Fort Detrick: A Timeline
A small, one-man operations airport opens in the northwest area of Frederick, MD. It operated as an emergency airfield on the route between Cleveland and Washington, DC until 1938.
1931 The airfield becomes Detrick Field, named for Squadron Surgeon Major Frederick Louis Detrick, a native of nearby New Market, MD. Dr. Detrick was born in 1889 and died in June, 1931. Two months after his death the first military presence came to Detrick Field in the form of an encampment of Dr. Detrick’s unit, the 104th Aero Squadrom of the 29th Division of the Maryland National Guard.
1939 Detrick Field’s grass airfield was replaced by tarmac. The improved facility served as a Cadet Pilot Training Center until the entry of the US into World War II.
1940 Detrick Field was formally leased on a year-round basis from the City of Frederick.
December, 1941 – January, 1942 The last military airplanes left Detrick Field after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. All assets of the 104th and the cadet program were reassigned to submarine patrol duty off the Atlantic Coast.
March to September, 1942 The 2nd Bombardment Squadron of the US Army Air Corps was resident at Detrick Field before deploying to England and becoming the new 8th Air Force Headquarters.
1943 Detrick Field ceased operations as an aviation center.
March, 1943 The government purchased additional land for Detrick Field and renamed the facility “Camp Detrick”. The facility became the site of the US Army Biological Warfare Laboratories (USBWL); it was responsible for researching biocontainment, decontamination, gaseous sterilization, and agent purification. The first two commanders – LTC William S. Bacon and COL Martin B. Chittick – managed the initial $1.25 million construction budget of the new facilities.
1943 to 1945 Camp Detrick became the site of an exhaustive biological warfare research effort during World War II. The site was chosen for this effort because of its ideal combination of remoteness and its proximity to Washington, DC, and to the Edgewood Arsenal, which was the site of the US’s chemical warfare research. The site underwent an additional $3 million in facilities construction and reached a population of 240 officers and 1,530 enlisted personnel.
1946 Additional acreage was purchased
- to expand “Area A” (the original site) and
- to establish “Area B” – a test area – west of Area A, but not contiguous with it.
1952 Slightly more than 500 acres were purchased to expand the permanent research and development facilities.
1956 The original designation of Camp Detrick as a permanent installation for peacetime biological research that was promulgated shortly after World War II was confirmed. The post was redesignated as Fort Detrick with a mandate of continuing biological research and remaining the world’s leading research campus for biological agents that require special containment.
1962 A small parcel of land was acquired bringing the total land area to today’s 1,200 acres.
November 11, 1969 Veteran’s Day. President Richard M. Nixon requested ratification by the US Senate of the 1925 Geneva Protocol that prohibited use of chemical and biological weapons. President Nixon assured Fort Detrick that its research efforts would not be curtailed.
November 25, 1969 President Nixon outlawed offensive biological research in the United States. Research at Fort Detrick became focused solely on defensive measures – public health considerations, diagnostics, preventive measures, and treatments for biological warfare infections. The global telecommunications activities at Fort Detrick remained unchanged.
1971 President Nixon came to Fort Detrick to announce that he was creating the Frederick Cancer Research Facility of the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) (as the Department of Health and Human Services was then) was given title to more approximately 68 acres and 70 buildings in Area A at Fort Detrick.
1972 The US Army Medical Unit (USAMU) became the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) to carry out the research at Fort Detrick under the management of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USAMRDC).
1973 The National Cancer Institute (NCI-Frederick) opened at Fort Detrick on the land and in the buildings to which HEW had taken possession in 1971.
1994 The US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) was established as a major subordinate command of the Army Medical Command during the reorganization of the Army Medical Department. Realignment of Fort Detrick’s US Army Garrison under USAMRMC provided improved management efficiency and consolidation of support functions.
2002 Fort Detrick’s position as a center of scientific excellence in the area of public health was further solidified with the formation of the National Interagency Confederation for Biological Research (NICBR) and the National Interagency Biodefence Campus (NIBC).
2008 US Army Garrison Fort Detrick assumed command and control of the Forest Glen Annex, Silver Spring. This was part of the 2005 round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) measures that positively affected Fort Detrick.
2008 The Defense Medical Logistics Center opens as the home to primary medical logistics entities from all services.