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Fort Myer

Fort Myer

[mahy-er]

Fort Myer is a U.S. Army post adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. It is a small post by US Army standards, and has no ranges or field training areas. Most of its private quarters are occupied by officers, among whom include many prominent generals assigned to the Department of Defense at the Pentagon. Some of the more notable of Fort Myer's residents include the Army Chief of Staff General George W. Casey, Jr., the Air Force Chief of Staff, General T. Michael Moseley, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, (USN).

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Fort Myer was originally established as Fort Whipple during the American Civil War in 1863. It was renamed for Brigadier General Albert J. Myer, who established the Signal School of Instruction for Army and Navy Officers there in 1869. Fort Myer was the location of several exhibition flights by Orville Wright in 1908 and 1909. On September 18, 1908 it was the location of the first aviation fatality, as Lt. Thomas Selfridge was killed when on a demonstration flight with Orville, at an altitude of about 100 feet, a propeller split, sending the aircraft out of control. Selfridge was killed in the crash, the first person to die in powered fixed-wing aircraft. Orville was badly injured, suffering broken ribs and a leg. The brothers' sister Katharine, a school teacher, rushed from Dayton to Washington and stayed by Orville's side for the many weeks of his hospitalization. She helped negotiate a one-year extension of the Army's contract with the Wrights.

Fort Myer is the home of The U. S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) and the 1st Battalion of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, (The Old Guard) -- except for 'A' Company (Commander in Chief's Guard), which is stationed at Fort McNair, D.C. The gravesite of Black Jack, the riderless horse in the state funerals of General Douglas MacArthur and U.S. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Herbert Hoover and Lyndon B. Johnson, is located on the post in Summerall Field, 200 feet northeast of the parade ground's flagpole.

Fort Myer, due to its proximity to Arlington National Cemetery, is also the base of operations for most Services' Honor Guards and burial teams. A large percentage of burials in Arlington National Cemetery originate from Old Post Chapel, one of the two chapels on Fort Myer. Every weekday around noon, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines can all be seen eating lunch together at the post cafeteria as they take a break from the days somber activities.

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