Klamath Falls Marine Barracks 1944-1946 - Klamath Falls, OR
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NW_history_buff
N 42° 15.649 W 121° 44.562
10T E 603701 N 4679499
This memorial was relocated in 2019 from its original location further north and is dedicated to the former marine barracks which housed World War II marines convalescing from tropical-borne illnesses received overseas during the War.
Waymark Code: WM13QE1
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 01/31/2021
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
Views: 0

Two interpretive displays stands next to the WWII memorial and highlight its history. The first display reads:

The Klamath Falls Marine Barracks (1944 - 1946)
The Klamath Falls Marine Barracks was constructed in 1944 as a treatment and recuperation center for Marine service members fighting in the South and Central Pacific theaters of World War II. The U.S. Navy in conjunction with the Marine Corps established the facility specifically to treat and rehabilitate Marines suffering from mosquito-borne diseases, primarily filariasis and malaria. Klamath Falls was selected because the altitude and climate would assist with recovery, as well as filariasis and malaria were not present in the area thus preventing reinfection of service members.

The facility was constructed to house 5,000 and consisted of 80 buildings including Navy Medical Corps facilities (sick bay, dispensary, laboratory, and living areas for medics and nurses), mess hall, auditorium, gymnasium, swimming pool, fire house, laundry, maintenance garage, sewage treatment plant warehouse, brig, power plant, library, 30 barracks, and married and bachelor officers quarters.

Life at the Barracks
Between April 1944 and November 1945, the Marine Barracks at Klamath Falls averaged 2,110 patients - the overwhelming majority with filariasis. Typically, patients underwent a three-month "supervised reconditioning" program to strengthen immune systems that would be fighting the parasite. Most patients were ambulatory and were required to perform normal garrison activities and close-order drills under medical supervision. Filariasis was never considered ground for automatic automatic discharge from the service and most patients were returned to active duty.

Service members were also encouraged to study vocational subjects such as machine shop, welding, radio repair, and typing. Visiting families would stay at the Hostess House where service members participates in nightly dances. Service members also swam at nearby lakes and went hunting or fishing at nearby nearby ranches and farms. The Klamath Falls United Service Organizations (USO) welcomed arriving service members, served food, held dances, and organized various outings throughout the Barracks operation.

Lymphatic Filariasis
During World War II, Navy physicians diagnosed over 12,040 cases of filariasis with over 90 percent of those being Marines. Lymphatic filariasis is a tropical disease caused by parasitic microscopic worms that is transmitted person-to-person by mosquito bites. The adult worms only live in the human lymph system. The microscopic worms lodge in the lymph glands damaging, and in some cases blocking, the lymphatic system.

Today, lymphatic filariasis affects over 120 million people in 72 countries throughout the tropics and subtropics of Asia, Africa, the Western Pacific, and parts of the Caribbean and South America. There is no cure but infected individuals can take the drugs to eradicate the larva in the bloodstream and prevent transmission.

Why did the Facilities Close?
WWII ended on September 2, 1945. A post-war dwindling patient population and a minimal risk of relapse resulted in the closure of the facility on February 28, 1946. The facility was declared surplus property by the Navy on March 1, 1946.

The second display reads:

The First Memorial Park
The first Marine Barracks Memorial Park opened in a different location within this neighborhood in 1994. The park was approximately 75 feet by 100 feet, and took up only a small portion of the old barracks site. A grey, granite monument was placed there in memory of the barracks. That monument now resides here - at the new Marine Barracks Memorial Park.

The Local Marine Corps League
The local Marine Corps League, Crater Lake Detachment #373, was founded in 1962 by service members who were stationed at the Klamath Falls Marine Barracks during World War II. Many of the Marines met their future spouses while stationed here, and returned to the area after discharge to establish homes, raise families, run businesses, and contribute to the local community.

Klamath County has a rich history of residents serving their country in the U.S. Armed Forces, and many of these service members have family ties to the Klamath Falls Marine Barracks.

A Marine Named 'Mitch'
One of the most celebrated Marines of the barracks, Colonel Paige earned a Purple Haeart and the Congressional Medal of Honor for his brave actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal - the first major offensive and decisive victory for the Allies in the Pacific theater during World War II.

Medal of Honor; the highest military honor
Colonel Paige delivered a speech to over 50 former barracks Marines at the dedication ceremony for the first marine Barracks Memorial Park in 1994. The local Marine Corps League retains the original brass dedication plaque.

Original Artifacts
One of the few remaining artifacts from the original barracks is a large wood and copper eagle that once perched atop a pole at the entrance to the barracks. Today, that eagle is viewable at the Marine Corps League clubhouse in downtown Klamath Falls.

The displays don't mention that the former Marine barracks would become home to Oregon Technical Institute (OTI), a vocational school which would become a full-fledged university in later years. OTI was rebuilt in Klamath Falls and the school relocated to its current campus location in 1964 and would be renamed to Oregon Institute of Technology sometime after 1970.

Nothing remains of the former barracks today. The last building to be razed on the old campus was the swimming pool, sometime in the 1990s. Up until a year and a half ago, there were still concrete foundations from buildings that could be found scattered around the area.

The former campus was privately developed in the 1980s and a number of homes were built on the site beginning in 1993. But in 2001 it was discovered that asbestos, a common material used in the Marine barracks, was found in small amounts in the ground all over the site, years after the former military buildings were torn down and removed in 1979 to prepare for the North Ridge Estates development. Class-action lawsuits ensued and the federal government determined it would buy back 80% of the value of the homes that existed on the site. Many homeowners took the deal and moved away, leaving empty homes behind but a small number of homeowners decided to stay living on the site and still do today.

In 2016 the site became a Superfund site and millions of dollars were spent removing two to four feet of topsoil throughout the site. It took over two years to make the site 'clean' and finished in late 2018. There are other interpretive signs nearby that highlight the Superfund site.

Historic Topic: Modern Age 1900 to date

Group Responsible for placement: Other

Marker Type: Roadside

Region: Southern Oregon

County: Klamath

Web link to additional information: [Web Link]

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

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