During World War II, tank destroyers were developed to counter the German blitzkrieg. These were mobile anti-tank guns on armored halftracks. Wide-open space was needed for the tank destroyer testing and training, which Texas had in abundance. Andrew Davis (A.D.) Bruce was assigned to organize a new Tank Destroyer Tactical and Firing Center. He chose Killeen, Texas for the new camp. The War Department announced the selection on January 15, 1942. An initial acquisition of 108,000 acres (437 km²) was made, and it was estimated that the camp would cost $22,800,000 for the land, facilities, and development of utilities. The date of completion was set for August 15, 1942.
About 300 families had to move from their homes to make room for the camp area. Whole communities were uprooted. The communities of Clear Creek, Elijah and Antelope ceased to exist. The old Sugar Loaf community, historically called the "Cradle of Killeen," provided the city with many of its first citizens in 1882. All that remains of the community is the mountain from which it took its name, located in the Fort Hood impact area. To lessen the pain of moving, the Army agreed to allow land to be used for grazing for a nominal grazing fee. This grazing arrangement still continues today.
In mid-August the camp was occupied and the official opening took place on September 18, 1942. Fort Hood was named for the Confederate General John Bell Hood, who gained recognition during the Civil War as the commander of Hood's Texas Brigade.
The original facilities provided housing and training sites for nearly 38,000 troops. In January 1943, an additional 16,000 acres (65 km²) in Bell County and 34,943 acres (141 km²) in Coryell County near Gatesville, Texas were purchased. The site near Gatesville was known as the sub-camp and later as North Fort Hood. During the war years, North Fort Hood housed nearly 40,000 troops and 4,000 prisoners of war, and was the site for the southern branch of the United States Disciplinary Barracks.
At the end of 1942 there were about 45,000 troops living and training at Camp Hood. Camp Hood reached its peak population of almost 95,000 troops in late June 1943. These strengths were maintained until early 1944.
In 1944 the number of tank destroyer battalions in training at Camp Hood declined rapidly. Field artillery battalions and the Infantry Replacement Training Center replaced them in March 1944. By September, the Infantry Center was the largest activity on post, reaching a peak of 31,545 troops. The total camp population on the last day of 1944 was 50,228.
The last year of World War II saw a major shift of emphasis in Camp Hood's mission and a drastic reduction in population. As the war came to an end, the training of troops slowed and equipment reclamation and demobilization planning became the priorities. A separation center was established in September 1945, and as the year ended, post strength had fallen to 1,807 prisoners and about 11,000 troops.
In January 1946, the 2nd Armored Division and 20th Armored Division arrived from overseas. This resulted in only a temporary increase in troop population since the 20th Armored was inactivated on April 2, leaving the 2d Armored Division and its attached units as the only tactical troops at Camp Hood. At the same time, all of the prisoners of war were returned to their homelands. In June, Camp Hood became an installation of the 4th Army, and the commanding general of the major tactical unit, the 2nd Armored Division, also became the commanding general of the post. In the later part of 1946, North Fort Hood was closed and the post population dropped from about 15,000 to less than 5,000. Camp Hood was also named as the permanent home of the 2d Armored Division.
From the end of 1946 to 1950, Camp Hood changed little. The 2d Armored Division was designated as a training unit, and Army Reserve units, the ROTC, and the Texas National Guard used field facilities at the post. West Fort Hood, once called Killeen Base, was constructed in 1947 and manned by U.S. Air Force Personnel. North Fort Hood was reduced in size and used primarily for summer training of National Guard units.
On April 15, 1950, Camp Hood became a permanent installation and was redesignated Fort Hood. During the Korean War years, the post continued its training mission and provided individual replacements for many of the units involved in that conflict.
In mid-1954, III Corps moved from California to Fort Hood. The Corps supervised the training of combat units at Fort Hood and other Fourth Army stations from 1954 to 1959 when III Corps was inactivated. Probably, the most famous trainee to come through Fort Hood was Elvis Presley, arriving on March 28, 1958. Other than receiving record amounts of mail (3-4 bags per day), Presley was treated like all other trainees. On September 19, Presley shipped out for Germany.
Also during this period, the 4th Armored Division was reactivated at Fort Hood and deployed to Germany as part of the "Gyroscope" concept of unit movement.
In September 1961, Fort Hood again became the home for the III Corps, and in February 1962, III Corps was assigned as part of the U.S. Army Strategic Army Corps (STRAC).
In October 1969, Killeen Base was designated as West Fort Hood and the airfield's name was designated as Robert Gray Army Airfield. The base was named after a Killeen native who was killed flying combat missions during World War II. Robert Gray was also a pilot of a B-25 bomber on the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo in 1942. With a redesignation came a change in mission at West Fort Hood. Atomic weapons were removed. They had been secretly kept there since 1947.
During the late 1960s Fort Hood trained and deployed a number of units and individuals for duty in Vietnam. As the United States ended its role in the conflict, thousands of returning soldiers completed their active duty with one of the divisions.
During this time, the post began a modernization effort. In September 13, 1965 Darnall Hospital opened and began providing quality medical care to the Fort Hood community. In 1970, construction began on Palmer Theater and Venable Village was dedicated. Modern barracks were springing up around post. The wood buildings of Fort Hood were quickly being replaced with modern brick structures.
In September 1967, Fort Hood was officially designated a two-division post with the 1st and 2d Armored Divisions.
Since the early 1970s, Fort Hood has played a major role in the training, testing, and introduction of new equipment, tactics, and organizations. A primary player in the test and evaluation mission has been the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Test and Experimentation Command (now the U.S. Army Operational Test Command), located at West Fort Hood. Fort Hood has been instrumental in the fielding of the M1 Abrams tank, M2/3 Bradley Infantry/Cavalry Fighting Vehicle, the Multiple Launch rocket System (MLRS), and the AH-64 Apache helicopter.
In January 1975, the 1st Cav "First Team" was reorganized, as the Army's newest armored division. Since fielding the M-1 Abrams in 1980, force modernization has continued as a major focus. The First Team became the first division to field the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), the Multiple Launch Rocket System and Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) tactical communications.
Upon its return to the United States, the 1st Cavalry Division became the largest division in the Army, with the reactivation of its 3rd "Greywolf" Battle Team May 21, 1991. October 1992 saw the activation of the Engineer Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Through the Engineer Restructuring Initiative, the nucleus of the brigade was formed around the 8th Engineer Battalion. The 20th Engineer Battalion was brought from Fort Campbell, Ky., to join the brigade and the 91st Engineer Battalion was activated to complete the brigade.
In November 1992, the unit designations for the battalions remaining from the former "Tiger' Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division were returned prior to 2nd AD's activation at Fort Hood December 2, 1992. This action was done to realign the historical designations of units to their parent divisions. On November 29, 1992, 3-41 Infantry was designated 1-9 Cavalry, 1-67 Armor to 3-8 Cavalry, and 1-3 Field Artillery to 2-82 Field Artillery. On December 16, 1992, 1st Cavalry Division units designated to accomplish realignments for historical purposes and included 1-32 Armor designated 2-12 Cavalry, 3-32 Armor to 1-12 Cavalry, and Battery A, 333 Field Artillery to Battery B, 26 Field Artillery.
During the post war periods called Operation Desert Calm and Operation Provide Comfort, Fort Hood units continued to serve in the Persian Gulf area. From December 1992 to May 1993, Fort Hood soldiers deployed to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope to command and control the Joint Task Force Support Command. In the fall of 1994, Fort Hood units participated in the largest deployment since Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm executed split base operations in the Caribbean Basin, Central America and Southwest Asia, in support of Operations Vigilant Warrior and Sea Signal V, as well as other contingency operations.
The 4th Infantry Division was selected in 1958 to be the sole infantry component in the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC) and assigned the mission to suppress aggression wherever American interests were threatened.
Twenty-five years after making its home in Colorado, the Ironhorse Division was again restationed to meet the Army's requirements but this move would be quite different from others. The Ironhorse Division became a split-based organization with six brigades and three separate battalions stationed at Fort Hood and the 3rd Brigade Combat Team remaining at Fort Carson.
Since the 1990s, Fort Hood units have supported Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia. In October 1998, The 1st Cavalry Division was the first United States division to assume authority of the Multinational Division (North) area of operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The mission was to conduct operations to enforce the military provisions set forth by the Dayton Peace Accords.
In 1998, the Ironhorse Division was designated to be the Army's first Multi-Component unit. The main objective being to enhance Total Force integration, optimize the unique capabilities of each component, and improve the overall readiness of the Army. The program was developed to leverage the strengths of the Army's three components (active, reserve and National Guard). As such, 515 positions within the division have been designated as reserve component. These positions include individuals, a unit from the Wyoming National Guard and dual-mission units from the Texas National Guard.
In addition to peacekeeping efforts, Fort Hood units routinely participate in national and international disaster relief efforts. Hours after the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, III Corps units were ready to move out to provide assistance. Fort Hood units also aided Managua, Nicaragua, after an earthquake ravaged the city.
During the 1990s, Fort Hood continued an extensive building program to modernize the post. This modernization continues today with emphasis on quality of life, force projection and training. The Robertson Blood Center, Soldier Development Center, and a new commissary at Warrior Way have been completed. Many other improvements were made to improve the Power Projection Mission of the post such as improvements to the railhead and the runway at Gray Army Airfield. Training ranges have been upgraded.
The beginning of 21st century saw modernization in the Army in full swing. Some of these new advances in technology and war fighting include the fielding of the M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank, the M2A2 Operation Desert Storm (ODS) Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the M109A6 Paladin Howitzer, the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, the AH-64D Apache Longbow Helicopter, and the M6 Bradley Linebacker.
Fort Hood was the first installation selected to privatize post housing under the residential communities initiative. Under this initiative, new housing units, remodeled housing and community improvements will be added to the post.
The year 2001 ushered in a new era for Fort Hood as security and the war on terrorism became a prime focus. Fort Hood transitioned from an open to a closed post with the help of military police from reserve units. The 1st Cav sent additional troops to Kuwait as a protective measure against possible aggressive actions from Iraq. The 4003rd Garrison Support Reserve unit fills vacancies left by deploying units at Fort Hood. Fort Hood also has a key role as a training base for mobilizing Reserve and National Guard units to support the Homeland Defense effort.
Many Fort Hood units have deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, and to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 4th Infantry Division was able to capture Saddam Hussein in December 2003. The 1st Cavalry Division will follow on the heels of the 4th Infantry Division as they deploy to Iraq in the spring of 2004.
Today, Fort Hood has nearly 65,000 soldiers and family members and serves as a home for Headquarters III Corps, the 1st Cavalry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 13th Corps Support Command, 3d Signal Brigade, 89th Military Police Brigade, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, 21st Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat), and 31st Air Defense Brigade. Fort Hood also includes Darnall Army Community Hospital and the Medical And Dental Activities as tenant units.
Fort Hood is located at 31°7'48" North, 97°46'49" West (31.130072, -97.780260).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 15.0 square miles (38.8 km²), of which, 14.9 square miles (38.7 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 km²) of it is water. The total area is 0.33% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 33,711 people, 5,819 households, and 5,679 families residing in the CDP. The population density is 2,255.7 people per square mile (870.6/km²). There are 5,941 housing units at an average density of 397.5/sq mi (153.4/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP is 50.73% White, 31.60% African American, 1.21% Native American, 2.13% Asian, 0.84% Pacific Islander, 8.72% from other races, and 4.77% from two or more races. 16.70% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 5,819 households out of which 87.6% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 87.1% are married couples living together, 8.2% have a female householder with no husband present, and 2.4% are non-families. 2.0% of all households are made up of individuals and 0.0% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.92 and the average family size is 3.95.
The age distribution is: 33.3% under the age of 18, 32.3% from 18 to 24, 33.1% from 25 to 44, 1.2% from 45 to 64, and 0.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 21 years. For every 100 females there are 163.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 209.4 males. All these statistics are typical for military bases.
The median income for a household on the base is $32,552, and the median income for a family is $32,296. Males have a median income of $18,884 versus $17,101 for females. The per capita income for the CDP is $11,078. 9.5% of the population and 8.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 11.0% of those under the age of 18 and 25.8% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
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. The two divisions on the base are the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division. 4ID headquarters is scheduled to be moved to Fort Carson, Colorado. 3d ACR has moved from Ft. Carson Colorado to Ft. Hood TX.
Fort Hood is also home to the 13th Sustainment Command, a non-division major subordinate command that provides logistics support to III Corps while in garrison and theater level logistics support while deployed.
Before the breakup of the Soviet Union, Fort Hood was billed as the largest military base in the free world. During peacetime, Fort Hood is a gated post, with two military museums (one for each division), the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area (BLORA), and a number of other facilities that are open to the public. Access to the cantonments became restricted starting on September 12, 2001. However, passes are available to visit the two museums on post, and the lake area remains open to the public without restriction since it is outside the cantonments. Various events, including the annual Independence Day celebration, which has one of the largest fireworks displays in the country, are open to the public.
Shortly after the 2000 census, responsibility for post housing was turned over to a partnership. Under the terms of the contract, most of the housing has been remodeled or rebuilt, and hundreds of new units have been built or are in the process of being built. The 9 schools in Fort Hood are part of the Killeen Independent School District.
Fort Hood is in three sections, consisting of the main cantonment, West Fort Hood, and North Fort Hood. The main cantonment is bounded by Killeen on the east and Copperas Cove on the west. The Fort Hood main cantonment area, otherwise referred to as Main post, holds its own airfield, Hood Army Airfield. North Fort Hood is bounded by Gatesville to the northwest. West Fort Hood, bounded by Killeen and Copperas Cove, includes Fort Hood's second airfield, Robert Gray Army Airfield, which has been expanded for civilian use (Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport (GRK)). To the east and southeast, the reservation is bounded by Harker Heights, Nolanville, Belton, and Morgan's Point Resort.