Two Rock Ranch began its military career in 1942. In the early months of World War Two, the War Department was searching for a west coast radio monitoring site that was free from electronic and atmospheric interference. The Two Rock area was selected, and in August, the Army purchased nine tracts of ranchland totaling 876 acres at a cost of $97,377. Conversion of the existing buildings commenced immediately and the first personnel, two officers and forty five enlisted men from Ft. Monmouth, NJ arrived in October.
Operations at the station were top-secret and the entire facility was camouflaged so as to appear from the air as just another working ranch. The existing ranch buildings were renovated for operations and administration purposes while billeting consisted of tents. The base water tank was covered with a haystack, false furrows were cut into the fields surrounding the operating buildings and fake farm animals were even placed in a pasture. At the height of operations, the base staff consisted of 600 personnel including 100 Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
After the war’s end the base was transferred to the newly formed Army Security Agency and a program of permanent construction began.
Although its primary duty was as a Signal Intercept Station, training was a function of the base from the beginning. During and after World War Two, radio operator training was conducted for troops headed to the Pacific area. Additionally, during the Vietnam War, a small corner of the base was transformed into a Vietnamese village to train troops headed for Vietnam.
In the late 1960's however, the progress of time and technology caught up with the base. Advances in satellites and other technologies made the listening post obsolete and preparations were made to close the base.
Meanwhile, with the Vietnam War in progress, the Coast Guard faced increased training demands. The Training Center at Governor's Island in New York became overcrowded, so the Coast Guard started looking for a suitable site for a new training center. In the spring of 1971, The Coast Guard learned of the closing of Two Rock Ranch Station. Officials visited the property and were impressed with the station. Although the California Highway Patrol and an Indian group were interested in the land, the Coast Guard was awarded the station. On July 1, the Coast Guard relieved the Army and took possession of the base.
Soon after taking over the property, it was decided that the name "Two Rock Ranch" was not suitable for a Coast Guard Base. In spite of interest in retaining "Two Rock" as part of the new name, the base was renamed Coast Guard Training Center, Petaluma. Interestingly, one reason Petaluma was chosen over Two Rock was that Petaluma appeared on many maps whereas Two Rock did not. This was considered important for Coast Guard members who would be trying to locate the base when traveling to it.
Immediately after the training center opened, Subsistence Specialist School began training Coast Guard cooks. Soon after that, Storekeeper school opened. Approximately 6 months later the Radioman School opened. In April of 1972, less than a year after it opened, the base was fully loaded with students.
However, because of declining budgets and recruiting numbers, TRACEN Petaluma was on the verge of closure twice during the 1990's. From 1995 to 1999 the shadow of closure hung over both the base and the surrounding community. In a sudden reversal of fortune, escalating numbers of recruits reaffirmed the need for the west coast training facility. Then the events of September 11th, 2001 brought a new need for the training center. With the Coast Guard now under the new Department of Homeland Security and enrollment surging, the base was forced to step-up its throughput of students to accommodate the needs of the 21st century Coast Guard.
Located in the rolling hills of the Two Rock Valley, this large training command provides apprentice level training for seven enlisted career fields and manages CG-wide training in leadership and Total Quality Management for personnel at all levels of the organization. The unit provides performance technology courses in basic instructor skills and course designing skills. The Training Center also provides courses for emergency medical technicians, maritime law enforcement, and computer operation and management. The Training Center consists of over 800 acres with 219 buildings, including 129 family units, a fully staffed clinic, a chapel, a small police and fire department, and over 200,000 square feet of training facilities.
Today, the Training Center operates no less than 10 schools offering 50 courses to approximately 4000 students a year. In addition to Coast Guard military and civilian employees, the Training Center also provides training to international students.