InfoAge Science-History Museum at Camp Evans Honors Cong. Smith with Its 2016 Patriot Award
The InfoAge Science-History Museum and Learning Center presented its “2016 Patriot Award” to U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) at Camp Evans, the former Army post in Wall Township, N.J. and site of top secret work that helped win World War II. Smith has worked with community leaders for decades to preserve the historic site.
In presenting Congressman Smith with the recognition, Mike Ruane, chairman of the board of trustees said, “The Patriot Award recognizes men and women of extraordinary caliber who love, support and defend our country and its interests. Chris Smith doesn’t just talk the talk, he also walks the walk. For InfoAge, he’s been a friend since the beginning.”
Ruane explained that in the 1993 base realignment and closure process, the Army was supposed to turn Camp Evans over to Wall Township in turn-key condition. Instead, the site was ravaged due to the Army’s environmental clean-up efforts and lack of basic maintenance of the Camp Evans site. Sewers were removed, electrical power was nonexistent except for a few small buildings, basements and buildings were flooded, bathrooms were destroyed, and black mold was prevalent. However, Ruane said that thanks to Smith’s advocacy on behalf of InfoAge, the Army made necessary repairs and held up its end of the transfer agreement.
“First, they blocked the National Register application, and we went to Chris and he was there for us. They tried to auction off the property, and Chris was there for us. Then, they ripped out the sewer and electric lines, and Chris really got involved. He was there for us,” Ruane added.
“That’s why we want to recognize all that he has done for us because we truly appreciate someone who cares about what happened in this location and wants to make certain it is preserved for the future.”
Smith thanked the volunteers and supporters of InfoAge saying, “Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this great work, and thank you for accurately and professionally preserving the extraordinarily rich history of scientific break-throughs and applications—often done in extreme secrecy—a history that tells the story of how American ingenuity helped procure victory in World War II.”
“It has taken the dedicated people in this room, who cherish and respect and appreciate the wonders that were accomplished here, to ensure that this legacy is preserved—and shared—in perpetuity,” Smith said.
The Congressman further thanked the members for, “Enabling us to know and admire and respect the achievements wrought by the brilliant minds and clever innovators who worked here, such as William Gould, Richard Paolella, and Willie Johnson.” Gould, Paolella and Johnson were also honored at the event, having their names added to the InfoAge Wall of Honor. In addition, New Jersey Natural Gas Company received the Chairman’s Award for exceptional support of InfoAge.
The Information Age Science History Museum and Learning Center (InfoAge) is located at the former US Army Camp Evans sub-post of Fort Monmouth. Camp Evans is a U.S. Department of Interior National Historic Landmark and is New Jersey’s designated World War II Living Memorial. The mission of InfoAge is to preserve, educate and honor scientific innovation and history to inspire new generations of thinkers, dreamers and visionaries. The volunteer-driven organization is a 501(C)3 non-profit educational organization.
For more than a decade, Smith helped prevent the closed site from being auctioned off to developers, and worked with the Army to clean up and preserve the site. InfoAge located on Marconi Road, credited Smith for helping gain the National Historic Landmark designation in 2012, as well as for his assistance in 2001, 2004 and 2007 in working with the Army to preserve Camp Evans.
The U.S. Army Signal Corps acquired Camp Evans in 1941 and the site functioned as an electronics development, testing, and production facility during World War II. It immediately became one of the principal facilities where radar work was conducted in the United States. In many instances Camp Evans radar teams planned, set specifications for, directed, contracted and coordinated wartime radar research and production with other radar laboratories. Equipment developed, tested, documented, and upgraded at Camp Evans was used in all World War II theaters and protected American military assets worldwide.
The historic district retains the overall appearance of an early- to mid- twentieth century industrial facility. While most of the area’s construction occurred during World War II, five buildings date back before World War I—when the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America established the Belmar Receiving Station on the property.
InfoAge hosts many events at Camp Evans that are open to the public. Click here to see a list of events.