PCS orders to Fort Sill? Congratulations and welcome to Oklahoma and the Fires Center of Excellence! This area has plenty of things to do and is sure to be a good fit for every type of family. Between the Army, Marines, National Guard, and retirees, this area is very military-centric. But before you try and visit Big Deuce and Short Round, lets dive in and learn more about your new duty station.
WHERE IS FORT SILL?
First things first, where is Fort Sill? Fort Sill is located outside of Lawton, Oklahoma which is about 1 hour and 30 minutes south west of Oklahoma City. Sill is also 3 hours northwest of Dallas, Texas. Lawton-Ft. Sill regional airport (code LAW) is located about 3 miles from base making this a convenient location to fly in and out of. The next closest airport is in Oklahoma City (OKC).
FORT SILL HOUSING?
Fort Sill housing is run by the privatized company, Corvias. Buffalo Soldier Acres houses families E1-O4 and is the newest of homes on the post. These are homes are conveniently located close to the Welcome Center. Beside Freedom Elementary school, you will find Southern Plains. 3 communities inside of Southern Plains are for families E1-E5, and the other 2 are for E-9 families. The historic homes located in Old Calvary Post house families from E1-Commanding Generals in 8 different locations. This neighborhood is close to post headquarters and the museum.
BAH & COST OF LIVING
The median home cost in the Cache area is $120,000 making it a very attractive place to buy. Want to stretch your BAH even further? Try Lawton where the average cost of a home is $105,500! Elgin is a beloved community of military families due to schools but averages $168,000 to buy a house. Families looking to rent in this area can find homes and apartments to fit all BAH sizes. BAH dropped for 2019 in comparison to past years, but those stationed here before 2019 will be grandfathered in under the old BAH rate. Wondering if you should Rent or Buy? Weigh your options here.
Fort Sill Amenities
Fort Sill amenities are vast and have something that the whole family will be sure to enjoy. One of the newest additions to Sill was the multi-million dollar gym equipped with rock climbing wall, on-site CYSS, and hourly childcare. Other amenities include LETRA Beach & Waterslide, numerous pools ( some that let you float and watch a movie!) a bowling alley, library, a golf course, a Rod and Gun Club, Commissary, and a PX.
Welcome to the Midwest where you will get all 4 seasons. Summer will bring you warm temperatures averaging 94 degrees and regular thunderstorms. Peak tornado season is April-June, so it’s a good thing to prepare for high winds and check your homeowner’s insurance policy to review your wind damage coverage. Winter in Oklahoma brings an average of 6-8 inches of snow and the coldest month is January with an average of 24 degrees. You’ll enjoy mild springs and falls!
CUSTOMS AND CULTURE
Big Deuce and Short Round
Big Deuce and Short Round are Fort Sill’s donkey and goat mascots. Fun tidbit, Sill and West Point are the only Army posts left to have live mascots. These local celebrities attend events, get promotions, and eventually retire out to greener pastures making way for their younger counterparts. Big Deuce, the donkey, is a symbol of the Army’s muleskinner artillery days. Currently, Sill is on its VII donkey to serve. To promote equality now that military occupational specialties have been opened up to women, Short Round VI was brought on as the first female mascot.
The Artillery Bowl is a historic site used for Soldier’s ceremonies, activities, and sports. This sizeable open-air amphitheater also allows families to work out on the stairs, and kids can burn off energy there too!
Ever wonder why we say “Geronimo” when we jump off of or out of something? That is because of the legend of Geronimo escaping and jumping his horse off the steep medicine bluffs at Fort Sill in an attempt to escape. In reality, Geronimo and around 300 other Native American’s were held prisoner on Fort Sill and he did not try to actually flee in this manner. Geronimo was a leader in his community and even though he was technically a prisoner, he traveled with Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show, rode in the Inaugural parade of President Theodore Roosevelt, and have free reign of Fort Sill. He died of pneumonia in 1906 and his grave is on Fort Sill and can be visited.
The Medicine Bluff is a sacred ceremonial site where Native American’s went for healing and times of reflection. This historic landmark is about 8 miles north of post and located at the bottom of the Wichita Mountains. Enjoy the historic and spiritual significance of this location and make this a must-see.
Throw a rock and you will hit a museum in this area. The Army Artillery Museum, Fort Sill National Historic Landmark Museum, and Museum of the Great Planes are the fan favorites. The Artillery Museum houses a large display of military vehicles outside.
Sill is a short 10 min drive to the Wichita Mountains. There are miles and miles of hiking trails and wildlife to explore, to include herds of Buffalo and Prairie Dogs. The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge has a great welcome center that kids and adults alike enjoy. Going to the top of Mt Scott and seeing for miles around is fun.
Fort Sill is about 65 miles outside of Oklahoma City making this a great day trip or weekend getaway. OKC has a Zoo, tons of museums (we love the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum), and Myriad Botanical Gardens with are excellent ideas. If you are into sports, catch an Oklahoma City Thunder NBA games. The city also hosts numerous music concerts and outdoor festivals that any age can enjoy. Looking for a more adult adventure? Bricktown is an eclectic place to experience with wine bars, piano bars, tons of restaurants, and shopping.
Dallas is a large city that deserves more than one trip to accomplish the checklist of events that the town has to offer. The most notable attractions include the JFK History Tour that ends in Dealey Plaza, the George W. Bush Presidential Library, the Dallas World Aquarium, Cowboys football games, Rangers baseball games, the Dallas Zoo, and many more parks and museums.
Whether you are here permanent party, attending CCC, BOLC, or just stop by briefly for basic training, Fort Sill is a great duty station to experience. The home of the Fires Center of Excellence truly feels like just that, a home.
Jenah is an Army spouse, mother of 2 boys, dog mom and professional volunteer. She currently resides in Fort Stewart, GA with her family.Jenah Wieczorek