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Home : News : News
NEWS | Oct. 29, 2015

The ghosts of old BAMC still roam U.S. Army South headquarters building

U.S. Army South Public Affairs

Lights turning off and on and elevators moving from floor to floor on their own. Sudden drops in temperature. Soft whispers heard by individuals who are alone in a room. Chairs moving without being touched.

And of course … the basement shadows.

All of these things can be found in any typical horror movie, but you wouldn’t expect them to occur at your place of work.

Building 1000 on historic Fort Sam Houston may be occupied by U.S. Army South, but that wasn’t always the case.

In 1936, the first shovels broke dirt at the location and within two years, the first patients were transported to what was then known as Brooke Army Medical Center, or BAMC.

Throughout the next 60 years, the building treated hundreds of thousands of patients until finally relocating across post in 1996.

For the next seven years, the building was vacant and unused with the exception of an occasional training area for Soldiers and security forces needing a location to practice their “entering and clearing a building” skills.

In 2003, Army South moved in and it didn’t take long for the unit’s Soldiers and civilians to notice there was much more to the building than just another workstation.

“This place, just like any hospital, experienced a lot of people who died or suffered within these walls,” said Dr. Isaac Hampton, U.S.Army South historian. “I wouldn’t think it would be unusual for people to experience paranormal happenings here.”

Personnel working in the lower level would report unusual feelings of not being alone or items at their desk moving when they returned. After several inquiries, they were informed the lower level was home to the former hospital’s trauma unit and emergency room.

“I don’t care what it used to be down there,” said Sgt. Ricardo VacaMedina. “I went to the basement once and thought I saw some glowing eyes and took off back into the elevator. I’ll never go back down there again.”

Fortunately for VacaMedina, his job keeps him out of the basement.

The basement isn’t the only place workers have experienced unexplainable happenings.

In the building’s fifth floor, in an area that used to house the psychiatric ward, voices can occasionally be heard laughing and crying late in the evenings, according to unnamed sources.

Although some people remain adamant that what they experienced was real, others chalk it up to overactive imaginations paired with rumors that have been passed among co-workers throughout the years. Still, others have decided to have fun with it and have conjured up their own explanations for the spooky happenings.

“A lot of people say their stuff got moved, or taken, or just breaks when they’re not around. I think it’s the ghost of an old chief warrant officer,” said one Soldier, who wished to remain anonymous. “That’s probably why nobody ever sees him. Nobody ever sees chief warrant officers, but we know they’re around somewhere.”

“I have heard the rumors of the old BAMC Building, now Army South Headquarters, being haunted. One October evening a couple years ago, I found myself coming into work late on a  Sunday night to work on some spreadsheets that were due the following week,” said Master Sgt. Jose Moraga, another Soldier assigned to U.S. Army South. “I had been on temporary duty and needed to catch up. As I walked from my truck to the parking lot, I looked up to the seventh floor and noticed the lights flickering on and off in a strange pattern. I found it odd but didn’t think much of it.

“As I crossed the street, there was a black cat that I almost stepped on. Talk about awkward! I swear I’ve seen this movie before,” Moraga said. “So I walk inside building 1000 and start walking down the stairs to the lower level and the lights go off. I stopped because it was pretty dark and I sure didn’t want to hurt myself a week before the fitness test. I always thought there were emergency lights in stairwells but they didn’t come on.

“As I waited on the stairs, a ghostly voice started talking to me, saying ‘Go back home, master sergeant, you’re not welcome here!’ The lights came back a minute later and I continued down the stairs into the logistic section,” Morage continued. “I started working on my spreadsheets and checking emails and I noticed something very strange when the lights flickered on and off a few minutes later. Then my computer screens turned off and back on. I immediately logged off correctly, because I didn’t want to miss my critical patches on my computer, secured my ID card and walked out of the logistics. To this day I don’t know what really happened that October night but I’m fairly certain our building is haunted.”

 Other employees have come up with catchy nicknames for the building’s ghost.

Hampton is responsible for the phrase, the “Galleon Ghoul,” a name that pays homage to U.S. Army South’s unit patch with a Spanish Galleon ship on a wave.

Whatever you choose to call it, or whatever your experience may be within the walls of the Old BAMC building, one thing remains constant; someone or something wants you out of there … promptly at 4:30 p.m. … and it also doesn’t want you in there on the weekends … or holidays.

Okay, that may just be what I’ve experienced.