Following a year of tragedy is never easy, but 2021 was about renewal at Fort Hood. After a challenging 2020, the team of teams tightened their proverbial boot straps, dusted themselves off and stood back up, ready to show why Fort Hood is known as the Great Place.

People First Center

Fort Hood opened the People First Center, a combined training facility for unit leaders, which focuses on Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, suicide prevention, domestic violence prevention, and substance abuse prevention, among other important topics. The leaders going through the training take the lessons they learned back to the unit level to train their own troops.

“What we want to do is bring back the units and focus on what matters the most, which is people,” Col. William Zielinski, Ready and Resilient director for III Corps and Fort Hood, said in September. “The center is less about a building and more about an opportunity to build a team.”

On Oct. 7, Lt. Gen. Jason Evans, deputy chief of staff, Army G-9 (Installations); and Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, deputy chief of staff, Army G-1, were given a tour of the center. After listening to leaders in the different training aspects of the People First Center, the generals were then given a live-action demonstration focusing on several concerns within the Army.

The demonstration tackled tough issues, such as domestic abuse, alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault and suicide prevention.

Brito said that while other installations have similar training, the intensiveness of the training provided at the People First Center is something that could serve as a model to other installations.

“Watching this training today was very inspiring,” Brito added. “I’ve been in the Army for 34 years now and have seen evolutions of change because of caring leadership and what it can really do, and this is a good example.”

$420 million investment

Lendlease announced a $1.1 billion investment into six of its privatized military housing communities, with Fort Hood Family Housing receiving a majority of the funds at a whopping $420 million over the next five years.

Army senior leaders and representatives of Lendlease celebrated the announcement with the demolition of two homes April 29. After demolition and preconstruction activities, such as water and sewer replacements, nearly 600 new junior enlisted homes will be built in Chaffee Village.

“Those houses are going to be targeted at our junior enlisted Soldiers, which is exactly the right place to put that initial big push,” Col. Chad R. Foster, commander of U.S. Army – Fort Hood, said in August. “These are new Soldiers, many of whom, this is their first or second duty assignment. We already put this massive weight on their shoulders, everything we ask them to do on a daily basis – to protect our country, to support our national security objectives, to deploy, to train – well, the least we can do is give their families a peace of mind and give a high quality, safe place to live.”

The spacious three-bedroom, two and a half bath floorplans will be Energy Star certified and are intended to be designed by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. The homes will offer open floorplans, gathering spaces for families, modern finishes, increased storage and more amenities.

The community development program also includes renovations of more than 1,300 homes, roof replacements in eight communities, exterior paint in four neighborhoods, repaving some roads and installing accessible curb ramps, in compliance with the

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

On Nov. 9, FHFH unveiled a renovated home in Comanche III. The modern renovations included the replacement of interior and exterior doors and trim, fresh two-tone paint, new vinyl plank floors, new lighting fixtures and plumbing fixtures with water conservation benefits. Kitchen upgrades include granite countertops, new cabinets with extra pantry space, and Energy Star® stainless steel appliances. The home also includes a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit, designed for comfort and improved air quality. All 1,300 homes are expected to be complete by 2026.

“It’s making the living experience better for our residents,” Chris Albus, project director for FHFH, said in November. “That’s what I think the goal is for all of us here on Fort Hood – making it truly a Great Place to live.”

FHFH has established a webpage where residents can find a full overview of the community development program, to include scopes of work, timelines and more. It can be found at https://www.forthoodfh.com/community-development.

First Team celebrates centennial

1st Cavalry Division celebrated 100 years of service to the nation with two weeks of events, which culminated with a centennial celebration on Cooper Field Sept. 24.

“This birthday is about remembering our past and remembering our heroes,” Maj. Gen. John Richardson IV, commanding general of 1st Cav. Div., said. “We will live up to the legacy that was set before us.”

The division was formally activated on Sept. 13, 1921, at Fort Bliss. Early duties in West Texas included rough-riding and patrolling the Mexican border. Technological progress of the 1940s diminished the usefulness of horse-mounted Soldiers, and the division turned in its horses and prepared to serve as dismounted cavalry in World War II’s Pacific Theater.

In September of 1945, the division gained its “First Team” moniker by leading occupational forces into Japan’s capital city, earning the distinction of “First in Tokyo.”

During the two-week-long celebration, Richardson and Command Sgt. Maj. Shade Munday, 1st Cav. Div. command team, officially dedicated Battalion Avenue as Legends Way, honoring the legends among the division. Signs denoting the names and heroic acts from 1st Cav. Div.’s 43 Medal of Honor recipients, along with five Medal of Honor recipients from the 9th Cav. Regiment, were spaced every .2 miles, from TJ Mills Boulevard to Clear Creek Road, the stretch of road where a majority of First Team units are located. Legends Way from TJ Mills to Martin Drive was reserved for the remaining Fort Hood units to honor their own heroes.

“Legends Way is a tribute to the past, but is also for our present Soldiers to understand they are part of a great organization,” Lt. Col. Jim Rye, the division’s civil affairs officer and one of the Soldiers who came up with the idea for the name change, explained.

The street renaming process took approximately a year, with Richardson noting the full support they received from the III Corps and Garrison commanders, as well as DPW, which worked hard on Sept. 11 to ensure the street signs said Legends Way during the First Team’s birthday Sept. 13, which kicked off with a cake cutting ceremony.

The centennial celebration on Sept. 24 included a living history presentation, showing how uniforms and weapons have changed throughout the decades. The command team invited retired Command Sgt. Maj. Rory Malloy, reviewing officer of the ceremony, to join them on the field to attach five new campaign streamers to the division colors, representing the Global War on Terrorism.

“Don’t take wearing that CAV patch for granted, especially if you have one on both shoulders,” Malloy told the Soldiers in formation on the field, “for one day, you’ll no longer be able to wear it.”

Winter storm

An unprecedented winter storm blanketed Texas under several inches of snow and ice in February, with Gov. Greg Abbot signing a proclamation signifying a disaster declaration in response to severe weather in Texas for all 254 counties in the state, Feb. 12.

Freezing temperatures wreaked havoc on the water pipes, fire suppression systems and heating systems on the installation, causing $15.3 million in damage on Fort Hood, not including housing on the installation. Water main breaks occurred across Central Texas, with the community urged to conserve water.

Brian Dosa, director of the Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works, said that 16 eight to ten inch water mains broke during the freeze. Additionally, he said breaks in pipes, water-based heating systems and fire suppression systems in buildings caused significant damage to ceilings, floors and walls, as well as items in the affected areas. After repairing water leaks, restoring fire suppression systems, and restoring heat, they began working on the collateral damage caused by the storm.

DPW tracked 40 barracks that suffered from some sort of heating or hot water outages. Two Child Development Centers, the Burba Physical Fitness Center and the clubhouse at Courses of Clear Creek were among the buildings that suffered from flooding. Five Fort Hood schools also suffered damage, with Audie Murphy Middle School and Clarke Elementary hit severely.

Fort Hood’s Directorate of Public Works dealt with many top priority maintenance requests, with more than 400 calls daily, when they typically receive only 40 calls.

The DPW roads and grounds crew worked 12 hours daily clearing roads using construction equipment, followed by spreading layers of sand to help give the roads some traction. Jose Ancira, supervisor for roads and grounds for Fort Hood’s Directorate of Public Works, said they ended up using more than 150 tons of sand on the Fort Hood streets to keep people safe.

“We had to deal with it a little differently,” Ancira said about the winter weather. “We’re not really used to getting snow and ice combined together. This time the ice stuck around and then it snowed on top of the ice … then it rained and froze on top of the other layers.”

He said although Fort Hood has a snow and ice removal plan, the work did not go according to plan because of the severity of the storm and because some employees could not make it into work because of dangerous road conditions across the commuting area. Ancira’s road crew consisted of 13 people, but he said none of it could have been done without the entire DPW team working together.

More than half of the state had lost its power after the initial storm. Although a couple of transformers blew, causing a street to lose power, a majority of the installation continued to have electricity.

Dosa said he’s never seen anything like the storm, even after living in Texas for more than 20 years, so he was impressed by the “tremendous work” of the roads and grounds crew for clearing the snow and ice. He was also impressed that Fort Hood fared so well in the storm.

“We actually made out really well,” Dosa added. “Throughout the week-plus-long storm, we never lost (complete) power on Fort Hood, which is incredible.”

Renovations

“These Soldiers fight the battles I only have to read about and hear on the news,” Michelle Lenis, DPW – Engineering Division’s Management & Outside Oversight Team Branch chief, said. “They deserve a safe comfortable home to return to.”

In the past 12 years, DPW – Engineering Division has renovated 59 of the 99 barracks currently on post. They are currently in the process of renovating 11 barracks – seven Hammerhead-style barracks and four H-frame barracks.

The barracks currently under renovation were originally built between 1951-1955. After six and seven decades of use, the condition of the buildings inevitably decline due to normal wear and tear. As the Army has changed its standards for barracks, DPW has applied those Army standards to the renovated barracks throughout the years.

When the given space allows it, the newly renovated apartment-style barracks include two bedrooms, with individual walk-in closets. The two Soldiers sharing the space will have a kitchen and bathroom to share.

The barracks in the 14000 block are expected to be complete in the Spring of 2022, with Soldiers moving into the first barracks in April 2022. Five barracks under renovation in the 10000 block are expected to be complete in the Spring of 2023, with Soldiers moving in around November 2023. Two additional barracks in the 10000 block are expected to be complete in early 2024.

Dosa shared that after the current barracks renovations are complete, Fort Hood only has 19 more barracks to be renovated. The remaining barracks include 17 Hammerhead-style barracks and two barracks located at West Fort Hood.

Looking ahead to the future, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Fort Worth District awarded a construction bid to MW Building in July for Fort Hood’s 100th barracks, which will be housed within the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade footprint. Construction will begin in the Winter of 2022. The expected occupancy for these barracks is in fall of 2023.

Meanwhile, two motor pools within the 1st Cav. Div. footprint received major upgrades. The recently renovated First Team motor pools had the height of the buildings raised, to accommodate larger military vehicles. Lenis said the renovated buildings had to go through a redesign which included consolidating administrative areas. She said the admin areas were previously separated, which made the work flow in the motor pool bays difficult.

While DPW would like to have the ability to build all brand-new motor pools, the price of a new facility versus a renovated facility is not monetarily feasible. Dosa and Lenis said a renovated facility costs roughly $10 million, while a new facility costs upwards of $40 million.

“This project will reduce the number of functionally inadequate vehicle maintenance/motor pool facilities and provide safe and efficient maintenance facilities that will support the training and combat readiness of 1st Cavalry Division,” Lenis said.

The safety and quality of life of Soldiers at Fort Hood is at the top of DPW’s priorities, which is why upgrading and replacing outdated motor pools across the installation is important.

“We will continue to work hard at making sure these facilities are in the best possible condition, and also seek funding to replace those built in the 1950/60s with modern motor pools,” Dosa said. “Our Soldiers deserve nothing less.”

Museums close

The 1st Cavalry Division Museum and 3rd Cavalry Regiment Museum closed Oct. 1, as museum staff and volunteers began the momentous process of disassembling the current exhibits to move to their new permanent home at the National Mounted Warrior Museum in 2022.

“We’re still going to be telling their story,” Steve Draper, director of Fort Hood Museums, said in September. “We’re going to be doing special exhibits. We’re also going to do educational programming in the future that will support 3rd Cav. and 1st Cav.”

With four museum staffers and borrowed military manpower, they converted the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Museum into the storage facility for the National Mounted Warrior Museum. Draper said the large undertaking involves removing everything from the 1st Cavalry Division Museum, protecting items with plastic, then putting things back together at the new storage facility.

The Army contracted Steve Feldman, an award-winning exhibition designer behind some of the country’s most famous museums, including the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Norfolk, Virginia; and Children’s Mercy Hospital Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, among others.

The museum director said he’s been working closely with Feldman to achieve the right vision.

“It’s going to be a chronological history of modern warfare. We’re using the 3rd Cav., Fort Hood and the 1st Cavalry Division to tell that story,” Draper said. “We’re going to tell deployments, as well as what was happening here at Fort Hood.”

The National Mounted Warrior Museum, dedicated to the Army’s mounted warriors, will replace the current exhibits at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment Museum. The new museum will be approximately 58,000 square feet, when complete. Phase 1 of the museum is 29,000 square feet and includes 13,000 square feet of permanent exhibit space. Once completed, the exhibit space will total 38,000 square feet. Together, the current museums total 6,000 square feet of exhibit space, which will allow the National Mounted Warrior Museum to have more than six times the current exhibits.

The National Mounted Warrior Museum is tentatively scheduled for a soft opening in June 2022, followed by a grand opening in the late summer of 2023.

“We’ve got some really neat ideas and I think people will be very happy with the exhibits,” Draper said. “As the Mounted Warrior Museum continues to add on, we’ll only get bigger and better.”

Like the future museum, Fort Hood looks to be bigger and better than ever before in 2022.