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Fort Benjamin Harrison was a U.S. Army post located in suburban Lawrence, Indiana, northeast of Indianapolis. It is named for the 23rd United States President, Benjamin Harrison. Land was purchased in 1903, with the post being officially named for President Harrison in honor of Indianapolis being his hometown. In 1901, former President Benjamin Harrison's son Russell through lobbying efforts sold a nearby U.S. Arsenal where the U.S. Army used the money to buy land where the fort is located today.[1]

Fort Benjamin Harrison saw its highest level of activity during World War I and World War II. The Fort Benjamin Harrison Reception Center opened in 1941 and was the largest reception center in the United States by 1943.[2]

Within Fort Harrison was Camp Glenn, named in honor of Major General Edwin Forbes Glenn, who had served as Fort Harrison's commandant from 1912–1913,[3] and who commanded the officer training that began at his camps in 1916.[4] Camp Glenn was a Citizens Military Training Camp (CMTC) that was also used to house Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers.[5] When the United States reestablished the Military Police Corps in 1941, an MP school was established at Camp Glenn and was operation by early 1942.[6] The area was also used to detain Italian and German prisoners of war in 1944 and 1945.[6]

In 1947, the Army declared Fort Harrison to be surplus property,[7] but declined to completely close the fort due to a lack of adequate training space for the Indiana National Guard.[8] From 1948 to 1950, the post functioned as Benjamin Harrison Air Force Base. The Tenth Air Force was moved from Omaha, Nebraska and headquartered at Schoen Field on Fort Harrison, as well as Stout Army Air Field in Indianapolis.[9] Overcrowding and inadequate facilities soon forced the 10th Air Force to move to Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan, and the Army reacquired control of Fort Benjamin Harrison.

The Interservice Postal School was located at Fort Benjamin Harrison in the 1970s under the US Army Institute of Administration (USAIA), and was staffed by instructors from all four services. It moved to Fort Jackson in South Carolina in 1995.

Beginning in 1965, it was also home of the Defense Information School (DINFOS). This was staffed by enlisted personnel and officers from all branches of the US military along with members of allied military personnel. DINFOS trained print, radio and television personnel to report all manner of military activities. DINFOS moved in 1995 to Fort Meade, Maryland.

The Fort was the site of the Athletes' Villages for the 1987 Pan American Games. New barracks were built to house the athletes just before the games kicked off. Those barracks were torn down a few years after the base was closed.

Since 1990Edit

Fort Benjamin Harrison was closed as part of the 1991 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. The site of the base has since been redeveloped, and includes residential neighborhoods, a golf course, and is the site of Fort Harrison State Park.

Although the base has officially been inactivated, there is still a very significant military presence in the area. The Defense Finance and Accounting Service—Indianapolis, several Army Reserve and Indiana National Guard units, and a post exchange and commissary are still located at the former post.[10]

On May 29, 2009, the Indiana National Guard held a ground-breaking ceremony for a new facility to be erected at Fort Benjamin Harrison, the Lawrence Readiness Training Center, which opened in 2011.[11] The facility will house four units, including the 76th Brigade Combat Team headquarters.[12]

ReferencesEdit

  1. "Fort Benjamin Harrison". Indystar.com. http://archive.is/20121126210204/http://www.indystar.com/article/99999999/NEWS06/305140011/StarFiles-Fort-Benjamin-Harrison. Retrieved 24 February 2011. 
  2. "Timeline : Fort Benjamin Harrison". www.IndianaMilitary.org. 2007-01-06. http://www.indianamilitary.org/FtHarrison/Timeline/Timeline.htm. Retrieved 2009-12-13. 
  3. Bower, 79
  4. Bower, 20-21
  5. Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park brochure: Today, several of the buildings and tent sites exist as part of the Fort Harrison State Park nature center.
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Story of Camp Glenn National Historic District (pamphlet). Museum Collection and Archives, Fort Harrison State Park, Indianapolis, Indiana: Indiana Department of Natural Resources: Division of State Parks and Reservoirs. 
  7. Bower, 187
  8. Bower, 189
  9. Bower, 190-91
  10. Fort Harrison Reuse Authority - History; accessed 28 November 2009.
  11. Staggs, Brad (10 March 2011). "76th IBCT prepares to move to Lawrence". Indiana Guardsman. http://www.in.ng.mil/PublicAffairs/LatestNewsandVideoClips/tabid/831/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/560/76th-IBCT-prepares-to-move-to-Lawrence.aspx. Retrieved 10 March 2011.  The 76th IBCT was based out of Tyndall Armory in Indianapolis from 1969 to 2010.
  12. "Groundbreaking Planned For New National Guard Armory". Inside Indiana Business. 2009-05-28. http://www.insideindianabusiness.com/newsitem.asp?ID=35842. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  • Bower, Stephen E. (1995). The American Army In The Heartland. A History of Fort Benjamin Harrison 1903-1995. Indianapolis: Indiana Creative Arts. 

External linksEdit


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