State Military Reservation
State Military Reservation is a Virginia Army National Guard facility located just south of the main resort area of Virginia Beach. The facility was originally laid out on approximately 400 acres in 1911 with construction beginning in 1912. Today, SMR occupies approximately 300 acres with an additional 27 acres leased from the federal government.
SMR is defined by the intact landscape created by the dominant building type, World War II-era temporary buildings, and the examples of earlier 20th
century military and residential building types. The post is buffered from the public streets by extensive trees and landscaping, in addition to the required security fencing along the perimeter. The Guard currently leases a number of the buildings, particularly the WWII barracks, to various military and civilian agencies.
The first major building campaign after WWI was the construction of the RED HORSE facilities (1990s) at the north end of Regimental Camp #1 and south of Warehouse Road. The 203rd
REDHORSE Squadron is a construction and repair unit for the Virginia Air National Guard and their headquarters is located at SMR. A memorial is located in this area to honor the airmen from RED HORSE who were killed in an airplane accident returning from training in March 2001. Additional construction projects executed during the late 1990s include an armory at the corner of General Booth Boulevard and Birdneck Road.
Development pressure from the City led to the transfer of some SMR parcels of land from the Guard to the City during the 1990s. These parcels included acreage beyond the original cantonment area of SMR. As a result, the boundaries of SMR incorporate all the land (with the exception of a small tract south of Lake Christine leased from the federal government) between General Booth Boulevard, Birdneck Road, Rifle Range Road, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Croatan neighborhood. A 14.94-acre parcel of land just west of Headquarters Loop along the property boundary at General Booth Boulevard has been leased to the City for use as a parking lot by the Virginia Aquarium.
Despite the few intrusions to the original plan and subsequent configuration of SMR, the integrity of both the architectural resources and cantonment features dating from 1912-1945 have remained intact and well preserved. As a result, the Camp Pendleton/State Military Reservation Historic District was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register
in June 2004 and on the National Register of Historic Places
in September 2005 as the City’s first and only, to date, state and national register historic districts.
The State Military Reservation in Virginia Beach serves as a vital training installation, not just for the Virginia National Guard, but for personnel from all four branches of the military, both active duty and reserve, local and state first responders, and a variety of community organizations. Its prime location is just one reason for its popularity however. The facilities and training aides available, as well as the willingness of its staff, make it a vital training location for its customers.
In addition to the 203rd RED HORSE, a number of other units are stationed at SMR and train there regularly, including the 329th Regional Support Group; 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion; A Troop and C Troop, 2nd Battalion, 183rd Cavalry Regiment; 1173rd Transportation Company; D Company (-), 429th Brigade Support Battalion; 576th Engineer Detachment; Recruit Sustainment Program 9; and the Virginia Defense Force.
The Virginia Guard Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Academy is also located on SMR and their cadets are often seen marching around post.
The Virginia National Guard Funeral Honors Team and the Virginia National Guard Sexual Assault Response Coordinator’s office are among those who regularly train there.
In addition to Army and Air National Guard units, SMR hosts active duty units from all four branches and the U.S. Coast Guard.
It also hosts training by local, state and federal law enforcement officers and first responders. The Virginia State Police, Virginia Beach Police Department, Virginia Beach Fire Department and the Virginia Fire Marshals Academy are just a few of the other agencies who train at SMR.