Fort Chaffee (1941-Present) - First established in 1941 as Camp Chaffee in Sebastian County, Arkansas. Named for Major General Adna R. Chaffee Jr., re-named Fort Chaffee on 21 Mar 1956. Active Military Installation, Arkansas National Guard.
History of Fort Chaffee
Established in September 1941 as Camp Chaffee in Sebastian County, Arkansas. Officially activated in March 1942 and permanently designated as Fort Chaffee on 21 Mar 1956. The post served as an armored division training base and a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp during World War II. There were some 3,000 German POWs there between 1942 and 1946. The post served as a personnel processing center after the war until it was deactivated in 1946.
Fort Chaffee became a processing center for Southeast Asia refugees from 1975-1976. Fort Chaffee processed some 50,000 refugees from the Vietnam War. Fort Chaffee became a Cuban refugee resettlement center 6 May 1980 after the Cuban government allowed the Mariel boatlift. In two years, Fort Chaffee processed 25,390 Cuban refugees.
In 1993, the Joint Readiness Training Center (JTC) moved from Fort Chaffee to Fort Polk (2).
On 28 Sep 1995, Fort Chaffee became a sub-installation of Fort Sill (1). In 1995, the U.S. government declared 7,192 of Fort Chaffee’s 76,075 acres to be surplus and turned the land over to the state. On 27 Sep 1997 the U.S. Army garrison was deactivated and a portion of the post was turned over to the Arkansas Army National Guard and named Fort Chaffee Maneuver Training Center for Light Combat Forces. The remaining 6000 acres was turned over to the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority for redevelopment. A portion of that area has been designated as the community of Chaffee Crossing.
In 2005, the abandoned barracks at Fort Chaffee provided temporary housing for more than 10,000 Hurricane Katrina refugees from Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
A series of fires in 2008 and 2011 has destroyed significant numbers of the abandoned buildings on the site including the old hospital area.
Active Arkansas Army National Guard military installation, Sebastian County, Arkansas. The Chaffee Crossing Barbershop Museum has many pictures and artifacts from the Fort Chaffee years and houses the barber shop where Elvis Presley got his first military haircut. The museum has photos and maps from the early post years, the prisoner of war camp, the Cuban refugee relocations, the Vietnamese relocations, the Hurricane Katrina relocations, and the base closure.
Visited: 21-24 Oct 2011