Killeen, Texas (Fort Hood)


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North America » United States » Texas » Killeen
October 4th 2010
Published: October 20th 2010
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Killeen, a city of 120,000, is located off Interstate 35 about midway between Waco and Austin. It was named after Frank P. Killeen, assistant general manager of the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railway. The city sits adjacent to Fort Hood, which is billed as the most populous military base in the world. There is not much to see in Killeen, however Fort Hood has two military museums which are worth visiting. They are the 1st Cavalry Museum and the 3rd Cavalry Museum.

Fort Hood is named after General John Bell Hood, a Confederate general. Hood was born in Kentucky in 1831 and received an appointment to West Point in 1849. Upon graduation, he was commissioned a Brevet 2nd Lieutenant. His first combat occurred in 1857 with Indians in Texas, a conflict in which he was wounded. In 1860, he was appointed as an instructor at West Point. When the Civil War broke out, he resigned from the U.S. Army and joined the newly formed Army of the Confederacy. After being commissioned a First Lieutenant in Confederate cavalry, he reported to General Robert E. Lee and was promoted to Major and, later, to Colonel in that same year. In 1862, he was promoted to Brigadier General and then to Major General in that same year. In 1864, he was promoted to Lieutenant General. Hood distinguished himself in battle throughout the Civil War and was wounded at Gettysburg. He lost a leg at the Battle of Chickamauga but survived the war. After the war was over, he settled in New Orleans, married, and fathered thirteen children. He died of yellow fever in 1879.

The military post is huge in area and is almost like a small city and probably has everything that a city has such as police and fire departments, hospital, dentists, medical clinics, eating places, etc. The streets have names such as Hell On Wheels Ave, 761st Tank Battalion Avenue, and Old Ironsides Avenue. When driving around the place, one sees large numbers of tanks, armored personnel carriers, humvees, and other pieces of military equipment. Fort Hood was thrust into the headlines in November of 2009 when a mass shooting took place on the post. Thirteen people were killed and thirty others were wounded. The accused perpetrator is U.S. Army Major Nidal M. Hasan, a psychiatrist, who was shot by civilian police and is now paralyzed from the waist down.

The 1st Cavalry Division Museum is easy to spot because of all of the military equipment sitting outside. There must be well over a hundred pieces of equipment and that includes tanks, helicopters, jeeps, trucks, field pieces, and other equipment. I noticed one fixed wing aircraft among the helicopters. Inside the museum are displays which chronicle the history of this division from the early part of the 20th century throughout WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. A separate section covers the division's participation in Iraq and Afghanistan. There's a section covering those who received the Medal of Honor as well as a gift shop.

The 3rd Cavalry Museum can also be easily found because of all of the military equipment sitting outside. This museum contains tanks, armored personnel carriers, field pieces, and military vehicles. I noticed one helicopter and the absence of any fixed wing aircraft. However, the museum has equipment from the Soviet Union, China, Poland, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, and other foreign countries. Like the 1st Cavalry Museum, this museum seems to have around a hundred pieces of equipment sitting outside. The inside of the museum is arranged somewhat differently in its displays. However, it has firearms and other military equipment relating back to the 19th century.

Near III Corps Headquarters is a three-dimensional, life-size sculpture depicting a large draft horse with a dark, imposing rider. This is the Phantom Warrior statue, a menacing armor-clad warrior with a horned helmet mounted on a horse and holding an ax and shield. This statue is another site to visit in addition to the two excellent museums at Fort Hood.


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