The map that made tiny Tenino, Washington 'Army famous' | KNKX

The map that made tiny Tenino, Washington 'Army famous'

Nov 16, 2019


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. 

Excerpt from the Tenino Map Sheet

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. 


John Millard with his copy of the Tenino map.
Credit Posey Gruener / KNKX