2020: the year in review

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Munson Army Health Center Commander Col. Scott Mower, Combined Arms Center Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Dostie, CAC Chief of Staff Col. Thomas Bolen, CAC and Fort Leavenworth Commanding General Lt. Gen. James Rainey, Garrison Commander Col. Harry Hung and Unified School District 207 Superintendent Keith Mispagel address questions and concerns about coronavirus disease 2019, aka COVID-19, during the CAC and Fort Leavenworth live Facebook Town Hall March 18, 2020. Subject-matter experts talked about the measures being taken at Fort Leavenworth and how services were being affected due to COVID-19 safety procedures being implemented nationwide. Screenshot

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

Over the last few weeks of 2020, the Fort Leavenworth Lamp took readers on a journey of the previous decade, highlighting the biggest news stories of 2010 to 2019.


Now, as 2021 begins, it is no secret what the big story of 2020 was — COVID-19.

John Stir, Plans, Analysis and Integration Office analyst, and Ross Viets, Unified School District 207 network administrator, move a green screen into place as George Marcec, Garrison Public Affairs Office operations officer, launches programs and organizes content in preparation for the evening’s Community Update with the Garrison commander Aug. 19, 2020, at the USD 207 District Office. Viets helped run streaming and video production from shortly after the update’s inception after the COVID-19 stay-at-home order went into effect through Memorial Day while the update was broadcast from the district office, then helped Marcec continue without him when the update moved to Eisenhower Elementary School, then assisted again when the update returned to be broadcast from the district office in July. Marcec has been responsible for many aspects of the Community Update, including organizing content. Stir observed behind the scenes at the Community Update to prepare for the Facebook Command and General Staff College Town Hall Meeting the next week. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Fort Leavenworth began its response to the pandemic with a Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth live Facebook Town Hall March 18 announcing plans to begin telework for several employees and remote learning for Command and General Staff College students and Unified School District 207 schools in order to flatten the curve and in hopes of keeping the pandemic off post.


More than 100 Mission Command Training Program soldiers served in mission planning staffs across the nation as part of the U.S. Army North’s COVID-19 response in support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local governments.


As the weeks and months went on, services and organizations continued to shift to remote services and meetings including Army Community Service, Fort Leavenworth Chapel services and Scouts BSA troops. Additionally, several annual ceremonies, such as the School of Advanced Military Studies graduation on May 21 and the Command and General Staff Officer Course graduation on June 12, were prerecorded and streamed on Facebook and YouTube.

Maj. Curtis Loftin performs the national anthem in the Command and General Staff Officer Course Class of 2020 graduation video posted to Facebook and YouTube June 12, 2020. Because of ongoing COVID-19 precautions, the 2020 CGSOC graduation and international badge ceremonies were conducted virtually, with videos of pre-recorded speeches, photos of award recipients and names of graduates listed. Screenshot


To accommodate Patton ninth-graders and area high school seniors who couldn’t have in-person graduation ceremonies, Fort Leavenworth conducted a graduation parade around post in their honor, as well as kindergartners going into first grade, May 15. Various ceremonies and events remained virtual throughout the year.

Patton Junior High School ninth-grader Anneliesse Murphy waves to spectators with her mother, Alisa, from a decorated truck driven by her dad, Chris, during the graduation parade May 15, 2020, on Scott Avenue. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


USD 207 waited until Sept. 8 to start school, following the recommendation announced by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly in July. While the 2020-21 schoolyear began with families able to choose between in-person or remote learning options, all students began remote learning Nov. 30 because of rising COVID-19 cases. In-person classes are expected to resume Jan. 11.


Despite the stay-at-home orders and adjusted services, organizations and families still found positive ways to keep up morale including Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Survive to Thrive Challenges, the Combined Arms Research Library’s StoryWalks and sidewalk chalk art, USD 207’s special video messages from teachers to students, and the many pet adoptions out of the Fort Leavenworth Stray Facility.

Rachel Dugan leads her family — sons 14-year-old Josh Grisi and 9-year-old Alex Dugan and husband Lt. Col. Tim Dugan, Global Simulations Capability, National Simulation Center — in front and back lunges, part of the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation/Garrison Commander’s Family Fitness Challenge, May 12, 2020, at their Main Post home. The family has participated in several of the FMWR Survive to Thrive at Home and Combined Arms Center challenges during the stay-at-home order that began in March. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


As 2021 begins and COVID-19 cases rise, post is continuing to navigate the best course of action as the weeks go on. Munson Army Health Center received and administered its first doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 21.

Col. Garrick Cramer, commander of Munson Army Health Center and Medical Department Activity, receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 21, 2020, at Munson Army Health Center. MAHC will distribute the vaccine in a phased process, based on the guidance from the Defense Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Before COVID-19 hit, Fort Leavenworth had already started making strides toward creating a smoother transition for CGSC and permanent-change-of-station moves.

Garrison Public Affairs Officer Jeff Wingo and subject matter experts from the Fort Leavenworth Veterinary Treatment Facility and Fort Leavenworth Frontier Heritage Communities answer questions or provide resources as inquiries pop up during the Facebook Town Hall for incoming Command and General Staff Officer Course students and families March 4, 2020, in the Emergency Operations Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


In February, it was announced that the Fort Leavenworth Garrison would be part of a pilot effort, initiated by Army Management Command Commanding General Gen. Gus Perna, to create a smoother permanent-change-of-station experience. Two other garrisons — Carlisle Barracks, Pa., home of the Army War College, and Fort Bliss, Texas, home of the Sergeants Major Academy — also joined the effort. These efforts included placing emphasis on housing, transportation, schools, spouse employment, child care and the Exceptional Family Member Program, and other medical needs. The efforts also included service members receiving their requests for orders 120-180 days in advance so they could better plan their PCS move. It also included having a home ready and assigned to them before arrival.


Additionally, with Fort Leavenworth Frontier Heritage Communities’ partnership with City Union Mission Christian Life Center of Kansas City, Mo., that began in November 2019, departing families could donate unwanted or unmovable bulk items to benefit those in need.

Scott Little, painter with Fort Leavenworth Frontier Heritage Communities, moves painting supplies in a recently patched and painted room March 26, 2020, in Infantry Barracks. Infantry Barracks quarters underwent renovations, to include updated light fixtures, new bathroom vanities and new kitchen countertops. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


In June, FLFHC also completed renovations of 32 units in Infantry Barracks, providing more housing options for incoming families. Renovations, which began in January, included standardizing and updating light fixtures, painting kitchen cabinets, replacing kitchen countertops with black granite, replacing bathroom and kitchen vinyl flooring with ceramic tile, replacing wooden bathroom vanities with pedestal sinks, and accent painting.


On May 27, then-Master Sgt. David Royer, 705th Military Police Battalion (Detention), took action to stop an active shooter on Centennial Bridge in Leavenworth by pinning the suspect underneath his truck. Only one person was injured by the shooter.

Master Sgt. David Royer, 705th Military Police Battalion (Detention), supported by 15th MP Brigade Commander Col. Caroline Smith and 705th MP Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Justin Shad, speaks to area reporters about taking action to subdue an active shooter the day before on Centennial Bridge in Leavenworth during a press conference May 28, 2020, at Sherman Gate. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Royer, who has since retired, received several awards for his efforts including the Meritorious Service Medal on June 16 and the Soldier’s Medal for heroism July 16.

Unified School District 207 Superintendent Keith Mispagel looks at a letter from retired Gen. of the Army Douglas MacArthur regarding the honor of MacArthur Elementary School being named for him while studying the contents of a 64-year-old time capsule April 1, 2020, at the district office. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


USD 207 opened a time capsule March 31 at the old MacArthur Elementary School as construction began for the new Patton Junior High School. The capsule, buried in 1956, included a letter from Gen. Douglas MacArthur, student class lists, student and teacher handbooks, an issue of the Leavenworth Times, a telegram from President Dwight D. Eisenhower and more.


In September, USD 207 received word that Bradley Elementary School was named as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon Exemplary High Performing School, which indicates each state’s highest achieving students — the top 15 percent in English and mathematics as measured by state assessment results. One of six Kansas schools chosen, Bradley is the first USD 207 school to receive the award.


On Feb. 4, the 15th MP Brigade said goodbye to the unit’s command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. William Ramsey, with a memorial ceremony in his honor following his unexpected death Jan. 20.

Colleagues, friends and family of 15th Military Police Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. William Ramsey listen to a tribute delivered by retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Plemmons during the unit memorial service for Ramsey Feb. 4, 2020, at the Lewis and Clark Center. Ramsey died unexpectedly Jan. 20, 2020. Ramsey accepted responsibility of the 15th MP Brigade in May 2018 and had also served in multiple companies in the brigade’s two battalions, as well as at the Mission Command Training Program. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp
Actor Motell Foster performs a monologue from “Medicine” during the Arts in the Armed Forces “Monologues from Contemporary American Plays” production Feb. 21, 2020, at the Post Theater. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Six actors visited the 15th MP Brigade in February and performed monologues as part of the non-profit organization Arts in the Armed Forces.


In February, XPlatoon, comprised of soldiers from the 15th MP Brigade, returned from an eight-month mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Col. Caroline Smith, 15th Military Police Brigade commander, pins Spc. Shelby Long with the Army Commendation Medal during an awards ceremony for members of X Platoon, who had recently returned from an eight-month Operation Inherent Resolve mission, March 17, 2020, at the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 705th MP Battalion (Detention) company operations facility. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


In January, CARL launched a new cataloging software through Insignia Software under the Army University Library System. The new online catalog allows CARL patrons to search for materials and articles across 12 additional Training and Doctrine Command libraries that use the same system.

The Combined Arms Research Library employees cover topics such as linked vs. separate family accounts, electronic resource management, booking meeting rooms and more with new library system training instructor Annamarie Yang, technical support team lead for Insignia software, Jan. 16, 2020, at CARL. CARL transitioned from the library system used since the mid-1990s to an updated system. CARL, along with a dozen other Training and Doctrine Command libraries, is part of the Army University Library System. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Feb. 2 was a day of celebration for many in the community when the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl LIV 31-20 over the San Francisco 49ers. The week leading up to the Super Bowl, USD 207 celebrated with a Spirit Week and many service members and civilians expressed their support for the Chiefs in anticipation of the big game.

Retired Lt. Col. Bill Welch, center, operations research analyst at The Research and Analysis Center, applauds as Betty Welch and retired Lt. Col. Gary Linhart, Military History Instruction Support Team chief, high-five to celebrate a touchdown by the Kansas City Chiefs during a Super Bowl watch party Feb. 2, 2020, at Linhart’s home in Lansing. The Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


In late February, maintenance of the four-and-a-half-mile Heritage Trail, near Camp Miles, began with the help of a $3,800 National Environmental Education Foundation Grant post received from the Department of Defense Legacy Park Rx Awards.

Suzie Stephensen, followed by Mark Kramer, jogs along a trail in the 1908 Ultra Challenge trail run Sept. 26, 2020, near Camp Miles. Stephensen placed first in the women’s division by completing 64.4 miles in the 19-hour race. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Restorations prepared the trail for multi-use purposes including running, mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.

Fort Leavenworth Spouses’ Club President Heather Alvarado and FLSC Honorary President Tracy Rainey cut a cake to recognize the 100th anniversary of the club during the FLSC 100th birthday celebration luncheon Oct. 14, 2020, at the Frontier Conference Center. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


The U.S. Army Reserve units on post used the renovated trail for their 1908 Ultra Challenge 19-hour trail run Sept. 26-27 to celebrate the Army Reserve’s 112th birthday.


Anniversaries celebrated in 2020 included the 70th anniversary of the Korean War in June and the 100th anniversary of the Fort Leavenworth Spouses Club in September.

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