Fort Leonard Wood Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation is providing opportunities for new Soldiers, their leaders and Families to celebrate all-things Army right after graduation.

Several companies of new Soldiers participate in FMWR Warrior Banquets during their Family or graduation days. Harking back to the days of Unit Regimental Messes, Soldiers gather to share a celebratory meal with drill sergeants and commanders.

"This is the way many units celebrate on their Family days," said Lois Matos, Pershing Community Center catering manager. "Sometimes they start off with breakfast, a lunch or sometimes end with dinner. This is when they release the Soldiers to go spend the day with their Families."

According to Megan O'Donoghue, Services and Support Division director, the banquets provide Soldiers and their Families and early opportunity to meet with other Soldiers and Families and participate in some of the Army's "most revered traditions."

On April 5, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, participated in their first Warrior Banquet. Hundreds of Soldiers and Family members filled Pershing Community Center to celebrate their recent graduation. The event featured fellowship, promotions, toasts to the country, the president, the Army, fellow Soldiers and the fallen.

Matos said while most banquets follow the same basic format, each company may do it differently.

"Some do them a little more formal, some a little more casual," she said noting that the 3-10 Soldiers were wearing their Army Service Uniform.

Pvts. Dearis Chaney and Kienen Loe, both from Company B, attended the April 5 event with their Families.

"I hope to gain more knowledge about military traditions today," said Chaney, an Erie, Pennsylvania native.

Loe, a Spokane, Washington native agreed, but said he was also looking forward to sharing the traditions of the day with his Family.

"This is like an intermission (from training to) Family day and a celebration of getting done with basic training," Loe said.

April Haddad, a Navy veteran and mother of Pfc. Allison Haddad, said she was excited to participate in the banquet and be exposed to military traditions once again.

"I am enjoying celebrating with my daughter today," said Haddad, a Frisco, Texas native.

Matos said the catering office at Pershing Community Center welcomes other organizations to inquire about starting their own Warrior Banquet tradition.

For more information, contact Matos at 573.329.2455 or