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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Alexandria in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

WW II: A Battle Fought at Home and Abroad

 
 
WW II: A Battle Fought at Home and Abroad Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 26, 2011
1. WW II: A Battle Fought at Home and Abroad Marker
Inscription. The United States engaged in World War II (WWII) at home and on foreign soil. With formal entry of the United States into WWII, the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) began two top-secret programs, known as MIS-Y and MIS-X, at Fort Hunt.

Under the MIS-Y program, the military utilized Fort Hunt as the nation's primary Joint Interrogation Center (JIC). At this location, known at the time only as P.O. Box 1142, Army and Navy personnel interrogated Axis prisoners-of-war (POWs) who possessed special strategic or technical information. Roughly 4,000 prisoners were questioned at Fort Hunt between 1942-1946. The War Department called the camps Temporary Detention Centers or Detained Interrogation Centers, not POW Camps, because the Geneva Convention of 1929 required certain rights and privileges for POWs which would interfere with interrogation strategies.

As a component of the MIS-X program, Fort Hunt military personnel sent secret escape devices concealed inside humanitarian aid or "care packages" to American POWs in Europe. This operation was so secret that not even the fort commander knew of its existence; only the President, a few top officials, and limited staff had knowledge of the program. American POWs were notified in advance about incoming packages via coded letters. Within the care packages, a prisoner might find a
Lower Left Photo image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 26, 2011
2. Lower Left Photo
One of the Temporary Detention Centers (POW enclosures) was located on the far side of Battery Mount Vernon, approximately 300 feet in front of you.
tiny compass encased in a button, maps or money hidden inside a checkerboard, or a radio transmitter in the heel of a new pair of shoes.

Battery Commander's Station
The tower to your right, the Battery Commander's Station, served as the "nerve center" of fort operations during the turn of the century. From the tower, with the help of range-finding and sighting equipment, military personnel could spot enemy ships approaching the fort. Once a target was identified, staff relayed its coordinates to others at adjacent gun batteries.

Completed: August 1901
Dimension: 16.5 feet wide (base only) x 16.5 feet deep (base only) x 26.5 feet high.

Be safe and help us protect our cultural heritage
Stay on designated paths. Please watch your step. Historic surfaces are uneven and may be damp or slippery. Use handrails when climbing stairs.
Climbing on or attempting to access restricted areas of historic structures is unsafe and may damage park resources.
It is illegal to remove anything from Fort Hunt Park. Everything is protected so you and future generations may enjoy these historic resources.
 
Erected by George Washington Memorial Highway - National Park Service - U.S. Department of the Interior.
 
Location. 38° 42.939′ N, 77° 
Upper-Center Photo image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 26, 2011
3. Upper-Center Photo
X-ray of a cribbage board shows a radio receiver inside. A hearing aid was plugged in and used to listen.
3.162′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from Fort Hunt Park Loop, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Located in Fort Hunt Park, a unit of the George Washington Memorial Parkway administered by the National Park Service. Marker is in this post office area: Alexandria VA 22308, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. P.O. Box 1142 (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); In Support of American Defense (about 400 feet away); Civilian Conservation Corps (about 400 feet away); People and the Land (about 400 feet away); Fort Hunt Park (about 400 feet away); Beyond What You See Today (about 600 feet away); Battery Sater (approx. mile away); Protecting America's Legacy (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
 
Also see . . .
1. P.O. Box 1142. National Parks Conservation Association article about the World War II activity. While most of the projects were declassified decades ago, only recently have veterans stepped forward to speak about the work. (Submitted on March 26, 2011, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 

2. Fort Hunt Park. NPS site with more history of Fort Hunt and details about the park. (Submitted on March 26, 2011, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Categories. War, World II
 
Lower-Right Photo image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 26, 2011
4. Lower-Right Photo
A typical prisoner's room. Inset: This bell-shaped listening device was hidden in ceilings and used to monitor prisoners' conversations.
Marker and Battery Commander's Station image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 26, 2011
5. Marker and Battery Commander's Station
Battery Commander's Station image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 26, 2011
6. Battery Commander's Station
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 26, 2011, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,650 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on March 26, 2011, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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