FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
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”
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
The basement isn’t the only place workers have experienced
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.