Fort Meade centennial book celebrates service and supports military families

From the black-and-white photo of horse-drawn wagons rolling down Mapes Road to the fisheye image of cyber warfare specialists encircled by computers, telephones and cables, “Fort George G. Meade: The First 100 Years” provides a vivid, detailed and deeply personal history of an installation that has safeguarded the country since World War I.

For more than two years, staff from the Fort Meade Museum and the Garrison’s Public Affairs Office coordinated the production of the book.

“It was a labor of love to celebrate Fort Meade’s centennial in 2017,” said Mary Doyle, principle editor.

Packed with historical essays by 30 contributors, personal memories, postcards, news articles and a wealth of historic photographs, the book outlines Fort Meade’s journey “From Saddles to Cyberspace in a Century of Innovation and Security.”

It is available as a free PDF download at ftmeade.army.mil. However, readers can also purchase a glossy, hardcover version of the book online thanks to a partnership with the Fort Meade Alliance (FMA).

“We were thrilled with the opportunity to make the work of the passionate and expert creators of this book available in hardcover format,” said FMA President Steven Tiller.  “Fort Meade is an enormous asset to the nation, to the Department of Defense and to the State of Maryland. In this book, you see how Fort Meade has safeguarded us in wartime and peacetime. And you get to know some of the amazing men, women and families who have contributed to that service.”

The Fort Meade Alliance Foundation has arranged for sales of the hardcover book to benefit service men and women, military families and other members of the Fort Meade community. All profits from book sales will go to the FMA Foundation’s services for military members and families, its scholarships for Fort Meade High School students, and its STEM programs for school children in the Fort Meade region.

The book, Tiller added, is bound to give readers a new understanding of the history, mission and people of Fort Meade. It will also treat them to some fascinating stories.

Camp Meade, as it was originally known, was created during World War I. In just five months, a rapidly assembled local workforce of 50,000 people erected 1,200 wooden buildings on site and built essential roads, power lines and water/sewer lines to the camp so that the Army could begin training and shipping Doughboys and horses to WWI battlefields.

Fort Meade became the home base for men and women who served in every war since. Among their ranks were legendary figures, including George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower. The book retells some of their missions from their time at Fort Meade, such as Eisenhower’s convoy from the District of Columbia to California in 1919. The 3,251-mile trek, which involved 297 personnel and 81 vehicles, took 62 days and claimed 21 lives.

The book also profiles lesser known heroes within the Fort Meade community, such as Spc. Hilda Clayton. A visual information specialist with 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera), Clayton died in 2013 while documenting live fire exercises by the Afghan army. The last photograph she took (included in the book) shows the moment a mortar exploded accidentally, killing Clayton and an Afghan soldier.

The book includes little-known bits of Fort Meade history, such as how the installation became a set for the 1951 science fiction thriller “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

Contributors relate tales of family life on base and even how some families came to be.

“A lot of people don’t know that we had German and Italian POWs housed here,” Doyle said. “The good news within the POW story is that after Mussolini died and the Italians were no longer our enemy, people from Baltimore started coming down here every Sunday and having picnics and dances with the Italian POWs. Many marriages followed.”

“Fort George G. Meade: The First 100 Years” is available for purchase on: