|A Breif History of Fort Wolters|
|In 1921 the 56th Calvary Brigade of the Texas National Guard was organized and used the Rock Creek-Mineral Wells areas as field training areas. A grant for construction of the Texas National Guard training camp was given to Brigadier General Jacob F. Wolters, Commanding Officer of the Brigade. The City Commissioners purchased 50 acres of land next to Mineral Wells Lake for location of the headquarters. Citizens of Mineral Wells, led by Mayor John Miller, joined together and leased 2,300 acres surrounding the original 50 acres. The population of the city at that time was 7,500.|
|On October 13, 1940, the Department of Defense announced that Mineral Wells had been selected for location of an Infantry Replacement Center large enough to house 17,000 men. Additional acreage was leased totaling 7,500 acres. The construction firms of Cage Brothers and F.W. Reeves & Sons from Dallas won the contract and began construction of the training center. Eighteen thousand men labored around the clock and completed the job in 3 1/2 months. Over night the population grew to 25,000. The total cost of the construction was $14,200,000. Officially on March 22, 1941, the camp was turned over to the Army and was named after General Wolters. The first trainees arrived on March 1, 1941. Training began on March 24 and the first rifle was fired on the 100 meter firing range. Brigadier General William H. Simpson arrived on April 5 along with his executive officer Colonel Fay W. Grabson. At this time there were 15 infantry battalions either in operation or awaiting trainees. During the war years Camp Wolters was noted as being the nation's largest IRTC which at its peak housed 30,000 men at one time.|
|Other Generals who assumed command are as follows: 1941 BG Emil F. Reinhardt, 1942 MG Bruce Magruder, 1945 BG Maurice L. Miller, 1945 MG Harry L. Twaddle|
|From 1942-1945 a German prisoner of War Camp with about 300 soldiers was located in the center of the camp. It was surrounded by a high mesh fence around the area with sentry towers at intervals around the compound. Flood lights illuminated the tower areas which could be seen from the highway. Some German soldiers were buried there and later the bodies were exhumed and sent back to their homeland. Many of them worked during the day on local ranches. Three of the POWs were reinterned in Woodland Park Cemetery when their bodies were not claimed.|
|The IRTC was inactivated on January 19, 1946. The flag was lowered for the last time on August 15, 1946 by Captain Edward E. Coging, AGC (now retired LTC) and an enlisted man. This flag was presented to the Boyce Ditto Public Library on February 25, 1992 by Sgt. Major Leonard Paul as directed by Col. Coing. In 1949 property at Camp Wolters was purchased from the War Department by a group of local businessmen and became known as Camp Wolters Enterprises. Most of the assets were sold off. Camp Wolters Enterprises sold Camp Wolters property to the Air Force in 1950. The camp was reactivated and redesignated Wolters Air Force Base to house the newly formed Aviation Engineer Force which was established in April. The first contingent of Aviation Engineer trainees arrived in May and these SCARWAF (Special Category Army with Air Force) personnel were in training here until their mission function reverted to Army control. In 1953, a U.S. Nike Guided Missile Site for the protection of the Fort Worth-Dallas area in case of enemy attack was activated. On July 1, 1956, Wolters Air Force was reverted to Army control with the mission to train helicopter pilots. The first commanding officer of the U.S. Primary Helicopter School was Colonel John L. Inskeep. The 931st Engineer Group (Construction) with headquarters on post began construction of the main heliport, classrooms, four stage fields and access roads. This project was completed in 1957 at the cost of $3,500,000. A flight training program was awarded to Southern Airway, Bainbridge, Georgia. This contract was extended for the entire helicopter training period due to outstanding performance. The president of Southern Airways of Texas was Raymond Thomas. Vice-presidents were Wayne Schwalm and Sam Knight. Ft. Wolters graduated 250 students the first year; 1,100 students in 1965; and 3,600 in 1966. In 1963 Camp Wolters was redesignated Fort Wolters. Five hundred to 550 helicopters were in the air at any given time. There were two thousand take-offs and landings daily, Monday through Friday. The training program for Warrant Officer Candidates was 4 weeks in pre-flight training, 16 weeks in primary training at Ft. Wolters and 16 weeks of advance training at Ft. Rucker, Alabama. Foreign nationals from more than 20 allied countries were trained at Fort Wolters along with 30 police officers from Washington, D.C. and Chicago. 40,000 helicopter pilots were trained from 1956 through 1974 with flying hours exceeding 5,6000,000. >From 1966 to 1970, the payroll averaged over $1,000,000 a month.|
| On February 1, 1973, the
helicopter school was transferred to the Army Aviation School at Ft.
Rucker, Alabama. The last flag to fly over the USPHC/S is now held
in safe keeping by the Fort Wolters Chapter, Vietnam Helicopter
Officer and NCO Clubs closed November 30, 1973. Beech Army Hospital closed December 1, 1973. Post Exchange closed January 15, 1974. Post Commissary closed January 20, 1974.
All government property on Fort Wolters was turned over to the General Service Administration for disposal. With pressure from the Texas National Guard, GSA was seriously considering transferring Fort Wolters to the National Guard for week end and summer training with a six man permanent party. This theory was reversed by city fathers who were looking for very much needed tax revenues. A disposition plan was submitted to GSA for consideration, which was approved. All property not designated for the National Guard, Mineral Wells State Park, Health and Education would be sold under the supervision of the City of Mineral Wells with GSA price approval. Mayor Ellis White, Bill Rivers and Col. (Ret) Willie Casper divised the overall disposition plan which later became known as the "Legacy of Parks".