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Camp Wolters

Camp Wolters is an ARNG Major Training Center located four miles east of Mineral Wells in Parker and Palo Pinto counties.

Fort Wolters, established as Camp Wolters in 1925, was named for Brig. Gen. Jacob F. Wolters, commander of the Fifty-sixth Brigade of the National Guard, and designated a summer training site for his units. Mineral Wells donated fifty acres, leased 2,300 acres, and in World War IIqv provided land to increase the camp's area to 7,500 acres. The camp became an important infantry-replacement training center with a troop capacity that reached a peak of 24,973. Audie Murphy went through his basic training at Wolters.

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.

Six months after the end of the war the camp was deactivated. Local businessmen purchased the land and facilities and converted them to private use. The tensions of the cold war, however, resulted in the reopening of the camp in early 1951, under the authority of the United States Air Force. At the installation, then named Wolters Air Force Base, was housed the newly formed Aviation Engineer Force. Special-category army and air force personnel were trained there 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.

In September 1956 the base became the Primary Helicopter Center directed by the United States Army. In June 1963 it was renamed Fort Wolters. At the time all army rotary-wing aviators received basic and primary flight training there. The Vietnam War increased the need for pilots, and the base became the home for training not just army personnel, but also helicopter pilots for the Marine Corps in 1968 and for the Air Force in 1970. By 1970 Fort Wolters covered 8,500 acres and leased an additional 1,700 to help handle the 1,200 helicopters used at the camp. Training was done at the Main Heliport & two others: Downing & Dempsey, as well as 25 smaller stage fields. The first seven stage fields were given "western" names (Bronco, Pinto, Ramrod, Mustang & Sundance), while the rest were named after towns in Vietnam to get the students used to the names (An Khe, Vung Tau, Tuy Hoa, Cam Ranh, Hue, Chu Lai, Soc Trang, My Tho, Bien Hoa & Vinh Long).

By January 1, 1973, 40,000 students had completed the twenty-week training program. The base was also the home of the Beach Army Hospital, the Eighty-fourth Military Police Detachment, the 328th United States Army Band, and United States Army Reserve Detachment 20, Sixteenth Weather Squadron.

In 1975 orders deactivating the base were issued. 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. Part of the land and facilities became the property of the city and private businessmen; ninety acres and thirteen buildings became the Education Center of Weatherford College. A portion of the land was also transferred by the United States government to the state of Texas for development as part of Lake Mineral Wells State Park.

Today, the site is known as Wolters Industrial Park and is privately owned, but the roads are still quite driveable and many areas are open for business, a drive and a few photographs. One of these businesses is Fort Wolters Helicopters, which maintains the only active aviation facility at Fort Wolters, the Fort Wolters Helicopters Heliport. Their business is located in the former engine shop of the Army Primary Helicopter Training Center.

 



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