The Maneuver Support Center of Excellence celebrated 20 years of existence Friday with a retreat ceremony at MSCoE Plaza, followed by a traditional Army Twilight Tattoo by the 399th Army Band.
Speaking at the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Donna Martin, MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general, commented on Fort Leonard Wood’s World War II-era beginnings and the dedication required of the workforce who spent five months constructing the first facilities here.
“It rained more in those five months than it had in many years,” she said. “And so, Fort Leonard Wood was built in a pit of muddy water.”
Martin also noted the crucial partnership between the post and local communities.
“During the Korean War our base became permanent, and the old stables, blacksmith shops and general store gave way to modern auto parts stores, gas stations and grocery stores,” she said. “And while the community was no longer a trading outpost or a country village, it was now part of the Army community.”
In summarizing the strengths of the people here, she used the words of one of Missouri’s most famous native citizens.
“America was built on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand,” she said, quoting President Harry S. Truman.
Present at the ceremony were retired Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers and Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Dils, the first commanding general and command sergeant major to serve under the Maneuver Support Center umbrella. Martin thanked them for “charting the path for our success.”
“It’s incredible the impact that this installation has,” Flowers said. “And when you think about all the other services coming here, the three schools on one installation, the NCO Academy, it’s more than the full-service installation that has grown. The last 20 years there’s been tremendous growth. It’s truly a center of excellence and I’m very proud to have served here as a part of it.”
The Maneuver Support Center — which came to be known as MANSCEN — activated Oct. 1, 1999. It has since provided a unique way of organizing and staffing the installation to conduct training, doctrine development and force integration as the Military Police and Chemical schools joined the Engineer School here when Fort McClellan, Alabama, closed as part of the Base Realignment and Closure program.
“Despite the wildlife and nature challenges…we continued to provide our nation with leaders and teams proficient in basic combat skills, advanced military occupational specialty training and leadership skills,” Martin said.
The center was re-designated the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence in 2009 to highlight Fort Leonard Wood’s role in leading trainees toward their goals.
“Regardless of our name, what we do here is a testament to the hard work of each and every one of our service members and civilians — each of you,” Martin continued.
Prior to retiring the nation’s colors for the day, Martin also mentioned the more than 82,000 Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and civilians who have trained here this year.
“We develop service members and civilians who leave Fort Leonard Wood ready to face any obstacle, overcome any challenge and support any mission, anywhere in the world,” she said.
Following retreat, the 399th Army Band performed a traditional Twilight Tattoo, which also featured the Rough Riders rock band. As the light faded, they finished the ceremony with a performance of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”