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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Before COVID-19 hit, Fort Leavenworth had already started making strides toward creating a smoother transition for CGSC and permanent-change-of-station moves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Restorations prepared the trail for multi-use purposes including running, mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding.
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.