Rain showers mostly held off to allow thousands of people to take part in the 2019 Fort McCoy Armed Forces Day Open House.

Unlike the 2018 event, when visitors had sunny skies and warm temperatures, visitors to the 2019 open house experienced cool temperatures in the 40s and cloudy skies with an occasional light rain shower.

The open house was held on the grounds of Fort McCoy's historic Commemorative Area, which includes World War II-era buildings, the Equipment Park, and Veterans Memorial Plaza. It also covered areas inside and outside of building 905.

"We had many people enjoying all the areas of the Commemorative Area," said Public Affairs Specialist Theresa Fitzgerald with the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office.

Activities were available for people of all ages, and those activities highlighted more than history, Fitzgerald said.

People lined up for camouflage face painting, personalized ID tags, an interactive-marksmanship gallery, and military-vehicle and fire-truck displays. They also saw the latest Army medical equipment in use, filled sandbags to build a mock defensive position, and more.

James Kerkman with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch (NRB), along with NRB employee Leigh Neitzel, supported a natural resources display that showed people types of wildlife on Fort McCoy to include a bull snake, two types of turtles, and bullfrog pollywogs.

"The event went well and we had a lot of people stop by," Kerkman said. "Leigh did a great job at her first open house event. ... Even some people who were afraid of snakes eventually held the bull snake. It was a fun time overall."

Also included was a display from the Monroe County Local History Room of Sparta, Wis. The Wisconsin State Patrol had a trooper providing demonstrations with a canine trooper.

Army and Navy recruiting personnel were on hand supplying free items for visitors, and the American Red Cross provided free coffee, donuts, and other refreshments for people throughout the event.

Thomas Buehler, a Navy veteran, had a display of historic military helmets from not only the United States, but other countries as well. He said he was happy to attend the event and share his knowledge of the history of the helmets.

"It's always nice to come here and share the history," Buehler said. "This is a good event."

Vehicle and equipment displays were some of the most popular displays at open house, Fitzgerald said. This year, the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle was on display in addition to a variety of other vehicles used at Fort McCoy. Regional Training Site-Medical and Medical Training Support Center personnel set up medical displays.

The Directorate of Emergency Services had numerous vehicles on hand again and both police and fire department personnel helped show visitors each and every display.

Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR) personnel also served food and beverages, and they had outdoor recreation displays outdoors that included two recreational vehicles.

And throughout the day, hundreds of people participated in bus tours, which took a new route around the installation.

"The bus tours and everything went pretty well," Fitzgerald said. "Everyone seemed to enjoy the day. Thank you to everyone who helped make the event possible and to all who attended."

Armed Forces Day is the third Saturday in May. It was created Aug. 31, 1949, to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the Armed Forces under the Department of Defense.

The next Armed Forces Day Open House is scheduled for May 16, 2020.

Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin. The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services each year since 1984.

Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on Facebook by searching "ftmccoy," and on Twitter by searching "usagmccoy."