1. On Wednesday, Spc. Ivan Lopez opened fire at Fort Hood, leaving three dead and 16 injured, before ultimately shooting himself.
2. This was the second mass shooting at the Army base in five years.
3. But in the shadow of tragedy, what Fort Hood is actually like may not be clear.
4. Nearly 80,000 people live on Fort Hood, including 43,000 soldiers and about 18,000 of their family members.
5. It’s located in the middle of Texas, near the city of Killeen.
Fort Hood was founded because the Army needed a wide-open space to test and train World War II tank destroyers. The War Department announced the location in January 1942.
6. The base itself is 340 square miles, which makes it one of the top five largest military bases in the world. It is big enough to fit 15 Manhattan Islands.
Or one-fourth the size of Rhode Island.
7. To enter Fort Hood you get a security pass, obtained with a valid driver’s license, and go through a car inspection.
8. Then you are free to drive really anywhere you want.
The massive road infrastructure has colorful names like “Hell On Wheels” and “Tank Destroyer.”
9. And while some aspects of life are unique on base …
10. Many aspects of life inside are exactly the same as anywhere else.
(Except for the digicam on the Burger King coffee cups.)
11. Most of the vehicles you see on Fort Hood are civilian.
(Though they do have their own brand of filling station on base.)