Situated on the south edge of the Parade Ground of the Old Post, the museum holds a series of exhibits that go a long ways towards explaining the long varied roles the Fort has enjoyed over time, first as a staging point for the Indian Wars of the 19th Century on to a training center for the Spanish American Wars - Theodore Roosevelt and his Roughriders were here - and both World Wars. For a long time, Fort Sam was the home post for the 2nd Infantry Division, though that unit has since been tasked with helping to defend South Korea and is located both there and at Fort Lewis in Washington State. Today the main role of the Fort has evolved to the training of the Army’s medical personnel, a task that has evolved since the end of World War II.
Originally, the Army was stationed around the Alamo after coming to San Antonio in 1845. The Army then moved out here in 1876, evolving from an original 92 acres to over 3000 today. This was the largest Army post in the continental United states from 1910 until World War II.
Today, the main post is located east and south of a vast Parade Ground - jogging around the entire Parade Ground will score you a five mile run, something I used to do daily in my gung ho days - and officer family quarters are across on the other side.
The best place to start a visit to the Fort is to head to the Fort Sam Houston Museum located out near the southwestern edge of the Parade Grounds. Like most military posts today, Fort Sam is not open as it was in the days of my training. To enter, with identification, you need to pick up a daily visitor pass at one of three gates - the main two being Walters Street Gate on the south side of the post reached off I-35 and the Harry Wurzbach Road Gate reached on the north side of the post. The Fort was recognized for its historical importance in 1975 and comprises the largest collection of historical structures of any Department of Defense installation. Fifteen thousand people work on the post - ten thousand military and five thousand civilian - and it is interesting to note that two US Presidents - Dwight Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt - and some 13 Army Chiefs of Staff have served here at Fort Sam.
Note: to get around Fort Sam Houston, as most soldiers sadly find out quickly, you really need a car to get past the summer heat - I was here for six weeks where everyday was over 100 F with the nights never cooling as much as I had hoped (98 degrees at 10 PM!) - and the vastly laid out set up of the Fort.