FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence complex was renamed “The Honorable Ike Skelton Campus” during a ceremony today on the second floor of Hoge Hall to honor an individual who senior leaders here said was instrumental in shaping much of Fort Leonard Wood’s present-day training missions.
Former Congressman Ike Skelton, originally from Lexington, Missouri, represented his state’s Fourth Congressional District — which includes Fort Leonard Wood — in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977 to 2011. During the ceremony, a dedication wall was revealed in Hoge Hall, highlighting Skelton’s efforts in the consolidation of the Army Engineer School from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, along with the Military Police and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear schools from Fort McClellan, Alabama, to establish the Maneuver Support Center here on Oct. 1, 1999.
Originally called MANSCEN before receiving its “Center of Excellence” designation in 2009, the moves quadrupled the number of service members receiving training here and generated more than 30,000 on- and off-post civilian jobs, according to a citation read at the ceremony.
At the same time the dedication wall was being revealed, the main sign for the facility, located along First Street, was uncovered to reveal the formal name change.
Maj. Gen. James Bonner, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, called the dedication wall and renaming “a worthy tribute to a worthy friend, public servant and leader.”
“He increased and improved the training mission here at Fort Leonard Wood, along with the quality of life of the trainees, students, cadre, family members, civilians and retirees, who live, work and enjoy services here,” Bonner said. “Truly, we cannot walk a block without seeing his work, his impact, his lasting impression.”
Also speaking at the ceremony was Keith Pritchard, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, representing western Missouri, who called Skelton his hero.
“He understood how to get things done in a respectful, efficient way,” Pritchard said. “Whether you were a Republican or a Democrat or independent, he knew good legislation is good for our country.”
Pritchard said Skelton’s legacy and influence on the military “are truly still evident all across our country.”
“He was respected by all who knew him,” Pritchard said.
Following Pritchard’s remarks, Robert Hagedorn, former chief of staff for Skelton, said designating the campus with the Congressman’s name “is indeed appropriate.”
“It meshes his affection for Fort Leonard Wood with one of his legacy issues — his passion for Professional Military Education,” Hagedorn said.
The citation on the dedication wall explains Skelton — among his many other accomplishments — was a key player in the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986, which was an attempt to improve coordination and communication between the services and fix problems caused by inter-service rivalries through the strengthening of civilian authority over the DOD.
Hagedorn said Skelton’s desire to see the military services work more efficiently in a joint environment is something that should live on.
“Symbols come and go; structures made of steel and wood rust or rot,” he said. “Legacy can endure if it is part of the curriculum. I would challenge you to ensure the concept of jointness is at least discussed, if not embraced.”
More photos from the ceremony are available on the Fort Leonard Wood Flickr page.