The year 2017 was one of growth and change at Fort Leonard Wood, and the GUIDON staff was honored to experience the year with all of the outstanding units and service members we have here. We were with you to cover a wide range of stories, such as the expansion of the training mission; improvements to base infrastructure and resources; visits from Department of Defense leaders and foreign allies; deployments and homecomings; and sporting events and community entertainment.

The following are some of the highlights from 2017:

During the holiday break, garrison leadership, along with the Missouri University of Science and Technology, joined forces on an initiative with the intent to research and implement new technologies on post by signing a memorandum of understanding. The memorandum identifies Fort Leonard Wood as a host installation for applied robotics and an autonomous electric bus pilot project. This was one of many that would be signed throughout the year to further strengthen the bonds between the post and the surrounding communities.

The Directorate of Emergency Services Physical Security Branch trained 50 Missouri National Guard Soldiers in access- and entry-control procedures prior to a deployment for the Guard. The three-day training included unarmed-self-defense, the rules of engagement, anti-terrorism measures, interpersonal communication and vehicle inspections.

Retired National Football League running back and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker visited Fort Leonard Wood and shared a message about mental health and having the strength to seek help if needed. In addition to his talks, Walker also had the opportunity to meet with and observe Soldiers and Marines in training during his two-day visit.

Maj. Gen. Kent Savre, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, signed a Memorandum of Agreement between the installation and the state, opening the state's Show-Me-Heroes Program network of employers to Career Skills Program participants. The Show-Me-Heroes Program is a state program that connects veterans with potential employment in Missouri. The program is fostered under the Soldier For Life -- Transition Assistance Program and administered through the Truman Education Center.

Fort Leonard Wood served as the host site for the 2017 Special Olympics Missouri State Indoor Games where more than 900 bowlers and nearly 200 basketball teams in eight different divisions competed for three days. This was the third year the post hosted the games.

MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood welcomed its new command sergeant major in a ceremony March 10 in Nutter Field House. Command Sgt. Maj. Jon Stanley, who assumed responsibility as the top enlisted leader during the ceremony, is no stranger to Fort Leonard Wood. He completed One Station Unit Training and was the command sergeant major for the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade here.

Representing Fort Leonard Wood and the U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School, Capt. Christopher Cox and 1st Lt. Andy Harvey competed in the David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition April 7 through 9 at Fort Benning, Georgia. Cox and Harvey finished sixth overall, a feat that impressed a lot of people within the Ranger and infantry communities.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, commander of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, visited Fort Leonard Wood April 11 through 12 to get a firsthand look at Missouri's largest military installation. Accompanied by IMCOM Command Sgt. Maj. Melissa Judkins, they spent their time at Fort Leonard Wood meeting with Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and garrison leaders and touring post.

The 2017 Best Sapper Competition took 48 teams across more than 50 miles in 50 hours, April 25 through 27. Two-man teams trudged through severe weather to complete Sapper tasks. 1st Lt. Luke Groom and Staff Sgt. Carlos Jimenez, representing the 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, emerged victorious in the grueling competition.

Fort Leonard Wood's own 399th Army Band joined the St. Louis Symphony and U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America for a joint concert in St. Louis. This was the first time all three musical groups had joined together for a performance.

Teams representing ground transportation specialists at seven U.S. Air Force bases in the region converged on Fort Leonard Wood for the first-ever Best in the Midwest Ground Transportation Rodeo. In the end, it was the Air Guard team representing 139th Airlift Wing that proved they were the "Best in the Midwest."

As part of the Army's End Strength Increase, Fort Leonard Wood and the 3rd Chemical Brigade activated the 2nd Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment in a ceremony on Gammon Field. The battalion, made up of Soldiers from the 95th Division and 108th Training Command in the Reserve component, was activated to help the post meet its increase of 4,500 Soldiers in fiscal year 2017.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was on Fort Leonard Wood to help celebrate the Army's 242nd birthday. To kick off the celebration, Greitens joined Maj. Gen. Kent Savre at 5:30 a.m. to lead a division-style run with thousands of Soldiers. After the run, Greitens toured Fort Leonard Wood and participated in the traditional cake-cutting ceremony.

The weather was nearly perfect for hundreds of runners who took part in the 18th annual Volkslauf 10k fun run. Turnout reached more than 700 for the race, which is held annually by the U.S. Marine Corps Detachment, and traditionally features a variety of hills, wooded paths, mud pits and more.

With a few strokes of a pen, the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood command team pledged to all Fort Leonard Wood employees and families that they will fulfill the U.S. Army Installation Management Command Service Culture Initiative. According to IMCOM, the Service Culture Initiative represents the command's long-term commitment to providing the best possible customer service to Soldiers, families, and installation communities.

Hundreds of area children jumped, ran and cheered alongside Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders, former players, mascot K.C. Wolf and local volunteers, as Fort Leonard Wood held an NFL Play 60 event at Davidson Fitness Center.

Fort Leonard Wood Soldier Sgt. Claudine Beckford, is one of 14 members of the USA Women's Cricket Team looking to help the national team advance to the Cricket World Cup.

Fort Leonard Wood's Sgt. 1st Class Ryan McCarthy, 1st Engineer Brigade, then a staff sergeant, claimed the 2017 Training and Doctrine Command's Noncommissioned Officer of the Year title July 21.

The total solar eclipse of the sun craze hit Missouri Aug. 21, when the eclipse swept through Missouri from the northwest corner of the state to Cape Girardeau. Maj. Gen. Kent Savre; his wife, Mary Beth; and Command Sgt. Maj. Jon Stanley, joined students and staff of Fort Leonard Wood's Partridge Elementary School while the 399th Army Band performed a concert at the state capitol for the celestial event.

Partnership and people were topics of discussion during the 2017 Sustainable Ozarks Partnership annual meeting held Aug. 24. Leaders from across the state and Fort Leonard Wood shared insights into the meeting's theme of "Strong Region, Strong Partnerships and Strong Future." The keynote address for this event came from U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, on today's defense challenges and opportunities.

Two Fort Leonard Wood sports teams represented the post at military tournaments in August and early September. The Fort Leonard Wood Hitsquad softball team represented at the annual U.S. Specialty Sports Association's Military World Softball Tournament at Fort Gordon, Georgia, while FLW United represented the post in the Defender's Cup Soccer Tournament in San Antonio, Texas. FLW Hitsquad finished ninth out of 25 teams in the Men's Intramural Division and FLW United finished 19th out of 40 teams. and

The Military Vehicle Preservation Association caravan of more than 50 historic military vehicles on a 30-day, cross-country convoy from Chicago, Illinois, to Santa Monica, California, along Historic Route 66 made a stop at Fort Leonard Wood.

After already winning at the Fort Leonard Wood level, Sgt. 1st Class Chad Hickey was named the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Drill Sergeant of the Year following four days of tough competition.

Having already claimed the title for TRADOC, Sgt. 1st Class Ryan McCarthy went on to be named the Army's NCO of the Year. Held annually since 2002, Best Warrior tests Soldiers on their aptitude through physical fitness assessments, written exams, urban warfare simulations and other warrior tasks and battle drills. Selection boards in front of some of the Army's most senior enlisted leaders, including Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey, are also part of the competition.

Many Soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood assisted in hurricane recovery operations across the U.S., but none was more personal than Hurricane Maria for Puerto Rico native Staff Sgt. Jose Medina. Medina, a drill sergeant for Company E, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, still had family on the island, so he took it upon himself to get home to assist in the recovery.

The Department of the Army announced Fort Leonard Wood as being one of seven installations to be recognized as winners of the 2017 Army Community Partnership awards. The post and the Sustainable Ozark Partnership were being recognized for their success in improving resiliency of the Fort Leonard Wood and city of St. Robert's water infrastructure in addition to the team's efforts with federal, state and local agencies.

Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey visited Fort Leonard Wood in November to talk with and recognize Soldiers across the installation. One of the stops was the 43rd Adjutant General Reception Battalion to see the arrival of new Soldiers and the process they go through once arriving at the installation. While here, Dailey was also able to participate in physical fitness training, test out the Evasive Driving Course and view a decontamination demonstration.

Post dining facilities were busy for weeks planning, preparing, cooking and serving the annual Thanksgiving holiday meal. In all, the Fort Leonard Wood DFACs provided nearly 12,000 meals during the lunch-time celebration and more than 35,000 meals throughout the day. More than five tons of turkey, 1,100 pounds of shrimp, 3,500 pounds of steamship round of beef and more than 2,000 assorted pies were served as part of the traditional holiday meal.

Many Soldiers will stay at Fort Leonard Wood for Holiday Block Leave. Organizations and commands have planned various special events and trips within the region to keep the holiday holdovers busy and entertained. Trips to attractions and shopping centers top the list, but the visit to the St. James Veterans Home is one that Soldiers and the veterans they visit enjoy.

The GUIDON and Public Affairs Office wishes you a safe and happy holiday season. See you again when the first issue of 2018 hits the streets Jan. 4.

For more photos and stories from throughout the year, find Fort Leonard Wood online at; on Facebook at; on Flickr at; on Twitter at; and on Instagram at