Fort McCoy News May 27, 2016

2016 open house delights thousands

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

Thousands of people congregated for the installation's 2016 Armed Forces Day Open House at Fort McCoy May 21.

The open house was held on the grounds of Fort McCoy's historic Commemorative Area, which includes World War II-era buildings, the Equipment Park, and Veterans Memorial Plaza.

Open house attendees visit the display set up by the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch in building 905 May 21.
Open house attendees visit the display set up by the Directorate of Public
Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch in building
905 May 21.



The historical buildings of the Commemorative Area were a favorite stop for many attendees.
The historical buildings of the Commemorative Area were a favorite
stop for many attendees.

Attendees enjoyed the many displays, activities, and historical areas amid sunny skies and high temperatures.

Dick Smith of Milton, Wis., made his first trip to the open house. In the late 1950s, he said he would come to then-Camp McCoy to sell newspapers with Family members when they lived in nearby Sparta. He enjoyed the chance to return to see the history and attractions.

"It's just good to see the post and what goes on here," said Smith, who also was one of many who participated in the 45-minute installation bus tours offered throughout the day. "This is a wonderful event, and the tour was great."

Activities were available for people of all ages, and those activities highlighted more than history.

People lined up for camouflage face painting, personalized ID tags, an interactive-marksmanship gallery, and military-vehicle and fire-truck displays; to see the latest Army medical equipment in use and fill sandbags to build a mock defensive position; and more.

William Warren of Ojibwa, Wis., which is more than 150 miles from post, made his way to the event with five other Family members. All were in the area to see Warren's son enlist in the Army in a separate event and wanted to see what the open house was all about.

"Seeing what you have here is not new to me and some of my Family, as I had previously served in the military," Warren said. "But this was all new to my niece who came along. She really enjoyed it all."

Warren said he personally liked Veterans Memorial Plaza, which is a tribute to all the men and women who have served the nation during each era of Fort McCoy's 107-year history.

"The statues, the flags, and the history it represents was nice to see. I really like it," Warren said.

Inside building 905, visitors could see military gear issued to Soldiers through the Logistics Readiness Center Central Issue Facility, catch a glimpse of snakes and turtles that inhabit Fort McCoy at the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch display, and visit dozens of other exhibits on both floors of the building.

Several new displays were set up by the Medical Simulation Training Center, the 181st Infantry Brigade, and a mobile unit from USO Wisconsin. Representatives of the Army, Army Reserve, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard auxiliary were on site.

Visitors watch a police demonstration by a Wisconsin State Patrol team featuring an explosives-finding canine.
Visitors watch a police demonstration by a Wisconsin State Patrol team
featuring an explosives-finding canine.



A father takes a picture of his children with Sparky the Fire Dog at one of the Fort McCoy Fire Department display areas.
A father takes a picture of his children with Sparky the Fire Dog at one
of the Fort McCoy Fire Department display areas.



A youth high-fives one of the Navy mascots who greeted visitors.
A youth high-fives one of the Navy mascots who greeted visitors.

Alena Toberman of Monona, Iowa, attended the open house with her husband and son. She said attending the event was "totally worth" the two-hour drive to Fort McCoy.

"This was a great experience," Toberman said. "We came here hoping to get some ideas on places to take a scout troop, and I think we found one place (Fort McCoy) we can come back to in the future. Everything that is here showcases the history very well.

"We received a lot of cool information and there was a lot of great equipment to see, both in the (historical Equipment) Park and that was on display (for the day)," said Toberman, adding her son "really enjoyed" getting up into some of the Army vehicles units brought to the open house.

"This was a great way to spend a day, and I would recommend it to anyone," Toberman said
Fort McCoy Public Affairs Officer Tonya K. Townsell said the 2016 open house was a great success.

"The open house provides an excellent opportunity for people to come and see what Fort McCoy is all about and to learn about the Army, the installation, the history, and Fort McCoy's continuing mission to support the nation as the 'Total Force Training Center,'" Townsell said. "This event was well-attended, and we appreciated the opportunity to showcase the installation.

"Such success doesn't just happen," Townsell said. "There are employees who put their energy and hearts into this every year. And, of course, our neighbors invest a day to visit Fort McCoy so we have the opportunity to share what we do here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year."

Armed Forces Day is observed on the third Saturday in May. Planning already is underway for the May 20, 2017, open house.

For more information about the event, call 608-388-2407.