When I close my eyes and think about Fort Hood, the vision that stands out in my mind is an action-packed one.
That vision is one tankers will know all too well, and I’m sure it’s something other soldiers can also appreciate.
What is this vision I speak of?
Drumroll, please ….
Sitting in the cramped gunner’s seat of the an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank, the tank commander's voice comes through clear over my combat vehicle crew helmet.
“Gunner. Sabot. Tank.”
Seconds later, I pull the trigger, sending a lightning-fast, armor-piercing sabot round downrange and through a pop-up, plywood cut-out of a tank. More green-painted plywood targets pop up, and one by one, tank round after fired tank round, they go down.
Afterwards the tank crew shuffles out of the tank to talk about the run, the score — and they’re a more lethal fighting force than they were yesterday.
That’s really what Fort Hood is all about: training. Great training. Hence, the nickname the “Great Place.”
That fact isn’t lost on me as a journalist. I started a new job as the Fort Hood Herald editor and Killeen Daily Herald military editor last week, and I feel as if I’ve been given the keys to a very expensive sports car.
No. Correction: I’ve been given the keys to a military-themed monster truck.
It’s quite an opportunity, and certainly something I never envisioned when I was an 18-year-old private driving through the gates of Fort Hood for the first time on Jan. 3, 1994.
I learned a lot about tanks, Fort Hood, hard work and life during my enlistment here. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Since moving back to Central Texas nearly three years ago, I’m still learning how Fort Hood ticks, what the issues are and what type of articles people want to read.
Bring me your news tips, story ideas and I’ll do my best to get it in the paper.
I’m here to tell the story of the Great Place.
Jacob Brooks, a former Army tanker, is the Fort Hood Herald editor and military editor of the Killeen Daily Herald. He was stationed at Fort Hood and served with the 1st Cavalry Division from 1993 to 1996. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7468.