Defense Mapping School
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The front of Bagley Hall, building 214, which is located on the corner 21st Street and Belvoir Road, basically looks the same. Depending on when you served with the school you will recall basically the head shed was in the front center. The Sergeant Major’s office bounced all around but other than when the building was being renovated I don’t recall the SGM camping out anywhere other than in 214 since at least the late sixties. The right part of the building became the “press floor” and stayed that way almost until the bitter end. The left front was at one time “Ops” but later on belonged to the Layout Course. For you really old timers that were in Graphic Arts you should remember the 40” copy camera there during the sixties as well.
As we travel around the Belvoir Road side of 214 we see the garage door leading to “The Hole” as it was lovingly called. The Hole as far back as I can recall was home for part of the 41K Reproduction Equipment Repair Course (RERC). A sort of humorous memory was that before the guidelines and prerequisites were incorporated for attending the RERC course a lot of new attendees thought they were going to learn how to repair typewriters. No joke!! We’d get students in to attend the course that knew absolutely nothing about printing. I recall one new student that in his check in was asked to put into writing what he did for a living. This particular Brooklyn, NY native actually wrote “they got the flowers ready and I delivered them”. He failed. Also noted in this picture are some huge pine trees. If you have patience and down load our Contours you will find in the 25 March 1977 edition on page 5 a picture taken of one of the process cameras going out an opening in the side of the building showing those same trees. In the top picture on the right to the right of who I believe is Russ Henderson you will see that same tree in its infant stage. From little pine cones do mighty pine trees grow!! And for those of you with lesser historical memory you may only recall Virgil Tarry’s truck parked in front of that door.
As we travel around to the rear of building 214 we see a lot of memories. At least one Change of Command Ceremony was done in that parking lot. To the hard right is another entrance to “The Hole”. Just to the left of that are some steps that lead into probably the home of the most different departments. Part of OPS used to be there. In the early days there were either bridge or pinochle games going on at lunch time. It was also home for the computer gurus, the International Military Student Office (IMSO), Press Course instructor cubicles and I am sure other things called that home. I also recall it an area that seemed to house things begging to be thrown away. I am open for help comments here. In fact bring comments on for any photo or any comment! Anyway straight ahead on the right was the rear entrance to the head shed. On the far left was a door that at one time entered part of OPS and other times straight into a conference room. At one time the conference room extended all the way into the hallway. Later years had it divided in half with the front half belonging to our Dean, Dave Dougherty. The rear staircase going to the second floor served two purposes. The double doors at one time were a commonly used entrance into Heitmann Auditorium which was home to our graduations for a long time. Security measures later on made that door only accessible from the inside and graduations were done off campus at Humphrey Hall. The door straight on as you went up the stairs used to be an entrance into the Camera Section of Graphic Arts. As technology changed that area became part of the College’s administrative area. The left side belonged for years to the Department of Graphic Arts with the big boy presses and camera repair (since 1976) on the first floor and instructor offices, duplicator lab and classrooms on the second floor. We’ll talk about the area behind 214 in a bit.
Not much excitement going on here. What is rare however is smoke coming out of the chimney. Although it looks like a cloud it was smoke. Looks like a bird to the left, no it’s a plane, no it’s superman!! I tried. That way I’ll see if anyone actually reads this!! Anyway, to the right of the smokestack was our ever faithful air conditioning system. Somehow since its being added during the 1994 renovation it managed to remain functional. I only recall it going down once. What I do recall fairly vividly was how hot it was in that building prior to the AC being installed.
As we make the turn around the back of 214 we find ourselves sort of in trouble. This road is a one way and I am going the wrong way. The doors shown are simple entrances to the press floor or the staircase going to the second floor. Security measures sort of screwed that up as well for entrance to the building for students. Just to the right of those doors for years was a public phone booth. Technology took that away as well. The third floor windows are actually vent ways for the attic. Nothing up there other than duct work, a large fan, cob webs and some more of the AC stuff.
Paul Auster is famous for saying; “The pictures do not lie, but neither do they tell the whole story. They are merely a record of time passing, the outward evidence.” That being said who remembers the history of this current image??? hint; think bldg 214 and boiler. This is the view you get from the guard rail next to the double doors in an other picture.  It’s a pretty healthy drop.  It leads down to the boiler room in the building.  The stairs are steep and the bottom platform serves both as a storage area for rainwater that doesn’t drain well and cigarette butts from careless smokers.  One historical note from the depths of building 214 is when the boiler blew up.  If I recall correctly there was a worker down there that got hurt and that the explosion was heard throughout the building.  Can anyone add anything to that or at least correct this narrative?
Our trip around 214 is now complete. From this angle you can see most of what was shown earlier. The smokestack in the rear with the smoke being more obvious The middle door was the main head shed entrance although the door on the right was more commonly used as only the fortunate had a parking space making the center door feasible. Once again security measures changed things as for visitors it became the way to go! On to building 215!
Coming up the road, and still going the wrong way on a one way, you will see building 214 on the left and building 215 on the right. This was the main walkway for the students when they were housed in barracks on 21st Street. Don’t pay attention to the car illegally parked on the right in the delivery driveway for the warehouse. My wife is in the passenger seat. For me to park there it meant going the wrong way on that one way and then backing in. And now because I was just a tad bit too anxious there is a small dent in that garage door as I got just a little too close. We’ll discus building 215 now.
The front of 215 is kind of boring. Not much going on there. This building’s history for us should be broken down into eras. For the most part it was a gateway into logistics with the later to be mentioned warehouse. The left front went from being a classroom, to being home for logistics to becoming survey classrooms and one of my offices. For some years the second floor was home to our artist folks that designed our slides. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was called. Email me with the answer to I can rewrite this!! Jane Thomas and Andre Pillar were two of the folks that called that area home. They were great folks always willing to help! Prior to them being located there they were in the second floor of building 214. I failed to mention that during our tour of 214. Big John Houchins, RIP, Billy Joe Deacon and others manned that area. Another was Jeanne Elmore who was a juror on the Lorena Bobbitt trial. Back to 215 – also on the second floor in the more recent years was part of Logistics. After our graphic artists left the second floor it became a home for the Survey instructors and a Survey Classroom. In the early days our supply warehouse and logistical offices were on the right side of the building. That area gave way to Post Training Aids sometime around the late 80s or early 90s.
This is a fairly good shot of the main working area for our 215 logistical staff. The aforementioned garage door is shown prior to the dent. Behind that door was in the early years the Engineer School’s book depository. It held all the publications that the Engineer School needed. For years it was manned by our own Dennis Roberts and a gent named Joe Quigley. DMS took over the area sometime in the mid 80s I think. It became our warehouse and the main working area of Jeff Hamn and Keith Voyzey. For years it was sort of a self help office supply area. Around 2000 it changed when the government credit card became the mode of courses getting their course supplies. It also was the storage area of the large skids of map paper used by the press course. During this little trip I managed to get the attention of the folks inside the building when I hit their door. Hence the following photos are of the present inside of the warehouse area. Note the rear garage door partially hidden by the brick wall on the left that made an attempt to hide the dumpsters. We’ll talk about that door in a bit.
This is a photo of the inside of the warehouse now. At first glimpse it looks a lot like it was recently. Our shelving units left and theirs came in. The dented garage door is blocked and no longer used. The front door is also blocked and not used. The garage door on the opposite of this one is used as is the single door entrance way just out of view on the right. Most of the things stored there look similar to our storage except for the items on the left – what the….next?!?
Students that lost their heads? The naked truth exposed? Venus Di Milo wantabes? I wish I asked the folks there either what or why or at least who. But in an effort to revisit and show all these must be displayed.
As promised here is the back of the rear garage door. A tad bit of history right there. If you are presently still working for the Agency and know Janet Brooks please stop reading this now and go to her for “the rest of the story”. For the rest of you I will continue. It was sometime in the 2005 or so time frame. For some reason or another Janet needed to open that door. The control is on the left of the door about four feet off the ground or so. Something was temporarily stacked in front of the control. Janet had to reach in and hit the open button. If you look at the bottom of the door you will see the cable attached to a bracket. As the door started to rise the bracket caught hold of Janet’s clothing. What resulted was worthy of a Three Stooges stunt except for the fact that Janet got hurt. As the door rose it took Janet as well. She screamed for help as the door bracket proceeded to raise with her still attached. The door is a good twelve to fifteen feet or so tall. As the bracket was climbing towards its peak and Janet still attached and screaming Tony Holland, a logistics honcho, arrived at the scene just as the bracket let the screaming Janet loose. Janet, who is well now, suffered fractured heels and experienced a lot of pain. Like mentioned earlier, she is ok now but what could have been complete disaster healed over time. Healed heels? Sorry Janet…..
For you really old timers you won’t recognize the name of this area but you should remember the kind lady it was named after. It is located to the rear of building 214 and was home to a lot of our barbecues, going away parties, and other school activities. On January 1st of 1994 we lost a beloved member of our school. Joyce Barrett Zieres passed away. On 1 June 1994 we had a dedication ceremony renaming Bagley Park to Joyce M. Zieres Park. From that day on it was called Zieres Park. Joyce is still missed.
Hope this is readable. Joyce gave us 35 years as a trusted secretary. I know there is a more correct title but Joyce was probably the best damned assistant any department chief could hope for. For many years she worked in Survey and Carto and in the later years she worked for the press folks. Her 35 years working for the school in one capacity I believe is a record. Jeff Hamn comes close but he had many hats and bosses being both a contractor and a govie over the years. Dale Cuave and myself only had thirty years but both of our tenures included military and govie time and my time had a couple year break. Joyce was great.
“Work hard and come hungry – the grill is open”. Those were the words of SGM Paul Swartz. The pictured grill still looks the same although I saw a cigar butt in the ashes. Our best ever chef was Dennis Roberts. Dennis became a school member after the Engineer School left town. His total years on Fort Belvoir I believe were unrivaled. I’ll have a hamburger and a bratwurst please. … These picnic tables also were left behind when the school left. They were professionally rebuilt by members of the press course. Mark Benter and Dana Reeves are two of the folks I recall doing the hard work. Their efforts live on.
Couldn’t resist this picture from Zieres park towards Bagley Hall.
One good picture deserves another. In the distance to the right is our very own Wheeler Hall. More on that later. Also in this picture is our old condiments table and in the foreground our volley ball court. Who’s serve is it?
Photo from Belvoir Road – this view has changed since we left. Memory has a large dangerous tree there that would have blocked the view of the pavilion. A massive thick branch sort of extended over the parking lot. I was always scared of it breaking and changing the shape of someone’s car or anatomy. Glad its gone.
We will now leave Zieres Park and head back to the car to continue the campus journey. Hope it has rekindled some memories so far.
Driving around the back of Building 215 and heading towards the post office reveals a pretty good photo of two buildings in our history. Closest is building 211. For many years it was the barracks for the non-Army students. After that it was our main headquarters for a year or so during building 214’s renovation around 1995. We were told new tenants were coming in so we had to leave 211 real fast after 214 was finished. Then 211 just sat for a while. Somehow or another we got it back. It was renovated and became home for a lot of the Geospatial Engineer training and a repository of instructor cubicles. A tour of the outside of the buildings has to include a photo of the rear. Put the memory of the building to the right of 211 in your mind. It was a student barracks in the late sixties. More on that later as well.
A better front view of 211 from the road between 214 and 215 – still looks good!
As promised a photo of the rear of building 211. The students “formed” in that parking lot. Speaking about parking, well it was limited.
Back in the sixties our instructor staff provided NCO support to the barracks. The back of building 210 which is shown here, served as the mustering area for our students, myself included. Building 214 is directly across the street. I don’t know what year our students vacated building 210. Anyone know? On the right side of the building is something to note. It’s not too easy to see here so... Pay Call Hess here – I was a student in Construction Drafting (811) in 1957- (My college major was Architecture) so after school I remained at Cadre. This is the building I and the permanent cadre for D/Topo would gather the first of each month for “Pay Call”. During the winter months I use to freeze my ass-off because of the weather AND the pay procedure – Pay was doled out by rank and alphabet so as a slick-sleeved private and my name beginning with an “H” I was always first to fall-in and the last to receive my $76.00.
Note the bricks with the whiter mortar? Back in the sixties at least, located in that area of the building was a mess hall. I don’t know when it was changed over but it sure was convenient. I hope it brings back memories for some…….
Our campus journey is almost over. Here, as seen from Zieres Park, is home sweet home for many of our staff and students. Building 220, aka Wheeler Hall, wasn’t destined to be ours. It was originally built to be the Fort Belvoir High School. A structure weakness was noted and the building was condemned. In order to strengthen the building steel beams had to be inserted from roof to ground floor going straight through about every tenth or twelfth wall locker. Upon the restructuring the building passed inspection. Word has it that although “the building is sound but we still don’t want to put our high school students in it. Put our military in it instead”. Hence it became part of our campus in the late 1950s. Another structure weakness occurred years later and the corner closest to this picture had to be rebuilt. You know they never did build a Fort Belvoir High School. I wonder why?
The West Wing – actually it’s the East Wing but that doesn’t sound right. For years the windowed area on the left was an open area used for student breaks. The building custodian around 1982, MSG Charlie Watts, designed and fought for the area to be closed in making it usable during all types of weather. The area became known for years as Watts Wayside. The steps going up to the front door were spaced apart just right to be non conformant for the average walking human being.
South side – makes it sound like a slum – our survey students did a lot of measuring on this side of the building. You’ll find a few pictures of surveyor wantabes on the website working right there. Wheeler Hall was also home for years to the Department of Cartography on the third floor and Department of Survey on the first floor. Terrain Analysis in its infant stage was housed on the second floor within the Department of Topographic Sciences (TSD). TSD was the home of the famous Captain Tuttle. If you don’t believe that just go to the stories tab on our site and read all about it.
Now the West Wing! Sort of weird for Wheeler Hall is that the main entrance is on the oppositive side of the building. And if you recall it has the sidewalk designed for no one that has normal walking in mind. On this side, which was hardly used by anyone there is a gorgeous walkway. One of our emeritus instructors, at least that’s what he called himself, MSG Marlin Yelton, used to live directly across the street from this entrance. He would go out his front door, make a right on the sidewalk leading from his house and just go straight into the building. I recall one day around 1983 or so Marlin came in a minute late. “Sorry I’m late, I had to wait for a car to go by”. Marlin and his teaching teammate, Norman Andersen, were a pair that kept Wheeler Hall on its toes. You’ll find stories about them on the site as well.
Our campus tour is now over. Hope you enjoyed the trip. Now it’s time to leave post. I know a lot of you have been gone a long time. This photo is one that should surprise all old timers. The name of the street gives it away otherwise would you recognize where it is? I’ll try to describe it best – to the hard right is where the bank used to be. The building is still there but has other uses. Behind that the post gas station with Specker Field House behind that. To the hard left was one of the post cleaners. If you made a left turn here and followed the slightly curving road for about a mile and a half you would wind up at route one with the Hess Station on your front left. Got it?
On the hard left at the light is this convenience store metropolis. It was in the mill when I retired four years ago. It replaced the Shopette which had several different locations over the years with the previous one being on the row of shops shown in the previous photo.
Finally something that looks the same besides our campus! If you ever exited the post and went south you will recall the Hess Station. And of course the Paradise Club and shoe repair joint are there as well. It is appropriate that I end our tour with something named Hess consider Harold Hester, aka Hess, has to put all these pictures and captions I sent him on the site. Hope you enjoyed our revisit
Narratives and pictures furnished by Jack Batt.
As almost anyone that served with D-TOPO or DMS years ago or with the later College set up, our main memories are encased within two buildings. Building 214, Bagley Hall, and building 220 Wheeler Hall. A strong argument will also claim building 215 as one of the early campus buildings and another argument will include building 215 as having both duties as a barracks and as a classroom empire. And as long as we are still arguing I will include building 210 as a D-TOPO and early DMS barracks. Every so often I get the question “whatever happened to building……”. Here are the answers. The photos are as of 11 February 2014. We’ll take a photo journey around the campus. Enjoy - click on image to start...