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SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2014  09:44:08 PM

World War II-era Old North Fort Hood chapel demolished

Email   Print   Share By Gloria Harris, Hood Mobilization Bde.
September 19, 2013 | News
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LEFT,The Old North Fort Hood Chapel, Bldg. 56607, as it appeared before demolition began. The building had been decommissioned as a chapel approximately two years before demolition took place. RIGHT, The current North Fort Hood Chapel, Bldg. 56516, is surrounded by a parking lot that was recently poured. This chapel now serves the Soldiers living and training at North Fort Hood. Gloria Harris, Hood Mobilization Bde.
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Sunlight lights up the stained-glass windows in the Old North Fort Hood Chapel in bygone days. The warm wood, hanging lights, and wooden pews were all characteristic of the 1940s era. Gloria Harris, Hood Mobilization Bde.
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The Alpha and the Omega is one of approximately 10 stained-glass windows that adorned the North Fort Hood Chapel. The windows are now in storage awaiting further service. Gloria Harris, Hood Mobilization Bde.
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A workman from North American Dismantling Corp. uses an excavator to pull down the last remaining corner of Bldg. 56607 at North Fort Hood Sept. 11. Building 56607 served as the chapel for North Fort Hood from 1943 until 2007. Gloria Harris, Hood Mobilization Bde.
White puffy clouds drifted lazily across a blue sky at North Fort Hood Sept. 11 as timbers snapped and bricks shattered on the ground below. The demolition of one of the cantonment’s long-standing buildings was taking place.

Building 56607, otherwise known as the Old North Fort Hood Chapel, was being taken down as part of the 2013 Facility Reduction Program. It was one of 65 such Fort Hood buildings being removed in fiscal year 2013 in order to clean up and make room for future improvements.

“The good news,” according to Brian Dosa, director, Fort Hood Directorate of Public Works, “is that we’re finally getting to clean up these old buildings that are energy inefficient and way too expensive to maintain. This one had served its purpose, but it had extreme termite damage and its useful life had passed.”

Built in 1943 to support World War II troops training at then- North Camp Hood, the white wooden chapel was one of hundreds of such cantonment chapels that popped up wherever the Army was training in that era. For seven decades, it graced the north side of Texas Highway 36 and it hosted thousands of worshipping Soldiers in its pews. It was also a well-known landmark for the locals who traveled that stretch of Hwy. 36 on a regular basis.

Ed Turner, Mobilization Division Chief, explained the nostalgia attached to the building.

“A piece of our North Camp history is now gone as we prepare for its (North Fort Hood) future,” Turner said. “We all understand there is a certain nostalgia associated with World War II structures. We connect with them because either we or our parents were part of that struggle. But, the economic realities of the high cost of sustainment and reduced utility of such structures make it necessary to replace them with modern, energy-efficient, fully serviceable replacements.”

Continuing with the nostalgic theme, retired Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Richard Brunk had this to say about his time spent with Bldg. 56607.

“As did many other chaplains over the years, I counseled many Soldiers through crises and tragic losses within that old building. We distributed thousands of scriptures and religious resources of many different faith groups. I believe the Hood Mobilization Brigade Unit Ministry Team holds some sort of record as we conducted, supported or coordinated worship services for 26 different faith and language groups during one training cycle at North Fort Hood,” he explained.

“When I first came to Hood Mobilization Brigade in 2007, we were utilizing the chapel on a daily basis. I am fairly certain that I led and/or hosted the last chapel service there. … I remember the beautiful stained-glass windows, old woodwork and the reverent dignity of the old building,” Brunk continued.

Remarking on the service of the building beginning with World War II, and continuing through the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and the beginning years of the Global War on Terrorism, Brunk said, “I can only imagine the thoughts and prayers of so many thousands of soldiers who looked at those windows before heading off to war in so many different parts of the world. I am honored to have been able to be a small part of the long and storied history of the Old North Fort Hood Chapel.”

Brunk was also involved with the temporary locations utilized after the closing of the old chapel and with the construction of a new modern facility.

The old chapel may be gone, but a new one, Building 56516, was opened July 2010 to serve the needs of the Soldiers serving at North Fort Hood.
 
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