Fort Gillem was located in Forest Park, a southern suburb of Atlanta in Clayton County, from 1941 until 2011. The base housed the headquarters of both the First U.S. Army and the Georgia Army National Guard as well as the Atlanta Distribution Center of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. Fort Gillem was also home to the Third Military Police Group (CID) United States Army Criminal Investigation Command, with a state-of-the-art criminal forensic laboratory, and served as a major distribution facility during national crises or troop deployments.
First established as the Quartermaster Depot during World War II (1941-45), the facility was activated with units from chemical, engineering, medical, quartermaster, and signal divisions. The Quartermaster Depot, designated as Atlanta General Depot in 1941, shipped supplies to army personnel all over the world and housed an automotive school for soldiers.
After World War II the quartermaster mission at the facility continued and included the distribution of supplies, the maintenance of equipment, and the addition of a coffee-roasting plant. Morris Army Airfield, now closed, was established at the post during the 1950s and comprised an airstrip as well as a repair facility for aircraft. Renamed Atlanta Army Depot in 1962, the post was finally named Fort Gillem in 1973 in honor of Lieutenant General Alvan C. Gillem Jr., former commander of the Third Army, which was based at nearby Fort McPherson. At the same time Fort Gillem was designated a subinstallation of Fort McPherson.
During the 1990s the Georgia Army National Guard increased its presence at the facility as the Oglethorpe Armory opened, and Fort Gillem became home to the Second Recruiting Brigade, the Fifty-second Ordnance Group, and the Equipment Concentration Site for the Eighty-first Regional Support Command. The post also served as the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) headquarters for the Southeast and operated the Military Entrance Processing Station for Atlanta and northeast Georgia.
In 2005 the U.S. secretary of defense recommended the closure of Fort Gillem as part of the federal government’s Base Realignment and Closure plan. Fort McPherson and the Navy Supply Corps School in Athens were slated for closure as well. An exit ceremony was held at the base on June 3, 2011, and troops from the First Army were transferred to Rock Island, Illinois. The criminal forensic laboratory remains open.