By Mrs. Melissa K Buckley (Leonard Wood)September 25, 2013
FORT LEONARD WOOD, MO. -- The 72nd Anniversary celebration of the Military Police Corps Regiment is underway this week with a theme of "Forging the Future -- Professional, Ready, Resilient."
The purpose of regimental week is to gather lessons learned in support of current operations to prepare the future force, promote esprit de corps and pay tribute to those who have made significant contributions to the Military Police Corps Regiment.
On Monday, members of the Fort Leonard Wood community gathered at Memorial Grove with five Gold Star Families to honor the military police Soldiers from those Families who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving in 2012.
All five of the Soldiers died in Afghanistan. There names are Sgt. Donna Johnson, Sgt. Jeremy Hardison, Sgt. Thomas Butler, Sgt. Enrique Mondragon and Sgt. 1st Class Trenton Rhea.
Command Sgt. Maj. John McNeirney, Military Police Corps Regiment and U.S. Army Military Police School command sergeant major, gave the memorial tribute.
"These five great American Soldiers -- military police Soldiers -- are part of our Army Family forever," McNeirney said. "Today we gather on this hallowed ground to fulfill our promise, our promise to remember. This is not a task that needs to be done, but a privilege for all of us. It's a scared honor."
He then turned his focus to the Gold Star Families, seated in the front rows.
"No matter how many ceremonies we hold, or what is said about them, we can never repay them, or their Families for their sacrifice. I only humbly offer the gratitude of a thankful nation, the silent prayers of a thankful world and the respect of the grateful people they helped. I promise we will honor them forever as members of our team and Family," McNeirney said.
"Unfortunately for me, I did not know any of our fallen. But, I was blessed last night to meet their Families and friends, who knew them intimately. I am thankful for the stories you shared with me. They held proud titles like father, brother, wife and mother, husband, son-in-law and best friends forever to many. They will live on through those they have touched in their life. They will be missed every day."
The Waynesville High School Choir performed and the Noncommissioned Officer Academy provided the firing of rifle volleys. The solemn service ended with bagpiper, Dan Jackson, playing "Amazing Grace" as Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Laye, led a riderless horse across the grove. The horse had a pair of desert boots reversed in the stirrups to symbolize the loss of a warrior who would ride no more.
Tuesday morning, Gammon Field was filled with Military Police Soldiers for the Regimental Run.
Following the three-mile run Brig. Gen. Mark Spindler, Military Police Corps Regiment chief and U.S. Army Military Police School commandant, addressed the Soldiers.
"You're 72, you're looking great for 72. All of these colors that fly in front of you are from all brigades in the field. With the fiscal restraints and the financial problems that are going -- right now we just couldn't afford to bring all the leadership into U.S. Army Military Police School this year. So we brought the colors, but the colors represent troops and so essentially what you're doing, you run for those troops and leadership who could not come here today. So, if they can't come to the regiment, the regiment will go to the corps. There are three things we have for regimental week -- the honor first always goes to the fallen -- we did that yesterday. Then you honor the past, remember last week when we did the Hall of Fame. At the end of the week at the ball we will honor the future of our corps, but right now we honor the present -- today we honor you. This is what the Army is all about -- the Army never stops," Spindler said.
Then, Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, Fort Leonard Wood and the Manuever Support center of Excellence commanding general, spoke.
"The MP Regiment, the Engineer Regiment and the Chemical Regiment are one of a kind regiments with one of a kind capabilities for our nation and our world. So, we're counting on you. I trust you. I believe in your military expertise. I believe in your honorable service, and today you demonstrated esprit-de-corps. There is no challenge that we have, that we collectively can't solve," Smith said.
Following the run, members of the corps attended a State of the Regiment address.
All this week, commuters to Fort Leonard Wood are getting to view a piece of military operational history as they pass through the post's gates.
Military police Soldiers working on duty are wearing Cold War-era headgear, which was worn by military police while performing garrison law enforcement missions from the 1940s until the 1980s.
Wearing the headgear is a symbolic way to remember Military Police Soldiers who have forged the way for the current force, and allows the regiment to pay tribute to their proud history.
"It's a great reminder for people coming through the gate that the Military Police Corps has been doing great things for a long time," said Sgt. Jacob Raney, 463rd Military Police Company, 92nd Military Police Battalion, 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. "(Motorists) want to know why we are wearing them. I tell them it's our way of paying respect to the MPs who came before us."
Raney said he is glad he has the opportunity to show off his Military Police heritage and share why he is honored to be part of the regiment.
"I'm proud to be an MP because I get to assist the other Soldiers, Family members and other branches on Fort Leonard Wood. I like being able to interact with them and get to know them and the community around the post," Raney said.
The anniversary events continue today through Saturday.
Four individuals will be inducted into the U.S. Army Military Police Corps Hall of Fame, during a luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today in the Pershing Community Center.
This year's inductees are: retired Brig. Gen. Rodney Johnson; retired Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Butler; retired Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Farley; and retired Regimental Chief Warrant Officer Philip Tackett. Photos of the inductees will be unveiled in the Military Police Corps Museum at 1:30 p.m., immediately following the induction ceremony.
The Military Police Regimental Association plans to host a golf tournament for the regiment at 10 a.m., Sept. 27, on the Piney Valley Golf Course.
Regimental week concludes with the annual Military Police Regimental Ball at 5 p.m., Sept. 28, in Nutter Field House.
(Editor's note: Dawn Arden, GUIDON assistant editor, contributed to this story.)