Fort Monmouth's contributions shine during final farewell
September 18, 2011
By Amy Walker
The invocation was read, a bugle sounded, and as the American flag was lowered down the flagpole of Fort Monmouth, N.J. for the last time, the installation paid tribute to its 94 years of service to the U.S. Army.
"The legacy of this great installation will remain forever as a proud part of our region's and our nation's history," said George E. Fitzmaier, garrison manager of Fort Monmouth, during the Fort's final retreat ceremony. "Let us continue to look toward the future with faith, hope and confidence."
With several hundred people in attendance, Fort Monmouth's final retreat ceremony was held at the Fort's Cowan Park on Sept. 15. The American flag was taken down from its pole for the final time during the post's existence as an active military installation. Just two days prior, on Sept. 13, the Fort's Garrison inactivation ceremony and casing of the colors was held at Russel Hall, with the ceremony marking the last time the Fort Monmouth Army Garrison flew its colors and the completion of the unit's active duty time in the operational force.
Although the 2005 Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC) Act closed Fort Monmouth, it also gave birth to the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) Center of Excellence at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG), Md. As part of the BRAC implementation, functions of six C4ISR Materiel Enterprise organizations,who once called Fort Monmouth home, were consolidated at APG.
"Fort Monmouth leaves a legacy of significant contribution to the C4ISR community," said William F. Sverapa, deputy Program Executive Officer for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T). "From radio development to tactical backbone communications networks; from the research and development communities, logistics and PEOs, Fort Monmouth was a significant contributor to the capabilities provided to our Soldiers today."
The rich history of Fort Monmouth began in 1917 when a Signal Corps training facility and radio research and development laboratory were established at the site. The installation was originally named "Camp Little Silver" and was responsible for training the 1st and 2nd Reserve Signal Battalions. It was granted permanent status in August 1925 and renamed "Fort Monmouth" in honor of the Soldiers of the American Revolution who died in the battle of Monmouth Court House.
From its inception with the development of the first tactical radios, telephones, and message systems for Soldiers, through its capstone accomplishment in leading the digitization of the tactical Army, Fort Monmouth's vast accomplishments were a tremendous benefit to the Army and the Soldiers who used them, said Richard D. DeAtley, PEO C3T Technical Management Division systems engineer.
"Fort Monmouth provided every Commander and Soldier previously unknown and unavailable situational knowledge, lifting the fog of war," DeAtley said.
Fort Monmouth's innovations and inventions were too vast to name, said Emerson Keslar, director of PEO C3T's Military Technical Solutions Office (MilTech Solutions). Many of the breakthroughs in radio, radar and computers were also "leading the way towards those advances on the commercial side," he said.
"I don't believe we would have all the modern IT (information technology) applications we have today without many of the contributions of those that worked at the Fort," he said. "The scientists and engineers were committed to a cause -- supporting the Army -- and many of their personal contributions had a significant impact on our current world, yet their contributions are relatively unknown."
During the retreat ceremony, it was noted that Fort Monmouth was a place "where lasting memories were made." In a similar light, Keslar, who worked at Fort Monmouth for 29 years, recalled one of his fondest memories. Following the first Persian Gulf War, the installation celebrated the troops who were returning to Fort Monmouth with a welcome-home celebration followed by fireworks, he said.
"Everyone took pride not only in the Soldiers' return, but in how well all of our equipment did," Keslar said.
As part of the BRAC process, C4ISR moved 4,806 employee positions, 117 laboratories and 100,000 pieces of equipment and furniture from Fort Monmouth to APG without interruption to its support to Soldiers.
"All that we accomplish at APG will stand on the accomplishments of Fort Monmouth," DeAtley said.
Following the closure of Fort Monmouth on Sept. 15, the installation's property will begin preparation for transfer to the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority to sell or lease for reuse within the civilian community.
"As we case the Fort Monmouth garrison colors, let us not dwell on regrets about what used to be or what might have been, but instead remember fondly and with great pride the legacy of Fort Monmouth," Fitzmaier said.
Amy Walker is a staff writer for Symbolic Systems, Inc. supporting the Army's Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications-Tactical (PEO C3T).