Fort Hood celebrates 75 years since Camp Hood formed
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Fort Hood celebrated its 75th anniversary with the help of community leaders, military officials and neighbors at Club Hood Monday morning.
Fort Hood began as Camp Hood in 1942, the home of the Tank Destroyer Tactical Firing Center, when the federal government transformed 108,000 acres of Central Texas farming land into the military installation, named after Confederate General John Bell Hood.
Now, Fort Hood is the largest active duty armored post, covering over 218,000 acres, and is home to over 20 major commands with a military population of more than 40,000 soldiers and a support population of nearly 400,000 to include civilians, family members and retirees.
The anniversary celebration’s guest speakers included state Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Temple, and Maj. Gen. Eric C. Peterson, First Army Division West commander. Peterson was later joined by Command Sgt. Maj. Maurice Jackson, deputy Fort Hood garrison commander Keith M. Gogas and Sgt. Maj. Ronald G. Patterson to cut the ceremonial cake before the showing of a film about the history of the military installation.
In the film, III Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, alongside Command Sgt. Maj. Michael A. Crosby, shared a message about what makes Fort Hood “the Great Place”.
“As we celebrate this milestone event, I’d like to highlight that the reason Fort Hood is ‘the Great Place’ is because of its remarkable people, it’s long and storied history and its bright future,” Funk stated. “The people of Fort Hood, to include soldiers, civilians, families, and residents of our Texas communities, are in every way first-class. There’s a sense of collective pride that is felt as soon as you drive in the gates. Soldiers are proud to be assigned here and they take the time to become integrated into every facet of life in our local communities.”
Funk’s father, retired Lt. Gen. Paul “Butch” Funk, who commanded III Corps and Fort Hood from 1993 to 1995, shared his thoughts on the 75th anniversary and about the changes that Fort Hood has gone through.
“Remember when they said ‘If the Army wanted you to have a wife, they’d have issued you one?’. Those were the days, I promise you,” Funk said.
The younger Funk was born at Fort Hood in 1962, during a shift so busy that he was almost born in the hallway, Funk said.
Funk said that his son being the commander of the III Corps and Fort Hood during the 75th anniversary is great for their family.
“We’re awful proud of him and he’s pretty proud of Fort Hood too, as you can tell,” Funk said. “When he talks about it, it’s genuine.”
Funk said they’d come back to Fort Hood three separate times and that it has gone through a lot of changes.
“When we came here in 1962, I promise you when you came over the Nolanville hill, there weren’t nearly the number of lights out there at night that there are now,” he said.
With all of the changes Fort Hood has gone through, Funk said the local communities have recognized the importance in keeping families in the area, for the economy and for the families themselves.
“I think pretty famously this community does a pretty darn good job reaching out and trying to help the young families that are left here when their husband gets on that airplane that’s lately been heading east,” Funk said.
Surrounding Fort Hood are several communities directly and indirectly impacted by the post: Copperas Cove, Killeen, Gatesville, Harker Heights, Belton, Temple and Lampasas, as well as other communities further away.
Fort Hood contributes more than $35 billion annually to the local economy and serves a population of more than 400,000 people, as noted in the Texas House of Representatives H.C.R. 111, which was introduced by state Rep. Shine to commemorate the Diamond anniversary of Fort Hood.
U.S. Representative Roger Williams (R-Austin) also honored Fort Hood’s anniversary when he took to the House floor the previous week.
Copperas Cove mayor Frank Seffrood had only good things to say about the anniversary celebration.
“It’s great when you have places like this to celebrate because had we not had places like this to celebrate, we might be celebrating some holidays we didn’t know existed,” Seffrood said.
Seffrood said he has been associated with Fort Hood since 1974 and has witnessed the many changes over the years.
He admitted that when he was on active duty, he tried avoiding Fort Hood because he’d heard so many bad things, but once he got to the area, he never left. He also spoke of the respect that Fort Hood demands and the impact it has on every person who rotates through.
“Fort Hood is titled correctly ‘The Great Place,’ because it is,” Seffrood said.