The complete base guide to Joint Base Lewis McChord - We Are The Mighty
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The complete base guide to Joint Base Lewis McChord

Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) is in Pierce County, Washington. There’s a lot to love about this post – no matter if you’re on the Air Force side or you work and live on the Army side. The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the freshest air around and outdoor enthusiasts will definitely get their fill of skiing, snowboarding, and everything in between. Oregon and Canada are both a short drive away, and you have endless options in nearby Seattle and Tacoma. Read on to find out more about Joint Base Lewis McChord and why it might just be the best-kept secret in the DoD. 

Overview

Often called the premier installation of the Pacific Northwest, this joint base provides support to more than 40,000 service members and nearly 15,000 civilian workers. It’s home to the 62nd Airlift Wing and the Army’s First Corps. JBLM includes four areas: Lewis Main, Lewis North, McChord Field, and Yakima Training Center. There are nearly 400,000 acres of land across the installation. 

A heads up on Joint Base Lewis McChord weather. It rains here – a lot. Expect a rainy season from about September through the end of May. It’s not always a torrential downpour though. Think of it more as a fine mist that you’ll soon grow to love. Warmer temps happen toward the end of June and reach the upper 70s. This is definitely an installation where you want to bring your wet-weather gear! 

Joint Base Lewis McChord Location

JBLM is located right in the middle of the Puget Sound Region.  

vehicle at Joint Base Lewis McChord
Several of the participants gather for a photo with the U.S. Army Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, an American term for vehicles that are designed specifically to withstand improvised explosive device attacks and ambushes, at the conclusion of the 2nd annual Joint Base Lewis-McChord Clergy Day at the Four Chaplains Memorial Chapel, JBLM, May 18, 2015.

Directions

Located just about 50 miles south of Seattle, Washington, JBLM is super easy to spot. That’s because I-5 divides the installation in half. 

If you’re driving, take exit 120 and follow the signs.

Driving from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is easy, too. Take 1-5 south toward Tacoma and stay on until you reach exit 125. Follow the signs and you’ll be on base in no time. 

Transportation

It’s easy to reach JBLM. In fact, you can arrive via train, plane, or car.

The closest Amtrak train station is in Tacoma and it’s about 10 miles from base.

If you fly, you’ll land at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. It’s about 30 miles from base, but traffic can be heavy. Another option is the King County International Airport but it might be more difficult to get tickets since it’s a smaller airport. Sea-Tac is probably your best bet. 

Gates and Hours

With an installation this massive, it’s no surprise that JBLM has several entry points. In fac, there are fifteen in all. Right now, three are closed. 

Lewis Main

Dupont Gate – Open 0500 to 2100 Monday through Friday and 0900 to 1700 Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays.

East Gate – Open 24/7

Liberty Gate – Open 24/7

Logistics Center POV/CVIP – Open 0500 to 1800 Monday through Friday.

Madigan MAMC Gate – Open 24/7

MAMC Gate (CVIP) – Open 24/7 on Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays, and nights only during the week, from 1830 to 0500.

RCF Gate – Open 0500 to 0800 Monday through Friday (inbound only) and 1500 to 1900 Monday through Friday (outbound only).

Transmission Line Gate (ASP) – Open 0500 to 1300 Monday through Friday.

Visitor Control Center – Open 0500 to 2200, seven days a week.

Lewis North

41st Division Gate – Open 24/7.

Integrity Gate (POV/CVIP) – Open 0500 to 2100 Monday through Friday and 0800 to 2100 Saturday, Sunday and federal holidays, with CVIP open 0500 to 1300 Monday through Friday.

McChord Field

Barnes Gate – Open 0500 to 2000 seven days a week.

Main Gate – Open 24/7

Visitor Center – Open 0600 to 1930 seven days a week.

Woodbrook Housing Gate – Open 0500 to 0800 and 1500 to 1800 Monday through Friday and 0800 to 1700 Saturday, Sunday, and federal holidays.

starbucks at Joint Base Lewis McChord
Michele Caputo, Starbucks district manager, sits behind a Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher during a leadership conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. James J. Bunn)

Contacts at Joint Base Lewis McChord

Army Career & Alumni Program (ACAP) (253) 967-3258

ACS (Army Community Service) (253) 967-7166

Barracks/Single Service Member Housing (253) 967-7004

Base Operator (253) 967-1110

Beachwood School-Age Center (253) 967-2600

Beauty/Barber Shops (253) 964-3252

Chapels (253) 967-4849

Child and Youth Registration and Referral (253) 967-2494

Civilian Personnel Advisory Center (253) 967-2131

Clarkmoor Child Development Center (253) 967-2300

Commissary (253) 966-3141

Dental Clinics (253) 968-1240

EFMP Family Support (253) 967-9704

Employment Readiness Program (253) 967-3538

Family Center (253) 967-7166

Family Child Care (253) 967-2494

Hospital/Medical Treatment Facility (253) 968-1110

Household Goods/Transportation Office (253) 477-5446

Housing Office/Government Housing (253) 967-5165

ID/CAC Card Processing (253) 967-5065

Information and Referral Services (253) 967-7166

Inprocessing (253) 967-3995

Legal Services/JAG (253) 966-7526

Leisure Travel Center (253) 967-3085

Library (253) 967-7736

Morale, Welfare & Recreation (253) 967-5200

Loan Closet (253) 967-3645

Madigan Army Medical Center (253) 968-1370

Madigan Child Development Center (253) 967-2800

Main Youth Center/ Sports (253) 967-4441

Military Clothing Sales (253) 964-3966

Non-Appropriated Funds (NAF) (253) 967-7776

North Fort Youth Center (Middle School and Teen Center)(253) 966-7166

Operation: Red Dot Real Estate (253) 300-6300

Outprocessing (253) 967-2975

Relocation Readiness Program (RRP) (253) 967-3628

School Liaison Office (253) 967-7195

Stone Education Center (253) 967-7174

Temporary Lodging/Billeting (253) 964-0211

VA Facilities (253) 582-8440

Waller Hall (253) 967-7446

Welcome/Visitors Center (253) 967-7446

soldier at Joint Base Lewis McChord
U.S. Army Cpl. Franco asks a question about the Army Combatives Program to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III during a town hall meeting in Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 26, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade/ Released)

Mission and Units

JBLM is home to many Air Force and Army units. The most notable are the 62nd Airlift Wing and the Army’s First Corps. 

The 62nd Airlift Wing, along with the 446th Airlift Wing fly 40 C-17 Globemaster IIIs to provide combat airlift support. Additionally, the installation is home to the Western Air Defense Sector, an Air National Guard unit;. You’ll also find the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron and the 361st Recruiting Squadron on base. Here’s everything you might want to know about the C-17 Globemaster.  

The First Corps’ mission is to “deploy, fight, and win” in any environment. This is achieved by driving deployment readiness and shaping the battlefield. Subordinate commands of the First Corps include the 7th Infantry Division, the 25th Infantry Division (Schofield Barracks, HI) and U.S. Army Alaska.

Joint Base Lewis McChord History

Because JBLM didn’t exist until 2010, its history feels both new and old. Life at the installation started in 1930 when the Army Air Corps established Tacoma Field. 

Then in 1940, the airfield was renamed to honor Col. William McChord. Before America entered WWII, the War Department used the airfield as an internal security installation. Of course, the Pearl Harbor bombing changed all that. McChord Field was quickly equipped with bombardment units for anti-submarine patrols. In fact, a few months after the attack at Pearl Harbor, a McChord bomber sunk a Japanese submarine with four bombs. Many McChord units deployed to the Pacific Theater in support of the Doolittle Raids. This is how Jimmy Doolittle almost blew the cover on America’s biggest WWII secret.

In 1947, the Air Force became its own branch. That same year, the newest DoD branch officially established McChord Air Force Base. 

warrior zone Joint Base Lewis McChord
On Jan. 27, 2012, the grand opening of Building 11592 Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington 98433 Warrior Zone is a 29,000 sq. ft., state of the art facility featuring fifty three HDTV’s, sixteen gaming stations, pool tables, out door patio area with fire pit for soldiers to enjoy.

Things to Do Around Joint Base Lewis McChord

Shockingly beautiful nature? Check. Outdoor activities? Check. Vibrant foodie scene? Also, check. JBLM is home to some of the best recreational activities you’ll find near a DoD installation. In fact, you’ll never run out of things to do.            

Hotels

Best Western Liberty Inn Dupont (253) 912-8777

Candlewood Suites Lakewood, an IHG Hotel (253) 584-0686

Days Inn by Wyndham Lakewood South Tacoma (253) 292-2872

Holiday Inn Tacoma Mall (253) 548-1212

TownePlace Suites Tacoma Lakewood (253) 582-1055

Food Scene

Just get your extra PT time planned before you head out on any food tours because you’re going to want to eat everything! The PNW has a thriving food scene that features food from everywhere around the world. Of course since it’s Washington, there are tons of great coffee shops all around. Don’t skimp on the luxury of a long brunch. You’ll thank yourself for it later. Since you’re in the Evergreen State, you won’t want to miss out on fresh seafood including salmon and crab. Be sure to try a razor clam. It’s native only to the upper Pacific Coast, so you won’t find it anywhere else. Be sure to sample the state’s famous cherries and apples, too!

Activities

As soon as you have your POV, head up to the majestic Cascade Mountains, or visit the region’s most recognizable landmark, Mt. Rainier. If you’re ready to stretch your wings a little further, drive two hours south to Portland, Oregon and check out all that town has to offer. Or maybe spend the day flying kites and eating snow cones at family-friendly Ocean Shores, where you can drive your vehicle directly onto the beach.

Joint Base Lewis McChord Housing

Housing wait times at JBLM can be very long, especially if you’re PCSing in peak season. The best thing to do is get your name on a wait list as soon as you can. Housing in the greater Tacoma Seattle area can be expensive, so living on post might be the most economical for you and your family.  

Like nearly all DoD installations, Joint Base Lewis McChord housing is privatized. Liberty Military Housing owns and manages housing on post. In addition to updates to all existing housing, the company is also constructing new housing. There are 22 neighborhoods to choose from, each with its own distinct flair. Talk to the MHO for more information. 

All Airmen E1-E4 and some E5s are required to live in the barracks.  

Schools Near Joint Base Lewis McChord

Mil-kids have access to both on and off installation schools. Preschool and elementary schools are available on the installation. However, junior high students attend Woodbrook Middle School. High school students will attend Clover Park High School or Lakes High School. Private school options are also available.

If you live off post, your children will attend school in the community closest to where they live. If you wish to homeschool your child, you need to register with the district. Speak with the School Liaison Office for more information. 

street at Joint Base Lewis McChord
Col. Nicole Lucas, Joint Base Garrison Commander (left), and Command Sgt. Maj. Mulryan, Joint Base Command Sergeant Major (right) stand with family members during a ceremony naming streets after World War II Medal of Honor recipients 1st Lt. Arnold Bjorklund, 1st Lt. Orville Bloch, and 1st Lt. Victor Kandle, on August 31, 2017 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. (US Army Photo by Sidney Lee, Enterprise Multimedia Center, JBLM)

Frequently Asked Questions

What do they do at Joint Base Lewis-McChord?

Training is an integral part of life at JBLM. In fact, there are more than 50 training areas, more than 90 ranges, and options for desert, woodland, and amphibious training capabilities. 

What units are at Joint Base Lewis-McChord?

The 62nd Airlift Wing and the Army’s First Corps are both at the installation. There are several other tenant units as well, including the 75th Army Rangers Regiment. 

What city is Joint Base Lewis-McChord in?

JBLM is in Pierce County. The closest major cities are Tacoma and Seattle. 

Where does Fort Lewis deploy to?

Service members stationed at JBLM deploy to wherever they’re needed around hte world. 

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