Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles looking back at the news stories covered in the Fort Leavenworth Lamp over the past decade and will wrap up with a look back at 2020 in the Jan. 7 issue.
Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
According to Fort Leavenworth Lamp archives, the schoolyear for Unified School District 207 students began on Aug. 10 and MacArthur Elementary School students entered the new school building following three years of construction. The new school addressed the increasing population of Fort Leavenworth and the aging infrastructure of the old MacArthur building along Biddle Boulevard. Additionally, having a school west of Hancock Avenue better served the additional 253 homes built in the area since the housing privatization project began in 2006.
On Nov. 25, 2019, USD 207 board members approved the construction of a new Patton Junior High School at the old MacArthur site. Demolition of the old MacArthur began in April 2020 and construction on the new Patton began in June. The new Patton is set to open in August 2022.
In an incident that occurred around 5:10 p.m. Sept. 7, a civilian employee at Munson Army Health Center threw gasoline and other flammable liquids on his superior, 1st Lt. Katie Ann Blanchard, and lit her on fire. Blanchard was also assaulted with a straight-edge razor and scissors during the altercation. Fort Leavenworth firefighters and MAHC staff quickly responded to the situation.
Several members of the MAHC staff, Fort Leavenworth Military Police and the Fort Leavenworth Fire Department were later commended for their actions during the incident. Sgt. Jeremy Dahlem received the Soldier’s Medal, and Deanne Kilian and Dr. Adela Ganacias each received the Secretary of the Army Award for Valor. Kilian also received a Carnegie Medal for her efforts. MAHC also took action to improve the safety and security of patients and staff.
In November 2016, MAHC implemented an Executive Wellness Physical Therapy Program to focus on injury prevention, early detection and proper treatment of injury for soldiers.
On Aug. 16, the Leavenworth Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics Team practiced their response to a possible armed suspect in a simulated scenario at Hunt Lodge. MPs and Department of the Army Police facilitated and observed the training. In these potential scenarios, Fort Leavenworth relies on the support of these teams because there is no SWAT team or special reaction force on the installation.
In July, the Pokemon Go craze reached Fort Leavenworth. The game encouraged more exercise among post youth and Harrold Youth Center staff organized short walks around post where teens could play the game while remaining active.
On June 16, the Griffin Cuts Barber Shop officially opened on Kickapoo Road. The shop, which employs inmates of the Joint Regional Correctional Facility who are licensed barbers through the state of Kansas, was opened to fill the demand for a shop near the Military Corrections Complex.
Several organizations celebrated anniversaries including Pioneer Chapel’s 50th anniversary in April, The Research and Analysis Center’s 30th anniversary in June, the Leavenworth High School Junior ROTC’s 100th anniversary in August, the Buffalo Soldiers’ 150th anniversary in September and the Fort Leavenworth Hunt’s 90th anniversary in October.
On. Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse was visible across the country and Fort Leavenworth schools and organizations gathered outside all around post to witness the 160-second event. The 2017 eclipse was the first visible in the United States since Feb. 26, 1979. USD 207 schools prepared for the rare event by teaching students to wear protective glasses when viewing the eclipse and designing themed T- shirts for students and staff to wear.
In May, field biologists, in partnership with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division, completed a two-year study that determined the presence of northern long-eared bats on Fort Leavenworth. Three species of bats were caught from 23 surveyed acoustic and netting sites, including a hoary bat, an eastern red bat and several big brown bats.
In November, the Mission Command Center of Excellence Headquarters moved into the old U.S. Disciplinary Barracks complex following months of renovations. The move allowed for MC CoE staff to be in one central location and, as a result, more efficiently operate as a team.
Each year, post recognizes a youth of year who goes on to represent post at the state competition. On March 6, Fort Leavenworth Youth of the Year Celeste’ Marchbanks, LHS senior, was named the 2017 Kansas Military Youth of the Year during a ceremony in Topeka, Kan.
On Aug. 29, LHS senior and JROTC Cadet Lt. Col. Morgan Savage was presented with the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for outstanding achievement. The prestigious award is only presented to top students in the JROTC program nationwide.
On July 28, Fort Leavenworth honored the 25th anniversary of the Buffalo Soldier Monument dedication. The monument memorializes the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments established in 1866; the latter was formed at Fort Leavenworth.
The Buffalo Soldier Monument commemorative area, which includes the Circle of Firsts and the Walkway of Units, honoring African American soldiers and units, was established in 1995.
Three monuments were added over the decade including retired Brig. Gen. Benjamin Grierson, organizer of the 10th U.S. Cavalry, on Aug. 8, 2012; retired Gen. Colin Powell, first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. secretary of state, on Sept. 5, 2014; and the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, a unit of African- American women that deployed overseas during World War II, on Nov. 30, 2018.
Fort Leavenworth Cub Scouts saw 20 girls join the packs after Boy Scouts of America announced that options for girls ages 5-10 would be added in June 2018. The organization was sub- sequently renamed Scouts BSA. Girls ages 11-17 also began signing up for Scouts with separate troops for girls beginning in February 2019.
On Feb. 1, 2019, all-female Scouts BSA Troop 166 was reactivated on Fort Leavenworth, with the first official meeting taking place Feb. 4.
In the fall of 2018, Patton joined the Kaw Valley League following invitations from other KVL schools. As members of the KVL, it allowed for program growth with the addition of boys and girls cross country and additional opportunities to compete in league tournaments and meets.
On Feb. 6 the Fort Leavenworth Thrift Shop reopened after closing the old location in the Trolley Station at the corner of Pope and Grant Avenues in December 2017 to move into the former Engagement Skills Trainer 2000 building at 1025 Sheridan Drive. The relocation was deemed necessary because of safety concerns at the Trolley Station, including the lack of a fire suppression system and mold from moisture buildup.
In July, Fort Leavenworth Chapels began offering a new service to post residents known as Christ Fellowship — Fort Leavenworth at Pioneer Chapel. The new service is the only Protestant service to meet in the evenings, encourages discussion during the weekly message and fellowship with a weekly potluck meal before services begin.
From Sept. 28 through Oct. 2, Jewish services returned to post for the first time in four years. Installation Management Command coordinated with Chaplain (Capt.) Mendy Stern’s command to have him facilitate Jewish services at Fort Leavenworth and three other installations following requests for Jewish services to be celebrated.
Several openings and renovations took place in 2018.
The MAHC Readiness Center, which began construction in November 2017, opened March 5 and combined several services including audiology, optometry, allergy and immunization clinics, and physical health departments in an attempt to create a smoother experience for patients.
Restorations of the Missouri River floodplain trail that created two miles of 20-foot-wide trail off Chief Joseph Loop were completed in April with the help of a $20,000 grant from the Forestry Reserve Account. Restoration included cleaning up tree over-growth and shrubbery caused by the flood of 1993.
In July, efforts to update the Fort Leavenworth Wayside Tour were completed after nine months of work. The Friends of the Frontier Army Museum contracted an OnCell audio phone system to update and house the audio files that post residents can call from their phones. The On-Cell system is also used for display information inside the FAM.
On Nov. 30, construction of the 35th Infantry Division Readiness Center and a new training barracks for the Mission Training Complex – Leavenworth began with a groundbreaking ceremony. The former, which began development in 2004, will provide more office space, classrooms and more. The latter, which began development in 2014, will eliminate transportation time for the more than 12,000 soldiers who train at MTC each year.
On Dec. 3, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks Sales Store reopened following almost a year of renovations that included creating an open display area to allow customers to visualize how the products will look in their homes and adding new merchandise.
On Nov. 11, Fort Leavenworth honored the 100th anniversary of the armistice to end World War I with a ceremony at Pioneer Chapel. A year later, Leavenworth celebrated the 100th annual Veterans Day parade in downtown Leavenworth.
On May 7, the 526th Military Police Company, 40th MP Battalion (Detention), celebrated its 70th anniversary. Over its 70 years, the 526th served in Germany, and Fort Meade, Md., before beginning service at Fort Leavenworth in 2005.
In July 2018, Army senior leaders approved a shift of the Army Physical Fitness Test to the Army Combat Fitness Test, effective October 2020. The ACFT is made up of six events — strength deadlifts, standing power throws, hand-release push-ups, a sprint-drag-carry, leg tucks and a two-mile run — and is meant to better prepare soldiers for combat and reduce injury.
Fort Leavenworth began preparing for the transition a year later with a diagnostic test-drive event with post leadership July 13, 2019, the renovation of several facilities, including the Harney Sports Complex Annex, the south hangar at Sherman Army Airfield and the east gym of Harney in October, and another test-drive event with Army University Dec. 7.
On Aug. 9, Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services was officially accredited through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International at a hearing in Atlanta following five years of preparation. Fort Leavenworth was the sixth U.S. Army Garrison to achieve this status. The accomplishment was honored in a ceremony Sept. 12.
On May 3, Maj. Nicholas Eslinger, then-Command and General Staff Officer Course student, was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army’s second highest award for battlefield valor and gallantry at the risk of one’s life, following a review process that began in 2017. Eslinger first received the Silver Star in 2009 for actions taken on Oct. 1, 2008, while serving as a platoon leader in Iraq when he protected his troops from a grenade thrown by an enemy, saving at least six lives.
On June 4, the JRCF officially began a new Dog Handler CARES (Canine Assistance Rehabilitation Education and Services) Program, giving inmates the chance to help train dogs in basic obedience skills before the dogs go on to more specialized training with CARES, Inc., to become service dogs. The program began with a 90-day trial run with two 8-month-old dogs and eventually expanded to include puppies. By April 2020, 14 dogs had graduated from the program and three new puppies entered into it.
Because of the harsh winter weather that began in November 2018, by March 2019, the melting of the high accumulations of snow and ice, and early spring rainfall led to the rise in the Missouri River waters flooding Sherman Army Airfield. SAAF remained closed until the summer.
On April 10, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Project Outreach Program came to Fort Leavenworth for the first time in the 30 years of the program. Project Outreach brings oral arguments and question-and-answer sessions to law schools, military bases and public facilities to demonstrate the operation of a federal court of appeals and the military criminal justice system.
Following two days of competition in Molina, Ga., the LHS JROTC Raider Team came home Nov. 4 national title winners, the first time the title has been won in the history of the school.
In September, the Patton football teams played their first game on the newly renovated USD 207 Track and Field, also known as Normandy Field, following nearly a year of work that included resurfacing of the track, new goal posts and a longer turf blade for more cushion.