FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. -- Just four days after the New Year's Eve tornado struck Fort Leonard Wood Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. visited the installation to view the extensive damage, speak with the many families who lost their homes and give hope to the community as it begins its intense phase of reconstruction.

"I don't remember an Army installation getting hit by a natural disaster of this magnitude," Casey said. "As I went around today I was just amazed at the resilience of our Soldiers and families and amazed at the teamwork, not only on the installation, but from local communities."

After visiting several areas on post, assessing the damage and discussing pre-plans for recovery operations, Casey's main goal remained evident - the ongoing safety and support to Soldiers and families.

"We're all very lucky that there were no fatalities or serious injuries here, and I'm very thankful for that. Every one of the families I've talked to today said they had been very well-cared for," he said.

With Army Community Service, the USO, numerous installation agencies and countless volunteers trickling in from as far away as Wisconsin, efforts are being made to ensure swift and continuous progress.

"I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else when the tornado hit because of the tremendous support we've continued to received from this community and beyond," said Louise Brennan, spouse of Capt. Nathan Kaminski, who lost their home and gave a tour of its remains to Casey, Tuesday.

Community members echoed these sentiments and further recognized the efforts being made nationally, lending a helping hand from way beyond the gates of Fort Leonard Wood.

"It's very good to know that at the highest level, people are concerned. I'm getting phone calls from people at the headquarters level saying, 'What can I do to help'' So to have them reach back to us, to have General Casey come and see what's happening on the ground is great," said Lynn Morgan, Fort Leonard Wood ACS director.

"Having General Casey here shows he's dedicated to helping us," added Ryan Cooper, 13, son of a servicemember.

"I didn't expect this much help. It's great to see everybody pulling together, (at) all levels of the Army. It's great to see their care," said Shannon Wade, family member.

Casey made it clear that teamwork and resilience are key attributes members of the Army family have.

"Thank you to the local community for the great outpouring support here. It's a great team here at Fort Leonard Wood, and we're going to get this place put back together as quickly as we can," Casey said.

Page last updated Tue January 4th, 2011 at 00:00