September 5, 2015


"If I do my full duty, the rest will take care of itself."  General George S. Patton

Carol writes:  As many Army posts do, Fort Sam Houston has a long and honorable history.  Built in 1876 as a Supply Depot, the walled 8-acre Quadrangle has served as one of the Army’s most important headquarters, making it the focal point of the post’s historic district.

Both General Pershing and General Eisenhower worked out of offices located in the Quadrangle.  Apache war chief Geronimo spent time imprisoned there while a dispute over his status as a prisoner of war was being decided.  On a more whimsical note, for over a century there has been a little menagerie of wild animals that have inhabited its grounds.  To this day, a variety of chickens, deer and peacocks greet Quadrangle visitors.

Best exemplified by the home of the commanding general, the housing for senior officers is some of the most impressive of the historic buildings on old Fort Sam Houston.  Built out of massive blocks of Texas limestone, the grand construction design has stood the test of time.  

The primary mission of present-day Fort Sam Houston is to provide training for the medical personnel of the Army, in addition to some personnel from other services.  Medical specialties of every sort—doctor, nurse, and  combat medic—acquire their education here at Fort Sam Houston.  It has been a common sight for us to see groups of students, large and small, chanting snappy cadence while marching to their daily activities.  As we drove around post doing errands, we often saw small groups gathered for battlefield medicine instruction under a standing of shade trees.

For almost a century, Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) on Fort Sam Houston has played a major role in highly advanced medical care for our wounded service men and women.  Present-day BAMC is a massive state-of-the-art teaching hospital and medical treatment facility that looms several stories high just outside the fence of our campground. 

This is where our daughter’s knee surgery took place last week.  Rehab is being done in the nearby “Center For the Intrepid.”  I will have more about that experience in a future blog.

One day while driving around the older part of Fort Sam, we spotted the imposing building that was Old BAMC (built in the 1930s), now home to the U.S. Army South.

To me, the most impressive and eye-pleasing of Fort Sam’s historic buildings was the old Long Barracks.

I had never seen a continuous barracks structure over a block long.  Restoration of this historic barracks from 1887 was quite well done.  You could almost imagine the echo of bootsteps from ages past as soldiers made their way along the outer corridors.

Now…let’s go back three centuries in time to the Spanish colonial days at the…


In the 1700s Spain established a chain of missions along the San Antonio River.  The secular purpose of the missions was to push the Spanish empire northward out of what is present-day Mexico.  As an arm of the Catholic Church, the religious goal of the missions was to convert the Indians to Christianity.  Under the leadership of Franciscan priests, the missions offered the American Indians an education, a secure place to live, and knowledge of skillful trades.

Surprisingly, although the San Antonio missions are located within the confines of the large city of San Antonio, each retains a tranquil rural setting, making it easy to forget the urban sprawl located just a few blocks away.  All four of the missions that we visited have continued to remain active Catholic parishes. 


Deservedly called “Queen of the Missions,” Mission San José is the largest of the missions.  Many daily activities of mission life took place within the protective walled enclosure.   Dominating one end of a very large quadrangle enclosure was a beautifully renovated church.

Lovely, yet simple gardens bloomed along the skeletal walls of the ancient convento residence.


This mission has one of our country’s oldest original stone churches. 

The exterior of the church was once decorated in colorful frescos; recently a few have been uncovered in an interior room.


This mission truly reflects a serene rural setting.  The brilliant white limestone walls serve as a fabulous backdrop for creative photographs from a variety of spectacular angles.

If I was more up on photoshopping skills, I should have removed the speck of an airplane that flew at a most inopportune moment into Al’s photo below .

More than ‘just a simple chapel’ inside…


Mission descendants continue to worship here, and Franciscans work in the convent.

Elegance in the details…

Lastly, from my perspective…

Recently, the San Antonio Missions acquired “UNESCO World Heritage Site” status. This is indeed a well-deserved honor, acknowledging the fact that the missions themselves were a vital element in the creation of the unique blend of Spanish and Indian lifeways that we treasure today in the state once known as Tejas. 

The hospital on Fort Sam Houston has long served as one of the premier institutions dedicated to the treatment and recovery of the military men and women participating in the defense of the United States.  When our daughter needed a high-tech treatment option, plus extensive rehab, the role of Fort Sam became a very personal one for us.

In light of the role of Fort Sam Houston in modern-day military medicine, along with the role of the missions in forging a unique people and culture in San Antonio, we have given both institutions our designation:  “Best of San Antonio.”

“Never forget the bridge that brought you across.”  Rose Rozier


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