Old Fort Des Moines
Fort Des Moines Memorial Park
Fort Des Moines started out as a cavalry post in 1903. On June 17, 1917, one thousand Black college men and 200 noncommissioned officers from the 24th and 25th Infantry and the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were sworn into the Provisional Army Officer Training School. Four months later, 639 men graduated from the course and becoming U.S. Army Officers. Black units led by the officers trained at the Provisional Army Officer Training School were assembled in France as the 92nd Division. The all black 92nd received many citations and awards for meritorious and distinguished conduct in combat against the Imperial German Army on the approaches to Metz in the Lorraine.
In 1942, Fort Des Moines became home to the first Woman’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), later renamed the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Both black and white women were trained at Fort Des Moines for service in World War II. Initially, black women lived and trained separately from other women. The Army eliminated segregation in training, but not in assignments. The officer class resulted in 639 new African American officers; the WAC trained 72,000 women and commissioned the first female officers.
After World War II Fort Des Moines was deactivated and became home several Reserve units.The old fort is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark. In 2012, most of the remaining buildings were in physical decline. The Fort Des Moines Museum building was restored and is open to the public.