6 August 1942 marked the complete termination of the original purpose of the Japanese Assembly Center known as Pinedale.On that day, the Center was officially predestinated as Camp Pinedale, Fresno, California, in accordance with the Directive contained in letter, Headquarters, Fourth Air Force, File 600.18, dated 18 July 1942.
The new Army Camp which had been rapidly evacuated of the Japanese less than a month before was further decreed by the same directive: “to be used by the Air Force primarily as a Signal Training center for Signal Corps Units (Aviation)”.In strict compliance with the Fourth Air Force Letter, Colonel Guy Kirksey, Commanding Officer of Hammer Field, Fresno, California, and assumed administrative and supply control of Camp Pinedale which was to be a sub-post of Hammer Field.
Colonel Guy Kirksey issued verbal orders, later confirmed by Paragraph 9, Special Order No. 207, Headquarters, Hammer Field, Fresno, California, dated 7 August 1942, designating his Signal Officer, Lt. Colonel Carroll S. Miller, Signal Corps, Commanding Officer of Camp Pinedale,In this capacity he also acted as Assistant Executive Officer, Hammer Field.The next appointment cam very shortly in the person of Captain Eugene F. Gaebler, Engineer Corps, to be Camp Pinedale’s first Utilities Officer by force of Paragraph 7, Special Order No. 205, Headquarters, Hammer Field, Fresno, California.
Immediately upon notice of his appointment, Lt. Col. Carroll Miller issued verbal orders that 44 men of the 436th Signal Construction Battalion (Aviation), under command of Capt. Joe C. Halliman stationed at Hammer Field, proceed to Camp Pinedale to begin the necessary renovation that would make the camp suitable for occupation.The detail was quartered at Hammer Field from 7 August until 14 August while renovation Camp.On 14 August the detail moved to Pinedale.
On 16 August 1942 the new Commanding Officer issued his first General Order assuming command of Camp Pinedale” pursuant to directive contained in Paragraph 9, Special Order No. 207, Headquarters Hammer Field, Fresno California, dated 7 August 1942”.Also contained in General Order No. 1, Headquarters, Camp Pinedale, Fresno, California. Is the appointed other of 1st Lt. James H. Matthews of the 426th Signal Construction Battalion, who arrived 13 August, in addition to his other duties, Post Adjutant.
The new Camp soon became a scene of ceaseless activity, as new appointments and contingents of enlisted men arrived from Hammer Field to effect the much needed reconstruction program on the 269 buildings, 184 of which were barracks.Under verbal orders 2nd Lt. G. F. Regan of the 140th Signal Radio Intelligence Company, who arrived 14th August, was appointed Assistant Utilities Officer.A detail of 150 enlisted men of the 140th Signal Radio Intelligence Company (Aviation) stationed at Hammer Field arrived for the demanding task of renovation.
The task confronting the men was tremendous in scope, for the Camp was left in a dirty deteriorated condition.There were no streets, nor sidewalks,Conspicuous among the things impaired were the barracks that housed the Japanese.There were torn patched dotting the covering of the barracks which was composed of tar paper and lathing,The frames, sills and panes of the windows were in sore need of repair, while the interior walls of the of the barracks were profusely smeared with Japanese scrawling and drawings.
The most striking of problems, however, was that of sanitation and fire prevention.In accordance with the condemnation by the Base Surgeon of Hammer Field, all latrines were to be torn down and new ones built to replace them.All fire hazards were to be eliminated, so far as possible, concomitantly with the reconstruction of the entire camp,Having been acquainted with gigantic task, the men systematically set themselves to the work confronting them and immediately began the work in earnest.
The partitions in all barracks which divided the buildings into home-like habitation were removed.Directing their attention mainly to fire prevention and sanitation similar, the workers tore down all latrines and erected new ones, and otherwise eliminated fire hazards.
With the arrival of Chaplain (1st Lt.) Charles A. Burseth, 12 Aug 1942, on Detached Service from the 50th Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron, Hammer Field, the frontportion of the BOQ No. 1 was converted into presentable chapel.A Post Exchange was established in BOQ No. 8 by similar conversion.
Better directed work was soon displayed when Hammer Field Utilities Department provided Camp Pinedale with a plumber, an electrician and several carpenters who, in turn, supervised the soldier labor.
The exterior tar paper covering, doors and windows were repaired or replaced where necessary.
All the mess halls were thoroughly scrubbed; the tables were renovated by the addition of plywood tops, and ranges were overhauled and repaired.The United States Engineering Department which had arrived to assist in reconstruction, began converting 12 existing barracks into additional mess halls.
Using scrap salvage lumber, the Recreation Hall was doubled in size by the addition of a 20’ x 100’ lean-to.This was finally to become a NCO Club, building T 3.The chapel was moved to building A 3, later 103, and finally T502.The rear of this building was subdivided into offices for the Chaplain and the newly assigned Red Cross Representative.
An establishment of a Post Red Cross office was made, at the request of the new Commanding Officer, effective 13 August 1942,Mrs. Orsina Reynolds, who was performing the same duties at the Merced Army Flying school, was assigned to the position ofRed Cross Representative at Camp Pinedale, which she maintains at date of this Writing.
The Post Headquarters Building was partitioned to provide offices for the Commanding Officer and his staff.The building was further improved by complete reproofing.
Due to the greater demands made on the Post Exchange service, it was felt there was need at this time to expand its housing.Accordingly, two buildings, B 32 and E 22, were selected and converted into Post Exchanges with the addition of shelves, counters, partitions, and with the installation of an electric refrigerator and two oil burning ranges taken for the hospitals.
A supply building to the rear of the BOQ’S was repaired and emerged as the Post Supply and Utilities Building.
Busying themselves in the same area, which is the eastern section of the Camp, the men converted the first five buildings, formerly occupied by the Military Police Detachment in the Japanese Assembly Center period, into Bachelor Officers’ Quarters.The necessary work entailed new flooring and new electrical wiring by the installation of partitions, 11 individual rooms were formed in each building.The furnishing of double-decked bunks provided accommodations for 22 men per building.
To fill the need of a mess hall for officers, and existing mess hall which had been used by the men of the 436thSignal Construction Battalion (Aviation) rebuilding detail, was augmented by the addition of a spacious lean-to.An additional cesspool and septic tank concluded the enlargement and conversion into an adequate Officers’ mess hall.
The ambitious renovation program was at this time visibly nearing full accomplishment.Two buildings were altered for school use, while a third was reserved for a training film theater and school headquarters.
A telephone pole line wasconstructed by the soldiers, while the local Telephone Company installed the telephone cable.Next in line came the painting of all the semi-permanent buildings located in the eastern section of the Camp.The Post Headquarters Building and the Recreation building were also painted.The Camp was, at last, ready for occupation with completion of the road and drainage project.
A detachment of men from the Hammer Field based 836th Engineer Battalion arrived to rectify the road and drainage problem at the Camp.The Engineer Corps men graded the entire area, built dug drainage ditches, and in completion, laid an oil surface on the entire network of roads.
Occupation immediately Camp Pinedale was begun immediately when the group of men of the 436th Signal Construction Battalion, who had come from Hammer Field to assist in the reconstruction, remained at Camp Pinedale,On 1 September 1942, this unit of 5 officers and 54 enlisted men, were designated the 438th Signal Construction Battalion and assigned to Camp Pinedale for training.
On 1 October 1942 the 1304th Signal Operational Training Company (Aviation), activated at Headquarters Fourth Air Force, was assigned to Camp Pinedale per Paragraph 3, Special Order No. 267, Headquarters, Fourth Air Force.Under the command of 1st Lt. James H. Matthews, this was the organization that was soon to undertake the important task of operating Post Schools.
2nd Lieutenants, Charles A. Williamson, James S. Phillips and Robert R. Colter all reported to Camp Pinedale from Hammer on 3 October 1942.Lt. Williamson was appointed Adjutant (Ass’t. Adjutant, Hammer Field), Lt. Phillips was appointed Supply officer (Ass’t. S-4, Hammer Field ), and Lt. Colter was appointed S-2 and Provost Marshal (Ass’t. S-2, Hammer Field ).IN addition to his duties as Adjutant, Lt. Williamson also acted as Personnel Officer for Camp Pinedale.All of the above were assigned to the Base Headquarters and Air Base Squadron, Hammer Field.On 7 October 1942, 2nd Lt. Gerard F. Regan was reassigned from the 140th Signal Radio Intelligence Company (Aviation) to the 1304th Signal Operational Training Company (Aviation) and appointed S-3 (Ass’t. S-3, Hammer Field) in addition to his duties as Ass’. Post Utilities Officer.
Camp Pinedale grew in population as unit followed unit into the new Camp in rapid succession.Verbal orders of the Commanding Officer of Hammer Field Moved the 140th Signal Radio Intelligence Company (Aviation) from Hammer Field to Camp Pinedale.This unit, consisting of 4 officers and 192 enlisted men under the command of Capt. John S. Mears, entered the new camp 9 October 1942.With the Radio Intelligence Company came the 426th Signal Construction Battalion at that time composed the 426the signal Construction Battalion at that time composed of only 5 officers and 1 colored enlisted man, commanded by Capt. Melvin Stehr,
The Commanding Officer of Hammer Field on further augmented the personnel of the new camp by sending on verbal orders an organization 12 October 1942, and again on the 24th of the same month.The first of these was the 445th Signal Construction Battalion (Aviation) Composed of 371 colored enlisted men and 17 officers commanded by Capt. Doyle C. Nicholas.The second of these was the 428th Signal Construction Battalion ( Aviation ) whose strength was 2 officers and 322 colored enlisted men, commanded by 2nd Lt. Edward F. Mosely.
The arrival of the last two units brought the number of organizations in Camp Pinedale to seven with approximately 1457 officers and enlisted men.The camp was at last ready to launch on one of the most important phases of its training mission, communication-specialists schooling.
The doors of the Camp Pinedale Schools were thrown open the morning of16 November 1942 admitting 51 students.On the curriculum of the schools, operated by the 1304th Signal Operational Training Company, were classes of instruction Operational Training Company, 2nd Lt. James H. Matthews, also guided the policies of the schooling as school commandant.
The doors of the Camp Pinedale Schools were thrown open the morning of 16 November 1942 admitting 51 students.On the curriculum of the schools, operated by the 1304th Signal Operational Training Company, were classes of instruction in Radio, Teletype, Typing and Army Administration.The Commanding Officer of the 1304th Signal Operational Training Company, 2nd Lt. James H. Matthews, also guided the
Policies of the schooling as school commandant.
2nd Lt. James F. Scholes, Jr., who had reported on 26 September 1942 assigned to the 445th Signal Construction Battalion (Aviation), was reassigned to the1304th Signal Operation Training Company ( Aviation ), and appointed in charge of the Radio School, 2nd Lt. Richard Dann, who had reported on 25 October 1942, also assigned to the 445th Signal Construction Battalion ( Aviation ), was reassigned to the 1304th Signal Operational Training Company ( Aviation ) and appointed in charge of the Typing and Administration and appointed in charge of the Typing and Administration School.2nd Lt. Francis W. Paul, Jr., who had reported on 30 November 1942 assigned to the 1304th Signal Operational Training Company (Aviation), was appointed in charge of the Teletype School.2nd Lt. John C. Di Joseph, who had reported on 29 October 1942 assigned to the 1304th Signal Operational Training Company (Aviation) was placed in charge of the Officers’ Mess and BOQs and mess instruction conducted in the Officer’s Mess kitchen under the able instruction of Sergeant Harry E. Kjargaard.
2nd Lt. Gail F. Vogel Began duty on detached service from Hammer field as Administrative Inspector for Camp Pinedale in December 1942.The 929th Signal Light Construction Battalion (Aviation) departed on 21 November 1942.
Major John D. Malnight reported on 26 November 1942 assigned to the 438th Signal Construction Battalion (Aviation), but was immediately placed on Special Duty as Post S-3.Major Ernest C. Balkow reported on 13 December 1942 assigned to he 438th Signal Construction Battalion (Aviation), of which he assumed command.Major Richard S. Carter reported on 16th December 1942 assigned to the 445th Signal Construction Battalion (Aviation), but was immediately placed on Special Duty as Post Executive Officer.
16 December 1942 was an outstanding day in Camp Pinedale’s history – the first presentation review of all units on the first on any base in the San Joaquin Valley.The presentation review was in honor of Captain Franklin J. Fazakerley, Executive Officer, 438th Signal Construction Battalion (Aviation), Awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in World War I.
Three Signal Companies Wing were activated and Camp Pinedale on 1 September 1942, the 301st, 313th and 321st, and three Signal Companies Aviation were activated on 1 January 1943, the 387th, 431st, and 424th, but all that and subsequent history is best left to the next part, “The expansion Period”.