History on Display PART 2: Post museum showcases Meade’s 100 years

Troops of the 519th Military Police Battalion return to Fort Meade in 1991 from Desert Storm. (All photos courtesy Fort Meade Museum)

By Barbara S. Taylor, Exhibits Specialist

and Jim Speraw, Curator, Fort Meade Museum

This is Part II of a two-part series on Fort Meade and the Fort Meade Museum.

As the Cold War ensued after World War II, Fort Meade’s mission also changed with the new mission.

Meade became home to Second U. S. Army as well as four Armored Cavalry regiments. The 3rd and 2nd cavalries would call Fort Meade home when they were not part of the units that under Operation Gyroscope would rotate to post-World War II Europe and patrol the East German and Czech borders.

The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment deploys from its home station, Fort Meade, to Vietnam in 1966.

In addition to those two regiments, the 11th and the 6th cavalries would also call Meade home. The 11th Cavalry deployed from Meade to Vietnam in 1965. The 6th Cavalry was the last armor unit that would call Meade home, and a new mission at Meade began.

In 1954, Fort Meade was chosen as the new home for the National Security Agency. The NSA began its move here in 1955 from Arlington Hall Station, Va.

To protect both the NSA and the National Capital Region, the first operational Nike Hercules missile site was activated at Meade. The Missile Master Command Center was also at Meade and controlled the ring of defensive missiles from Bel Air to Lorton, Va.

In front of the Fort Meade Museum is an Ajax Missile, and outside the Network Enterprise Center, just off post, is an actual Hercules missile.

During the Vietnam era of the 1960s, in response to civil unrest, anti-war protests and riots, the 519th MP Battalion was stationed at Fort Meade. In 1966, First U.S. Army was moved from Governor’s Island, N.Y., to Fort George G. Meade, absorbing Second U.S. Army Headquarters in the process.

First Army would become the primary headquarters to oversee training of Guard and Reserve units on the East Coast of the U.S. Meade also sent the 85th Medical Battalion to assist in the Vietnamese Relocation Program on Guam in 1975.

Post-Vietnam, the mission changed again. Fort Meade underwent its first Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC. At the end of that process, although Fort Meade lost its combat training mission, the post developed other equal and more important missions.

After the first BRAC, Army intelligence units were drawn to Fort Meade and NSA like moths to a flame. In the latest BRAC, which ended September 2011, the Defense Information Systems Agency moved to Meade, along with two other agencies.

But world events would still cause Fort Meade to react, sending elements of the 519th Military Police Battalion to deploy to Panama. Meade would see an officer of the battalion be one of the first women to command troops under fire. The Fort Meade Museum is proud to display Capt. Mary McCullough’s uniform.

11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Soldiers deploy their personnel carriers during firing exercises on Fort Meade in 1965.

The 519th MPs and the 85th Medical Battalion would also deploy to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

Fort Meade also served as a mobilization/training base for units of the Army Reserve.

After Desert Shield/Storm, Fort Meade was again a demobilization center. But because the war ended so quickly, the demobilization infrastructure was not yet in place. Senior enlisted retirees were re-activated to oversee the process and demobilized in just weeks as compared to what took other centers months to accomplish.

In the past two decades Fort Meade went purple, with an Air Force Wing and Navy Information Operations Center — now the Cryptologic Warfare Group Six — both moving to NSA.

More recently, Marine Corps Forces Cyber Command, Navy Fleet Cyber Command, Air Force Cyber Command and the U.S. Cyber Command have been headquartered here.

In addition, Fort Meade is home to other cutting edge units and schools including the Defense Information School and its parent, the Defense Media Agency.

Fort Meade is also home to the Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group and the Army’s 55th Signal Battalion (Combat Camera). The Fort Meade Museum has a uniform on display of a Silver Star recipient, Spc. Michael Carter, a 55th Combat Camera Soldier attached with 3rd Special Forces Group in Afghanistan.

To protect both the NSA and the National Capital Region, the first operational Nike Hercules missile site was activated at Fort Meade during the Cold War. This Hercules missile rests in front of the Network Enterprise Center, just off post.

We invite you to visit the post museum and celebrate 100 years of history with us.

Editor’s note: The Fort Meade Museum is open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. Non-DoD cardholders must be sponsored and obtain a day pass to enter the installation.

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