~ Sherman County: For The Record 2013 by Dick Tobiason, Bend Heroes Foundation
At the gateway of the World War II Veterans Historic Highway, the last two of the 18 signs honoring Oregon WWII Veterans were installed on November 9, 2012, south of Biggs Junction. These signs mark Camp Rufus as the northern entry of this historic route and first highway in the nation to be dedicated to represent appreciation to veterans and inform the traveling public about the WWII training sites served by two major highways east of the Cascades: US 97 from the Columbia River to the Oregon/California border and State Route 126 from Redmond to Prineville.
There are a total of eight vital WWII training sites represented along the Historic Highway where different branches of the military trained: Camp Rufus (sign at Biggs), Madras Army Airfield, Redmond Army Airfield, Civilian Pilot Training at Bend and Prineville, Camp Abbot at Sunriver, and Marine Barracks and Naval Air Station at Klamath Falls.
The two signs near Biggs relate to Camp Rufus, transformed into a tent city in December, 1944, where 3,000 Combat Engineers trained and tested a floating bridge system on the Columbia River that was developed to ensure troops were not dependent on German bridges when crossing the Rhine River.
Dick Tobiason, chairman of the WWII Veterans Historic Highway Committee and chairman of the Bend Heroes Foundation, dedicated the Camp Rufus signs. Sherman County Honor Flight veterans Dewey Thomas, Pete Macnab, Charles Decker and Don Thompson, Sherman County Judge Gary Thompson, Rufus Mayor Cliff Jett, Rufus City Recorder Jaclyn McCurdy, Maupin Mayor Denny Ross, Matthew E. Simek, designer of the Camp Rufus site plaque, representatives of the Sherman County Historical Society and members of the community were present.
The WWII Veterans Historic Highway project received Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Heritage Preservation Award, Oregon Heritage Excellence Award and the Military Officers Association of America Leadership Award.
More information regarding Sherman County’s military history along with an impressive exhibit that honors military veterans can be seen at the Sherman County Historical Museum in Moro, Oregon. See the Camp Rufus story in Sherman County: For The Record, Vol. 7, No. 1 and Vol. 9, No. 2.
WORLD WAR II VETERANS HISTORIC HIGHWAY
US HIGHWAY 97 & SR 126 IN OREGON
The new law resulting from Senate Bill 449 requires Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to install WORLD WAR II VETERANS HISTORIC HIGHWAY signs near former WWII training sites on US Highway 97 and SR 126. Funding will be provided by veterans, local governments, historical groups, and the public. The Bend based WORLD WAR II VETERANS HISTORIC HIGHWAY COMMITTEE requested the legislation.
The objectives of the new sign program are to honor WWII veterans and inform the traveling public about vital WWII training sites served by two major highways east of the Cascades: US 97 from the Columbia River to the Oregon/California border and State Route 126 from Redmond to Prineville. US 97 is known as The Dalles-California Highway. It is also designated a Blue Star Memorial Highway. Those names are not changed by the new “honorary” designation.
“It (the highway) will be a living symbol of our state and our values and honor the service, sacrifice and dedication of Oregon World War II veterans……This designation honors the Band of Brothers – the trainers, the troops, and all the men and women involved in helping our nation prepare for battle during World War II,… And it honors the vital role of central Oregon and communities along U.S. 97 where during WW II military training sites were established, ensuring our soldiers were adequately prepared.” ~Governor Kulongoski
Nineteen signs were dedicated at Sunriver’s Great Hall by WWII veterans and public officials on Sunday, June 6, 2010 the 66th anniversary of D-Day. We estimate 3,000 of the 30,100 veterans now residing in the six (6) counties served by US 97 and SR 126 are WWII veterans. Below is a list of the eight WWII sites and sign locations.
|WORLD WAR II VETERANS HISTORIC HIGHWAY:|
|WWII TRAINING SITES*||SIGN LOCATIONS:|
|ARMY CAMP RUFUS||US 97, BIGGS|
|ARMY AIRFIELD||US 97 & US 26, MADRAS|
|ARMY AIRFIELD||US 97, REDMOND|
|CIVILIAN PILOT TRAINING||SR 126, PRINEVILLE|
|CIVILIAN PILOT TRAINING||US 97, BEND|
|ARMY CAMP ABBOT||US 97, SUNRIVER|
|MARINE BARRACKS||SR 39, KLAMATH FALLS|
|NAVAL AIR STATION||US 97, KLAMATH FALLS|
|* All military services were involved
~ Dick Tobiason, LTC US Army Retired – updated 2-6-2011