Fort Hood 74th anniversary

FILE - Soldiers and local dignitaries watch a video about the history of Fort Hood on Sept. 16, 2016, at III Corps Headquarters during a celebration of the post's 74th anniversary.

Herald file photo

Fort Hood grew from a World War II tank destroyer training site in 1942 to one of the premier Army posts in the nation.

While its soldier population has gone up and down over the decades, the post forever changed the history of Killeen, Copperas Cove, Harker Heights and much of the Central Texas region.

Nowadays, nearly 36,000 troops and their families live on or near Fort Hood. And on Sept. 18, Fort Hood will celebrate its 75th anniversary since its inception as “Camp Hood” in 1942.

Army units based at Fort Hood have come and gone over the years: the 1st Armored Division, 2nd Armored Division, 4th Infantry Division. Many, like the 1st Cavalry Division, which played a key role in Vietnam and Iraq, moved to the post decades ago and are still here. The post is nicknamed The Great Place after its reputation for great Army training.

It has nearly 200,000 acres devoted to live-fire training ranges and maneuver areas for Army vehicles, such as Abrams battle tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Strykers.

While the number of military personnel, their families and civilian contractors account for more than 61,000 people who use the post to live and work, Fort Hood impacts nearly 385,000, including many retirees and area residents in Central Texas who use the post’s $534 million state-of-the art hospital, shopping opportunities or other amenities, according to Fort Hood statistics.

On Sept. 17, in honor of the diamond anniversary of such an important entity in the Central Texas region, the Herald will publish a magazine celebrating all things Fort Hood.

Many famous former soldiers, such as baseball legend Jackie Robinson and the “king” himself, Elvis Presley, have called Fort Hood home in the past.

Some Fort Hood personnel have made a huge impact on the community. They include retired Gen. Robert M. Shoemaker. Others are part of local legend, such as Capt. Robert “Bob” Manning Gray, a native of Killeen who flew in the storied Doolittle Raid the same year Fort Hood was established.

Many facets of the post’s history will be highlighted in the anniversary publication. They include how 300 families were displaced without protest to form the installation, the formation of the 761st Tank Battalion — an all-African-American unit — and the utilization of the post to house German prisoners of war during World War II.

For these and other stories celebrating Fort Hood’s 75th anniversary, look for the Sept. 17 edition of the Killeen Daily Herald. | 254-501-7554

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