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    Fort Meade, MD History

    Fort Meade was established in 1917 and named after General George G. Meade, one of the most important Union generals of the Civil War, and commander of US forces at the Battle of Gettysburg. At the onset of WWI, 5,400 acres of land once owned by Revolutionary War hero, Major Samuel Snowden, was used to build a cantonment center (a training camp). The fort, then a camp, went through several name changes before settling on Meade; there was an attempt to change it again in the 1920s, but a Congress contingent held the budget up until the Meade name was settled.

    During the first world war, three infantry divisions, three training battalions, one depot brigade, and a famous group of women called the "Hello Girls" trained at the site. The "Hello Girls" were a team of bilingual switch operators in the U.S Army Signal Corps; and were established as a result of the military's need for better battlefield communications between the American Expeditionary Forces headquarters and the French front lines. These women were under Army regulation, wore Army uniforms, and one achieved the Distinguished Service Medal, but they occupied a gray area in regulations, and this group was one of the bridges for women in military service.

    After the war Meade was base for the 66th Infantry tanks, and from 1923 to 1937 Fort Meade was also the home of "Old Joe", the Army's only tank-riding dog. He became the official pet of the 66th Infantry by order of the commanding officer, and was much loved by soldiers. When he died in 1937, the 66th Infantry honored him with a military formation, as well as an escort of a procession of tanks and military trucks to his final resting place. In this case, a dog was the 66th's best friend.

    During World War II, the base was once again used as a major training center, as well as a POW camp for Italian and German soldiers. It was home to many services such as the Cooks and Bakers School, which supplied some of the better food in the Army for the post; the Special Services Unit Training Center; and the Women's Army Corps, the first females besides nurses to serve officially within U.S Army ranks.

    After the second world war, Fort Meade became headquarters of the Second U.S Army, and merged with the First U.S Army in 1966. This was a period of great international tension, and Fort Meade's long established Signal Corps mission continued with several intelligence agencies and units based at this post. Fort Meade was also a site for air defense of the US and Washington DC area.

    In the modern era Fort George G. Meade is a keystone of intelligence and intelligence training for the US Army.