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                   Music "Willie Nelson - Stardust Georgia"

 

Fort Gordon
The Military Police School Years

Since more than three quarters of the membership of the 545th Military Police Company Association obtained their Military Police training at Fort Gordon, Georgia, it is appropriate that we include in this web site a section for that facility.  Although the subsequent MP School locations have been fine schools and have trained many highly motivated and professional Military Policemen, it is Fort Gordon than the majority of us remember.  Not only had the enlisted men attended this school, but officers as well. The MP Officers Basic Course was also located at this facility.

Many of our members were also Drill Sergeants at this MP School,  SSG Carlos Miranda and 1SGT William Sykes just to mention a few.  There are many great memories of the time spent at Fort Gordon by a great majority of our membership and this should bring back some of them.

Augusta’s Camp Gordon

In the 1930’s, Augusta, Georgia and much of the South was in the midst of an economic malaise.  The Civil War and then the Great Depression left the region straggling far behind the industrialized North.  World War II ended the areas economic doldrums with it’s impregnation of massive military spending into Augusta and the Central Savanna River Area.

On 5 May 1941, the War Department let a contract for the construction of a military installation near Augusta.  Two months later on 23 July 1941, the Federal Government officially announced that Augusta had been selected as the site for a major Army Installation.  The dedication ceremony for Camp Gordon, named for Lieutenant General John Brown Gordon, Confederate States of America, who served two terms as governor of Georgia and two terms as a U.S. Senator occurred on 18 October 1941.  In November, Colonel Frank Whittaker, former commander of Fort Jackson, South Carolina, assumed command of the camp.

Among the units that trained at Camp Gordon before being deployed overseas were the famed 4th Infantry Division, the 10th Armored Division, and the 26th Infantry Division.  Of course there were other units stationed at Camp Gordon during World War II.  Among them were the Detachment Corps MP Station Complement and MP Battalions, such as the 601st MP Battalion and the 790th MP Battalion, initiating Camp Gordon’s long history with the MP Corps.

With the end of World War II, Camp Gordon seemed destined for deactivation and had become virtually a ghost town by June 1948.  However it was actually in a stage of evolution from a temporary World War II camp into a specialized training and communication center.

The Military Police School Moves to Camp Gordon

The location in 1948 of the MP School at Camp Gordon was part of a major military reorganization beginning with the National Security Act of 1947.  The Selective Service Act of 1948 reestablished the draft, which had lapsed for one year.  These and other measures, including the establishment of the Department of Defense in 1947 and new emphasis on military training, were part of the Truman administration’s recognized need and effort to provide for an adequate defense establishment in the rapidly changing post-World War II era.  As tensions mounted between the Soviet Union and the Western Powers, the Soviet Union dropped its “Iron Curtain.”

In light of these Cold War developments, pursuant to General Order 66 dated 24 September 1948 and effective 27 September, the MP School was discontinued at Carlisle Barracks and established at Camp Gordon.  The official announcement of the transition made on 20 September said the move would be made by 1 November.  According to speculation, the move was to involve some 2,500 personnel and 500 student officers.  An advance party arrived on 30 September 1948.  Reportedly, the Army’s desire not to interrupt class schedules delayed the school’s move.  Students comprising the next class to begin on 1 November were expected to arrive at Camp Gordon on 27 October.  The school’s complete transfer, however did not occur until later in the year.  The Camp Gordon MP School’s commander was Colonel William H. Maglin, the commander of the Carlisle School and a West Point graduate whose numerous MP assignments included North Africa, Korea, and Japan. 

As part of the MP school’s relocation, the U.S. Army transferred its only Crime Laboratory from Carlisle Barracks to Camp Gordon.  First established in 1945 at San Antonio, Texas, the crime laboratory handled material involved in sundry types of crimes sent from wherever troops were stationed without their own crime detection facilities. The laboratory prepared exhibits used in trials involving Army cases.  According to one account, until the Augusta branch of the Georgia State Crime Laboratory was built in 1975, the MP Corps made their laboratory available upon request to city and county police.

MP school instruction included courses in military law, criminal investigation, town and station patrol, traffic control, map reading (a crucial part of an MP’s job in combat at that time), civil disturbances, riot control, unarmed defense, self-protection, MP weapons and guardhouses and confinement facilities.  As the course changed over time, so did the composition of the student body.  In May 1949, the school received its first enlisted female students, a group of seven Woman’s Army Corps (WAC) personnel followed in October by five WAC officers. Foreign students attended the school as early as September 1949.  By 13 November 1949, 4,705 students had graduated. 

 

 

Military Police Training During the Korean War

The location in 1948 of the MP school along with the Signal Training Center and the Engineer Aviation Unit Training Center at Camp Gordon seemed to ensure the permanence of the installation with its population of some 30,000 Augustans, worried over the Pentagon’s 1949 economy measures, however, were not so sure.  The announcement made in December that the installation was to be inactivated within a year gave creditability to their concern and, indeed heightened it.  The Augusta Chamber of Commerce headed by T.O. Taber and its Secretary, Lester Moody, appealed to Georgia Senator Richard B. Russell, Vice Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  While he did campaign to keep the post open, it was the Korean War which assured the Camp’s continued existence, albeit not its permanency.

With the coming of the Korean War, Camp Gordon again became involved heavily in training soldiers for war.  The Department of the Army ordered expansion of the installation to its full capacity.  Once again, Augusta prepared to become a “War City”
Among the thousands trained at Camp Gordon were Military Policemen.  Colonel Maglin led that training until he received his assignment in 1950 as Deputy Provost Marshal General.  Assuming command of the MP School was Deputy Provost Marshal General, Colonel Francis B. Howard, also a West Point graduate and veteran of several MP assignments.

Renamed the Provost Marshal General School (PMGS) in September 1950, the school underwent several reorganizations including a major one in 1951 in the midst of the Korean War.  The school’s training program broadened to include all members of the Armed Services.  Consequently, in January 1950, the first five Marines to attend the school arrived.  Among the courses were the Officers Basic and Advanced Courses, the Associate Advanced Course and the ten weeks Officer Investigators Course.

 

 

The Provost Marshal General Center

On 6 February 1951, the US Army Provost Marshal General Center (PMGS) was established, incorporating the PMGS in March 1951.  Activated at Camp Gordon with Colonel Howard commanding, the PMGS provided a “focal point for The Provost Marshal General’s School and those activities under the control of the Provost Marshal General that had worked closely with the School from it inception.” The center initially had two missions, to provide training for the MP Corps along with personnel from other armed services, from other federal agencies, and from allied nations in MP doctrine and techniques and to serve as the coordinator and supervisor of attached units and activities.

Under the PMGC, the PMGS’ main mission was to maintain resident and non resident departments for the purpose of providing individual training for officers and enlisted personnel of the MP Corps, Army components, other services and allied nations in provost marshal, MP and special investigative duties.  The school also assisted in developing military police doctrine and preparing and revising training literature, extension courses, programs of instruction (POI) and texts.

In addition to the PMGS, the PMGC also included the Military Replacement Training Center, activated at Camp Gordon on 19 September 1950.  The Military Replacement Center’s mission was to train enlisted soldiers in basic military subjects and the duties of the MP Corps.  In a move to consolidate Basic Training, Camp Gordon’s post headquarters activated the Basic Replacement Training Center (BRTC) in September 1953 under the command of Colonel Harry B. Emigh. The BRTC absorbed the Signal Corps Replacement Center and the MP Replacement Center.  The later was redesignated on 1 November 1953 as the 1st MP Training Regiment.  Trainees received eight weeks instruction in various subjects such as weapons and tactics.  The 1st MP Training Regiment continued to offer Basic Training to enlisted men.  On 3 August 1954, the name again changed, this time to the MP Training Center, but there was no change in the basic mission.

Also comprising the PMGC was the MP Board, established after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The Board followed the PMGS to Camp Gordon.  Its mission was to perform research and study projects on training publications, training aids and development and evaluation of new equipment of concern to the Provost Marshal General.

The Criminal Investigation Laboratory, referred to previously, part of the PMGS since 1946, was reorganized in 1951 under the PMGC.  The PMGC also consisted of the 1st MP Criminal Investigation Detachment (CID), activated at Camp Gordon on November 1, 1949.  In 1950, the detachment participated in “Exercise Swarmer” at Greenville Air Force Base, South Carolina, where it operated as a “mobile criminal investigation laboratory.”  In June 1951, the Center assumed control of the 504th MP Battalion.  The PMGC became the meeting ground for basic and advanced training and planning in the Military Police Corps.

The PMGC steadily grew at Camp Gordon, especially during the Korean War.  The outbreak of hostilities in Korea and the need for Civil Assistance Officers placed increasing importance and demands on the school’s Military Government Department created in September 1950.  The MP School Headquarters was located in building 38504 on 38th Street, across from building 38505, a former enlisted men’s club and library.  The school complex, incorporating several buildings, was bounded by 7th Avenue at 38th Street and 7th Avenue at Academic Drive.

MP students and advanced students at the PMGC received training in a variety of subjects preparing them for duty at home and abroad.  Training in traffic control, prisoner of war (POW) processing and military government particularly were needed in Korea.  In Korea, the MP’s were especially concerned with checking the guerilla infiltrators, alleviating the refugee problem and thwarting attempted riots.  The Military Replacement Center built a mock village, providing “grim realism” to the study of land mines and booby traps, “a cynical approach to the art of killing” used in Korea.  The Military Replacement Training Center’s  Leadership Company proved to be a “testing ground” for those exhibiting “inherent qualities of leadership” They received a “souped up” version of  Basic Training with classroom instruction taken in the first four weeks of the eight week course.  In May 1952, The Military Government Department sent personnel to Exercise Longhorn maneuvers at Fort Hood, Texas.  There, personnel gained experience and training in the military government occupation of a town.  The PMGC provided a versatile training program as it prepared soldiers for Korea.  One reporter commented:  “In World War II and now again in Korea, weather on battle swept bridges and crossroads, or in halls of justice and government, the MP letters in white on blue brassards are being worn by specially trained soldiers who are serving as able and undaunted guides to their fellow soldiers, earning the lasting respect and admiration of all whom they serve.

 

 

Reserve Officer Training Program

Camp Gordon also played a role during the Korean War in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.  In 1952 Camp Gordon hosted its first ROTC encampment for the Signal Corps and its third consecutive one for the MP Corps.  The first MP Camp, held between 17 June and 29 July, involved more than 300 cadets.  The two 1952 summer encampments involved over 1500 cadets from some 100 colleges across the nation.  Camp Gordon’s commanding General, Brigadier General Frank A. Allen Jr., was the commander of both encampments.

The MP Corps ROTC encampments included PMGS demonstrations and training and field exercises in a variety of Military Police subjects.

Through these summer ROTC encampments, Camp Gordon prepared future officers of the Signal Corps and the MP Corps. 

Among the numerous MP units assigned to Camp Gordon at various times during the Korean War era were the 504th MP Battalion, the 300th, 321st, 331st, and 419th MP CID; and the 56th and 339th MP POW Processing Companies.

Post – Korean War

The PMGC continued its expansion as the MP Corps celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in 1956.  At that time, the PMGC included the PMGS, The MP Training Center, The MP Board, The Criminal Investigation Laboratory, and The Criminal Investigation Repository.  The PMGS offered American and allied officers and noncommissioned officers (NCO’s) advanced technical training in military police work.  In addition to other courses, the PMGS continued to offer the MP Officer Basic Course, twelve weeks of intensive classroom and field training.  In an effort to be more responsive to student needs, the PMGS was reorganized into three main divisions:  Resident Instruction, Non-Resident Instruction, and Administration.  In addition to classroom instruction, the PMGS illustrated practical problems through its model city and through other exercises such as LOGEX, a logistical exercise held at Fort Lee, Virginia.  Students gained on hands instruction in traffic control through, for example, working with the city of Augusta.

The PMGC’s Training Center offered an eight week Basic Training program to enlisted Military Policemen.  The MP Board authored technical manuals (TM) and conducted tests for the Army’s MP.  The Criminal Investigation Laboratory was the military center for scientific investigation in the U.S. while the Criminal Investigation Repository retained the investigative case files.  Still assigned to the PMGC was the 504th MP Battalion, one of the Army’s most decorated and most colorful units.  In April, 1956, the PMGC offered the first all civilian class, Security Supervision Course # 15.  Other programs included the National Resources Conference held in December 1956 where participants visited the PMGC’s industrial defense facility.  The PMGC’s three week Industrial Defense Course was designed to assist and advise industrial concerns of interest to the national security.  Students studied various problems, such as “sabotage”, emergency succession of management, dispersion, and restoration of productive capability, through the use of an industrial defense mock-up, a miniature model of an industrial plant.  Discontinued in 1957 was the U.S. Army Training Regiment.

1962 Reorganization

Over time, the PMGC assumed control of other units (for example, 56th MP Company-POW, 308th Military Government Group, 402nd Military Government Company, 408th Military Government Company, 95th Military Government Group, 41st Military Government Company, and the 42nd Military Government Company) before being discontinued in 1962 as part of a major reorganization at Fort Gordon.  General Order 171, issued from Headquarters, Third U.S. Army, Fort McPherson on 29 June 1962, discontinued the PMGC, the PMGS, as it then was organized and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory, along with several other organizations associated with the Signal School.

One of the three units reorganized under General Order 171 was the Provost Marshal General’s School.  The school was attached to Fort Gordon with an authorized strength of 101 officers, 14 warrant officers, 223 enlisted men and 74 civilians, effective 1 July 1962.  The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory was organized under the Provost Marshal General’s School with an authorized strength of one officer, three warrant officers, ten enlisted men and two civilians.  Three months later on 26 September 1962, The Provost Marshal General’s School was redesignated the U.S. Army MP School.  Also, in 1962, the 504th MP Battalion (reactivated in October 1950 at Camp Gordon as a General Reserve Unit) was transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington.

Along with modifications in organizational placement and name changes, came alterations in the schools internal structure over its lifetime at Fort Gordon. For instance, in 1966, the MP School was comprised organizationally of several departments including a Director of Instruction, Department of Resident Instruction (MP Science and Administration Committee, Criminal Investigation Committee, General Subjects Committee, Combined Arms Committee, Law Committee, Industrial Defense/Physical Security Committee), Department of Nonresident Instruction, Training, Literature and Visual Aids Department, Office of Logistics, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Allied Student Liaison Office, The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory (Crime Photography Section, Firearms Identification Section, Forensic Chemistry Section, Fingerprint Section, Documents Section), a Museum and an extensive library.

Seven years later in 1973, in the midst of a major Department of the Army reorganization and the MP Schools final years of operation at Fort Gordon, the school was headed by the Commandant and the Deputy Commandant for Education and Training. The school consisted of The Instructional Technology Division (Learning Center, Technical Library, Media Branches); Army-Wide Training Support Division, Department of Investigation, Security and Corrections (Corrections Group, Investigation Group, Canine Training Group, Physical Security Group); Department of Advanced Law Enforcement Training (Advanced Officer Group, Basic Officer Group, NCO Group, Dissent and Disorder Management Group, Law Group); The Department of Basic Law Enforcement Training and “MP City.”

These departments offered instruction over the years to officers and enlisted men of all active and reserve armed services, National Guard units, Civil Service Employees (for example, Department of Defense (DoD) security guards), executives of private industries, other civilians and officers of allied nations.  The schools curriculum, which in 1962  totaled 37 classes, included training in all aspects of provost marshal activities and operations (for example, post, camp and station  administration; operations, and combat duties and responsibilities; traffic; confinement; and POW’s); use of MP units at all levels; general MP supervisory duties; control of civil disorders; the military working dog program; investigative techniques; legal problems; industrial defense; disaster planning; security procedures for U.S. Army missile installations; careers as criminal investigators and polygraph operators; and physical security of military installations.

Military Police Training During the Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, the task of training competent military policemen proved even more important as the need for MP support grew.  In 1965, battalion sized units were deployed in Vietnam under the command and control (C2) of the 89th Military Police Group.  The units enforced military laws and provided security for American military installations.  On 26 September 1966, the 18th MP Brigade, reportedly the first unit of its kind to be employed in combat, joined the 89th and initially took C2 of all non-divisional military police units in Vietnam.  In addition to performing routine missions, such as physical security, in combat operations they (military police) could be found in their camouflaged fatigues patrolling the jungles and villages near Long Binh and in other areas throughout Vietnam.

In 1962, celebrating the 21st anniversary of the MP Corps, Major General Ralph J. Butchers, Provost Marshal General, had commented:

“Battle is truly the payoff and discipline the coin used by commanders to purchase success in combat.  Military Police are one of the commander’s tools for achieving such control.  World War II and the Cold War era have placed great demands upon law enforcement expertise and combat support capabilities of the Military Police Corps.”

Perhaps a testimony to the MP Corps’ support in tactical operations during the Vietnam War was the Corps’s redesignation as an arm and a service with the primary mission of combat support.

At the apex of the Vietnam War, some 60,000 students trained yearly at Fort Gordon.  Among them were military policemen whose training ranged from the broad and comprehensive nine month Officer Advanced Course to the one week Sentry Dog Handlers Orientation Course.  MP City, a model town built around World War II type barracks, provided students “hands-on” experience in a number of situations ranging from Absent Without Leave (AWOL) cases and barroom fights to robberies and riot control.

Perhaps more relative to preparing for combat support duty was the training described by a reporter in his article titled “MP Training – more than white gloves and hat”

The Vietnamese village looked quiet and serene in the early morning light.  Only the shrill calls of roosters and the faint stirring of leaves could be heard against the silence.  Two squads of military police trainees….began to filter in along the east fence of the village.  Purposely avoiding the manmade entrance to the village because of possible booby traps, the men cautiously but quietly sought cover behind two huts standing in the eastern corner.  Machine gun fire from the large wooden tower….shattered the serenity….The trainees fired back with simulated rounds at the aggressor.  Off to the left, other approaching MP’s tripped over a smoke grenade.  Green smoke rose up in bellows.  An instructor yelled “All those men over by that smoke….you are now out of commission”.

Although out of commission, the soldiers were safe, safe in the mock Vietnamese Training Village constructed at Fort Gordon in 1966.  During their seventh week of training, all Military Policemen experienced the two day, one night Vietnam Village Exercise.  The exercise included village search techniques, organization of convoys, and the role of military policemen in a convoy.  The mock village was part of the nine week Vietnam orientation training, which also included ambush training, counter insurgency tactics, and a survival, escape and evasion course.

The military policeman, before the establishment of the MP Corps, picked from the rank and file of service men, without regard for mental capacity or police abilities, was now a picked soldier… (Who) must meet standards much higher than in some other branches of the service!  He must have, in addition to soldierly attributes, abilities in the fields of criminology and law enforcement.  It was the task of the MP School at Fort Gordon, the Home of the Military Police Corps, to turn soldiers into competent MP’s.

The Military Police School Leaves Fort Gordon

As part of an effort to relocate and consolidate several service schools, in April 1973, Secretary of the Army, Howard Calloway announced plans to move the MP School to Fort McClellan, Alabama by June 1974 in conjunction with the consolidation of the Signal School at Fort Gordon.  A Cloud of doubt was placed over the move, however, when the Army planners launched a new reevaluation of the transfer, indeed, the Pentagon conducted an exhaustive review of the plan, in February 1974, Callaway announced final approval, making Fort McClellan the permanent home of the MP Corps.  The school’s relocation affected some 958 military and 319 civilian jobs at Fort Gordon.  More than a year later on 8 August 1975, the last class of advanced individual training (AIT) students graduated from the MP School at Fort Gordon.  An era ended.  During that 27 year period at Fort Gordon, the MP School trained some 160,000 personnel.

The Military Police Corps Regiment Today

 

As of the writing of this document, the Military Police Corps Regiment, MP School and Museum are located at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri which is located in the beautiful Ozarks.  Fort Leonard Wood is headquarters for the Total Force’s Maneuver Center (MANSCEN).  MANSCEN develops concepts, doctrine, force structure, material requirements, and experiments to insure the vitality of the Chemical, Engineer, and Military Police Regiments.

The Military Police Corps Memorial Grove is also located at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where a plaque can be viewed that honors the 545th Military Policemen who gave their lives in the defense of freedom.

Art work, historical information and photos provided by the Military Police Corps Museum and historical department.  Text taken from “The Military Police Corps at Fort Gordon, 1948 – 1975, a commemorative history”  Published by the Office of the Command Historian, United States Army Signal Center at Fort Gordon, Fort Gordon, Georgia.

 

 

MILITARY POLICE STORY, THE - Department of Defense 1954 - DEPICTS THE TRAINING, DUTIES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE MILITARY POLICE CORPS. SHOWS MP ACTIVITIES IN GERMANY AND KOREA.

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Fort Gordon Photo Album 

 

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Sam Reinert
CPT MP USAR (Ret)
Founder
545th Military Police Company Association
626 1/2 South 9th Street
Richmond, Indiana 47374 USA
(765) 962 4627 phone & FAX
http://545thmpassn.com/