Fort Indiantown Gap

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Fort Indiantown Gap
Lebanon County, Pennsylvania
US28th Infantry Division.svg 213SupportGrpSSI.jpg Starc-pa.gif
Shoulder sleeve insignia of the 28th Infantry Division, 213th Area Support Group and State Area Command (STARC)
Coordinates40°26′13″N 76°34′34″W / 40.436987°N 76.576055°W / 40.436987; -76.576055[1]Coordinates: 40°26′13″N 76°34′34″W / 40.436987°N 76.576055°W / 40.436987; -76.576055[1]
TypeNational Guard Training Site
Site information
Controlled byPennsylvania National Guard
Site history
Built1931
In use1931–present
Garrison information
Garrison28th Infantry Division and 213th Area Support Group
 
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Fort Indiantown Gap
Lebanon County, Pennsylvania
US28th Infantry Division.svg 213SupportGrpSSI.jpg Starc-pa.gif
Shoulder sleeve insignia of the 28th Infantry Division, 213th Area Support Group and State Area Command (STARC)
Coordinates40°26′13″N 76°34′34″W / 40.436987°N 76.576055°W / 40.436987; -76.576055[1]Coordinates: 40°26′13″N 76°34′34″W / 40.436987°N 76.576055°W / 40.436987; -76.576055[1]
TypeNational Guard Training Site
Site information
Controlled byPennsylvania National Guard
Site history
Built1931
In use1931–present
Garrison information
Garrison28th Infantry Division and 213th Area Support Group

Fort Indiantown Gap, also referred to as "The Gap" or "FTIG", is a census-designated place and U.S. Army post primarily located in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. A portion of the installation is located in eastern Dauphin County.[2] It is located adjacent to Interstate 81, 23 miles (37 km) northeast of Harrisburg, just north of the northern terminus of Pennsylvania Route 934 at I-81's Exit 85. The installation is an active National Guard Training Center and serves as headquarters for the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the Pennsylvania National Guard. The fort surrounds Memorial Lake State Park. It is served by the Annville, Pennsylvania post office. As of the 2010 census the population was 143 residents.

The Fort Indiantown Gap Military Reservation is protected by a full-time police force, the Fort Indiantown Gap Police Department, which enforces traffic and other state laws. The post includes 18,000 acres (73 km2), with numerous ranges and training areas for the 28th Infantry Division, the 213th Area Support Group, and the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (EAATS). The installation is also home to the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center (NCTC).[2]

History[edit]

The history of Fort Indiantown Gap dates back to 1755, when resentment of the Susquehannock Indians toward white settlers forced the colonial government of Pennsylvania to establish a fortification in the area. The Susquehannock, who had been cultivating the land in that area of Pennsylvania for well over three thousand years, became willing allies against the colonists as the French and Indian War began. At the onset of the war, the Susquehannock attacked colonial frontier settlements using the passes that existed in Blue Mountain through Manada Gap, Indiantown Gap, and Swatara Gap. Because of these attacks, a chain of fortifications was established across the northern tier of Lebanon County, to include Fort Indiantown Gap.

The modern post was originally developed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on the recommendation of General Edward Martin, as a National Guard training site in 1931. Over the years, the installation has served as home to the Pennsylvania National Guard as well as active units of the United States Army. In 1941, the post was officially named Indiantown Gap Military Reservation (IGMR). Martin retired from military service and went on to serve as Governor of Pennsylvania and then State Senator. After his death, the Legislature of Pennsylvania renamed the installation the Edward Martin Military Reservation, a designation that Martin himself had rejected throughout his life. The new name was never fully accepted by the military personnel who served there. In 1975, the Secretary of the Army renamed the post Fort Indiantown Gap, in order to more closely align it with other Active Duty stations throughout the United States. Pennsylvania also reinstated the Indiantown Gap designation, which it retains today.[2]

World War II expansion[edit]

World War II reconfirmed the strategic importance of the Gap, which became one of the nation's most important Army training camps and served as a staging area for the New York Port of Embarkation. Construction on the installation began almost immediately. Thirteen thousand workmen were called in to construct over 1,400 buildings, including headquarters buildings, three fire stations, two guest houses, a bus station, nine chapels, two service clubs, four huge theaters, a large sports arena, and a 400-bed hospital.[2] Seven U.S. Army divisions were given final training at the Gap prior to being shipped overseas.[2] The Gap also served as a demobilization site for many units returning home from the European Theater of Operations after the war ended.

Postwar[edit]

From 1951 to 1953, during the Korean War, the Gap’s strategic role again surfaced when it became the home of the 5th Infantry Division, whose mission was to train 32,000 troops as replacements for assignment to Korea.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, during the Vietnam War, Fort Indiantown Gap served as one of the largest Reserve Officers Training Corps summer camps for the U.S. Army.[2]

In 1975, the Gap served as a refugee camp for southeast Asian refugees. For eight months, more than 32,000 Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees were resettled through the installation.[3]

In 1976, a section of Fort Indiantown Gap was selected as the new national cemetery for the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania donated the land for the site to the Veterans Administration.

In 1980, the Gap again became a refugee camp when over 19,000 Cuban aliens were brought to the Gap for processing and sponsorship after the Mariel boatlift. Some of the Marielitos were criminals and were detained further by U.S. authorities, and others were later returned to Cuba. The last Marielitos were not released from the Gap until late 1981.[3]

In 1990, the Gap served as a mobilization and embarkation center for active, reserve, and guard units deploying to the first Persian Gulf War.

In the fall of 1991, the Gap served as the training center for the 84th and 85th Pa State Police academy classes.

In July 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended closing Fort Indiantown Gap, except for minimum essential ranges, facilities, and training areas used by reserve components. Units including the 1079th Garrison Support Unit relocated to Fort Dix, IN. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania assumed control of the land from the federal government in 1998 and converted it back to a training site for National Guard and Army Reserve units. Today, over 177,000 personnel are trained annually at the Gap.

Post 9/11[edit]

Fort Indiantown Gap is a staging area for the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division, the only National Guard Stryker brigade in the U.S. Army. Since the September 11th attacks, the Gap has served as a mobilization center for troops supporting operations in Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. It is also the home of the Air National Guard Band of the Northeast (553rd Air Force Band).[4]

Police Explorer Summer Program[edit]

Every July, the Learning for Life program allows many Explorer posts to travel to and train at the Gap for a one- or two-week period. Instructors include National Guard, State Police, US Army, and local participating police stations.

Demographics[edit]

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 85 people, 33 households, and 26 families residing in the fort. The population density was 4.5 people per square mile (1.7/km²). There were 37 housing units at an average density of 2.0/sq mi (0.8/km²). The racial makeup of the fort was 97% White, 1% African American, and 1% from two or more races.

There were 33 households out of which 27% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 79% were married couples living together, 3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18% were non-families. 15% of all households were made up of individuals and 6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the fort the population was spread out with 17% under the age of 18, 8% from 18 to 24, 29% from 25 to 44, 34% from 45 to 64, and 12% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 84.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males.

The median income for a household in the fort was $65,893, and the median income for a family was $66,607. Males had a median income of $42,250 versus $31,071 for females. The per capita income for the fort was $27,757. None of the population and none of the families were below the poverty line.

Geography[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 19.0 square miles (49.2 km²), of which, 18.8 square miles (48.8 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (0.84%) is water.

Folklore[edit]

An infamous 19th-century murder in Fort Indiantown Gap resulted in a trial of six defendants who all had blue eyes. They became known as the Blue Eyed Six, given the moniker by a newspaper reporter who was attending the trial. Their murder trial, held in the county courthouse in Lebanon, received worldwide publicity and inspired Arthur Conan Doyle while he was writing "The Red-Headed League".[citation needed] Five of the six defendants were hanged at the county jail. One of the defendants, Franklin Stichler, was buried in an unmarked grave on his family's farm. Another defendant, Israel Brandt, a Civil War veteran, ran a rather seedy hotel along Hotel Road. The murder site along Indiantown Run, Stichler's family farm, and the hotel site were all later encompassed by the Fort Indiantown Gap installation.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]