Here are the Archived entries for 3 2017

Mastodon tusk receives loving care at science center Print E-mail
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Brooke Mahar, interpretative resource specialist at the Mastodon State Historic Site, stands before the mastodon tusk that was cleaned at the Saint Louis Science Center’s Fossil Prep Lab.
By Tom Uhlenbrock
Special to GUIDON

The 8-foot-long mastodon tusk on display at Mastodon State Historic Site looks almost  good as new, even though it’s more than 10,000 years old.

The tusk recently returned to the museum at the state historic site after a six-month stay at the Saint Louis Science Center’s Fossil Lab, where it was cleaned and stabilized.

“The tusk was fairly brown, and it looks very white now,” said Brooke Mahar, interpretative resource specialist at the state historic site, which is located near Kimmswick, Missouri, just south of St. Louis.

“It’s just normal for an ivory tusk to need conservation work eventually because they’re fairly fragile,” Mahar said.

The tusk was uncovered during an emergency excavation in 1976 after prehistoric bones were dug up during construction of a car dealership in Barnhart, Missouri, which is not far from the famous Kimmswick Bone Bed.

Archaeologists, both amateur and professional, had been digging at the bone bed since the early 1800s, recovering evidence of animals that lived during the Ice Age and were drawn to the site for its mineral springs.

When developers sought to buy the important archaeological site, a grassroots effort raised funds to buy the bed and it became a state park in 1976, and later the Mastodon State Historic Site. There currently are no excavations at the site, and the remnants of the bone beds are buried for preservation.

The bone bed made scientific headlines when excavations in 1979 and 1980 yielded spear points found next to mastodon bones, giving hard evidence that mastodons were hunted by humans. That relationship was confirmed later at other archeological digs, but it came first at the Kimmswick Bone Bed, earning the site recognition on the National Register of Historic Places.

The museum at the state historic site has a central diorama that depicts a full-size mastodon skeleton near the figures of three Paleo-Indians. That skeleton, however, is a replica, and its two tusks are casts made of fiberglass.

The tusk that was cleaned at the Saint Louis Science Center is the only real, intact tusk at the state historic site. The tusk is displayed in a glass case, along with a mastodon femur.

“We’ve got other fragmented tusks from babies and juveniles,” Mahar said. “But this is the only one that’s whole.”

A close-up look at science

Brian Thomas, senior educator at the Science Center’s Fossil Prep Lab, said the lab has worked on mastodon teeth and a jaw, but this was the first intact tusk. The lab, however, is accustomed to handling much older fossils.

The museum at the state historic site has a full-size mastodon skeleton that is a replica, with tusks made of fiberglass.
“The tusk is only about 14,000 years old, so it’s in the earliest stages of fossilization,” Thomas said. “To put in it perspective, we’ve studied dinosaur fossils that are, on average, 67 million years old.”

The first task, Thomas said, was to remove work that was done on the 100-pound tusk after it initially was discovered. Those early efforts were believed to have been done by a high school teacher and a student.

“It was originally prepared in the late 1970s and they used techniques and material fossil preparers no longer use today,” Thomas said. “All the materials I use are modern-day epoxies and polymers meant for this type of work.

“I removed layers of what more than likely was Elmer’s glue. In areas where there wasn’t any ivory, it was painted tan. We removed that and touched it up with white paint that is made for this type of application.”

The tusk had some stains from the iron in the soil where it was found. Those stains were removed with special chemicals, and the tusk now appears much brighter.

“Our production department also made a brand new mount, so the tusk is oriented in the case differently than it was,” Thomas said. “Visitors can see more of the underside and its stands more natural now.”

The Fossil Lab is a popular attraction at the Science Center, and allows for a close-up look at how restoration is done on prehistoric bones.

“Unlike 99 percent of fossils labs in the world, visitors can walk right into our lab,” Thomas said. “The idea is to ignite and inspire an interest in science by watching real science being done. Right now, we’re working on a mastodon jaw and part of a Triceratops skull.”

Crazy housewives

Mastodon State Historic Site, which has three hiking trails in addition to the handsome museum, owes its existence largely to four women who fought to buy the site and turn it over to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for a park.

Of the four, only Marilyn King is still alive, and is still active as a volunteer at the state historic site. Dorothy Heinze, Hazel Lee and Rita Naes are deceased.

In an interview at the site, King recalled how the women refused to give up, pestering state officials until the land was secured.

“They’d say, ‘Oh no, here comes those crazy housewives again,” King said. “We had tailgate sales, bake sales, walks, dinner dances, bumper stickers and collection cans with ‘Save the Mastodons’ on it.”

Brooke Mahar, an interpretive resource specialist at the state historic site, said the work of the four women in publicizing the value of the finds at the Kimmswick Bone Bed was important in saving the tusk found during construction of the Barnhart car dealership.

“They basically said come get it, or it’s going to get paved over,” Mahar said.

For more information, visit

(Editor’s note: Uhlenbrock writes for Missouri State Parks.)

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 12 April 2017 )
MSCoE farewell interview: Dr. Rebecca Johnson, deputy to the commanding general Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 March 2017
What first brought you to Fort Leonard Wood?
After I graduated from the University of Missouri at Rolla in 1983 with an engineering degree, I stayed home for a few years with my kids. I had planned on eventually working in St. Louis and had interviewed with some companies, but then heard about the U.S. Army Engineer School — that it was moving from Fort Belvoir to Fort Leonard Wood — so I applied for an engineering position and that started my career; and that has been one of the best decisions in my life.

In your time here, how have things changed? How have they stayed the same?
Since I began working here 30 years ago, the one thing that has remained the same is our highly capable and professional workforce. The military members and civilians that I have served with have been top notch — extremely professional, competent, and demonstrate selfless service. Our team members maintain great professional relationships and contacts across this installation and with other installations, and we get to know and care for one another, making us like Family.

I would say the greatest change would be the changes and additions to our mission set as well as to our facilities. Over the last 30 years, Fort Leonard Wood has lost a few units and missions but has greatly increased our capability and capacity. We have received the mission for 88M and truck driver training, the Engineer School followed by the Chemical and Military Police schools, the Prime Power school and several other proponencies. We have a great team here who developed a fantastic facilities master plan and kept it strong over the years to ensure that we have had excellent training facilities, ranges, barracks and housing to accommodate these new missions and to posture us for the future.

What are some of your favorite memories about working on Fort Leonard Wood?
Well, I have really had many great assignments. I started out working in Combat Developments, which was very interesting — looking at future threats and joint operating concepts, and ensuring our branch equities were addressed in scenarios. And then developing the doctrine, organizations, training, materiel/systems, leadership, personnel, and facilities — to provide our combatant commanders and the nation with the unique capabilities we develop here at Fort Leonard Wood — that has been very rewarding. In addition, working in the Engineer School, teaching some of the engineering courses and getting to interact with and help students — these are some of my favorite memories.

Photo by Mike Curtis, Visual Information Center

How has serving as the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence deputy to the commanding general enriched your career, your life?
It has been my honor and privilege to serve in every role I have had at Fort Leonard Wood, and every one of these roles has been enriching or has changed or improved my experience in some way. Being the deputy to the commanding general has been particularly enjoyable though due to the broad nature of the duties and the ability to lead people, enable change and provide capability or capacity across numerous functions at Fort Leonard Wood. The position holds great responsibility; I took it very seriously, but I also enjoyed it, particularly working with leaders and teams in every single military organization on the post. Serving our nation and doing it with so many great and diverse units, organizations, teams, and people has been a blast.

What about serving the Army meant the most to you?
My dad was in the military, and I grew up overseas and continue to love to travel. But, looking around the world and studying historical events has convinced me that, to remain secure and prosperous as a nation, we must have a well-trained, strong and ready Army and military to protect our nation and to deter those who may wish us harm. I am just one person, one civilian, who supported a sea of outstanding professional military members who serve that calling — to defend our Constitution — and it is humbling to think that I had just a tiny piece of that.

What advice would you offer a new Army civilian?
In terms of professional advice, I would offer the following: Don’t be intimidated by what you do not know; be willing to jump in and learn. Always work very hard, to your fullest potential. Enjoy each day, and show the people around you that you care about them and the mission. And, if you are interested in advancing, the very best things you can do are: demonstrate our values in every situation; show dignity and respect to all people; do a fantastic job serving your organization in the position you are currently in, and have plans and goals for your life and career.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Two things. First, each person on this post plays a critical role in developing Maneuver Support capabilities — unique skills and tools — that are in demand and required by commanders for successful operations around the world. I hope each one who works here remembers their purpose and their calling and remains very proud of their contributions to our mission and to the nation.

Second, I want to thank every person — military, civilian, contractor, Family members and community members — who took the time to teach, train, mentor, coach, support or help me these last 30 years. There is no other career I would have rather had, no other place I would have rather lived or worked and no other people/teammates I would have rather served with.

(Editor’s note: Dr. Johnson is scheduled to retire March 31 after 30 years of service to the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, Fort Leonard Wood and the Army.)

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 April 2017 )
It’s time for spring cleaning Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 March 2017
By Derek Gean
Assistant editor
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Monday marked the  official first day of spring, and with the change of the season comes the time to take part in the annual ritual of spring cleaning.

Personally, I can’t wait to open the windows and let the warm breezes into the house. I always associate the warmer weather, blooming flowers, and budding trees with cleaning up, decreasing the clutter and getting organized.

My wife always dreads this time of the year. I hate clutter,  so she has come to expect me to go on a manic cleaning and organizing spree this time each year.

 The kids’ extra toys following the Christmas season; consider them gone. Clothes we don’t wear often; they are coming out of the closets.

Someone once told me life would be better if we get rid of all the junk. I believe it, and have begun to embrace that minimalist philosophy.

When it comes time to clean, I go through everything. I ask myself, “Am I going to use this item in the next six months?” If the answer is, “no,” it’s gone.

Of course, there are exceptions like the Christmas decorations. But for the most part, I stick to my philosophy and rarely miss anything.

Spring cleaning and getting things in  order has a way of making me happy. There is nothing better than propping your feet up and enjoying a clean, clutter-free home.

 As I prepare to undertake this annual habit, I am also going to challenge myself to do better than just getting rid of my stuff. I plan on trying to find ways to see my trash become someone else’s treasure.

This year I plan on trying to recycle what I can, and donate things others might want.

There are numerous organizations out there willing to take your stuff to benefit others. Fort Leonard Wood’s Protestant Women of the Chapel is just one organization that wants to make your “trash” someone else’s “treasure.”

The PWOC is hosting their annual Free Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Main Post Chapel. If you tackle your cleaning chores this weekend, the PWOC ladies would be glad to take your “gently” used stuff and put it in the hands of someone who needs it.

The PWOC will be accepting donations from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Main Post Chapel. See the story on page A6 for more information on the items they will or will not take.

Also, keep in mind that a lot of the “trash” can be recycled.

If it’s something you would probably just throw away, consider if it’s recyclable or not. The Fort Leonard Wood Recycling Center takes numerous different materials, and proceeds from recyclables are reinvested into the community to fund events such as the annual Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation fireworks at the Independence Day Celebration.  

As we welcome spring and get our homes ready, I challenge you to try to make your trash someone else’s treasure by investing it into others and into the community.

It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Just focus on one room, or one closet at a time. Take your time and make the most of it.

When you are done, not only will your house look great, but you will also be making Fort Leonard Wood better for all who live, work and play here.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 April 2017 )
Chemical officers train for Best Ranger Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 March 2017
Teammates 1st Lt. Andy Harvey, left, and Capt. Tim Cox, descend from Sapper Tower during one of their training sessions in preparation to compete in the David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition April 7 through 9 at Fort Benning, Ga.

Story and photos by Stephen Standifird
Managing editor
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Through sweat, pain and hundreds of miles of running and ruck marching, two of Fort Leonard Wood’s own are preparing to take on the challenge of the David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition April 7 through 9 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Capt. Tim Cox and 1st Lt. Andy Harvey will represent the U.S. Army Chemical Corps and Fort Leonard Wood in the 34th anniversary of the competition.

Preparation for the competition started with an intense training plan, Cox, a small group leader with Officer Training Department, 3rd Chemical Brigade, said. Their individual strength and conditioning training began in August while they were still attached to a unit, as planned by their coach, Maj. Peter Zappola.

Training included multiple workouts a day as part of a program devised around ensuring they are well-rounded, Zappola said.

Team training started in January, when they were removed from their units to train full-time for the competition. It was in January when their goals became focused on Soldier-specific tasks they will see at the competition, such as obstacle course runs, land navigation, urban assault course and a lot of ruck marching.
Teammates 1st Lt. Andy Harvey, left, and Capt. Tim Cox, prepare a poncho raft as part of training for the 34th Annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition.

“(Training is) not just running and not just rucking,” Zappola said. “It includes all kinds of crazy things that would allow them to be fit across all domains. It is a ‘sweat in training saves blood in combat’ kind of approach.”

Zappola devised their training schedule to include multiple workouts a day with high-intensity, long- and short-duration training to target different muscle groups.

“They have worked really hard and put a lot of effort in,” Zappola said. “It was very, very physically demanding. Because of the hard work they put in, I think they are in a good position right now.”

Cox and Harvey are self-proclaimed “country boys” who enjoy the outdoors.

“A lot of the stuff we are doing, I enjoy,” Harvey, a company executive officer with 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, said. “For me, it’s been nothing but fun.”

Both officers were collegiate athletes, Cox in basketball and track and Harvey in baseball, and both are built from the same mold.

“Physically we are very similar on a lot of things,” Harvey, a Denver, Colorado native, said. “On a road march, we noticed our stride is the same, so we were literally walking in step on a ruck march.”

Cox, who competed in 2011 and finished 18th overall, calls Harvey the perfect teammate.

“He is a monster physically, and that is going to help us out in this competition,” Cox, a Topeka, Kansas, native, said.

Speaking from experience, Cox said the competition requires the team to be able to work together in times of fatigue and low motivation.

“You and your partner are both going to hit low points, hopefully at different times,” he said. “We are going to rely on each other to push through the pain together to make it through this.”

Being one of the first teams in history to represent the Chemical Corps, Fort Leonard Wood and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence at Best Ranger provides added pressure to the team, Harvey said.

The competition is regularly dominated by the maneuver community, but that hasn’t altered what Cox and Harvey want to accomplish.

The team has set a personal goal of finishing in the top 10, but the fact they are going to Fort Benning to compete makes them a success.

“Just to start is a success, finishing is an even greater success, but we do have that individual goal,” Harvey said.

 “Our purpose for competing is to let the maneuver community know we are here to support them, and we can go pound for pound; we can go the distance with them,” Cox said. “A lot of people talk about the Best Ranger Competition, and even the Best Sapper Competition, and a lot of people are too afraid to try. We got off the bench and into the game.”

Harvey added that they were “excited about the opportunity to play and go at it. Go as hard as we can, for as long as we can, and see where the dice fall after that.”

Best Ranger started in 1982 to honor Lt. Gen. David Grange Jr., a former Ranger Department director. The competition has evolved over the years to determine what organizers call the “best two-man team from the entire Armed Forces.”

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 April 2017 )
BCT mission to increase at FLW Print E-mail
Thursday, 23 March 2017
Public Affairs Office

The Army announced Monday that its troop levels for fiscal year 2017 will increase to 1.018 million Soldiers, a net gain of 28,000 Soldiers across the total force — Regular Army, National Guard and Army Reserve.

As a result, Fort Leonard Wood’s Basic Combat Training mission for FY17 is expected to increase by about 4,500 Soldiers.

Plans have been made for the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood to add one BCT battalion and eight companies to train the additional  Soldiers.

The increase to Fort Leonard Wood’s BCT mission is expected to start at the end of March and will continue on a staggered basis throughout the summer and fall.

Fort Leonard Wood’s increase will be manageable with current facilities and ranges.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 April 2017 )
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