By Emily AthensSeptember 30, 2010
By Emily Athens
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. - (Sept. 30, 2010) -- The 69th Annual Military Police Corps Regimental Week concluded, Sept. 25, with the Regimental Ball, after Soldiers, leaders, Gold Star Families and civilians from across the Army and around the globe came to Fort Leonard Wood to celebrate, honor and recognize numerous MP traditions and personnel.
"This year's theme was the Army's Triple Strand of Strength. The message we were trying to send across the Army was that the three specialties of the MP Corps work together to support the Army's mission," said Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Kirkland, United States Army Military Police School.
The Warfighter team competition kicked off the week with Team 2 coming out on top, consisting of Staff Sgt. Adam Norton, Spc. Gene Thompson and Spc. Joseph Kajer of the 385th Military Police Battalion, out of Fort Stewart, Ga.
"It took a lot of mental endurance. We knew it was not going to be particularly fun, so we had to prepare ourselves every day before each event by getting focused and treating every event like it was the last challenge. We gave it our all," Thompson said.
"It was relieving to cross the finish line ... one of the greatest feelings ever. You realize you've just completed one of the hardest things the MP Corps has to offer and just to complete it, no matter what you've placed, is a good enough achievement for me," Norton added.
Following the Warfighter competition, the senior leadership conference began where MP leaders gathered to discuss key issues affecting the regiment, to include real-world operations, current procedures and lessons learned from the past.
"We bring the field up to date on the latest initiatives in the regiment, bring guest speakers from around the Army and the regiment to talk about their specific areas of expertise ... whether it be CID command, Army corrections command, etc ... and then we solicit ideas from the field on how to make things better," Kirkland said.
According to Brig. Gen. David Phillips, USAMPS commandant, it provides MP senior leaders the opportunity to get together, face to face, and discuss some issues.
"We discuss some really hard issues and hope for longer ranging impacts ... status quo is not a course of action for the MP corps. We have to maintain relevancy," Phillips said.
Included in the week's bustling schedule were numerous dedication ceremonies, beginning with the Memorial Grove Unveiling, where an eight-foot tall bronze statue of a military police Soldier was dedicated to the regiment. Bricks were further placed to honor and remember the fallen MPs of the past year.
Range 14, a marksman observer range, was then dedicated to a sole hero of the corps, Staff Sgt. Shannon Smith, who was killed in action in September of 2009.
"Staff Sgt. Shannon, "Smitty" Smith distinguished himself in combat. He served his nation valiantly for 12 years as an MP Soldier. With his character, courage, compassion and commitment, he is a model MP Soldier, warrior and leader. ... And it is for this reason, we are memorializing him by naming this range Staff Sgt. Shannon Smith marksman observer range in his honor," said Sgt. John May, in his remarks as master of ceremonies.
A final dedication ceremony was the honoring of the late Col. Roderick Demps, an MP senior leader who served for 23 years and spearheaded the premiere law enforcement training program for civilian police and guards. Bldg. 1029, the United States Army Civilian Police Academy, was dedicated to commemorate his efforts.
"The facility that we dedicate ... represents the culmination of his vision and his work to establish this training program. His efforts began six years ago, and now look how far we've come," said guest speaker Reginald Cole, deputy director of training for USAMPS.
Boosting the celebratory hype, MP units further participated in the annual Regimental Run, where they collectively ran 69 miles to reflect each year of MP Corps existence.
"This is what it's all about. You will remember this when you are 65. This is what makes us special," Phillips said to the myriad of MP Soldiers before running the final four miles together as a team.
Upon completion of the traditional run, MP leaders, Soldiers, family members and civilian dignitaries went to Pershing Community Center for the Hall of Fame induction, where Retired Command Sgt. Maj. James Barrett, Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Richard Hinson and Retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Curry were officially welcomed with distinction. Their photos were further hung in the John B. Mahaffey Complex museum to represent their induction and highlight their exceptional contributions to the Corps and their country.
Directly after the Hall of Fame photo hanging, guests observed the ribbon-cutting grand opening of the newly improved Vietnam exhibit, honoring the events of January 31, 1968, when Viet Cong enemies attempted to overtake the U.S. embassy. Retired Staff Sgt. John Shook, who played an integral role in the historical events of that day, was present to view the display, which depicts him in an MP vehicle.
The week's festivities were wrapped up with the 17th Annual MP Corps Regimental Golf tournament at the Piney Valley Golf Course. For full coverage on the tournament, see page C3.
"Regimental Week has brought back esprit de corps and reminds us of where we came from," Kirkland said.
(Editor's note: Emily Athens is a photojournalist assigned to the Fort Leonard Wood GUIDON.)