Corps and partners celebrate hospital construction milestone with a topping out ceremony

Published May 20, 2013
Signing beam   Signed beam   Raising beam

FORT HOOD, Texas – The Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners conducted a topping out ceremony at Fort Hood, Texas, May 14 with more than 600 representatives of the construction team, hospital workers and dignitaries. 

Col. Charles Klinge, commander, Fort Worth District praised the efforts of all the partners consisting of the Corps, the Fort Hood Garrison; Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center; the joint venture of Balfour Beatty Construction of Dallas and McCarthy of St. Louis; and the various trades currently at work on the project during remarks at the ceremony. 

“The project is roughly 40 percent complete and is on track for completion in late summer of 2014,” said Klinge.  “But more importantly, we hope to open the doors to care for our service members, their families and our veterans by the summer of 2015.” 

By the end of the project, according to Klinge, there will be enough concrete to build a 4-foot wide side walk from El Paso to Houston; enough rebar equal to the weight of 122 M1 Abrams tanks; and enough metal pipe to extend from Austin to San Antonio. 

The tradition of the topping out ceremony has its roots tying back to the ancient Scandinavian religious practice of placing a tree on the top of a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits.  The practice migrated to England and then to the U.S.  

“We commemorate this significant milestone by marking a day of celebration, which includes the placing of an evergreen tree upon the structure to symbolize growth and to bring good luck,” commented Klinge during remarks at the ceremony.  “We also raise the state and national flags atop the structure and invite the worker crews, and local dignitaries to sign the topping out beam.”  

The new hospital will be approximately 60 percent larger than the existing 45-year old Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center and will specifically address Fort Hood’s most pressing needs.   

“The new facility will address needs in the areas of behavioral health, medical and surgical specialty clinics, and pediatric primary care,” said Col. Roger Gallup, Commander, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.   

Safety is paramount in any construction effort and the hospital project to date, can boast a lofty safety record.  According to Capt. Cassidy Eaves, the Corps’ hospital project operations officer, the team has consistently executed contract requirements for the project and has done it with nearly 1.2 million hours without any “lost time” accidents . 

“So, to all the craftsmen who have spent numerous hours supporting the project, we salute you,” said Klinge.  “For without these craftsmen – the steel workers, crane and fork lift operators, electricians, welders, carpenters, plumbers, stone masons, brick masons and others, we would still be looking at a drawing on a piece of paper.”


About the Fort Worth District: The Fort Worth District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was established in 1950.  The District is responsible for water resources development in two-thirds of Texas, and design and construction at military installations in Texas and parts of Louisiana and New Mexico.  Visit the Fort Worth District Web site at: and SWF Facebook at:

Randy Cephus

Release no. 13-036