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May 25, 2012

Observances

Open House attracts thousands of visitors to Fort McCoy May 19

Story & photos by Rob Schuette

A Military 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 of guests.

PHOTO: Youth complete the inflatable National Guard obstacle course event. Photo by Rob Schuette
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 event.

“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 the installation.”

PHOTO: A Soldier applies camouflage face paint during the Fort McCoy Armed Forces Day Open House. Photo by Rob Schuette
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 the present.

PHOTO: A trainer and handler demonstrate the patrol skills of their military working dog. Photo by Rob Schuette
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 activities.

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.

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