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Fort Sam Houston is a U.S. Army post in San Antonio, Texas.[1] Known colloquially as "Fort Sam," it is named for the first President of the Republic of Texas, Sam Houston. The installation's missions include serving as the command headquarters for the United States Army North (formerly the Fifth United States Army), United States Army South, the Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) headquarters, the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Center and School, the Fifth Recruiting Brigade, Navy Regional Recruiting, the San Antonio Military Entrance and Processing Station, and the Medical Education and Training Campus (METC). On October 1, 2010, Fort Sam Houston joined Lackland and Randolph Air Force Bases to create Joint Base San Antonio, under Air Force administration.

Hosted units

U. S. Department of Defense (DoD) Elements

  • Medical Education and Training Campus (METC)
United States Military Entrance Processing Command (USMEPCOM) Elements
  • MEPS San Antonio

U. S. Army Elements

U.S. Army North (ARNORTH) Elements
U. S. Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Elements
U. S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) Elements
U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH) Elements
U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) Elements
U.S. Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) Elements
  • U.S. Army Fifth Recruiting Brigade
  • 5th Brigade, U.S. Army Cadet Command
U.S. Army Contracting Command Elements
  • 410th Contracting Support Brigade
  • 412th Contracting Support Brigade
U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command
  • 6th Region CID Ft. Sam Houston
  • 25th Military Police Detachment
U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) Elements
U.S. Army Network Enterprise & Technology Command
U.S. Army Environmental Command

U. S. Air Force Elements

Senior Command

Line up for chow in camp at Fort Sam Houston

United States Army North is the senior command and responsible for all Army activities on Fort Sam Houston, but not for the post itself. Commanded by Lt. Gen. Perry L. Wiggins, Army North's primary missions are land-based Homeland Defense, Defense Support of Civil Authorities and Theater Security Cooperation with the Bahamas, Canada and Mexico. Because Fort Sam Houston is part of Joint Base San Antonio, the installation commander is the commander of the 502d Air Base Wing.

Military medicine

Fort Sam Houston is known as the "Home of Army Medicine" and "Home of the Combat Medic." At the end of World War II, the Army decided to make Fort Sam Houston the principal medical training facility.[2] In conjunction with this decision came the determination to develop Brooke General Hospital into one of the Army's premier medical centers.[2] This combined the capabilities of Wilford Hall Medical Center located at nearby Lackland Air Force Base to create the largest medical treatment facility and teaching hospital in the Department of Defense. Construction associated with this transition increased the square footage of the hospital by 50%, including a much larger, variable capacity emergency department, additional surgical suites and recovery facilities, as well as teaching facilities and bed space. Despite the installation transitioning to Air Force control, the command and control of the facilty will remain with the Army. The command and other key positions will rotate between the Army and Air Force. Staffing consist of members of both services, as well as a large number of civilians.[3] As of 2011, Fort Sam Houston is the largest and most important military medical training facility in the world.[1][2][4] Military Medical Training is provided by numerous elements, including METC, AMEDD Center and School, Brooke Army Medical Center, US Army Institute of Surgical Research, The Center for Battlefield Health and Trauma, Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute, as well as many smaller organizations.

Quadrangle Plaza, Fort Sam Houston (postcard, circa 1890-1924)

Known as the brain trust for the Army Medical Department, the Army Medical Department Center and School annually trains more than 25,000 students attending 170 officer, NCO and enlisted courses in 14 medical specialties. The command maintains several academic affiliations for bachelor and masters degree programs with major universities such as Baylor University, University of Texas Health Science Centers at Houston and San Antonio, and University of Nebraska.

As a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) 2005 recommendations, all military medical training has been consolidated at Fort Sam Houston. This consolidation concluded with the opening of the Military Education and Training Campus (METC) in 2011. The Navy moved its medical training from San Diego, California; Great Lakes, Illinois; and Portsmouth, Virginia. The Air Force moved its medical training from Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. This increased the average student load and required additional support staff. The expansion in training has required construction approaching one billion dollars,[5] a windfall of federal investment in Texas.

Historic buildings

Illustration from a postcard of the Quadrangle at Fort Sam Houston

Construction at Fort Sam Houston began in the middle 1870s under the supervision of the military commander of the Department of Texas, Major General Edward Ord, a West Point-trained army engineer. Today, as one of the Army's oldest installations, and with more than 900 buildings in its historic districts, Fort Sam Houston boasts one of the largest collection of historic military post structures. The significant contributions of Fort Sam Houston to the United States were recognized in 1975 when the post was designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The Fort Sam Houston Quadrangle, built by George Henry Griebel, is the oldest structure at Fort Sam Houston. It was originally a supply depot. During that time, it housed the Apache war chief Geronimo and warriors captured with him, while the Federal government decided whether to treat them as prisoners of war or common criminals. Legend has it that the deer in the Quadrangle were there because Geronimo refused to eat food he did not hunt.[6] The deer pre-date Geronimo in the Quadrangle.[7] It is unknown why the deer (and peacocks/penhens) were introduced into the confined courtyard of the Quadrangle.[6] The Quadrangle is now an office complex housing the commanding general and staff of U.S. Army North. The base has maintained the historical integrity of the post's different sections, which represent different eras of construction, and reflect various Army concepts in planning and design. Careful preservation of these areas allows the post to live with its history, surrounded by the traditions established when the first soldier arrived here in 1845.

United States Government Tower, Fort Sam Houston, (postcard, circa 1906)

Pershing House, home of the base commandant, was designed by the architect Alfred Giles and constructed in 1881.[8]

Pershing House

Notable postings

Several famous figures have served at the fort. Maj. Gen. John Wilson Ruckman, Commander of the Southern Department, was based at Fort Sam just after the Houston Riot of 1917. Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell was posted there after being demoted to colonel for disobeying orders. Dwight D. Eisenhower was posted to Fort Sam Houston twice during his career. During Eisenhower's first post, from 1915 to 1917, he met and married Mamie Dowd. He was posted at the fort when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred in 1941. Their first home is one of the buildings preserved as historic monuments.

Community connections

Throughout its existence, a close and harmonious relationship has prevailed between Fort Sam Houston and the City of San Antonio. The two have grown and matured together. The city often has been called the "mother-in-law of the Army" because so many soldiers including Dwight D. Eisenhower, met their future spouses there.

More than 27,000 military and civilian personnel work at the post, with an annual payroll and operating budget of $1.9 billion. Local purchases made by installation activities total almost $105 million annually. Funding for construction projects on post average $30 million annually. Fort Sam Houston has also initiated public–private partnerships to renovate and adaptively reuse significant historic buildings.

In June 2006, the San Antonio Express-News reported that Fort Sam Houston received utility disconnection notices due to budget constraints.[9]

Fort Sam Houston is one of three military facilities in Texas (all in the San Antonio area) to have its own school district, the Fort Sam Houston Independent School District.

The United States Postal Service operates the Fort Sam Houston Post Office at 1804 Stanley Road.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Fort Sam Houston, TX • About Fort Sam Houston" (overview), US Army, 2007, webpage: SH-Army.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Visit Fort Sam Houston" (description),, 2007, webpage: VisitMil-163.
  4. "Installation Fact Sheet" (Fort Sam Houston), 2007, PDF webpage: MilCityUSA-FortSH-PDF: states: "Fort Sam Houston is the largest and most important military medical training facility in the world."
  6. 6.0 6.1 Melodye Aldrich (13 December 2011). The Lerich Family: History and Remembrances. AuthorHouse. pp. 28–. ISBN 978-1-4685-0552-8. Retrieved 28 January 2012. 
  8. "Pershing House". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  9. Christenson, Sig (2006-06-15). "CPS hits Fort Sam with 1,300 cutoff notices for unpaid bills". San Antonio Express-News. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 

External links

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