Military Wiki
Fort Ord
Monterey Bay area, California
Fort ord.gif
Type Army Post
Coordinates Latitude:
Built 1917 (1917)
In use 1917 - 1994

Fort Ord was a U.S. Army post on Monterey Bay in California, which closed in 1994. Most of the fort's land now makes up the Fort Ord National Monument, managed by the Bureau of Land Management as part of the National Landscape Conservation System. The fort was established in 1917 as a maneuver area and field artillery target range, and was considered one of the most attractive locations of any U.S. Army post, because of its proximity to the beach and California weather. The 7th Infantry Division was its main garrison for many years. When Fort Ord was converted to civilian use, space was set aside for the first nature reserve in the United States created for conservation of an insect, the endangered Smith's blue butterfly. Additional endangered species are found on Fort Ord including; Contra Costa goldfields and the threatened California Tiger Salamander.

While much of the old military buildings and infrastructure remain abandoned, many structures have been torn down for anticipated development. California State University Monterey Bay and Fort Ord Dunes State Park, along with some subdivisions, the Veterans Transition Center, a strip mall, military facilities and a nature preserve occupy the area today.

On April 20, 2012, President Obama signed a proclamation designating a 14,651-acre (5,929 ha) portion of the former post as the Fort Ord National Monument.[1][2] In his proclamation, the President stated that, "The protection of the Fort Ord area will maintain its historical and cultural significance, attract tourists and recreationalists from near and far, and enhance its unique natural resources, for the enjoyment of all Americans."



In 1917, land was purchased just north of the city of Monterey for use as an artillery training field for the Army. The area was known as the Gigling Reservation, U.S. Field Artillery Area, Presidio of Monterey and Gigling Field Artillery Range.

In 1933, the artillery field became Camp Ord, named in honor of Maj. Gen. Edward Ord, a Union Army leader during the American Civil War who also served in the Second Seminole War and Indian Wars. Primarily, horse cavalry units trained on the camp until the military began to mechanize and train mobile combat units.

In 1940, the 23-year-old Camp Ord was expanded to 2,000 acres (8.1 km2; 3.1 sq mi). In August 1940, it was re-designated Fort Ord and the 7th Infantry Division was reactivated, becoming the first major unit to occupy the post.

In 1941, Camp Ord became Fort Ord. For the next thirty years, the fort was the primary facility for basic training for the Army. In 1947, Fort Ord became the home of the 4th Replacement Training Center. During the 1950s and 1960s, Fort Ord was a staging area for units departing for war, and at one time had 50,000 troops on the installation. The 194th Armored Brigade was activated there under Combat Development Command in 1957, but departed for Fort Knox in 1960.

In 1957, land on the eastern side of the post was used to create the Laguna Seca Raceway which served to replace the Pebble Beach road racing course that ceased operations for safety reasons in that same year.

The post continued as a center for instruction of basic and advanced infantrymen until 1976, when the training area was deactivated and Fort Ord again became the home of the 7th Infantry Division, following their return from South Korea after twenty-five years on the DMZ. In 1988, Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) legislation was passed by Congress.

In 1991, the decision to close Fort Ord was made. In 1994, Fort Ord was officially closed. The fort was the largest U.S. military base to be closed at the time.

During the last few years, basic training for National Guard and Reservists was conducted by regular army personnel, but there was a shift at that time to focus on the mental and emotional, as well as the traditional physical aspects of basic training. This was done to prepare the Guard and Reservists to better handle the unique challenges of serving in the domestic "theatre," acknowledging the unique mental and emotional stresses inherent in a typical reservist deployments.

Closing the Fort

The BRAC Commission of 1991 recommended closing the post and moving the units stationed at Fort Ord to Fort Lewis, Washington. In 1992, Army elements from Fort Ord and Marines from Camp Pendleton participated in quelling the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. In 1994 Fort Ord was finally closed. Most of the land was returned to the state of California and became the home of the California State University, Monterey Bay. The remainder was given to UC Santa Cruz to be developed into the UC MBEST (Monterey Bay Education, Science and Technology) Center. The MBEST Center is a regional economic development effort focused on developing collaborative research-business opportunities in the Monterey Bay region. The city of Marina is developing a large part of land within its city limits, building over 1,000 new homes. A large strip mall along Highway 1 at the former 12th Street Gate entrance to Fort Ord opened in late 2007, housing popular retail stores such as Target, R.E.I., Michaels, Old Navy, Kohl's, and Best Buy. A substantial amount of land on the east side of the base has been set aside for preservation as open space. This preserve includes a network of hiking trails and other recreational amenities.

Fort Ord's former golf courses, Bayonet and Black Horse, are now public golf courses. They have hosted PGA golf events and were recently renovated.[3] A small portion of Ft. Ord remains under Army control originally called the Presidio of Monterey Annex. It is now called the Ord Military Community (explained below). The military still has a presence at Fort Ord, in the form of several California Army National Guard units, facilities administered by the Presidio of Monterey, and the continued operation of the base PX and Commissary catering to the active duty military stationed in the Monterey area as well as retirees who chose to settle in the area and are entitled to shop at such facilities. Management of the military housing has been outsourced to private firms, but the homes are still occupied by personnel stationed at the Presidio of Monterey and Naval Postgraduate School and retired military members.

A snapshot taken during a "Secrets of Fort Ord" Tour, with real soldiers training in progress.

Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA)

The Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) is a large, multi-governmental body responsible for the redevelopment of the 28,000 acre former Fort Ord Military Installation, FORA is composed of elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as representatives from the United States Armed Forces and educational bodies such as California State University, Monterey Bay at the primary, secondary, and university levels.[4][5] Voting members are made up of representatives from the cities of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Sand City, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, and Seaside as well as 2 representatives from the County of Monterey (of which one representative, Supervisor Dave Potter is currently FORA's chair).[6] Ex officio members are composed of representatives from the Monterey Peninsula College, the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District, California's 17th congressional district, California's 15th State Senate district, California's 27th State Assembly district, the United States Army, the Chancellor of the California State University, the President of the University of California, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, and the Transportation Agency of Monterey County.[7]

Recent events

In June 2006, Ed Salven, one of Ft. Ord's veterans from the Vietnam era, published a book, The Soldier Factory, chronicling his personal history as a soldier, and reflecting upon a return visit to the Fort in the late '90s. Along with poetic reflections, the book includes color reproductions of paintings of soldiers that Salven found hung from barracks' windows as he explored the grounds, rendered by students from California State University, Monterey Bay.

An annual "Secrets of Fort Ord" tour is given, beginning from the campus of CSUMB. Locations are reached by bus, and the tour takes approximately two hours. Though much of the fort appears abandoned, tourists learn otherwise upon seeing the buildings in full use with soldiers in training within the broken down buildings. Much of the tour takes place beyond public reach, behind closed off limit areas. Some places are only viewable from the outside, though, such as the former prison, recently used for paintball and airsoft competitions, now house a concrete works and other industry.

The Marina Equestrian Center by the stockade has a fascinating history,[8] having started as an equine veterinary hospital in 1941 to serve the 1400 horses of the 76th Field Artillery Regiment (United States). Community horse boarding and prime riding-trail access on BLM land is still available, but is in danger of being eliminated by the City of Marina. This is the only remaining example of a major World War II-construction medical facility for warhorses. Twelve of the original twenty-one stables built to house the warhorses and mules in 1940 are about 200 yards away from the equestrian center, on Fourth Avenue/Gen Jim Moore Blvd. They are owned by CSUMB and slated for demolition.

Several other abandoned locations which may or may not have been included in the tour, and which may have even been knocked down as of 2007, include the Doughboy Theater, an Olympic sized swimming pool, a bowling alley, and an incinerator.

File:Bench in Fort Ord Public Lands.jpg

A view of some of Fort Ord's Public Lands.

Veterans Transition Center

The Veterans Transition Center (VTC) is also located on the site of the former Fort Ord. Since its inception it has served 4,155 single veterans and 351 veterans with families. The center is currently looking to expand by adding more housing units and a non-profit store (to be run by partner company, Vocational Rehabilitation Specialists Inc.) with the express purpose of employing as many veterans as possible.[9][10]

California State University, Monterey Bay

California State University, Monterey Bay opened on the Fort's former ground shortly after Fort Ord's closing as part of President Bill Clinton's peace dividends program. The University has currently enrolled roughly 4,500 students and the Leon Panetta Institute is located on its campus.

Schoonover, Frederick and Frederick II are housing developments located in the former Fort Ord created for students and families who are associated with CSUMB, Monterey Peninsula Unified School District as well as other local school districts. All three parks are accessible off of Abrams Drive.

Fort Ord Dunes State Park and National Monument

US Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveils the Fort Ord National Monument sign.

At the end of the same street that the DOD Building sits is one of many entrances to the Fort Ord National Monument, which includes miles of trails, vegetation and wildlife. As their title states, the trails are open to the public for hiking, biking, and other forms of exercise. However, a small number of trails are fenced along their edges because of possible unexploded ordnance.

A coastal strip overlooking Monterey Bay became California's newest state park, Fort Ord Dunes State Park, in 2009.[11]

On January 13, 2012 United States Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar visited Fort Ord and addressed a crowd of 200 supporters and announced that he was proposing to President Obama that Fort Ord be elevated to National Monument status. On April 20, 2012 President Obama signed a Presidential Proclamation establishing Fort Ord National Monument.[12] Fort Ord National Monument refers to that land on the former Fort Ord that is administered by the Bureau of Land Management and is open to the general public. Prior to being made available to the public, the land underwent a comprehensive remediation process that involved an extensive munitions clean-up. Currently there are over 83 miles (134 km) of recreational trails available on Fort Ord. Those trails are used by representatives from the trail communities including those on foot, on bicycles and on horseback. All open trails are available to all non-motorized trail user groups. The BLM sponsors a group of volunteers who patrol the trails as hikers, cyclist and equestrians. The group is named BETA - Bicycle-Equestrian Trails-Assistance.[13] All members of BETA are trained in first-aid and CPR. Members are also familiar with the trails and trail features.

Notable Fort Ordians

  • Some who served or lived at Ft. Ord
    • Michelle Boulos, nationally competitive figure skater
    • Grey DeLisle, voice actress
    • Clint Eastwood, actor & director; in 1950, he began a one-year stint as a lifeguard for the United States Army during the Korean War; he served as Mayor of nearby Carmel in 1986-1988
    • Herman Edwards, NFL player and coach; his father was stationed at Ford Ord
    • Jerry Garcia, musician and co-founder of the Grateful Dead
    • Jimi Hendrix, musician; was at Fort Ord in May 1961 for three months of basic training
    • David Janssen, actor
    • Ollie Matson, NFL Hall of Fame football player, Olympic Medal winner
    • Scott Melville, professional tennis player
    • Martin Milner, actor
    • Matthew Morrison, actor & singer
    • Alan Osmond, singer, musician, performer and leader of The Osmonds
    • Steve Owens, Heisman Trophy winner, 1969
    • Wally Rank, professional basketball player
    • Ron Rivera, current head coach of the NFL's Carolina Panthers
    • actor
    • GEN Joseph Stilwell, World War II commander known as "Vinegar Joe" who won acclaim in China and Burma campaigns
    • MG Charles H. Swannack, Jr., battalion commander who went on to command the 82nd Airborne Division
    • BG Huba Wass de Czege, one of the Army's leading strategists in the 1980s
    • GEN Raymond T. Odierno, former battalion commander; and now Army Chief of Staff
    • LTG Harold G. Moore, general officer and author. In 1975, the United States Army Center of Military History published Building a Volunteer Army: The Fort Ord Contribution, by Moore and Lieutenant Colonel Jeff M. Tuten. The 139-page paperback is a monograph concerning the Project VOLAR experiments during Moore's tenure in command of Fort Ord in 1971-1973 in preparation for the end of the draft and the implementation of the Modern Volunteer Army. He was portrayed by Mel Gibson in screen adaptation of his second book.

In popular culture

  • The 1951 film The Lady Says No with David Niven was filmed at Fort Ord.
  • The 1956 film The Girl He Left Behind with Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood was filmed at Fort Ord.
  • The 1963 film Soldier in the Rain with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen was also filmed at Fort Ord.
  • The 1980 film Private Benjamin featured a photo of moored yachts at Fort Ord during a recruitment scene being used as an inducement.
  • In the 1989 Tom Clancy novel, Clear and Present Danger, soldiers from Fort Ord, including Domingo Chavez, are recruited for Operation SHOWBOAT.
  • The TV series MythBusters frequently uses the streets of an abandoned housing development in Fort Ord for testing that involves driving a car.[14]
  • From 2004–2006, Ft. Ord was the location of development for the video game America's Army.


  1. "Presidential Proclamation — Establishment of the Fort Ord National Monument". Retrieved April 29, 2012. 
  2. "National Monument detail table as of April 2012". Bureau of Land Management. Retrieved 2012-12-27. 
  3. SeeMonterey: Bayonet and Black Horse
  4. "FORA Mission Statement". Fort Ord Reuse Authority. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  5. "FORA Board Members". Fort Ord Reuse Authority. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  6. "Government Code Section 67660". State of California. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  7. "Government Code Section 67661". State of California. Retrieved 28 September 2012. 
  8. "The Fort Ord Equestrian Center". Retrieved June 21, 2010. 
  9. Townsell, T. K. (2009). Monterey Area Veterans Transition Center offers assistance to all local vets. Retrieved 04-11-2011 from, the official homepage of the U.S. Army:
  10. HelpVTC. 2011. About VTC:
  11. Cooper, J. Fort Ord Dunes now a state park. San Francisco Chronicle January 24, 2010
  12. Ord National Monument proclamation April 21, 2012
  13. "Fort Ord BETA - Bicycle-Equestrian Trails-Assistance". Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  14. Mythbusters, viewed April 9, 2010.

External links

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