Fort Lee celebrates milestone anniversary in 2017

FT. LEE, Va. (WRIC) –What is now the third largest Army training center, and the Army’s “home of sustainment,” — is celebrating a birthday.

“This is a very significant year,” said Fort Lee historian, Dr. Kenneth Finlayson.

“Anytime you can celebrate a centennial of anything in this country, that’s a major event.”

Fort Lee was originally “Camp Lee” and was established in 1917 to support troops during WWI.

The term “camp” signaled its temporary structures.

After WWI ended, the property was dismantled into a forest and game preserve in 1921.

The camp was rebuilt with brick and mortar ahead of WWII, and with new, permanent structures — finally became “Fort Lee,” in 1950.

The name ‘Lee’ is for Confederate General Robert E. Lee and done so purposely.

Finlayson says it was used as an Army recruiting tool a century ago.

“You wanted to have a camp that represented the area that you came from,” said Finlayson.

“Lee was a Virginian, probably the most famous General of the Civil War.”

It was not until 2005, with the Base Re-alignment and Closure Act (BRAC), that Fort Lee expanded again in it’s training, educating, and developing process for Army professionals.

Now 100 years later in 2017, the military installation supports more than 86,000 people, with a reach all the way across the globe.

“There are no soldiers serving anywhere in the Army that are not supported by soldiers trained at Fort Lee,” said Finlayson.

Fort Lee also has a sizeable footprint of more than 5,900 acres and a local economic impact of $2.4 billion dollars each year.

The Fort is located in Prince George County, Virginia just east of the City of Petersburg.