|Story & photos by Rob Schuette
Police K-9 unit and an inflatable obstacle course were among the new
activities and highlights at Fort McCoy’s annual Armed Forces Day Open
House. The May 19 event, which was open to the public, also included
information about the installation’s organizations, the military and an
opportunity to learn more about Fort McCoy’s history for the thousands
Youth complete the inflatable
National Guard obstacle course event at the Fort McCoy Armed
Forces Day Open House.
Sgt. Nathan Stanton, handler, and Staff Sgt. Matt Peppersack,
trainer, put Mace, a Belgian Malinois, through three demonstrations in
front of appreciative crowds. The dog, also known as a Belgian Shepherd,
is a military working dog that supports narcotics and patrol missions.
“We’ve been taking the dog on a tour through Wisconsin,” Stanton said.
“The dog is the military counterpart to civilian K-9 units, and he also
can help subdue suspects.”
Plenty of other activities were available on the Open House grounds for
people to learn and experience more about the military and Fort McCoy,
including obstacle courses and the favorites of camouflage face painting
and personalized dog tags.
Keith Gilge of Spencer brought his daughter and her friend to visit the
“They liked looking at the equipment and the history of Fort McCoy,”
Gilge said. “We also took a bus tour, and it was fun to see the size of
Capt. Mark Hunter of the 86th
Training Division applies camouflage face paint, which was a
popular attraction for youth during the Fort McCoy Armed Forces
Day Open House. Youth also could get customized dog tags and
information from a number of the presentations at the event.
Jean Gunsolus of Stoughton brought her grandson, who went through the
obstacle course twice and loved it.
“We came last year when it was cold and rainy and it was interesting so
we came back this year,” Gunsolus said.
Temperatures approaching 90 degrees greeted guests this year so they could
leisurely visit many of the displays, such as the equipment.
Jim Peterson of Chippewa Falls brought his grandson and his friend.
Peterson also reminisced about his 20 years in the military.
“The kids liked walking around the grounds, going through buildings and
the dog tags,” Peterson said. The buildings included the Commemorative
Area Buildings, which depict life during World War II at Fort McCoy.
Heather Stange of Juneau brought her son and niece to the event.
“They liked the obstacle course and crawling on their stomachs,” Stange
said. “They also like the face painting and dog tags, the bus tour — the
size of the base — and my son enjoyed the History Center,” which
chronicles the history of Fort McCoy from its in inception in 1909 to
Staff Sgt. Matt Peppersack
(left), trainer, and Sgt. Nathan Stanton, handler, demonstrate
the patrol skills of their military working dog, Mace, in front
of a crowd at the Fort McCoy Armed Forces Day Open House.
Bryan Mikshowsky of La Crosse brought his son, who liked the target
shooting at the Shooting Van, to the event.
“We liked the old and new equipment,” Mikshowsky said.
Mikshowsky liked the equipment on display in the Equipment Park. His son
liked climbing on the newer equipment provided by Regional Training
Site-Maintenance, the Maneuver Area Training Equipment Site and the
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion-25, all Fort McCoy tenant
The National Guard youth cadets also put on several interactive
drill-and-ceremony demonstrations to introduce the crowd to that
perspective of military life.
The annual Armed Forces Day Open House event at Fort McCoy will return
for an encore presentation May 18, 2013.
For more information about the event, call 608-388-2407.