By Ms. Dawn M Arden (Leonard Wood)February 1, 2018
Service members already know the military is a "small world," where they may cross paths with the same person several times throughout their career. Here, on Fort Leonard Wood, four Soldiers are fortunate enough to have been together through high school and college, before finding themselves stationed back in their home town, all as captains in the U.S. Army.
Capts. Janai Miller, Michael Moore, Benjamin Murray and Joey Reynolds, all grew up in military families and graduated from Waynesville High School before going on to complete Missouri State University's ROTC program. Each said they were excited upon finding out they were "coming home" to Fort Leonard Wood.
Reynolds, Company D, 795th Military Police Battalion, commander, was born at Fort Leonard Wood's General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital and attended Waynesville schools from 6th grade through graduation in 2008.
"When I saw a company command was available at Fort Leonard Wood, I was very excited at the opportunity," Reynolds said. "As a military member, it is not often you are able to serve so close to your family and friends."
Murray, WHS class of 2007 and Company D, 35th Engineer Battalion, commander, said being stationed here has allowed him to give back to organizations he was a part of, like the WHS JROTC and the MSU ROTC programs.
"It is a bittersweet feeling, being back here. I joined the Army to travel the world, which I have done and will continue to do," Murray said. "It is rewarding when we do community service knowing that I am helping my own community, not many stationed here can say that."
Miller, fellow 2007 graduate and 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, operations officer, said she can relate to the "bitter-sweet feeling" of being back.
"It's a little nostalgic and a little bitter-sweet," Miller said. "On one hand it's your old stomping grounds so you don't have to deal with the unfamiliarity of the area, which is typical when you PCS to a new duty location. However, it's also kind of like, I've been here and done all there is to do here."
Moore, who moved to the area at the age of three and attended Waynesville schools from kindergarten through graduation in 2006, said he has many "epic memories" of growing up in the area.
"Joey and I played football together and I knew Ben and Janai from other activities throughout the high school," Moore said. "Looking back at my childhood and adolescent years, I really enjoyed growing up in this area. (It's) very unique because it brought so many different cultures into one place."
All of them agreed their history together gives them the advantage of having close-knit support systems with mutual a understanding of what one another is going through.
"It is good to have people who you are comfortable going to; to bounce ideas off of; to get best practices; and to avoid headaches that the other has already gone through," Miller said. "It makes it easier to network when you know the person."
Reynolds added, "It is always comforting to know you can reach out to people you've worked with and have known for several years for assistance, input or ideas. Considering how small the Army is, I'm sure I will serve alongside one of them again."
Moore said his assignment here has been challenging but ultimately rewarding.
"I have grown both professionally and personally," Moore said. "I see firsthand the sacrifices that we make as a BCT unit to train our future Soldiers and I'm very grateful to be a part of that experience with the team I have."
Murray summed up the experience by saying, "Looking back, if you had asked me in high school, I never would have guessed I would be serving here on Fort Leonard Wood as a commander. The fact that I get to serve my country and community alongside my high school and college classmates makes it that much better."