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NEWS | May 21, 2024

Historical moment with first ever Joint Base Heritage Conference

By Susan Moriarty Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

The first ever Joint Base Heritage Conference was held at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, May 14. Members of neighboring historical organizations came together to establish a professional network and share information pertaining to the joint base and its surrounding community.

James Warrick, 87th Air Base Wing historian, first put forth the idea of holding the conference while having lunch with other historians in December 2023 and received an enthusiastic response. He believed coming together to share historical information would benefit all interested parties.

JB MDL currently has five historians, including Warrick. He is responsible for the collection of data from all the units assigned to the wing. He provides historical context for the commander when needed, manages the wing’s various heritage programs, and answers inquiries from around the world related to the history of all the services on the joint base.

“I’ve been the wing historian for five years and came to the realization that there is still a lot of historical information out there that I am unaware of,” Warrick said. “Most, if not all, of the townships surrounding the joint base have been [in existence] much longer than the military bases have been.”

One of Warrick’s goals in networking with these organizations is to better tell the story of the earliest days of the joint base – whether it be the establishment of Camp Dix in 1917, Camp Kendrick in 1921, (which later became Naval Air Station Lakehurst) or the beginnings of McGuire Air Force Base.

“I am certain the historical organizations for these townships have historical items that documented much of the activity that took place starting in 1917,” Warrick said. “I hope to better educate our service members on the heritage of the base they call home.”

Those in attendance at the conference found it to be extremely beneficial and something they have been hoping for.

“The conference was a fantastic success. I’ve been waiting for something like this to come around,” said Eric Orange, Rev War Alliance of Burlington County representative. “It was great to learn of the assets the joint base has in the different museums. I’ve already heard from a couple of historical organizations that couldn’t make it this year that they’re looking forward to next year.”

Based on its inaugural success and keen interest from fellow historians, the conference is expected to become an annual event.