Fort Leonard Wood’s inaugural Salute to Service was named Army Materiel Command’s best community relations special event as part of the 2019 David G. Harris Public Affairs Competition.
The annual competition recognizes the best of the best in public affairs across the installations and materiel enterprise. Three non-AMC affiliated judges reviewed more than 80 submissions and selected winners for 30 categories – five of which are currently competing at the Army level Maj. Gen. Keith L. Ware Public Affairs Competition. Winners for that competition will be announced in the next several months.
Last year, the Salute to Service brought hundreds of area residents together at Waynesville High School to recognize 60 high school seniors from schools all over south-central Missouri who committed to join the armed forces. Several distinguished guests were in attendance, including Missouri Governor Michael Parson and Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general.
It also featured a performance from the Waynesville Junior ROTC drill team and live music by the 399th Army Band.
The event was primarily organized by the Waynesville R-VI School District, the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office and the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership. The team spent five months coordinating with various on- and off-post agencies to make the first Salute to Service a success.
“We had to invent the wheel a bit to make this happen,” said Tiffany Wood, Public Affairs director. “However, all the planning and the meetings paid off because we put together something great. People from all over south-central Missouri came together to honor those students who made the commitment join the greatest military in the world, and that is the measure of a successful community relations program.”
At last year’s event, Parson and senior service leaders recognized each student and presented them a letter from congressional leaders.
“You’re going to make sacrifices for people you’ll never see, you’ll never know and you’ll never meet,” said Parson — an Army veteran, himself — at the 2019 event.
In addition to the AMC-level award, Public Affairs Specialist Dawn Arden won in two categories of the 2019 Installation Management Command Communication Competition.
Arden won for best news photo and was named the Moss-Holland Civilian Writer of the Year — named after John Moss and Peggy Holland, journalists who lost their lives in the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
“I am honored to receive these awards,” Arden said. “I enjoy telling the Fort Leonard Wood story, letting people know about the great work being done here.”