Post to Park Celebration

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Date: May 17, 2012
Contact: Greg Shine, Chief Ranger & Historian, 360-816-6205
Contact: Darrin McDufford, Public Affairs Office, 88th Regional Support Command, U.S. Army Reserve, 608-388-0549
Contact: Aaron Ochoa, Park Ranger, 360-816-6233

 VANCOUVER, WA -- An exciting new chapter in Vancouver Barracks history will begin on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28, 2012, as the East and South Vancouver Barracks closes as a U.S. Army Reserve post and becomes a national park.

This free, day-long "Post to Park" ceremony begin at 1:00 p.m., with an official post closure ceremony at the Artillery Barracks building located at 600 East Hatheway Road in West Vancouver Barracks, followed at 2:00 p.m. by National Park Service tours and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site's annual Soldiers Bivouac living history encampment on the park's historic Parade Ground.

"The National Park Service is honored to assume responsibility for the East and South Vancouver Barracks," said Superintendent Tracy Fortmann. "The Barracks will become part of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and will begin a new chapter of public service as part of a national park. Due to their complex history and sensitive heritage resources, the East and South Vancouver Barracks are clearly nationally significant and merit inclusion into the national park system." She added, " The American People look to the National Park Service to serve as keepers of our histories--those histories that are so incredibly important to us as Americans. We take our mission very seriously and we will tell the many stories associated with the East and South Vancouver Barracks while ensuring the site is preserved in perpetuity."

"Vancouver Barracks 187-year history has been formative and instrumental in the development of the Northwest and has provided a place for Soldiers to train in order to defend this nation. It is fitting and proper that the installation will now become part of the National Park Service to showcase its history," said Lt. Col. Mark Huesmann, 88th Regional Support Command Chief of Public Affairs.

The post closure ceremony, led by the U.S. Army Reserve with the support of the National Park Service, will include traditional military elements, including the rendition of honors, honors to the nation, and remarks from several dignitaries, including Brigadier General Alton (Al) Berry, Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Reserve's 88thRegional Support Command; Brigadier General Kurt A. Hardin, Commander of the U.S. Army Reserve's 104th Training Division; Chris Lehnertz, Regional Director for the National Park Service's Pacific West Region, Tracy Fortmann, Superintendent of the National Park Service's Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, and Larry J. Smith, Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Vancouver, Washington. 

In addition, staff and volunteers from the national park will provide a traditional 21-gun salute in costumes reflecting important eras in the barracks' military history. The ceremony's highlight will be the retiring of the Army Colors and passing of the United States Flag from Brigadier General Berry to Regional Director Lehnertz, symbolizing the final action of military personnel on Vancouver Barracks.

Following the ceremony, Park Rangers will walk with interested visitors to the park's historic Parade Ground where 30-minute guided Ranger Tours will start and the annual Soldiers Bivouac living history encampment will open. 

The Soldiers' Bivouac will include numerous camps with costumed interpreters who will help visitors learn more about the post's link to the Civil War, Indian War, Spanish American War, and Philippine War eras. Other camps will interpret the post's World War I and World War II history, including home front perspectives from the Kaiser Shipyard's "Wanda the Welders" and Army aviation at Pearson Field. A display of vintage military vehicles will also be open to the public. 

At 3:00 p.m. and again at 5:00 p.m., volunteers portraying the Civil War-era soldiers from the First Oregon Volunteers will conduct Drill and Ceremony on the historic Parade Ground, complete with marching and weapons drill. At 3:30 p.m., National Park Service volunteer and retired soldier Fred Bridges will share his accounts of World War II. At 4:00 p.m. National Park Service staff and volunteers will demonstrate historic weapons, including the firing of the mountain howitzer and various small arms.

In addition, the event will feature free food through the generosity of Vancouver Neighborhood Alliance (VNA), Neighborhood Associations Council of Clark County(NACCC), Fort Vancouver Lions, and Fort Vancouver Kiwanis through the coordination of the Community Military Appreciation Committee (CMAC).
This Post to Park event will follow and build upon the community Memorial Day observance, scheduled to be held at 11:00 a.m. at the Clark County Veteran's Memorial on Fort Vancouver Way and McClellan Road in East Vancouver Barracks.

The pathway to East and South Vancouver Barracks becoming a national park began almost a century ago, with the War Department's designation of the stockade site as a national monument in 1915. After becoming Fort Vancouver National Monument and a unit of the National Park System in 1948, an act on June 30, 1961 (75 Stat. 196) revised the boundaries and re-designated the protected area as Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (NHS). In advance of NPS ownership, this 1961 legislation deliberately added the East and South Vancouver Barracks to the NHS, thus recognizing their national significance. It also gave the Department of Defense the authority to transfer federal lands and properties to the NPS as they became excess to Army needs. 

Army Regulation 600-20 and the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990, as amended November 9, 2005, ordered the closure of United States Army Garrison Vancouver Barracks, and National Park Service and Army Reserve officials worked tirelessly on the relinquishment of the historic lands and buildings of East and South Vancouver Barracks from the Department of the Defense to the Department of the Interior.

Image of the postcard announcing the Post to Park special event.
Contemporary image of the exterior of barracks buildings in East Vancouver Barracks
Historic Army barracks buildings along McClellan Road in East Vancouver Barracks

NPS Photo

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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