Fort Hood has come a long way during its more than 75 years – from rolling Central Texas farmlands to the Army’s premier training facility of today’s Soldiers – and that growth continues. Fort Hood is located in southwestern Bell and southeastern Coryell counties in Central Texas. Most of the 218,000 acres owned by the United States Army is located in Coryell County. On January 14, 1942, at the beginning of United States involvement in World War II, it was announced that a tank destroyer tactical and firing center would be established near Killeen, Texas.
The 1950s and 1960s saw continued expansion as Fort Hood welcomed III Corps Headquarters and the 1954 arrival of the post’s second division when the 4th Armored Division joined the newly-reactivated 1st Armored Division.
With the Korean War in the 1950s, followed in 1965 by the Vietnam War as well as the ongoing Cold War and its inherent threat of atomic weapons, Fort Hood’s massive range lands were ideal to conduct the heavy, mounted warfare training. Training ramped up and the 1940’s considerations of Camp Hood being only a temporary post were abolished when Fort Hood was established as a permanent installation in 1950.
Along with more troops, Families of Soldiers began moving onto the installation in the 1960s and 1970s.
More housing was added, as well as a commissary and a new hospital to help support those Families.
That relationship with the community evolved into a close one and continues to this day with military and civilian personnel working together in many endeavors.
As Vietnam was winding down, divisions and smaller units moved in and out of Fort Hood, most notable was the 1st Cavalry Division’s assignment to the Great Place following most of the division’s return from Vietnam in 1971.
Throughout the remainder of the 1970s and into the 1980s, training was steady at Fort Hood and more facilities were constructed to accommodate that training. St. Elijah Modern Operations on Urban Terrain, Fort Hood’s first MOUT site, was built in the 1980s as a mock European village, complete with buildings representing gas stations and retail facilities to train Soldiers for missions within a city. Since that time, other MOUT sites have been added across the range areas to replicate Iraqi and Afghan villages for the current operating environments.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Fort Hood Soldiers participated in operations in Bosnia, Somalia and the first Gulf War. Fort Hood Soldiers deployed and played an active role in Desert Storm and Desert Shield in the early 1990s. After a seemingly easy victory in Iraq during the Gulf War, Fort Hood continued to build its strength.
This also was the Army’s age of digitization, first with the M1A2 Abrams tank, and later on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. That digitization continues to this day as the service adopts new vehicles and updates others.
As the 1990s gave way to the new millennium, Fort Hood and its Soldiers and Families would see dramatic changes in the fall of 2001. When the Sept. 11 attacks happened, Soldiers and Families at Fort Hood were immediately affected. The Soldiers left the motor pools and training areas behind, and focused on readiness for the imminent deployment to the Middle East. While most of the Army thought the 1st Cavalry Division would be deploying immediately, the 4th Infantry Division ended up deploying before 1st Cav. Div., being the first to deploy in the Global War on Terrorism to leave.
In the following years, there would be an inflow of Soldiers coming to the Great Place to answer the nation’s call and head not only to Iraq, but also Afghanistan. Operation Iraqi Freedom ended when U.S. troops left Iraq in December of 2011; Operation Enduring Freedom refers to many branches of the war under the GWOT, including Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines and more; and Operation New Dawn began in September of 2012 when the end of OEF was in sight. Fort Hood Soldiers and the rest of the U. S. military are still serving overseas as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in the Middle East and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
On post, Fort Hood is continually adapting and growing to meet the needs of those Soldiers as they return home, and to support their Families. That support has been visible over the years in the new child development centers, a new Post Exchange facility, new stadium and the state-of-the-art Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.
Fort Hood is now the largest active duty armored post in the U.S. Armed Forces. There are nearly 40,000 Soldiers who work on Fort Hood. The Soldiers of Fort Hood are infantrymen, cavalrymen, and tankers. They are engineers, mechanics and health care professionals. They are the life of Fort Hood. Their training gives Fort Hood its purpose, just as Camp Hood troops did back in 1942. They are part of what has made Fort Hood the “Great Place" for more than seven decades.