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Camp Adair History


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The Beginning

“In early 1941, when the War Department decided to build new training bases, experts looked around the country for places with 50,000 acres of land, a good water supply, adequate electrical power, and a railroad. The government considered several Willamette Valley sites in Oregon. The final choice for the camp location came down to Eugene or Corvallis. John H. Gallagher, Sr. an Oregon State University graduate and engineer, went to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the Corvallis location. The Army chose the Corvallis site in September 1941”

Quoted from the Benton County Museum website

Though it was something that was much needed by our nation, the building of the camp was not viewed as a blessing to most who had to evacuate. The Polk County Museum books tell the personal stories of the local people affected by the presence of the camp.

The area surrounding us has its own rich history. Indian tribes lived in the area until forced to the reservations. Coffin Butte is said to be an Indian burial ground. The hill to the south of Coffin Butte has a Spanish name that translates to “Poison Oak Hill”.

The Construction

“On February 24th, 1942, the bids were opened in Portland. Because of the size of the project (the plans alone weighed 130 pounds), and the quick deadline, several contractors were hired to work together. They had six months and 32 million dollars to complete the project. It was accomplished on time, and on budget. Being finished September 15th, 1942. In all there were 1,800 buildings, including 500 barracks, 11 chapels, 5 theaters, and 13 Post Exchanges, plus all the buildings to support them.”

From John Baker’s book “Camp Adair”

On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, brought America into the Second World War. Needing more training bases for our rapidly expanding army, the area north of Corvallis, Oregon was selected as one that closely resembled areas of Europe where the troops would see future combat. Their recognition of the similarity in terrain and climate are being echoed today in this area’s growing wine industry.

The Divisions

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70th Infantry Division

The Trailblazers. Know as “Oregon’s Own”. The second division to be in the south section. The fir tree on their shoulder patch is in recognition of the 91st Division, from which they drew their officers and NCO’s. Organization Day was September 11,1943, Activation was on June 15, 1943. July 1944 they movedto Fort Leonard Wood. By the first part of December they were aboard ships heading to France.

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91st Infantry Division

The Powder River Division. Reactivated August 15, 1942 and trained at Camp White in Medford. After maneuvers in Bend, they were moved to Camp Adair on November 2, 1943, and were out of there by the end of March, 1944. This would make them the second division to be stationed in the north section. Departed for North Africa April, 1944.

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96th Infantry Division

The “Deadeyes” Reactivated August 15, 1942 at Camp Adair. They were the first division in the north section of camp. This is the division that served in the South Pacific.

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104th Infantry Division

The Timberwolves. Activated September 15, 1942 at Camp Adair. Started basic training on December 14, 1942. They were the first division in the south section. After 18 months training here and at Bend, they moved to Camp Carson, Colorado for final training. Departed for Europe in August, 1944.

9th srvc

9th Service Command, SCU-1911

This unit was responsible for maintaining and support of the infrastructure and personnel training at Camp Adair.

U.S. Navy Hospital, Corvallis, OR, 1945 – 1946

Camp Adair Hospital 1943 copy

As activity at Camp Adair was winding down the U.S. Navy had need of a hospital to accommodate wounded naval personnel from the Pacific Theater of Operations. The U.S. Naval Medical Corps took over operation of the Camp Adair Hospital for this purpose. It was formally commissioned on February 3, 1945 and was closed May 31, 1946.

First Adair Village, 1946 – 1951.

After the closing of the U.S. Naval Hospital, Corvalls, OR, Oregon State College (now Oregon State University) was having a housing crisis due the influx of returning WWII veterans using the new GI Bill to further their education. They brought their families with them. The hospital patient wards were converted into apartments and the first Adair Village was founded. It had it own post office, theater, small grocery store, day care and daily bus service to Corvallis. This Adair Village was shut down in 1951.

Adair Air Force Station, 1958-1969

The Portland Air Defense Sector (POADS) Headquarters was established at Adair Air Force Station on 8 Jun 1958 and on 15 Mar 1960 it assumed operational control over six radar sites, three fighter groups and 11 unmanned gap-filler radar sites in Oregon and California. POADS was subordinate to the 25th Air Division at McChord AFB, Tacoma, WA and the Air Defense Command (ADC) and the North American Air Defense System (NORAD). The mission of POADS at Adair was to process data from the radar sites and the eleven gap-filler radar sites and to direct fighter-interceptor aircraft, Army-assigned missiles or Navy-assigned “Picket Ships” missiles, to intercept any potential enemy aircraft.
In 1966 Adair Air Force Station became the HQ of the 26th Air Division with an increase in the area of responsibility and subordinate units: fourteen radar sites, two fighter groups and two fighter interceptor squadrons. The mission remained the same.
In 1969 Adair Air Force Station was considered obsolete as the threat was no longer enemy aircraft but ICBM missiles and was closed. The 26th Air Division moved to Luke Air Force Base, Phoenix, AZ and the station was abandoned. For more information please view our slideshow below or the PowerPoint on  Skillshare here.

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