troop training units, effective 15 January 1964, resulted in the following changes on the Installation:

· The five Training Regiments became four Training Brigades.

· One Basic Combat Training “Regimental Headquarters’ was eliminated and the remaining Basic Combat Training units were increased from four to five battalions each.

The Basic Combat Training battalions were expanded from four to five companies each.

One Advanced Individual Training battalion headquarters and one Advanced Individual Training-Basic Unit Training company were eliminated. The three remaining Advanced Individual Training battalions were expanded from four to five companies each.

In July 1964, construction began on permanent steel and concrete buildings to replace wooden barracks that had housed the Fort’s troops since the early nineteen-forties. Contracts were awarded for eight enlisted men’s barracks, two enlisted men’s mess halls, two battalion administration and supply buildings, two battalion headquarters and classroom buildings, motor park facilities, brigade headquarters, dispensary, post exchange, and high temperature hot water, chilled water, and gas distribution lines.

Plans called for construction of new permanent barracks for each of the four training brigades, with each training unit to be a complete functional facility. Also scheduled for construction were six 300-man chapels and two 600-man chapels, together with certain permanent-type family quarters.

On 17 July 1964, Mrs. John J. Riley, widow of Second District Congress man John J. Riley, turned the first spade of earth to signify the start of the new construction. In addition to the Commanding General, Major General Gines Perez, speakers included the late Senator Olin D. Johnston, Senator Strom Thurmond, and Congressman Albert Watson. Many local dignitaries, officers, and civilian personnel of Fort Jackson attended this festive and historic groundbreaking ceremony.

In 1967, "Howie Village" and "Pierce Terrace" housing areas were completed. These were comprised of 69 officer and 180 noncommissioned officer units, respectively Bids for an additional 180 family units were awarded in the Summer of 1967. The building program also called for a modern 435-bed Fort Hospital and a one-building Reception Station to be built some time in the future.

he Army Build-up announced in July 1965 was an important factor influencing the activities of the US Army Training Center, Fort Jackson . Increased input to Fort Jackson began in late August, and by November the average training load was 20,711 compared with a normal capacity of approximately 15,000. This represented a 387 increase in workload. In order to support this in creased input, 10 provisional companies were organized in the period from 23 August to 25 October 1965. Other areas most affected by the Army build-up are covered later in detail.

The build-up of trainee strength generated a considerable increase in medical patients for both inpatient and outpatient care. In 1965 there were 31 meningococcal meningitis cases, with no fatalities. Nine reserve medical units received active duty training during the period 13 June-7 August 1965. These units consisted of five reserve hospitals, one medical dispensary, and three medical detachments for a total of 848 reserve personnel.

Reception Station military cadre and civilian employees said goodbye to the five-day work week as they prepared for continuous operation to absorb the steadily climbing input. The Reception Station operated on a six-day work week during the month of August, and for three weeks in September.

Company E, US Army Reception Station, was organized on 5 November 1965 to insure effective and timely processing of the heavy workload experienced during the build-up.

To provide housing for the increased Reception Station population, a Holding Company was established on 3 December 1965 with 164 tents. This gave the Reception Station a housing capacity for 2,900 men.

The increased training load, primarily in Basic Combat Training, caused many relocations and adjustments in the troop unit facilities. Basic Combat Training unit areas were realigned to accommodate a maximum of 280 trainees. One thousand, eight hundred men were housed in tents and were housed in the 3d Training Brigade area.

During the period 0ctober-Decemb 1965 the Fort Jackson personnel authorization was increased by 371 civilian spaces to support the Army Build up requirements.

General Harold K. Johnson, Army Chief of Staff, visited Fort Jackson on 2 December 1965 to see training activities related to the build-up of the Army.

On 24 July 1965 the Department of Housing and Home Finance entered into a $69,549 contract with the Baker Construction Company for an addition to the Fort Jackson Elementary School . Construction provided three classrooms, a music room, toilets and hallways with a 4,800 square foot limitation. Approximately 757 of range and training area communications were rehabilitated in 1965 by replacing open wire lines with telephone cable, and field telephones were replaced by dial instruments.

Fort Jackson General Order 25, 15 May 1966, discontinued nine provisional companies (Company F, 1st through 9th Battalions) and organized 10 companies (Company F, 1st through 10th Battalions), 1st and 2d Training Brigades. Mission : to receive, equip, quarter, provide mess and administration for, and train basic trainees.

On 12 August, Company E and Company F (15th Battalion) and Company D (17th Battalion), 4th Training Brigade, were organized. Their mission: to command and train increased input of personnel under Combat Support Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).

A Special Training Company was organized and became operational in the 2d Training Brigade on 18 January 1966. This Company, designed to provide special training for those who were unable to assimilate instruction in a regular cycle or had physical, emotional or motivational shortcomings, proved to be a valuable tool for basic unit commanders. Previously a Drill Sergeant tended to spend approximately 3O7 of his time with less than 1O7 of the trainees. Now the more difficult students are sent to this unit, designed to provide the extra help they require.

The 291st Army Band was transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia, 13 December 1966. At the same time, the 282d Band was reorganized with an authorization of one Warrant Officer and 42 enlisted spaces.

The Army Community Service Center began operating within the Assistant Chief of Staff, G1, area in March and became a separate activity in July 1966. In the Fort Jackson area of responsibility, approximately 101,000 people are eligible for service by this activity. Services provided include financial assistance, housing availability, transportation, relocation, medical and dental care, legal assistance, orientation of new arrivals, and related matters. Help is offered to dependents whose sponsors are absent, depart suddenly on unaccompanied change of station, or are otherwise unable to assist with the variety of problems facing a dependent under emergency conditions.

For training purposes, construction of a Vietnamese-type village named BAU BANG was initiated in March and completed in September 1966, utilizing 3d Brigade personnel during off-duty time and resources within the Brigade. The fortified hamlet with a 400 meter perimeter was built under the supervision of Sergeant First Class Woodrow Weaver, a former military advisor in Vietnam who actually lived in a hamlet named Bau Bang. The village, a composite of living conditions and types of construction typically found in a Vietnamese village or hamlet, was intended to give Advanced Individual Training students, and permanent party personnel who were programmed specifically for Vietnam, a forecast of what they might expect. This is a notable example of Fort Jack son's initiative and thoroughness in training, and has become a feature of paramount interest to guests of the installation.

In front of the hamlet is a moat with punji stakes and in the rear is a barricade wall of pointed logs placed closely together in an upright position, while at the entrance and in each corner there is a guard tower. Inside the berm, a tunnel connects the entrance tower with a “spider hole” and an under ground bunker from which a soldier can fire but cannot be seen. Within the hamlet itself a fire arrow is employed to direct air support against night assaults.

The dwellings represent the various types found throughout Vietnam . In the highlands, the Montagnards live in huts built on "stilts" and others with grass or tin roofs. The yellow and red flag in front of the Headquarters building is a reproduction of the flag of South Vietnam.

The contract for a new 1,000-seat theater at Fort Jackson was awarded to the Parke Construction Company, Charlotte, North Carolina, on 15 February 1966 and work was started on 25 February. The theater was opened on 17 May 1967.

A direct teletype line to the US Weather Bureau, Columbia, South Carolina, was installed in the Assistant Chief of Staff, G2 Section in April 1966, pro viding ready access to comprehensive weather information.

Construction work on a direct in and out telephone dialing system was completed by the end of June. This service, known as Centrex, permitted callers to dial the Installation directly, rather than through a Post operator.

Fort Jackson took a big step in the long temporary-to-permanent building process in June 1966. At that time the 3d Training Brigade became the first unit to occupy the new brick permanent buildings on Post. These units consisted of one chapel, one Brigade Headquarters, two Battalion Headquarters, two Consolidated Messes, one gymnasium, eight barracks, two orderly/supply room complexes, one dispensary, one Post Exchange, and a motor pool. This complex, housed in the first permanent brick buildings erected on the 49- year old Post, marked the beginning of the Post’s transition from wood buildings to brick.

The new chapel was opened for use on 4 June 1966. A special dedication program was held on 31 July with Chaplain James B. Murphy, Third US Army Chaplain, as guest speaker.

The Post Exchange activated to serve the 3d Training Brigade included a retail store, snack bar, barber shop, laundry/dry cleaning facilities, and a news and amusement center providing a full range of greeting cards, phonograph records, magazines, amusement machines, and food vending machines for the trainees.

The morale and efficiency of the men occupying the new quarters increased markedly, since the time required for maintaining these buildings was much less than that required for the old quarters.

With the establishment of the modern volunteer Army in 1970 and the need to promote the attractiveness of service life, construction peaked in an effort to modernize facilities and improve services.

In June 1973, Fort Jackson was designated as a U.S. Army Training Center, where young men and women are taught to think, look and act as soldiers - always. Through the year, changes have been made to enhance training. Victory Tower, an apparatus designed to complement basic combat training, is used to reinforce the skills and confidence of the individual soldier. Field training exercises (FTX) were incorporated into advanced individual training (AIT) so soldiers would have an opportunity to practice MOS and common skills in a field environment.

By 1988, initial entry training (IET) strategy was implemented. The standard unit of training was the platoon. Training focused on hands-on skill development rather than platoon instruction.