For decades, soldiers in the U.S. Army learned military navigation using a very specific map. Today, that map is burned in the memories of generations of service members. And it happens to be a map of a tiny town in Washington called Tenino.
“It’s a topographical map, its scale is 1:50,000 … and up until about 2012, everybody in the army knew the Tenino Map Sheet,” said John Millard, a military veteran who used the map in training in the 1980s.
It didn’t matter if you were stationed in Washington or California or North Carolina — they all used the same map.
So it was a bit surreal when, in 1999, John came home from a trip overseas and his wife told him she’d found their new house.
“I said, ‘where is it?’ And she said, ‘It’s in Tenino!’ And I said, ‘Great! Our address is going to be a grid coordinate!’” Millard said.
Millard told Sound Effect what it was like for that iconic map to morph into his real-life, three-dimensional hometown, and what it means that civilian folks in Tenino are barely aware of their very specific notoriety.