Fort Ord was once the largest military base in the American West. Between 1863 and 1993, when it was decommissioned, over 1.5 million soldiers passed through the Monterey Bay base. The first racially integrated military base, as well as the Army’s training center for all Vietnam-bound troops, the site has recently been designated a National Monument. Now abandoned, the site of the former base is transitioning as the land is returned to civilian uses.
To uncover the rich social and environmental history of the site, record the memories and stories of those who lived and worked there, and preserve the murals created by thousands of soldier-artists, Project Director Enid Baxter Ryce, a professor of Cinematic Arts and Environmental Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay, embarked on an ambitious documentary project over a decade ago. To date, Planet Ord’s archives include over 250 oral histories, photographs, video footage, objects, ephemera, and maps.
With support from Cal Humanities’ Community Stories grant program, Enid Baxter Ryce and a team of CSUMB students, assisted by historians and veteran and community advisors, have assembled material from this collection into a multimedia exhibit, now open at the Santa Cruz Museum of History and Art, which will run through July 20. The exhibit, which includes still and moving images, as well as graphic and textual stories, is augmented with an array of public programs, including film screenings, discussions, and a walking tour of the historic site. For more information, click HERE.