Between changing training requirements and COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, Fort McCoy had an eventful 2020.But the pandemic didn’t stop the Fort McCoy team, which resumed the training mission in a big way, and more.JanuaryIn January, Fort McCoy hosted a dozens of service members for its Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC). The season started in mid-December 2019 before taking a break for the holidays and resuming in January 2020 where one 14-day class session was completed and another started.CWOC Instructor Hunter Heard said the Wisconsin winter really made an appearance for the second class of the training season in January 2020.“This was this first class this season where the temperature dropped below zero for both thermal shelter-building nights of training,” Heard said. “The class performed well through it all and really did a great job looking out for and checking on one another. This class also had colder temps at the start of the cold-water immersion scenario, but every squad performed well.”Fort McCoy community members also celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 16. Rev. Everett Mitchell was the guest speaker at Fort McCoy’s observance of the holiday. He is a juvenile court judge for Wisconsin’s Dane County Circuit Court.Everett said sharing time, helping others, and “spreading light” are the most important ways to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Toward the end of the month, then-Garrison Commander Col. Hui Chae Kim shared updates with the workforce during the annual workforce briefing. Kim highlighted some of the awards received by the installation and workers in past years, including Army Communities of Excellence awards in 2017-2019; operational security awards in 2016-18; environmental awards in 2016, 2017, and 2019; humanitarian awards for Directorate of Emergency Services personnel; public affairs communications awards in 2016-18; and a 2018 “High Flyer” award for the Directorate of Human Resource’s ID Card Section.He also spoke about improvements and achievements that don’t garner awards, such as a wide array of infrastructure improvements, international accreditation for the Directorate of Emergency Services Fire Department, Child and Youth Services facilities accreditation, creating intergovernmental support agreements with area agencies, and high scores in the Installation Management Command Organizational Inspection Program and Higher Headquarters Assessment.FebruaryFort McCoy’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 economic impact was released in February 2020 at an estimated $1.184 billion.The data was compiled by Fort McCoy’s Plans, Analysis and Integration Office. Workforce payroll, operating costs, and other expenditures totaled $296 million for FY 2019 compared to $283.7 million for FY 2018. A total of 2,622 personnel worked at Fort McCoy in FY 2019 — 1,538 civilians, 523 military, and 561 contract employees.CWOC training also continued in February with Soldiers, Marines, and for the first time — Airmen — graduating the course.More than 20 Airmen with the Tennessee Air National Guard’s 164th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) at Memphis were among the trainees for CWOC Class 20-04.“I would be lying if I said there were no concerns for us going into the course,” said Master Sgt. John C. Hogue, class 20-04 student and the 164th SFS training manger. “Our Airmen have been in locations that have tested their willpower and determination. However, most of these locations are your standard hot, dry locations. Being from the southern states, that was not too much of a challenge. On the other hand, sustained single-digit temperatures we saw in this course took some adjusting.”The Fort McCoy Sgt. Audie Murphy Club chapter also was established. The first meeting of the chapter was held Feb. 19 to elect chapter officers and forge a plan for the way ahead for the post’s newest noncommissioned officer-affiliated organization.MarchThe Army and Fort McCoy began taking the first steps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Many employees began teleworking as much as possible, and strict sanitation, social-distancing, and mask requirements were implemented throughout the installation.One on-post employee discussed adjusting to teleworking.“I’m grateful to be able to telework in these trying and stressful times,” said Deana Caswell, senior technician with the U.S. Army Reserve Pay Center at Fort McCoy. “It is a welcomed challenge. I’m very happy that my organization has, first, has the capabilities to telework and, secondly, has authorized teleworking from home to do our part to be safe and keep others safe due to the stay-at-home order put in place. It allows us to carry out the very important mission to pay America’s Soldiers.”Most training was canceled due to Department of the Army restrictions, however CWOC Class 20-05 was able to wrap its training.“The changing conditions of our operating environment required us to change up some of the training,” said Heard. “But the students did well responding to the changes and completed their training successfully.”After completing the course, many students said they learned a lot about cold-weather operations that will help them and their units be successful.“The days and nights that were spent in the field going from location to location was the best part of the course,” said student Pfc. Bryce Hutton with the 950th Engineer Company at Superior, Wis. “Also, being taught the little things that can save you from freezing was also helpful. Additionally, learning fire starting and shelter building are the main skills I will take away from this training to bring back to my home station.”AprilFort McCoy essential services continued to adjust to pandemic restrictions in order to provide services during April 2020.The Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) held training sessions to augment the force with service members if needed, while Fort McCoy Commissary, Exchange, and dining services implemented new safety measures to help keep both employees and customers safe.DES held the five-day, 40-hour augmented standby force training in early April for 24 service members at the installation.“The training is for borrowed military manpower (BMM) to be used as an augmented standby force to cover down on a potential law-enforcement staffing reduction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lt. Benjamin Finn with the DES Police Department. “The course of instruction included classroom and range operations. Topics covered vary from access control point (ACP) procedures, to handcuffing and qualifying with a weapon — a 9mm pistol.”Other offices on post switched to providing as many services as possible either virtually or over the phone in April. Volunteers, coordinated by Army Community Service, sewed masks for installation staff and family members. The masks were, and continue to be, available through the Installation Safety Office.Construction resumed on post as the weather improved, with progress made on new barracks and a new shipping and receiving/mail freight facility as well as new housing units.The post also held a very small outdoor Arbor Day observance April 24 in front of McCoy’s Community Center where a single maple tree was planted to represent the importance of the day. Kim read the Arbor Day proclamation to recognize Fort McCoy’s commitment to preserving forest lands and more.“The Department of the Army is the steward of the land and the natural resources at Fort McCoy, which are being held in trust for the American people,” Kim said in the proclamation. “Trees are one of the most important natural resources contained on Fort McCoy, either singularly, in groups, or forests.“These trees benefit Fort McCoy by providing quality training, watershed protection, wood products, food and shelter for wildlife, outdoor recreation opportunities, clean air, noise buffers, and beautification,” Kim said. “Fort McCoy has been designated as a Tree City USA, and Arbor Day is a time of national observance for the recognition of the importance of trees to all locations.”MayConstruction continued on new simulations buildings in May, while renovation began on building 2880, which will be used as garrison offices for the Directorate of Public Works and Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS).The annual Armed Forces Day Open House was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many local Memorial Day observances were also curtailed.The Fort McCoy Religious Support Office conducted its annual Memorial Day observance online. The guest speaker was retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jenny Bryan, who currently serves as the Casualty Operations Branch chief for the 88th Readiness Division at Fort McCoy.Bryan started by sharing how, when she visits and speaks to children, she’ll ask them if they know what certain symbols mean, such as the stars and stripes on the U.S. flag. She then asks if they know what the various parts of her uniform mean. While the children usually don’t, Bryan said she tells the children that they don’t have to memorize the meanings behind all the pieces of her uniform, they should know that each piece tells part of a story.“What’s important to remember is that the uniform tells a story. The stripes mean something. The unit crest means something. The cords and the ribbons mean something, and even our hats mean something,” Bryan said. “Unfortunately, our uniform doesn’t always tell that we went above and beyond the call of duty — that we were injured or even killed.”Pine View Campground reopened May 22 with limited services, and the campground was filled with campers looking to socially distance over Memorial Day weekend. Campground staff had implemented numerous pandemic safety protocols that helped keep guests safe.Other installation offices began to offer limited in-person hours while conducting most business virtually. Large-scale planning also was going on at DPTMS and across the Fort McCoy team to return training to the installation by July.JuneFort McCoy welcomed its new garrison commander, Col. Michael D. Poss, on June 10 at a virtual change of command ceremony.Only minimal attendance was allowed at the ceremony as required by health and safety requirements for the COVID-19 pandemic. Installation Management Command Readiness Director Brenda Lee McCullough officiated the event from a virtual setting. Maj. Gen. Jody Daniels, commanding general of the 88th Readiness Division and senior Fort McCoy commander, also participated in the event.Fort McCoy hosted a drive-thru Army Birthday celebration June 12 in honor of the Army’s 245th anniversary.“While this wasn’t our usual Army birthday celebration, the overwhelming community support from our patriotic sponsors allowed us to still celebrate this important occasion,” said Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Director Patric McGuane. “The incredible DFMWR team here at Fort McCoy was determined to celebrate our Army’s birthday. Their adaptability, flexibility, and agility was on full display as we were able to modify the event to safely have a real celebration.”DFMWR’s Child Development Center and School-Age Center/Youth Center (SAC/YC) also reopened a few days later to offer services to essential personnel.Poss later said the installation needed to reopen the CDC and SAC/YC because those facilities directly support military and civilian workforce members on post.“We wanted to look at opening up the CDC, and I was there on opening day to see how it would go. Prior to that, we had visited the center quite extensively and talked with the staff. … It was great to see the employees bringing the children,” Poss said. “It was a new environment, but we adapted with new procedures. The children seemed to be excited. The parents seemed to be excited. That did help us on our goal of starting to bring back employees to the workplace in a safe and effective manner.”JulyTraining resumed at the installation in July with new safety measures in place after having stopped in April. Units were required to be cleared medically before traveling to the installation and screen service members daily. Unit members were also required to follow proper social distancing, masking, and sanitation measures to help mitigate the possibility of an outbreak.For Larry Sharp, the chief of the Fort McCoy DPTMS Training Coordination Branch, getting the training back on track was not easy.“It (was) a herculean effort by everyone on our team to get this training back and to keep it going,” Sharp said. “After we stopped the training, we were busy getting units rescheduled and back here starting in July. We’ve had to work with travel restrictions in mind as well as COVID-19 safety precautions.“Our (DPTMS) scheduling people (were) working and working, our ammunition supply people have been very busy, and we have people who have been working nearly full time just ensuring units are following the established COVID-19 precautionary measures,” Sharp said.Fort McCoy also hosted Bishop Richard Spence of the Archdioceses of Military Services in July. The bishop visited Fort McCoy from July 18-19 to meet and talk with leadership about the religious community and services offered at the installation.Spencer is one of five auxiliary bishops for the Archdioceses of Military Services, which endorses all Roman Catholic priests serving in federal organizations. He supports 97 military installations across the United States.During his visit, Spencer met with Chaplain (Maj.) Robert Rand, garrison chaplain; Staff Sgt. Pritchett, RSO noncommissioned officer in charge; and Col. Michael Poss, garrison commander, to discuss the scope of the ministry at Fort McCoy.AugustTraining kicked into high gear in August at Fort McCoy as units rescheduled training that had been canceled earlier in the year.The 228th Combat Support Hospital prepared for a deployment, the 86th Training Division tested new training measures to account for pandemic restrictions, and ROTC cadets from several universities hosted training events at the installation.The last week of July and the first week of August saw more than 4,000 troops training on the installation each week, and that number is grew to more than 6,000 troops per week during the last two weeks of August.“We have Operation Ready Warrior exercise training going on as well as ROTC summer training planned for mid-August and beyond,” Sharp said in August. “Plus we have weekend training and battle drill training going on throughout the month.”In early August, units completing training at Fort McCoy included the 123rd Engineer Battalion of the Illinois National Guard; 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines (2nd, 24th) of the Marine Corps Reserve, and the 33rd Military Police Battalion of the Army Reserve.Soldiers with the 123rd operated remotely at a tactical training base on North Post for extended training with their heavy equipment and more. The 2nd, 24th Marines also completed numerous kinds of training near Range 18, also on North Post. And the 33rd Soldiers completed training from tactical training areas on South Post.The Navy’s Recruit Training Command of Great Lakes, Ill., also worked with the Army at Fort McCoy so the post could serve as a restriction-of-movement (ROM) site for Navy recruits prior to entering basic training.Additional personnel support from the Navy’s Great Lakes, Ill., Millington, Tenn., and Washington, D.C., sites deployed to McCoy to assist RTC in conducting the initial 14-day ROM to help reduce the risk of bringing the coronavirus to RTC should any individual be infected. This is also the first time Fort McCoy has supported the Navy in this capacity.SeptemberFort McCoy hosted the Army Reserve’s Best Warrior Competition in early September.In a story by Spc. Olivia Cowart about the competition, it states the Reserve’s Best Warrior Competition is an intense and brutal challenge for only the most skilled Soldiers. Competitors put their warrior skills to the test across more than a dozen demanding events, including weapons qualification, a 12-mile ruck march, and ambush scenarios.“We were just very honored as a community and as an installation … that Fort McCoy was chosen for the Best Warrior Competition,” Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Mantha, Fort McCoy Garrison command sergeant major said in the article. “This is an Army Reserve installation. This is an Army Reserve competition.”Garrison leadership also hosted a remembrance ceremony for Patriot Day on Sept. 11 at Veterans Memorial Plaza in Fort McCoy’s historic Commemorative Area.About 20 people participated in the socially distanced ceremony recalling the 19th anniversary of the attacks. The leaders participating in the ceremony included Poss; Garrison Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Alexander Carter; Deputy to the Garrison Commander Brad Stewart; Mantha; Maj. Eddie Woody, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy; and Chaplain Rand.Poss opened the ceremony right at 9 a.m. “I know we have busy schedules and a lot of things going on; we thought it was important to take a few moments (to remember) here in this special setting,” Poss said.A virtual observance was also hosted for Hispanic Heritage Month. Additionally, the fall class of cadets with the Wisconsin Challenge Academy participated in several clean-up and beautification projects both on and off post.OctoberTraining numbers for fiscal year 2020 were released in October. While the total of 60,054 was significantly down from previous years, it was due to training and movement restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Training resumed at a brisk pace in the fourth quarter.Of the 60,054 troops who trained on post, 29,160 were Army Reserve Soldiers, 22,117 were National Guard service members, and 8,777 were active-duty Soldiers or troops from other services such as the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.Training statistics reflect many types of training opportunities that take place at the installation by active- and reserve-component forces and other governmental agencies, according to DPTMS.During the fiscal year, training included several CWOC sessions; battle-drill (weekend) training; annual training; mobilization; institutional training; and numerous exercises, including the Army Reserve’s Operation Ready Warrior that brought more than 1,000 troops to train at Fort McCoy.Sailors and recruits recognized the 245th Navy birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony Oct. 13 at an installation dining facility specifically in use for the Navy. Navy personnel coordinated the ceremony with the Fort McCoy Logistics Readiness Center’s Food Services Division.Fort McCoy also hosted a socially distanced Army Ten-Miler event, drawing 78 runners. Team Fort McCoy did well in the on-post event as well as in the virtual competition held Armywide.The team earned a second-place finish the Fort McCoy event and a second place in the Reserve-Mixed Division during the larger Ten-Miler.Fort McCoy held its part of the Army Ten-Miler, Virtual Edition, on Oct. 11. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers cleared the way for installations and teams to hold their own races through the Army Ten-Miler Runner Experience.The Army Ten-Miler is usually conducted by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington and is a 10-mile race that normally starts and finishes near the Pentagon and takes runners through the streets of Washington.The race’s virtual edition called for teams to compete in a race between Oct. 11 and 18. Team McCoy Coach Tony Steinhoff, director of Mission Installation Contracting Command-McCoy and an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with the 88th, said he was happy the team did well.“I thought the team put in a great effort, and I had a great time running with the team,” Steinhoff said.“And even though we did not have any competitions to determine team members, or even train as a team one time, I was proud to see the team show up on race day with positive attitudes giving it their all, especially considering the environment we’re living in right now with the pandemic.”Renovation also continued on 11 World War II-era buildings on post to bring them into 21st century standards with new siding, windows, concrete work, and more.NovemberOn Nov. 7, Fort McCoy hosted a Make-A-Wish Foundation event for 8-year-old Chicago resident Miguel Garcia, whose wish was to be an Army Soldier.Garcia, along with several family members, was able to experience a variety of activities during his visit to Fort McCoy, which was coordinated through the Wisconsin and Illinois Make-A-Wish Foundations with support from Fort McCoy members and the Wisconsin National Guard.The activities included assisting in landing a helicopter over the radio, touring a variety of military equipment, and hands-on simulation training at the Fort McCoy simulations training area in the 200 block of the installation.Ana Garcia, Miguel’s sister, passed on the family’s appreciation for the event.“I talked to Miguel,” Ana said. “He said … everything was perfect. He enjoyed on getting on the tanks and helicopter and looking inside of them. He enjoyed being with the Soldiers. He loves each of the gifts he got, and he is thankful for everything. My family enjoyed everything and learning about the Army. Thank you for making Miguel’s wish come true on being a Soldier.”Fort McCoy began its holiday food drive, dropping off its first round of donated food to local food pantries in time for Thanksgiving. More food was collected and donated in advance of the Christmas holiday season.On Nov. 19, Fort McCoy held a special Thanksgiving meal for service members and their families. The event, also organized by the Logistics Readiness Center Food Services Division, served dozens of diners in a way consistent with all necessary pandemic safety measures built in.Also by early November, the construction of a new $20.6 million barracks building by contractor L.S. Black Constructors was at more than 30 percent completed, according to Ken Green with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Resident Office at Fort McCoy.The planned completion date for the barracks is currently August 2021. The barracks, which is being built in the 1600 block on the cantonment area, will be different than the traditional barracks located throughout the installation. This new building will be four stories and be able to house 400 people in approximately 60,000 square feet, Green said. The building will be built with the latest in construction materials and include state-of-the-art physical security and energy-saving measures.DecemberThe first CWOC class of the 2020-21 season began in early December before snow fell at the installation.This season, the CWOC training team of instructors — Heard, Joe Ernst, Manny Ortiz, and Brian Semann — is holding five, 14-day training sessions of CWOC as well as two, three-day sessions.At the end of the 2019-2020 CWOC training season at Fort McCoy in March, the CWOC staff and students experienced the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and had to adapt and adjust training, Heard said. In addition to social distancing, hand washing/sanitizing, and mask requirements, Heard said they reduced the class size from 50 students per class to 30.“We will do everything we can to ensure our students are safe,” Heard said. “Since the pandemic started, we have all learned a lot about how to increase the safety measures in our training program, and what we have in place should help us have a successful training season.”Fort McCoy Child and Youth Services was recognized in December for receiving a perfect score during its annual inspection. And Whitetail Ridge Ski Area opened Dec. 19 for the 2020-21 season.(Article prepared by Aimee Malone and Scott Sturkol with the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office.)