Tour of Fort Hood, TX
So you’re stuck in Killeen, TX, now what? I know, let’s go play on the Army Base!
Who knew you could actually do that!
Last week I spent the whole week in Killeen, Texas with my son’s baseball team while they tried to win their State championship tournament, which they did by the way. But since he was not playing ball all-day-everyday, that left us trying to find things to do that preferably didn’t cost too much. Imagine my surprise when somebody brought up the idea that you could tour Fort Hood.
Well being the right-wing, war mongering extremist that some think I am, I couldn’t pass this up, and I have to admit, it was fun.
To my surprise once they let you on the base you’re pretty much free to drive where you want. Places you can’t drive are well posted and guarded so chances are you won’t go wondering off into the line of fire on an artillery range somewhere, I don’t think. To get on the base though there is a bit of a wait, after all, this is a government installation, nothing there is going to happen quickly. So we went to the Visitors Center, took our number and sat down for a while, not too long thank goodness. When it’s your turn you take you drivers license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance to one of the nice young soldiers working the desk, after they verify who you are and I’m sure, double check the terrorist watch list, you get issued your temporary pass. Now you take your pass and get back into your vehicle and drive to the main gate where another soldier verifies you’re still you, gives you and your vehicle the once-over, then lets you pass into the largest operational military base on the planet.
Oh sure, I was cool and collected on the outside, but that little kid in me was squealing with delight as we drove through the main gate that day.
We had a map of the base from the Visitors Center but you know guys and maps, who needs ’em! OK, I do, but seriously we just started driving all over the base, taking pictures, still amazed that they would let us on the installation in the first place.
You notice very quickly that Fort Hood really is a city within a city. Killeen and Fort Hood are about the same size, although I think Fort Hood has Killeen beat in sheer land though. Fort Hood has it’s own fire department and police, it’s own airport where the mighty 21st Cavalry Brigade takes care of their AH64 Apache Gunships. (That’s a bad to the bone chopper.) Plus golf course, recreation facilities, restaurants, hospital, dental center, you name it. They even have their own shopping exchange, which we found out we could look around in, but you can’t buy anything unless you have a military ID.
One of the first things we found is what’s known as Motor Pool Row, as you drive up Hell on Wheels Ave. then back down North Ave. the number of tanks, hummers, artillery and support vehicles, even motorized bridges on tracks is simply staggering. Hundreds, maybe thousands of desert tan armored titans ready to go to war at any time. HOOAH! Do a little zooming in on that Google Map below and you will see what I mean.
Fort Hood, TX is home to;
- 1st Cavalry Division
- 3rd Cavalry Regiment
- 4th Battalion, 5th Air & Missile Defense Regiment
- 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)
- 21st Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat)
- 36th Engineer Brigade
- 41st Fires Brigade
- 48th Chemical Brigade, 20th SUPCOM
- 89th Military Police Brigade
- 120th Infantry Brigade
- 407th Army Field Support Brigade
- 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade(BfSB)
- Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center Division West, First Army
- Great Plains Regional Dental Command
- Operational Test Command (OTC) U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Fort Worth District
Eventually we found the museum and static displays which unfortunately you can’t play on, but they’re still great fun to look at and take copious amounts of pictures of.
Inside there are many displays of the history of Fort Hood and 1st Cav but the funny thing to me is how easily my 10-year-old son and I can identify different weapons and eras they were used in. My wife just rolls her eyes.
A fascinating part of the museum tour is the more modern ‘War on Terror’ section, with loads of displays of modern fighting gear and tactics used in the ongoing struggle against pure evil.
Outside the museum is a very well kept and very large area to show off some of the vehicles that 1st Cav has been using for the last 75 years or so.
Here’s a picture of one that I thought was very cool, the last vehicle out of Iraq. I know this because it says so right on the armor plate.
Overall we spent about 3 or 4 hours walking, driving and eating in and around Fort Hood. It was a fun and educational afternoon and if you’re into the military and history, and you just happen to be near Killeen, Texas, put this side trip on your event calendar. It’s worth your time.
It’s also a great place to be for hug-a-soldier day, they’re everywhere!