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Camp San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo, California
Type Military Base
Coordinates Latitude:
Longitude:
Built 1928
Built by California Army National Guard
In use 1928 - Present
Current
condition
In use
Current
owner
State of California
Controlled by Seal of the United States Army National Guard.svg California National Guard
Current
commander
LTC Joseph Righello
Occupants 1941-03-10 - 1941-08-22
1941-09-05 - 1941-12-08
40th Infantry Division
Deployed to Pacific Theater.
1942-01-17 - 1942-03-01
1943-01-18 - 1943-03-27
35th Infantry Division
Deployed to France.
1942-04-24 - 1942-08-14
1942-10-20 - 1943-01-15
7th Infantry Division
Deployed to Pacific Theater.
1943-03-28 - 1943-07-21
6th Infantry Division
Deployed to Pacific Theater.
1943-11-20 - 1944-04-19
81st Infantry Division
Deployed to Pacific Theater..
1944-04-22 - 1944-07-02
96th Infantry Division
Deployed to Pacific Theater.
1944-10-01 - 1944-11-23
1944-12-04 - 1945-02-05
86th Infantry Division
Deployed to France.

Camp San Luis Obispo is the original home of the California Army National Guard. It served as an Infantry Division Camp and Cantonment Area for the United States Army during World War II.

History[edit | edit source]

Camp San Luis Obispo, formerly called Camp Merriam, was established in 1928 and is called the original home of the California National Guard. The camp is in San Luis Obispo County, which is on the Central Coast of California. State Route 1 passes through the camp about halfway between the cities of Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. Since World War II, the camp has had an area of 15,433 acres (62 km2).[1] The camp originally comprised 6,274 acres (25 km2), and a further 9,159 acres (37 km2) was acquired during 1941. During World War II, the camp had quarters for 1,523 officers and 19,383 enlisted personnel.[1]

During the Korean war, from mid 1950 to late '53, the camp was again used by the US Army, for signal corps training. There was eight weeks of basic combat training, shorter than the usual 16 weeks for combat arms. Then there were technical schools covering perhaps all aspects of the signal corps, from lineman and teletype, to cryptography, at the top end. This was a relatively enjoyable post as the troops lived in five-man huts, and the weather was mild year round. It was far enough in from the ocean, 5 or 6 miles, to be fairly fog free, but not far enough inland for some of the searing heat of mid-California.

Cuesta College opened for classes in 1965 on a southwest portion of the camp, rented from the California National Guard. The Cuesta College Board of Trustees purchased 160 acres (0.6 km2) of the camp and 20 acres (81,000 m2) adjoining for a permanent campus. The land was on the other side of Chorro Creek from the temporary campus. Construction was started in 1970 and the transfer from the temporary site was completed in 1978. El Chorro Regional Park was created in 1972 when over 700 acres (2.8 km2) of the camp were given to San Luis Obispo County. The park contains barbecue facilities, a softball field, volleyball courts and camping sites. Dairy Creek Golf Course is located in the southwestern portion of the park. An area in the northern portion of the park is off limits due to the discovery of unexploded munitions. Salinas Dam, which forms Santa Margarita Lake, was built to supply water to Camp San Luis Obispo. The lake now supplies water to the city of San Luis Obispo, though it is still owned by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. O'Connor Way, which runs through the southwest of the camp is a shortcut for those traveling between southern San Luis Obispo and Cuesta College or Morro Bay. The road is open daily from 0700-1800. After-hours emergency access can be coordinated through Camp San Luis Obispo Security Forces.

In 2011 portions of the Camp were converted for use as the primary Ranger and Lifeguard (State Park Peace Officer) POST certified law enforcement training facility by California State Parks. Relocated from Pacific Grove at Mott Training Center.

Military academy[edit | edit source]

The California Army National Guard maintains the California Military Academy at Camp San Luis Obispo for the use and training of members of California and other western state National Guard units, as well as for the use of the California State Military Reserve.35°19′31″N 120°42′59″W / 35.325252°N 120.716433°W / 35.325252; -120.716433[2]

Conservation Corps State Museum[edit | edit source]

The Conservation Corps State Museum is located in four barracks buildings on the grounds of Camp San Luis Obispo in San Luis Obispo. Opened in 1995, the museum's exhibits highlight the works of the Civilian Conservation Corps in California. One building is a replica of a 1930s CCC barracks, including tools, uniforms and other artifacts. The museum is open by appointment. The museum also contains the library and research center of the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni Buildings.

National Guard Youth Programs[edit | edit source]

A major tenant of Camp San Luis Obispo since the early 2000s (decade) has been the Grizzly Youth Academy, California's version of the Youth Challenge Program. On 1 July 2011, Building 1301 at Camp San Luis Obispo was assigned as the new permanent headquarters of the California Cadet Corps.

US Naval Sea Cadets Corps[edit | edit source]

The Central Coast Division of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps is located at Building 1513, which is accessible via O'Connor Way. The Sea Cadets serve as the uniformed youth program of the United States Navy League, and serve as the official youth program for both the Navy and Coast Guard.

Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron[edit | edit source]

Composite Squadron 103 of the Civil Air Patrol is located at the Camp San Luis Obispo airfield. The CAP is under command of the 1st Air Force, which is responsible for Air Force Search & Rescue mission tasking. CAP Cadets are an active element of this squadron.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Stanton, Shelby L. (1984). Order of Battle: U.S. Army World War II. Novato, California: Presidio Press. p. 602. ISBN 0-89141-195-X. 
  2. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Camp San Luis Obispo

External links[edit | edit source]


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