Spread across 1,700 square miles in Texas and New Mexico, Fort Bliss is big...and so is its history. Beginning after the Mexican War in 1848, infantry and cavalry units guarded the region during Indian skirmishes, the Civil War and the Mexican Revolution. From 1914 to 1916 Gen. John J. Pershing based his campaign against Mexican revolutionary “Pancho” Villa here. Fort Bliss became an anti-aircraft training facility during World War II, and today remains a heavy armor training post and headquarters of the 1st Armored Division, nicknamed "Old Ironsides.” Following World War II, Fort Bliss became a rocket laboratory for Nazi scientists the U.S. recruited in effort to win the developing Cold War arms race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Amongst the Nazi recruits was Dr. Wehner Von Braun, famed inventor of the V2 rocket.
Two museums comprise the Fort Bliss and Old Ironsides Museums complex. The Fort Bliss Museum covers post history, 1847-1947, and the Old Ironsides Museum covers 1st Armored Division history, 1940 to the present. A second base museum boasts a re-created Old Fort Bliss that interprets frontier military life, 1853 to 1868. Nearby Biggs Army Airfield houses the U.S. Army Museum of the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO), where exhibits trace the role of the NCO from the Revolutionary War to the present.