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USACE Fort Worth District Preserves Pieces of Wilford Hall During Demolition Project

Retired nurses and former medical staff of Wilford Hall, located at Lackland Air Force Base, load a truck with pieces of bricks and rocks from the Wilford Hall demolition site to take home as a piece of history.
Retired nurses and former medical staff of Wilford Hall, located at Lackland Air Force Base, load a truck with pieces of bricks and rocks from the Wilford Hall demolition site to take home as a piece of history.
SAN ANTONIO, TX — Wilford Hall Medical Center, located on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, was once the flagship of military medicine, named after the medical pioneer, Brig. Gen. Wilford F. Hall. With early beginnings in 1942, as a 100-bed hospital, the medical center quickly grew to a 1,200-bed, Level 1 trauma center by 1957. The Level 1 designation expanded resources and capabilities for handling patients with complex and life-threatening injuries, a service that extended beyond the Air Force community, and into the surrounding civilian community as well. “It was a unique opportunity to be a part of the development of the first CCATT [Critical Care Air Transport Team] and see innovation happening right before my eyes,” said Patricia “Pat” Meza, retired Air Force Colonel, and former nurse stationed at Wilford Hall Medical Center. The mood turned nostalgic as she gazed at the partial demolition, currently underway at Wilford Hall. Due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure, Wilford Hall’s mission merged with the Brooke Army Medical Center to form the San Antonio Military Medical Center. A new outpatient-only, Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center emerged, leaving the old Wilford Hall to undergo demolition and site restoration. Seeing the demolition was nearing the later phases, Meza contacted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District to find a way to preserve memories of the time she spent at Wilford Hall. The Fort Worth District, with the help of the 59th Medical Wing and onsite contractors, worked with Meza to fulfill a request and create a unique opportunity to pass down tangible remnants of Wilford Hall. “After hearing how much Wilford Hall meant to Col. Meza and how much interest there was from other veterans, we knew it was imperative for all parties involved to work together and make this event happen,” said Randy Cephus, Deputy Chief of Public Affairs for the Fort Worth district. During the small-scale event, four veterans and one family member showed up to collect over 200 bricks from sections safely removed from the demolition site. The veterans, ranging from enlisted to officer, collectively devoted four to 16 years caring for patients at Wilford Hall. The veterans loaded two pick-up trucks to haul the bricks to an alternate location for later distribution to other military members and veterans who wanted to preserve a piece of Wilford Hall’s legacy. As Meza placed the final brick into the pickup bed, she said, “It’s an awesome feeling to once again touch Wilford Hall before it all comes down, and I get to take it home with me.”
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