18 Things You Didn’t Know About Military City USA

Posted

18 Things You Didn’t Know About Military City USA

As home to not one, not two, but four major military installations ( Randolph AFB Lackland AFB Fort Sam Houston, and  Camp Bullis), San Antonio is undeniably abuzz with patriotic energy, drawing in not only active duty military members, but also retirees, veterans, and civilian employees.

And so, in honor of Veteran’s Day and all the celebration that comes with it, we thought we’d explore the little-known facts about this military hub. Here are 18 things you might not know about Texas’ most patriotic city!

1. It’s not just a nickname. San Antonio is officially “Military City, USA.”

Though the Alamo City has been offhandedly termed “Military City, USA” for years, city officials recently decided to take the nickname a step further. In 2017, San Antonio trademarked the term “Military City USA®”…you know, just in case anyone had their doubts about San Antonio’s enthusiasm for its military presence.

2. It’s all one giant base.

Though San Antonio’s various bases are scattered across the city, each bearing their own history and purpose, Randolph AFBLackland AFBFort Sam Houston, and Camp Bullis were officially united as  “Joint Base San Antonio” (JBSA) in 2005.

Image Courtesy of the JBSA Official Facebook Page

3. JBSA generates serious cash.

Y’all,  Joint Base San Antonio is not messing around. A vital part of our city’s economy, JBSA contributes an estimated $48.7 billion a year to our economy.

4. San Antonio and the military go way back.

Remember the Alamo? From the beginning, San Antonio has been a central location for military activity. According to the city’s history, the US Army has maintained a presence here since 1845 (during the annexation of Texas). Accordingly, SA’s military bases boast over 900 historic structures.

5. San Antonio has been called the “mother-in-law of the Army.”

Apparently, the Alamo City is even more romantic than we thought. Often called the “mother-in-law of the Army,” San Antonio bears a strong reputation for matchmaking military members with local bachelors and debutantes. Perhaps the most famous example lies in the love story of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who met his wife Mamie Doud while stationed at Fort Sam. (Their first date was at the St. Anthony Hotel and the old Majestic Theater!)

Image Courtesy of the JBSA Official Facebook Page

6. JBSA employs nearly 20% of the population.

Apparently, it takes an army to run things at  JBSA. Due to the size and scope of  Joint Base San Antonio, the base employs nearly 80,000 people and hosts over 130,000 students annually, making it the largest single DoD installation.

7. SA isn’t just for active duty members.

When military folks retire in San Antonio (or even elsewhere!), it somehow always manages to remain “home.” Plenty of retirees (more than 250,000) either stay or return to the Alamo City after their military career is over.

8. We’re the “Home of Army Medicine.”

As the Army’s premier medical institution, BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center) is the largest medical care and training facility of its kind, staffed by over 8,000 professionals and known as the “Home of Army Medicine.”

9. It’s (literally) all over the map.

Though  JBSA may be one giant, united front, its military installations are planted in strategic neighborhoods all across the cityRandolph AFB is nestled in the northeastern section of the city, historic  Fort Sam Houston is centrally located just northeast of downtown Lackland AFB is perched on the city’s western edge, and Camp Bullis lies northwest of Loop 1604 (just off I-10 towards Boerne).

11654 Hidden Terrace: $213,000 (Laurel Mountain Ranch)

10. There are actually affordable homes nearby.

Due to San Antonio’s rich variety of neighborhoods and real estate offerings, homes near military bases span the spectrum in terms of price and style. The point? Military families don’t have to suffer a crazy commute to find affordable San Antonio housing. For Randolph AFB, we recommend checking out SchertzCibo loConverseBridlewood Park, and Falcon Ridge Fort Sam families might try NorthwoodWilshire Terrace, and Bel Meade; and those stationed at  Lackland AFB might want to take a look at Alamo RanchRedbird RanchCanyon CrossingLaurel Mountain Ranch.

323 Burleson: $309,900 (Dignowity Hill Historic District)

11. …And historic homes.

Are historic homes your thing? Though military bases are often located on the outskirts of the city,  Fort Sam’s historic status garners it a location smack-dab in the middle of  San Antonio’s favorite historic neighborhoods. Filled with both luxuriously renovated gems and fixer-uppers with tons of potential, neighborhoods like Terrell HillsAlamo HeightsOlmos ParkTobin Hill, and Dignowity Hill offer those century-old wood floors and historic details many homeowners crave. (A prime example, 323 Burleson is located mere miles away from  Fort Sam in the Dignowity Hill Historic District).

12. Fort Sam has peacocks.

Is this a military base or a fancy British manor? Visit “The Quadrangle” at  Fort Sam Houston and admire a charming population of local wildfowl, including peacocks, geese, and ducks.

13. Randolph AFB has fancy airplane hangars.

Randolph AFB is known as “the Showplace of the Air Force” due to its gorgeous examples of original Spanish Colonial Revival Style architecture. Even the airplane hangars bear the famous style!

Image Courtesy of the JBSA Official Facebook Page

14. JBSA is a humanitarian hub.

Did you know the military provides humanitarian relief?  Fort Sam’s U.S. Army Installation Management Command is the Army’s southern hub for humanitarian and partner-building missions in Central and South America (performing notably extensive emergency operations during the 2010 Haiti earthquake).

15. We have a haunted military horse grave.

When one beloved young brown thoroughbred (called “Pat”) arrived at Fort Sam Houston in 1912, he quickly became a base favorite. When the horse passed away in 1953, he was given an elaborate funeral and gravesite near the post entrance at Cunningham Street. It’s said that, if you’re very quiet at twilight, you can hear the clopping of hooves and a whinnying sound in the distance. ( Click here to read more spooky SA stories!)

16. Ft Sam Houston is named after a fashion icon.

Though military uniforms aren’t always known for their stylish silhouettes, Fort Sam Houston pays homage to the art of fashion through its namesake. According to historic accounts, Sam Houston (an iconic Texas soldier and politician) was obsessed with vintage clothing, often dressing in outlandish, head-turning outfits.

Image Courtesy of the JBSA Official Facebook Page

17. Camp Bullis has an obstacle course like nothing you’ve ever seen.

Located on the northwest outskirts of San Antonio (for good reason…it takes up nearly 30,000 acres),  Camp Bullis is a classic military training facility that whips its soldiers and airmen into tip-top shape. Notably, its ridiculously difficult obstacle course has been the chosen ground for the Army’s annual “Best Warrior” competition.

18. Fort Sam Houston hosted two of the earliest female pilots.

Get it, ladies! Officially two of the coolest women in SA history, Kathrine and Marjorie Stinson started their aviation careers at Fort Sam in the early 1900s, making them two of the first official female pilots in the US. (Click here to read about more astounding women who have shaped San Antonio!)