Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Camp Smith

A committee of the Continental Congress met at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia to draft a resolution stating that "two Battalions of Marines be raised" for service as landing forces with the fleet.  November 10, 1775, the Marine Corps was born.

The Treaty of Paris in April 1783 brought an end to the Revolutionary War and as the last of the Navy's ships were sold, the Continental Navy and Marines went out of existence.  (They were formally re-established as a separate service on July 11, 1798.)

Today, the US military organizational structure is a result of the National Security Act of 1947. This is the same act that created the US Air Force and restructured the "War Department" into the "Department of Defense."

Headed by a civilian Secretary of Defense, there are three military departments: the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy and the Department of the Air Force. Within these, there are five military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard (the Coast Guard is under the Department of Homeland Security.)

In Hawaiʻi, on March 17, 1941, an act of Congress approved the purchase of a sugar cane field for a Navy hospital. Construction commenced in July. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, construction of the planned 1,650-bed facility was rushed to completion. The hospital was commissioned on November 11, 1942, but continued expansion was necessary due to the demands of the war.

Known as Aiea Naval Hospital, it was built to serve thousands of WWII wounded Sailors and Marines.  As for the capabilities of the hospital, they correlated directly with the war.

In 1943, the number of staff and facilities grew tremendously. New wards were constructed to better support the waves of casualties, numbering in the hundreds, arriving from the Solomon, Gilbert and Marshall Islands.

On January 1, 1944, Admiral Chester W Nimitz personally presented awards to the many combat-wounded service members at the hospital. Patients were assembled in front of the hospital where 632-men who fought during the Battle of Tarawa received awards.

The hospital expanded again in 1944, adding staff and temporary wards to hold up to 5,000-patients.  Of the 41,872-admissions in 1944, 39,006 patients were relocated to the mainland or returned to duty.

Aiea Naval Hospital had improved efficiency for admitting patients by the time casualties began arriving from Saipan, Guam and Tinian in the Mariana Islands.

February and March of 1945 was the hospital’s bloodiest months, when nearly 5,700-servicemen from the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa received medical care simultaneously.

Until the mid-1980s, there was a bowling alley there, used by Aiea Naval Hospital as therapy for patients injured during WWII and  was once the primary rear-area hospital for the Navy and Marine Corps during that war.

“Down where Bordelon Field is, a lot of the areas here on the camp were used as gardens. The patients would go work in the gardens. They’d use the food from the gardens to feed the patients, but that was more a rehabilitation-type activity.”  (Stubbs, marines-mil)

Decommissioned on May 31, 1949, four years after the end of WWII, the hospital was deactivated and the Army and Navy medical assets were moved to what is now Tripler Army Medical Center.

“It sat idle for a long time and they were in the process of selling all the property. General Smith came up and looked at it and decided this was what he wanted for the home of the (Fleet Marine Force Pacific) headquarters.”  (Stubbs, marines-mil)

A year later, the Territory of Hawaiʻi began plans to claim the old hospital for a tuberculosis sanitarium. However, in 1955 the Marine Corps purchased it for the future home of the Fleet Marine Forces Pacific.

On June 8, 1955, it was renamed Camp HM Smith (named for General Holland McTyeire (HM – nicknamed “Howlin’ Mad”) Smith, the first commanding general of Fleet Marine Force Pacific, it became a strategic command base for the largest field command in the Marine Corps, now known as US Marine Corps Forces, Pacific (MarForPac,) with an area of responsibility covering more than half the Earth’s surface.

After purchasing the land, the first Marines arrived in October 1955. The camp did not become fully operational until two weeks before its dedication, January 31, 1956.

Camp Smith today consists of 220-acres at Camp Smith proper, 137-acres at Puʻuloa Rifle Range in ʻEwa Beach and 62-acres in Mānana Housing. Camp Smith is unique in that it’s the only Marine Corps installation that supports a unified commander, Commander, Pacific Command (CDRUSPACOM.)

(A unified combatant command is a US joint military command composed of forces from two or more services, has a broad and continuing mission and is organized either on a geographical basis or on a functional basis.)

The new headquarters for the US Pacific Command (USPACOM) located on Camp Smith, accommodating more than 1,350-personnel for the US Pacific Command and the Special Operations Command, Pacific, was recently dedicated.

Named the Nimitz-MacArthur Pacific Command Center (NMPCC), the six-story, 274,500-square-foot facility overlooks Honolulu and replaces a nearly 60-year-old structure originally built as a hospital during WWII.

The NMPCC is one of the nation's premier facilities for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) systems. C4I plans were developed around the "battle cell" concept for distributed command and control.  (Lots of information and images here from marines-mil.)

The image shows Aiea Naval Hospital (usmc).  In addition, I have added other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

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