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The 808th Tank Destroyer Battalion

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Camp Hood

The 808th tank destroyers received specialized training beginning in April of 1943 to learn how to seek, strike and destroy German panzers as well as any German unit.

History of Camp Hood

Fort Hood is located in southwestern Bell and southeastern Coryell counties in Central Texas. Most of the 218,000 acres owned by the United States Army is located in Coryell County. On January 14, 1942, at the beginning of United States involvement in World War II, it was announced that a tank destroyer tactical and firing center would be established near Killeen, Texas. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce was selected as the first commander.

The first major unit, the 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, arrived from Fort Meade, Maryland, on April 2, 1942. As other troops began arriving, some 300 farming and ranching families were required, on very short notice, to give up their land. Camp Hood was officially opened on September 18, 1942, and has been continuously used for armored training ever since.

The installation was named in honor of Gen. John Bell Hood. The mission at Camp Hood was almost immediately expanded to include a replacement and basic training center at North Fort Hood. At times as many as 100,000 soldiers were being trained for the war effort.

During the later part of the war some 4,000 German prisoners of war were interned at Camp Hood.

Location

Fort Hood is located in southwestern Bell and southeastern Coryell counties in Central Texas. Most of the 218,000 acres owned by the United States Army is located in Coryell County.

Tank Destroyer TrainingCamp Hood

On January 14, 1942, at the beginning of United States involvement in World War II, it was announced that a tank destroyer tactical and firing center would be established near Killeen, Texas. Gen. Andrew D. Bruce was selected as the first commander. The first major unit, the 893d Tank Destroyer Battalion, arrived from Fort Meade, Maryland, on April 2, 1942.

As other troops began arriving, some 300 farming and ranching families were required, on very short notice, to give up their land. Camp Hood was officially opened on September 18, 1942, and has been continuously used for armored training ever since.

The installation was named in honor of Gen. John Bell Hood. The mission at Camp Hood was almost immediately expanded to include a replacement and basic training center at North Fort Hood.

At times as many as 100,000 soldiers were being trained for the war effort. During the later part of the war some 4,000 German prisoners of war were interned at Camp Hood.

The postwar years saw a significant reduction of activity, and the post's population dropped to about 1,700.

Camp to Fort Hood

By 1950 the temporary camp was designated the permanent status of Fort Hood. Basic facilities for a permanent army installation were constructed. The demands for training brought about by the Korean War accelerated military activities. The installation acquired an additional 49,578 acres in 1953 and former United States Air Force and Department of Defense landholdings in the 1950s and 1960s.

Major army units stationed at one time or another at Fort Hood included the First, Second, and Fourth Armored divisions. In 1954 Fort Hood was the nation's only two-division installation, and the Third Corps was transferred from Camp Roberts, California.

In 1990 the installation was the home of the headquarters of the Third Corps under United States Army Forces command. Fort Hood was located in the Fifth United States Army area. The two active army divisions, the Second Armored Division ("Hell on Wheels") and the First Cavalry Division, were stationed there.

Other commands at Fort Hood included the Sixth Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat), Corps Support Command, the Third Signal Brigade, and several tenant organizations including MEDDAC (Medical Department Activity), Test and Experimentation Command, and more than a dozen other smaller support or tenant commands including two major airfields.

Reserve units such as the Forty-ninth and Fiftieth Armored divisions and the Thirty-sixth Airborne Brigade of the Texas National Guard and other smaller regular and reserve units of the army, air force, and marine corps used the Fort Hood facility. US fort hood

Mission

Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world. The primary mission of Fort Hood is to maintain a state of readiness for combat missions, and the dominant activity is the training of the Third Armored Corps. A significant portion of the combat-ready air and ground forces of the United States Army is stationed at Fort Hood. The combat readiness of the Third Armored Corps distinguishes Fort Hood from many other installations, which do not have the same rapid and massive military response capability.

With the end of the Cold War, military cutbacks became common throughout the United States. The Second Armored Division was deactivated for a short period, during which time the Fifth Infantry Division (Mechanized) was assigned to Fort Hood. However, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990-91 halted this deactivation, and more than 25,000 troops were sent from Fort Hood to the Middle East. Of these, 17,000 were from the Second Armored Division and the First Cavalry Division. Three soldiers from Fort Hood were killed and nine wounded. On April 12, 1991, following the Gulf War, the Department of Defense labeled Fort Hood a top fighting installation and stationed 12,000 additional troops there. In December 1992 the Fifth Infantry Division was inactivated and redesignated the Second Armored Division; it was scheduled to be renamed the Fourth Infantry Division (Mechanized) in December 1995.

The installation has been a critical social and economic reality in the Central Texas region. Prior to the establishment of Fort Hood the region was cotton and cattle country. The shift from a low-population agrarian environment to a densely populated cosmopolitan environment has had both positive and negative features.

Negative and Positive Effects

On the one hand, Fort Hood has stimulated the growth of educational institutions, commercial conveniences, and professional services such as health care. Local communities have benefited from a military population with a pool of experienced teachers and professionals not found in most rural areas.

On the other hand, the large number of transitory personnel has resulted in a community characterized by a sense of impermanence and highly focused economic interests not generally found in communities with more social and economic diversity.

The installation offers excellent public recreational opportunities, including two museums and many ponds and lakes suitable for fishing. Hunting is also allowed in designated areas. Outdoor recreation in most areas is subject to certain constraints and requires permission from Fort Hood Area Access Control.

Cultural resources on public lands.

More than 2,000 archeological sites dating from the Ice Age to historic times have been recorded. The archeological record at Fort Hood contains a diversity of resources including more than 1,000 sites of hunting and gathering people from all major time periods in Texas prehistory and the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More than fifty historic communities, most of them now extinct, are represented in the Fort Hood archeological inventory.

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