Leaving Fort Hood today

I’ve been at Fort Hood, Texas, for two weeks now working at an exercise.  When I first got here, I thought that Hood was a miserable, bleak place.  I still think so, but I have to admit there are a few good things on this base.

Fort Hood, located outside of Killeen, is the largest army post in the United States and the only two-division post in the United States, and is the home of III Corps.  It has about 30,000 soldiers.  Some of the units here are:

III Corps
1st Cavalry Division
4th Infantry Division
3d Armored Cavalry Regiment
41st Fires Brigade
13th Sustainment Command

Here are some specific complaints about Fort Hood.  It is the largest base in the world, which means that it is so big that it is impossible to walk from one place to another.  The main part of the installation is approximately 5 miles across, and the surrounding parts are much larger.  Our barracks are a 20-minute bus ride from the place where we work.  The first week, I tried to walk around from one place to another.  After spending a half hour trying to walk it, I gave up and finally was able to hitch a ride from a friendly fellow soldier.  Walking is hard enough due to the fact that most of the sidewalks are crumbling, uneven, and very often come to an end without warning.

Typical Fort Hood Sidewalk:

We had to work in a miserable, crumbling old building, which is here (the middle building  in this pic):

In addition to the great distances, there are several other unpleasant things about this base.  Traffic is fairly heavy on weekdays, especially before and after PT in the morning.  It’s also a fairly loud place.  In addition to revile being played on loudspeakers at 6:30AM and 5PM, they play rock music very loudly on low-fidelity speakers during PT from 6:30 to 7:30 every morning.  There are constantly helicopters flying overhead, and there is a train track close to the base where trains blast their horns all day long, as they travel right past residential areas including my barracks building.

The community of Killeen, right outside the base, is a place that is miserable in the extreme.  Immediately outside the gate are pawn shops, military surplus stores, strip clubs, and massage parlors that are fronts for prostitution.  Locals say that crime is high, mostly fueled by the military population and those who prey on it.  There are plenty of fat, lazy DA civilians here who have a generally hostile attitude towards soldiers.

Not everything is bad here, of course.  A serendipitous thing happened last week.  I got a ride from a sergeant who I picked at random (remember, it’s impossible to walk anywhere, so I have to bum rides all the time), and it turns out that he and I both worked at the 311th COSCOM in West Los Angeles a couple of years ago.  It was amazing that he recognized me.  In general, the military folks on Fort Hood are OK.  Our unit has received very generous training support from the units here at Hood, and I’ve even gotten special visits from other JAG officers including one MAJ Bell who came from First Army at Fort Carson, CO, just to meet with me and give me some training and reference materials.

Another good thing about Fort Hood is that it has two interesting museums.  The 1st Cavalry Division has its own museum, and the 4th Infantry Division has its own, separate museum (which will move when 4ID moves to Fort Carson, Colorado).  Scores of military vehicles and artillery pieces lay outside both museums, and they both have interesting exhibits on the history of the respective divisions.  My best photos of these divisions are here:

We are going to stay at Hood for a few days longer than expected, which will be good.  I prefer my private room with shared bathroom to the 16-man tent in the desert.  So in that respect, Fort Hood is better than some other places I could be.  One final good thing is the food, which is well received by all.  Here’s a picture of our dining facility (or DFAC):

Goodbye Fort Hood!  I will probably never see you again.


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