BASES -- Summary-Earlier Era [p7 of 14]
FORMER MILITARY INSTALLATIONS (First half of the 20th Century) -- Continued
CAMP OTIS (near Cascadas) (1904-1917) (Army-Pacific side) (3,961 acres)
Camp Otis, the second of the two original U.S. marine installations converted from canal construction community near Las Cascadas, was located near Camp Gaillard. It was named after Major General E.S. Otis. The first permanently assigned military unit in Panama was the Army's 10th Infantry Regiment which arrived in October 1910 from its previous station at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and was stationed at Camp Otis. The initial element numbered 33 officers and 813 enlisted men, commanded by Colonel Henry A. Greene. Two old labor camps consisting of dilapidated French barracks (which housed laborers during the abortive French effort to construct the Canal in 1881-1887) were used to house the first arrival of troops. By 1912, with the arrival of 102 recruits as the last element of the 10th Infantry assigned to Panama, Camp Otis was filled to capacity.
First of the 10th Infantry troops at Camp Otis
For several weeks after the arrival of the first contingent of troops, their duty consisted of chiefly clearing away the jungle and making their quarters liveable. Commissary supplies were transported by mules to Camp Otis from regimental warehouse at nearby Empire because the roads were impassible by wagons.
The mission of the soldiers there as the Panama Canal Guard was to guard the canal locks. Two companies embarked monthly to guard the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks/ Those who stayed behind tried to improve the living conditions as best they could.
Months later with the appropriation of $50,000 for new housing for enlisted men, officers and families at Camp Otis, living conditions improved somewhat. The 10th Infantry stayed at Camp Otis until 1917 when the unit was rotated for war in France.
(Sources: "First troops arrived 71 years ago," Banner newspaper of the 193rd Infantry Brigade (Panama), September 29,1982, p. 13, and "Earlier Installations," in An American Legacy in Panama: A Brief History of the Department of Defense Installations and Properties in the Former Panama Canal Zone, p.60, by Suzanne P. Johnson and Richard M. Houle, HQ U.S. Army Garrison, Panama. Photos from the Banner, same issue.)
[For additional descriptions of Camp Otis and other nearby construction townsites and photos of the camp and soldiers, see Bill MacDonald's website CZ Images at http://www.czimages.com specifically:
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