Colorado Springs at 150 years old | The influence of the military on growth and development | bonus

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Editor’s Note: This July, as Colorado Springs celebrates its 150th birthday on the 31st, The Gazette prepared a series of articles on the history of our city. Look back for fascinating insights into the people and events that made Colorado Springs the landmark it is today.

There was no social distancing in Colorado Springs 76 years ago when impromptu celebrations erupted from Old Colorado City to the dirt road on the east side of the city – Union Boulevard – as people hugged, kissed, and danced in the streets around it Celebrating the end of World War II in Europe.

Not a single event has brought more change to this failed spa and tourist town with its booming gold industry. But the move to the Pikes Peak region meant more than the introduction of bases and military contracts. The World War II treasures delivered to the Pikes Peak area were men and women as described in the Gazette The last of the greatest series of stories End of 2019 and beginning of 2020.

“It brought a diverse group of people here to the Springs, a diverse group,” said retired Army Command Sgt. Maj. Terrance McWilliams, who now leads military programs for the El Pomar Foundation. “It helped define Colorado Springs.”

It almost never happened. When the clouds of war began to gather in Europe, Colorado Springs was at a crossroads. Penicillin took one of the city’s industries as a health resort to recover from tuberculosis.

Another major fundament, gold, has been hit by a federal price cap and declining yields on the Cripple Creek vein. Tourism was already down due to the economic turmoil of the Great Depression, and with the war on the horizon, this industry too tumbled to a cliff.

Now, 17 months after the coronavirus pandemic, the economy may sound familiar. But the city’s leaders did what they still do when the economy goes south: find another way.

“That’s one of the things I love to talk about,” said Reggie Ash, who directs military programs for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC. “Colorado Springs has a rich military legacy that began in 1941. That was when the businessmen got together and received the federal government for Camp Carson.”

The city’s newly formed Military Affairs Council grabbed some cheap ranch land south of the city and offered it to the War Department for free. These first parcels grew into the 135,000 acre Fort Carson, one of the country’s major army centers.

But the city giveaway didn’t stop there. The city’s airport was turned over to the Army Air Corps for a $ 1 per year lease that continues to this day.

The place was later named after Lt. Edward Peterson, the first aviator to die here in a training accident.

Then Colorado Springs turned over some vacant lots on the eastern outskirts, Platte Avenue and Union Boulevard. Ent Air Force Base, now the Olympic Training Center, was named after Major General Uzal Ent, its first in command.

People in Colorado Springs, a conservative town known for its abstinence from alcohol, were initially suspicious of the troops that marched in.

But people here quickly fell in love with the military. And the troops fell in love with her.

It’s something that continues to this day.

“Colorado Springs is the # 1 place people want to be stationed,” said McWilliams. “I attribute a lot of it to the culture of this community.”

Army divisions trained here and the troops withdrew after the war. If you like some of the home cooking here these days, it’s at least in part due to the Italian and German prisoners of war who were housed at Fort Carson and who immigrated after VE Day and brought their native cuisine with them.

The people who are first drawn here by the military, who stay after they take off their uniforms, are a secret of the Pikes Peak region’s success.

Before World War II, Colorado Springs was a town of 33,000 people dwarfed by its southern neighbor, Pueblo, of 55,000 people.

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Now, 76 years after the war, Colorado Springs has grown twenty-fold to nearly 700,000 residents. This group includes nearly 45,000 active duty soldiers, several thousand reservists and more than 100,000 veterans.

“That’s us as a community,” said McWilliams. The military brought us the amalgamation of different cultures and ethnicities. They have not brought so much financial wealth with them, but they have intellectual wealth and great experience in various skills. “

Ash rolled through the military population numbers that began with World War II. More than 40% of the Pikes Peak area’s economy is tied to Pentagon paychecks and defense companies.

It all came from the community’s willingness to help the military through the storm of World War II.

One last ride for Colorado Springs WWII Buffalo Soldier John Nichols

“The community has told the federal government that we want to be team players and participate in the war effort,” said Ash.

After the war, Colorado Springs continued to lend a hand, donating land to the Air Force Academy, luring the North American Aerospace Defense Command to Cheyenne Mountain, and cementing its place in the space business with Schriever Air Force Base.

In order to better align the Schriever and Peterson air force bases with their missions, they will soon be renamed Space Force bases according to plans by the Pentagon. Space Force is the newest branch of the armed forces and was founded in December 2019.

Colorado will have the largest contingent of bases named for the new space service as it is also home to Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora, US Space Command, Space Operations Command, and most of the Space Force’s 13,000 soldiers.

Colorado Springs is the temporary home of the US Space Command, which oversees all military missions in orbit until 2026. In January, former President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. Space Command would be uprooted and relocated to Huntsville, Alabama after 2026, with the federal government’s accountability office reviewing the decision and potentially reversing the decision.

Generals put stars behind efforts to keep Space Command in Colorado

With the US Northern Command, Army Space and Missile Defense Command and NORAD, no place in the United States can claim greater strategic importance than Colorado Springs.

In the first two years after graduating from the Air Force Academy, nearly 200 Guards were drafted into the Space Force.

Air Force Academy welcomes more than 1,100 newcomers: “You will be mine for the next six weeks”

And from Air Force Academy cadets to infantry troops still training their basic hairstyles at Fort Carson, Colorado Springs is also helping to improve the future of the military.

It all came from a couple of Broadmoor cocktails in 1940 that city fathers had a plan to present to the military.

And it came from the World War II troops who came here and fell in love.

The military planted roots elsewhere in Colorado during the war. Camp Hale in the mountains was closed after the war. Air bases in La Junta and Pueblo closed. Denver’s Lowry Air Force Base, Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center, and Rocky Mountain Arsenal have come and gone.

The air bases in La Junta and Grand Junction have also disappeared.

But there was something special about Colorado Springs that made permanent links with the military. And what could have ended after all that dancing on the streets 76 years ago continues to this day.

Ash, a retired Air Force Colonel, came to Colorado with the Air Force after attending college in Iowa.

“The Air Force brought my family here and we loved it here,” said Ash. “It was more than natural beauty. It is the beauty of these people and this community. “

Gazette reporter David Bitton contributed to this article.



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