Mineral Wells military history dates back to 1916 with the organization of Company 1, 4th Texas Infantry. By January 1925, the War Department approved the site that would become Camp Wolters, the training ground for the 56th Cavalry Brigade of the Texas National Guard.
In 1956, the base began operations as the Primary Helicopter Center of the United States Army that would provide basic training and primary flight training for all rotary-wing aviators. The Vietnam War created an increased need for pilots. To meet the demand, Fort Wolters increased operations to become the training site for helicopter pilots for the Marine Corp in 1968 and the Air Force in 1970. Nearly every helicopter pilot that flew in Vietnam was trained at Fort Wolters.
Fort Wolters was deactivated in 1973. The 8,500 acres was then parsed out to the city of Mineral Wells, private businessmen, Weatherford College, and Lake Mineral Wells State Park.
Military History Timeline
*Military History Timeline compiled in partnership with Mary Creighton- Fort Wolters Historical Committee
1877-Mineral Wells is established as a city
1918– The area is guarded by civilian soldiers
1921– 56th Cavalry Brigade of Texas National Guard is established in Mineral Wells
1927– Old Camp Wolters becomes the Headquarters for all mounted cavalry in Texas
1941– Camp Wolters is activated from State Guard Status to Active Status to become the largest American infantry center of WWII
1943– Mineral Wells Airport is established to support Camp Wolters
1946– Camp Wolters is inactivated
1951-1954– Camp Wolters is reactivated and designated SCARWAF (Special Category Army Reassigned with the Air Force) is located at Wolters Air Force Base
1956– Wolters returns the Army as the Primary Helicopter Training Center
1957– Fort Wolters is the largest primary helicopter training center in the world
1963– Camp Wolters is redesignated as Fort Wolters, a permanent military installation
1973– Fort Wolters is declared closed but remains open until 1975
1998– National Vietnam War Museum is established
2010– Fort Wolters Gate Committee (later renamed, Fort Wolters Historical Committee) is established to preserve local military history
2011– Fort Wolters Gate is completely restored
2013– Medal of Honor Memorial is established (2 locations)
- 1st location- Mineral Wells High School near the Camp Wolters Historical Marker
The Fort Wolters Historical Committee partnered with the high school to create a low-cost memorial honoring those who either trained or served at Fort Wolters or were from the Mineral Wels area.
- 2nd location- Fort Wolters
Due to a lack of visibility and an increased local interest, a second location was designed for on Fort Wolters. The design also allowed for more names to be added as more recipients were discovered.
2014– Southern Airways Memorial is constructed
2018– Medal of Honor Memorial is updated for a total of 18 recipients
You can download a printable copy of the timeline here.
Military History Driving Tour
*Military History Driving Tour created in partnership with Fort Wolters Historical Committee
Reading about Mineral Wells Military history is great, but there’s nothing like visiting the sites to bring their stories back to life. Thanks to the incredible work of both the Fort Wolters Historical Committee and the National Vietnam War Museum, much of our military history has been preserved so you can do just that.
With their help, we’ve gathered the locations and stories of more than 20 sites significant to our military history. To see them all, you’ll want to plan a weekend trip to Mineral Wells.
You can download a printable copy of the map and tour here.
1. USO Building
600 North Oak Avenue | GPS: 32.81381284237472, -98.11201956246578
At the time, the USO Club was touted as a “modem new club” with a large auditorium, lounge areas, and all the amenities a soldier could want. They also offered weekly dances, bingo, musicals and other special entertainment.
2. Monument to Troop F of the 124th Cavalry and leader, Lt. Jack Knight. by Lord Mountbatten
510 SE 1st Street | GPS 32.8082542, -98.1087418
The F Troop, 124th Cavalry served with distinction in the China-Burma-India Theater of war in World War II. England’s Lord Mountbatten, Commander of the C-B-I Theater, dedicated a monument to F Troop in Mineral Wells, October 14, 1972. It is said the tv comedy “F Troop” was loosely based on the Mineral Wells Troop.
3&4. Old Camp Wolters Historical Park & Historical Marker
3801 Ram Blvd | GPS 32.8162117, -98.07600422
(3)TEXAS HISTORICAL MARKER
(4)Old Camp Wolters building are located on the Northeast side of Mineral Wells High School.
The rock building is the last of the Old Camp Wolters. Behind the historical marker is a memorial dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients who trained at Fort Wolters. Included are Jack Knight and Audie Murphy.
5&6. Old Armory Building & Old Camp Wolters Entrance Marker
3801 W Hwy 180 | GPS 32.8113747, -98.0545502
(5) The National Guard Armory in MW Tx, opened in 1959 . The then senator Lyndon Johnson attended the dedication. The building still stands but is now owned by Perone Industries.
(6) At the parking lot entrance to the Old National Guard Armory (above), a city historical marker depicting the history of the entrance to Old Camp Wolters. (1925-1965)
7. Mineral Wells Regional Airport
5300 Airport Road | GPS: 32.784906, -98.058721
The airport was originally built by the US Army to support the infantry training facility at Camp Wolters during World War II. Inside, the airport houses a small gift shop stocked with items from the National Vietnam War Museum.
8. T-38 Talon
5300 Airport Road | GPS: 32.785665, -98.058476
Erected in memory of Major Carl Kessler and in honor of LT General Richard Brown III who served in Vietnam.
9. Downing Heliport
At the end of Columbia Street | GPS: 32.782914, -98.051788
Built to provide additional space for training helicopter pilots during the Vietnam War, the heliport has a 54-acre tarmac pad, a maintenance hangar and two other buildings.
10. Woody’s Bar & Grill
5105 E Hwy 180 | GPS: 32.8109894, -98.0604782
Known for the “best hamburgers in Texas”, Woody’s is a popular stop for locals and travelers alike. Originally, the building was an old aviation barn from Camp Wolters.
11. Camp Dallas ROTC Marker
6701 E Hwy 180 | GPS: 32.811506, -98.057313
In 1921, Dallas ISD ROTC program purchased property in Mineral Wells for their summer training. It was one of the first ROTC Camps in the south. The land is now home to a housing development, but a historical marker stands at the back of the parking lot to Pet Western Animal Hospital.
12. Gate to Fort Wolters
E Hwy 180 at Washington Road | GPS: 32.8109512, -98.0548630
Though the land is now Wolters Industrial Park, Fort Wolters was once the Primary Helicopter Training Center for the US Army. Nearly every helicopter pilot that flew in the Vietnam War was trained here. Thanks to the restoration efforts of the Fort Wolters Historical Committee, the entrance looks much as it did when the base was active.
13. Southern Airways Historical Marker and Memorial Site
107 Washington Road | GPS: 32.8113747, -98.0545502
Southern Airways established and operated the Primary Flight School at Camp Wolters in 1956. They trained more than 40,000 pilots from 33 different countries.
14. Fort Wolters Historical Park- Historical Marker & Medal of Honor Memorial
At the triangle intersection of Washington Road and Hood Road | GPS: 32.818141, -98.054939
Less than ½ mile north of the entrance gate, Hood Road and Washington Road create a “Y” making the perfect spot for Fort Wolters Historical Park. There is a small parking lot on the north side of the park. As you walk the paved path, you’ll find an interpretive panel depicting the history of Camp Wolters and Fort Wolters including maps and photos. Next, you’ll come to the Medal of Honor Memorial, sharing the stories of Medal of Honor recipients that were either from Mineral Wells or trained at Fort Wolters. At the end of the path, you’ll find a historical marker
15. Old Warrant Officer Candidates Barracks
Reynolds Road | GPS 32.831458, -98.044366
From Hood Road, 1 ½ miles north of the Fort Wolters Historical Park, you can see a large section of white barracks that once housed Warrant Officer Candidates. These buildings are not currently in use, but most recently served as a correctional facility.
16. Fort Wolters Heliport
572 Grant Road* | GPS: 32.8390739665472, -98.0523596362698
* viewing point, not actual location.
Though you cannot access the heliport, it is visible from in front of Baker Hughes located at 579 Grant Road.
17. Beach Army Hospital
308 Lee Road | GPS: 32.82367265905951, -98.05921783187873
Beach Army Hospital was opened in 1957 as the first Army medical facility created specifically for aviation medicine. The building is currently leased by an airsoft park and was recently used as a location in a short film based on the book, Tom Clancy: Rainbow 6, by John Clark.
18. Lake Mineral Wells State Park Entrance
100 Park Road 71 | GPS: 32.806981, -98.044884
The state park was once a part of the military training area. There are two points of interest with viewable access:
(1) the Ammunition Bunkers
(2) the Helipads.
19. Ammunition Bunkers
Cross Timbers Trail Head | GPS: 32.83427217712762, -98.03633610440953
Just beyond the Cross Timbers Trailhead, you’ll see a fenced in area that contains the Ammunitions Bunkers. There is an historic interpretive panel that depicts a short history of Fort Wolters.
Cross Timbers Back Country Trail (Green Trail) | GPS: 32.846277, -98.028892
There are 16 concrete helipads. To access this area, you must begin at the Cross Timbers Trail Head and hike out. Make sure to wear good hiking shoes and carry plenty of water.
21. National Vietnam War Museum & Gardens
12685 E Hwy 180 | GPS: 32.800005, -98.038985
Dedicated to creating an understanding of the Vietnam Era, the museum offers multiple indoor and outdoor exhibits: Vietnam Memorial Gardens, 300’ scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial wall in Washington, D.C., a Huey mounted 20’ in the air, an AMTRAC (LVTP-5), Southern Airways Exhibit, Hootch Exhibit.
22. Clark Gardens Botanical Park
567 Maddox Road | GPS 32.803048, -98.024799
Clark Gardens Botanical Park was once a WWII Training Site though there are no longer any visible remnants.
23. Dempsey Heliport
Hwy 180 between Mineral Wells & Palo Pinto | GPS: 32.773357, -98.272250
Dempsey Army Heliport was built as a satellite field to service Fort Wolters. The heliport is currently inactive, and the property belongs to Palo Pinto County.
24. Jack Llewellyn Knight’s Grave & Marker
731 Holders Chapel Road behind the church | GPS: 32.8036118 -98.0045166
Jack Knight, a Garner native posthumously received a Congressional Medal of Honor for his courage and bravery during WWII. His remains are buried in Holders Memorial Chapel Cemetery in Cool, Texas.
Don’t forget to download and print the Military History tour, map, and timeline here!