NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The installation is holding an open house for the public to learn more about the base’s impact in Hampton Roads and in our nation.

“A lot of people know we’re here but other than driving by a sign on I-64, a lot of people haven’t had the opportunity to see what makes Fort Eustis great,” said Colonel Jennifer Walkawicz, the commander for the 733rd Mission Support Group.

The base started out as a camp during World War I after Army leaders saw a need for better trained heavy artillery soldiers.

The camp needed to be near Fort Monroe, where the Coast Artillery had its headquarters.

“Back in 1918, the federal government bought the land on Mulberry Island and formed Camp Eustis,” Walkawicz said.

The camp trained 20,000 people during World War I and eventually became Fort Eustis and then Joint Base Langley Eustis.

Walkawicz says the base has provided in every conflict since.

“Vietnam and Korea, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom), OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom), the current conflicts. This is our opportunity to say thank you to the Hampton Roads community for their support over 100 years,” she said.

Walkawicz says she loves the base and everything it has to offer, from the shores to the hiking trails to the Matthew Jones House, which is believed to be one of the oldest buildings owned by the Department of Defense.

But, she says it’s the diversity of units, squads, and tasks that make Fort Eustis unique.

“We have the Army’s navy with the 7th Transportation Brigade, the 128th Aviation Brigade that trains all the aviation rotary mechanics for the Army, the 4 star headquarters Training and Doctrine Command. It truly is a mixture of organizations and units that make America’s army great,” she said.

Walkawicz says 20,000 strong use the base for work or call it home.

And, they’re thankful it’s here in Hampton Roads.

“It’s a great community and we’re lucky to be a part of this area,” she said.

The installation is open to the public on Saturday, July 28.

To learn more about the activities and events scheduled, visit