U.S. Military and the Panama CanalPresented by the Panama Canal Museum
The armed forces of the United States have been an integral part of the history of the Canal Zone and Panama. With the construction of the Panama Canal the US Military had a very important role. The governor of the Canal Zone has always been a Major General in the US Army. The head engineer, head of the Marine Bureau and many of the heads of various departments in the Health Bureau and Gorgas Hospital were military officers.
The US Coastal Artillery came into its own when fortifications were built for the emplacement of long-range artillery to protect the Panama Canal. Fort Randolph, Fort Sherman and Fort DeLesseps on the Atlantic side and Fort Amador and Fort Kobbe on the Pacific side housed the biggest guns in the US arsenal for the defense of the Canal.
The US Navy had major installations at Coco Solo, Rodman and the 15th Naval District.
Air power was projected from France Field, Albrook, Howard and many auxiliary air fields in and around the Canal Zone.
The greatest presence of the military in the Canal Zone came about during WWII when the protection of the Canal and the transit from ocean to ocean of the US fleet, and the movement of troops to the Pacific war areas became vital.
With the exception of Operation Just Cause in 1989-1990 when the largest force since WWII ousted the Noriega regime, the signing of the 1979 treaty commenced a drawdown of the US military in the Canal Zone that lasted until the end of the century.
SOLDIERS, SAILORS AND AIRMEN, YOU DID YOUR JOB WELL AND FOR THAT YOU HAVE OUR THANKS.