Fort Carson was established in 1942, following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The city of Colorado Springs, Colorado purchased land south of the city and donated it to the War Department. Construction began immediately and the first building, the camp headquarters, was completed January 31, 1942. Camp Carson was named in honor of the legendary Army scout, General Christopher “Kit” Carson, who explored much of the West in the 1800s.
Fort Carson is a United States Army installation located near Colorado Springs, primarily in El Paso County, Colorado. It is 40 miles north of Pueblo, Colorado in Pueblo County. The 137,000-acre installation extends south into Pueblo and Fremont counties. The portion of the installation located within El Paso County forms a census-designated place (CDP), which had a population of 13,813 at the 2010 census. Fort Carson is the home of the 4th Infantry Division, the 10th Special Forces Group, the 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), the 4th Engineer Battalion, the 759th Military Police Battalion, the 10th Combat Support Hospital, the 43rd Sustainment Brigade, and the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron of the United States Air Force. The post also hosts units of the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve and the Colorado Army National Guard.
If there is one place you would want to be stationed it would be Fort Carson. It is a great base and the housing for officers and married NCOs is first rate. Colorado Springs is an amazing city and the gateway to Pikes Peak.
I decided to drive my car to Fort Carson. I went up through Las Vegas, NV and stopped in Provo, Utah the first night. The next day I drove through Salt Lake City and then into Denver, Colorado where I spent the night at the Brown Palace Hotel. The hotel was built by the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” who survived the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912.
I was now almost broke and since I could always get a bed and food at an Army Post I decided to drive down to Colorado Springs and report a day early. I pulled up to the front gate and showed my orders and was directed to the Replacement Station. I signed in and handed my records and orders to the clerk at the desk and went to my assigned barracks. The next morning we attending a meeting and were told we would only be there for two days until we got our orders.
At that time Fort Carson was the home of the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized). My original orders were for assignment to the 2nd Bn 10th Infantry. Now, ask yourself this…Why would a Combat Soldier returning from Vietnam want to be assigned to an infantry unit?
The next day I received a visitor from the 5th Admin Group. He wanted to offer me a job with the Personnel Section. The job would be to stay at the Reception Station and record information from the 201 Files of each soldier reporting in to a personnel assignment form. The reason they were talking to me was that the current personnel clerk was leaving the Army and they were looking for his replacement and that first preference was to an 11Bravo MOS returning from Vietnam that had decent test scores. The bad part of the job was that I reported to work at 11PM Sunday through Thursday and worked until I was completed. It took me about one second to accept the job. I was assigned to the 5th Admin Co Inprocessing with a MOS 71H20 Personnel Specialist. Not bad for an 11Bravo grunt.
I was assigned my own room in the replacement barracks and did not have to pull any duty or clean the latrines or barracks. That was all done by our transient guests. Most nights I only worked 3-4 hours. The cook always had something for me to snack on and hot coffee. After work I went to the barracks and slept until I wanted to get up. I was able to do almost anything during the day and early evening until reporting for work at 11PM. Sunday nights were the worst since no assignment forms were completed on Friday or Saturday.
There were two sets of bunk beds in my room and most times I was by myself unless someone came in for a TDY assignment. I do remember one time there was an inspection of the barracks and when the first sergeant came in my room and found me sleeping he pulled me out of my rack. The Lieutenant quickly explained to him that I was permanent party and worked nights. That seemed to satisfy the first sergeant and I was left alone after that.
Being on the eastern slope of the Rockies and with an elevation above 6,000 feet it snows and becomes very cold. It started snowing in late October of that year. On Thanksgiving Day a couple of us went skiing west of Denver. I had only been skiing a few times before and did just terrible. Driving back to Colorado Springs I decided to take ski lessons at the Broadmoor Ski Resort which was only a few miles from Fort Carson.
The resort had a lighted ski slope and you could take lessons either day or night. I took the early evening group lessons. After a while I skied almost every night at the Broadmoor and on the weekends went to many of the other ski areas in Colorado.
One of the buddies I met was transferred to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver which is only about 60 miles north of Colorado Springs. He had us come visit him and we would stay in an unoccupied ward for the night. We did this several times until one time we were rousted by some MP or security guard and that ended our free stays.
So between skiing and not pulling any duty my last five and one-half months in the Army – life was good. I was officially released by the Army on January 31, 1969. I stayed in Colorado for several weeks and skied in both Aspen and Vail. Then I returned to Colorado Springs to say goodbyes to some friends and the next morning drove more than 1,150 miles, in about 19 hours, straight through to home in California headed for civilian life.
NEXT – Civilian Life