Camp Douglas, Wisconsin
The Village of Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, nestled among the rugged peaks of natural rock formations and the beautiful terrain of the area, is the western gateway to Juneau County and the home of Volk Field/Camp Williams military facilities. Volk Field is a full service military readiness training complex. Co-located with Volk Field is Camp Williams, which is operated by the Army National Guard.
Camp Williams is the home of the United States Property & Fiscal Office (USP&FO) for the State of Wisconsin, as well as the Army National Guard's Consolidated State Maintenance Facility (CSMS). Camp Williams boasts facilities that range from the early 19th century to the late 20th.
The Camp Williams site was the primary training location for the Wisconsin National Guard and State Guard until after WW II. With the entire 32d Division awarded to Wisconsin in 1946, there was too little room, so training shifted to Camp (now Fort) McCoy in 1948. With the reservation virtually abandoned, a proposal was made to open a prison here; an idea that finally became a reality in 1996, when the first cadets of the new "boot camp" for youthful offenders arrived.
Camp Williams also includes the offices and warehouses for the USP&FO, accountable for all of the federal property used by the Wisconsin National Guard. The new Combined Maintenance Shop fixes equipment used at Fort McCoy and other Guard armories.
The State Maintenance shop was first established 1 March 1947 with a total of 26 federal technicians assigned. The number of personnel employed throughout the early years actually exceeded 100. LTC Ralph Birkness was selected as the first State Maintenance Officer (SMO) in February 1947. Ms. Pearl Butler was his secretary. Some of the first labor intensive tasks for this shop were unloading equipment from two to three trains arriving per week and setting up administratively by ordering tools and manuals and set up in building 17. This building was eventually renovated because of the small amount of square footage including one small bathroom, and one office. It expanded to a machine shop, four automotive bays, tools and parts room welding shop and battery room.
The shop was later called the Combined Field Maintenance Shop and eventually got its current title of Combined Support Maintenance Shop (CSMS). LTC Walter Webber started employment 15 March 1947 and became shop foreman in 1951 when building 41 was completed; later in 1978 building 41 was remodeled and included a total of 26,160 square feet. Building 42 was built in 1949. This building stood vacant until 1973 when it was remodeled to house the calibration shop, paint shop, canvas and leather shop and inspection section.
In 1948 the State Surface Maintenance Office was located in building 8 (with USPFO). It transitioned to the CSMS in 1951, but due to shortage of space they moved back to building 15 in 1953. Because of the pro-activity and vision of former Adjutant General MG (ret) Raymond Mattera and Director of Facilities, COL (ret) Andrew Miller, building 50 became the state of the art maintenance facility in the Army National Guard and now houses the State Surface Maintenance Office, Combined Support Maintenance Shop and Organizational Maintenance Shop #1. Total Square Footage for Building 50 is 121,149 at a cost of $14.2 Million dollars.
The first purchase of land for a rifle range was in 1888, and a Camp of Instruction was held in 1889. The first summer training camp involved selected representatives from independent companies scattered all over the state. By 1894, annual training was attended by the three infantry regiments, the artillery, and cavalry. There were six rifle ranges, wooden platforms for 16 foot square tents, and frame buildings for latrines, kitchens, guardhouse, headquarters and supply.
In 1895 several permanent structures were started, like the brick warehouses still in use at the United States Property and Fiscal Office (USP&FO) and the small magazine near the cemetery (probably moved there from another site). At their 1895 meeting, the Officer's Association voted to form a committee to collect donations to build a "Club House" that could be used for regimental business and entertaining. In 1896 the white pine "Log Cabin" that now houses the Wisconsin National Guard Museum was ready for service.
The cement porches that surround the Log Cabin were poured in 1917, the year the Wisconsin National Guard mustered here to enter federal service and become the famous 32d Division. In 1920 a row of cottages was built to the west of the cabin, to provide the first officer's housing. A larger frame building to the north was an administrative center, and later served as headquarters for the 64th Brigade. Stucco buildings on the slope to the northeast were nicknamed "Hollywood" by the troops, and provided office space and VIP quarters. Sand tile buildings went up between 1934 and 1942, thanks to WPA money.
Lt Col Charles Williams served here as Quartermaster for thirty years and was responsible for the early development of the site. His only son, Robert, was raised here on the post, and died from disease in 1918, shortly after arriving in France with the 32d Division. Colonel Williams died in 1926, and was buried along side his son near the present main gate. Adjutant General Hugh Simonson is also buried there, and there is a memorial to Colonel Jack King, the first Air Guard officer to serve as U.S. Property and Fiscal Officer for Wisconsin.
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