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    Fort McCoy 2022 Year in Review: Second half of year brought new garrison commander, increased training, troop projects, more construction (October to December)

    Fort McCoy 2022 Year in Review: Second half of year brought new garrison commander, increased training, troop projects, more construction

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger is pictured with new team members...... read more read more

    While the first half of 2022 was busy at Fort McCoy, the second half was even busier. The second half of the year started with the garrison gaining a new commander and training on the installation was peaking.

    The installation was also seeing a myriad of troop projects being completed in July and August and even as late as October. There was also new construction starting in the 1600 block. All the same, the Fort McCoy team rose to the challenge of each situation, event, or action and got the mission done.

    — 77,421 troops train at McCoy during fiscal year 2022 — Due in part to supporting Operation Allies Welcome where nearly 13,000 Afghan guests stayed at the installation, Fort McCoy supported the training of 77,421 troops on post during fiscal year (FY) 2022 — less than the 116,053 troops who trained at Fort McCoy in FY 2021.

    Larry Sharp, chief of the Fort McCoy Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS) Training Coordination Branch, said the training numbers include Army Reserve Soldiers; National Guard service members; and active-duty troops from not just the Army but also other services, such as the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.

    Training statistics reflect many types of training opportunities that take place at the installation by active- and reserve-component forces and other governmental agencies, according to DPTMS.

    During fiscal year 2022, training included several Cold-Weather Operations Course (CWOC) sessions; battle-drill (weekend) training; annual training; mobilization; institutional training; and numerous exercises, including a Warrior Exercise, Combat Support Training Exercise, Global Medic, Spartan Warrior III military police exercise, and numerous other training events.

    In July 2022, hundreds of Marines with 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines (2/24) conducted training at Fort McCoy on North Post. The 2/24 is an infantry battalion based out of Chicago consisting of approximately 1,000 Marines and Sailors. The battalion falls under the 24th Marine Regiment and the 4th Marine Division.

    Medical Officer Navy Lt. Toby Keeney-Bonthrone with the 2/24’s Headquarters and Service Company coordinated a combat casualty care exercise with Navy Corpsmen assigned to the unit as part of the training. The training was conducted in hot weather and overnight in a wooded and hilly training area on North Post. Keeney-Bonthrone said Fort McCoy’s terrain presented an extra challenge and added to the training experience.

    “It definitely made it tougher,” he said. “There was the rough terrain and the steep elevation to get to the casualty and then those afternoon temperatures.”

    Afternoon temperatures on July 22, 2022, hovered around 90 degrees and humidity was also high. Keeney-Bonthrone said they kept on ... that is until a major thunderstorm halted all training on post on July 23. Overall, though, he said everyone did well.

    “You have to train like you fight,” Keeney-Bonthrone. “So, the more realism, the better the corpsmen are prepared for combat. We got to constantly reinforce principles of tactical medical care under stressful conditions with a realistic mannequin generously provided by the McCoy Medical Simulation Training Center.”

    DPTMS personnel document the training statistics each month of the fiscal year, Sharp said. This involves combining numbers of the entire transient training population, which encompasses reserve- and active-component military forces as well as other training agencies, such as law-enforcement agencies or the Wisconsin Challenge Academy.

    — Fort McCoy’s food-service team finishes unique year of support — Employees supporting the Fort McCoy Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) Food Program Management Office and LRC Supply Subsistence Management Office as well as other partners had a busy fiscal year (FY) 2022.

    Whether it was supporting training operations throughout the fiscal year or supporting one of the largest food-service support missions ever at Fort McCoy during Operation Allies Welcome (OAW), the members of that food-service team had an exceptional year, said Fort McCoy Food
    Program Manager Andy Pisney.

    OAW completed on Feb. 15, 2022, after six months of operations. Pisney said when OAW began that they were going to experience an operation like they’ve never seen before in terms of food support.

    “Right away we knew we would have a monumental challenge before us,” Pisney said in February 2022. “Over time with the mission, we had our ups and downs but everyone worked very hard to provide food support to the nearly 13,000 Afghans and almost 2,000 additional people on post supporting Task Force McCoy.”

    The installation’s food-service team not only includes the Food Program Management Office and the Subsistence Supply Management Office. It also includes the full food-service contractors; and food suppliers, such as Sysco Foods of Baraboo, Wis.

    During OAW, Pisney said 31 of 34 Fort McCoy dining facilities were in use to support the operation for either feeding Afghans or Task Force personnel or were being used as Wi-Fi centers, classrooms, and more.

    “That not only included all of our newer, recently built dining facilities but also our World War II-era facilities that are located in the blocks throughout the cantonment area,” he said.

    Also, overall, Pisney said the Food Program Management Office and Subsistence Supply Management Office ordered, received, issued, and receipted approximately $19.3 million in subsistence for the facilities feeding Afghan evacuees or serving as “grab-and-go” facilities.

    “Our team also ordered and receipted 2,171,448 cans or bottles of water for the guests, and we sourced and cataloged 120 new subsistence items for guests in conjunction with Sysco Baraboo, LLC, and the Defense Logistics Agency-Troop Support,” Pisney said. “Items included Halal Certified Proteins and culturally acceptable foods.”

    Then after OAW ended and training operations increased going into the spring and summer, Pisney said his team stepped up and continued to do great work.

    For feeding support of personnel from in-garrison and remote-site meals fed, for a Warrior Exercise there were 6,426 meals served. For a Combat Support Training Exercise there were 17,396 meals served. And for exercise Steel Dragon, there were 4,305 meals served, Pisney said citing statistics between June and August for feeding support by his team.

    At the Subsistence Supply Management Office, in support of training between June and August, the office delivered 13,302 cases of Meals, Ready-to-Eat; 49,338 meals via meal kits; 2,775 Unitized Group Rations; and 9,634 bags of ice.

    “Meal kits are just a complete meal that requires no food-service preparation,” Pisney said. “The Unitized Group Rations require food-service capability — a food-service specialist — to prepare. These rations are configured in 50-person modules and contain meat, starch, vegetables, condiments, and beverages.”

    Pisney said he’s proud of his team and of all they accomplished during FY 2022.

    “We have many unsung heroes, especially when you are talking about this team,” Pisney said. “Food service is a training enabler, and we don’t ever want it to be a distractor. The mission always comes first, and if we can support the mission without distracting from it — that’s perfect. I appreciate everything this team does. We are here to support. It’s our mission, and we always try to do the best we can.”

    — The Burma Road construction project on North Post at Fort McCoy began in spring 2022 and has continued at a steady pace. The project is now 80 percent complete. Contract completion date is expected for March 2023 but could be completed sooner, said Nathan Butts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Resident Office at Fort McCoy which is overseeing the project.

    “The contractor has mobilized equipment and is resuming work the week of October 3,” Butts said in a weekly update over email Sept. 30. “(The) Omaha District Designers/Engineers approved the contractors plan to correct all erosion areas and continue construction on the road. Contractor to continue to correct erosion control measures.”

    Burma Road is a range road on North Post that takes travelers to several range areas all along the impact area. It also is a popular convoy training area during heavy training times at the installation in the summer months.

    Butts said in updates since the project started that a lot of work has been done to improve the road itself as well as ditches and erosion-control measures along the many steep hills along the road. Some recent updates to the project, Butts said, include a communications line modification, a modification along the property line, and another modification to add concrete culverts.

    In the spring in March, the original contract amount for the project was $4,064,200. Some of the first work was removing trees along the road.

    — Fort McCoy Directorate of Human Resources (DHR) held a Operation Excellence workforce development course in leader and talent management Oct. 4 in building 2113 at Fort McCoy.

    Approximately 30 Fort McCoy workforce members took part in the course that was conducted by Workforce Development Officer Michael Modawell and Workforce Development Specialist Jamie Gular — both with Fort McCoy DHR.

    “Operation Excellence is part of the overarching Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM) Service Culture Campaign,” Modawell said. “The Service Culture Campaign is a sustained readiness plan launched by IMCOM in 2017 to develop a highly effective IMCOM Team capable of supporting installation senior commanders and Army readiness requirements.”

    For this leader and talent management session of Operation Excellence, participants worked together, exchanged ideas, and more, Gular said.

    “Operation Excellence assists organizations in developing a service-focused culture where all customers — both ‘external’ (those we support) and ‘internal’ (those who we work with) are treated with courtesy, dignity, and respect,” Gular said. “The principles taught in Operation Excellence equally apply to both audiences. At the beginning of the training, many might have felt it was just another mandatory training. I believe this class surprised a lot of people. The feedback was positive and focused mostly on the small group break-out sessions. These sessions gave participants the chance to engage with others from different organizations, share experiences, hear how they handle situations, and collaborate on ways we can improve, both within their organization and Fort McCoy.”

    — An ongoing troop project at the Fort McCoy Central Receiving Shipping Point (CRSP) parking lot received more work Oct. 14, 2022, at nearly a dozen Soldiers with Alpha Company of Wisconsin National Guard’s 173rd Engineer Company worked on the project.

    The 173rd Soldiers serve out of Rhinelander and Tomahawk, Wis. The company is comprised of one horizontal engineer platoon and two combat engineer platoons, said 2nd Lt. Frank Mueller, 1st Platoon leader for the 173rd.

    “The Soldiers with the 1st Platoon hauled, spread, and compacted 1,077 tons of new gravel to resurface the CRSP yard after a different troop project of installing new concrete light pillars were installed,” Mueller said.

    Spc. Nicholas Coetcher with the 1st Platoon said he appreciated supporting the troop project.

    “It’s real-life projects like this that matter,” Coetcher said. “Troop projects put your Army training to use and help in the real world.”

    Fort McCoy Troop Projects Coordinator Larry Morrow with the Directorate of Public Works said he was glad the unit could assist with the project.

    “They came in and put down and compacted a lot of gravel,” Morrow said. “They did a great job, and they did a lot more than I asked them to do. I appreciate all the work they accomplished in the short time they were here.”

    173rd’s Alpha Company Commander 1st Lt. Brandon Lehman said the training time was good for the unit. “It was an amazing drill that allowed us to exercise our skills conducting real-world, impactful training,” Lehman said.

    — As part of a bi-annual effort, Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Human Resources (DHR) records manager who oversees records management for the installation held a paper records shredding and recycling event Oct. 19 to dispose of old documents on post.

    “The records manager for Fort McCoy is responsible for the destruction of documents that have met their disposition that are in records holding,” said Administrative Services Division Chief Trudy Ward with DHR, who is also the installation records manager. “The destruction (shredding) of documents occurs twice a year — once in spring and once in fall.”

    During the Oct. 19 shredding event, contractor Confidential Records spent the morning on post helping shred and recycle approximately 45,000 to 60,000 pounds of paper during the process. Ward, Michelle Bourman, and Allen Adam with DHS coordinated the event.

    — Soldiers with the 173rd Engineer Company of the Wisconsin National Guard held weekend training at Fort McCoy on Oct. 14-15, and it included live-fire training in urban breaching operations.

    “Second and 3rd Platoons of Alpha Company of the 173rd conducted urban breaching operations at the Life Fire Breach Facility and heavy demolition at Range 402 and 17A (at Fort McCoy),” said 2nd Lt. Frank Mueller, 1st Platoon leader with Alpha Company of the 173rd.

    According to Army doctrine, breaching operations are conducted to allow maneuver despite the presence of obstacles. Obstacle breaching is the employment of a combination of tactics and techniques to advance an attacking force to the far side of an obstacle that is covered by fire. According to Mueller, 173rd Soldiers used munitions like a crater charge to practice breaching operations.

    — To prepare for an upcoming deployment to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, Army Reserve engineers with the 461st Engineer Company are improving the training facilities at Fort McCoy through work on a number of troop projects, states a story by Zachary Mott with the 88th Readiness Division.

    “We’re doing MOS (military occupational specialty) training, construction training, which includes 12-Whiskey work and mainly 12-Kilo work, which is electrical and carpentry work,” said Staff Sgt. Nathanael Saye, job supervisor, 461st Engineer Company, 367th Engineer Battalion, 372nd Engineer Brigade, 416th Theater Engineer Command.

    That work includes three training buildings on Logistical Support Area Liberty on North Post at the installation.

    “One of the buildings we’re doing mainly finish work to include trimming out windows, doors, re-hanging doors, plumbing doors and door hardware,” Saye said. “The second building is mainly electrical work, doing it from start from to finish as well as doing the rest of the interior framing. We are starting the floor system on the third building on the exterior. They’re working on setting the floor posts, getting that all leveled up and then getting ready to run floor joists.”

    With three buildings in various states of project completion, Soldiers have an opportunity to work on skills outside of their typical MOS-related duties.

    “We’re basically getting in where we fit in,” said Pfc. Winston Klein, an electrician with the 461st Engineer Company. “If they need help doing framing, this is what I do on the civilian side, so I have a lot of knowledge of getting this all squared away.”

    — More than 150 military members, their families, veterans, and others attended the 2022 Kid’s Pumpkin Fest and Fire Safety Event that was held Oct. 15 at the South Post’s Community Center at Fort McCoy.

    This was the third children’s resiliency event organized through a multiple-directorate team effort to create activities where participants experience all five dimensions of wellness — emotional, spiritual, physical, social, and intellectual.

    A highlight of the day was the MedFlight helicopter landing on South Post to accentuate Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Emergency Services’ community partnership and the possibly compounded talent of the installation’s fire department. Event participants watched Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger exit the helicopter and join the families at the stations.

    MedFlight staff greeted children who wanted a first-hand look at the helicopter and allowed them to sit inside. Curt Ladwig with the DES Fire Department lead the directorate planning team with fire safety as the central theme to wrap-up National Fire Prevention Safety Week.

    All of the attendees participated in the various stations including meeting Brutus, the Emotional Support Pig (from the Fort McCoy Army Community Service office); having their fire extinguisher inspected (Fort McCoy Fire Department); drawing home fire escape plans (also Fort McCoy Fire Department); and adding a “thankful note” to the Thankful Trees symbolizing the home fire escape plan’s designated outside meeting place (Fort McCoy Religious Support Office).

    Children of all ages also enjoyed decorating pumpkins with support of Fort McCoy Child and Youth Services and Army Community Service, picking out a favorite-colored fire hat with the Fort McCoy Fire Department, and displaying their culinary skills while saying “Boo” to drugs with support from the Fort McCoy Army Substance Abuse Program Office.

    — Fort McCoy helps World War II Army vet celebrate 102nd birthday — When retired Army Lt. Col. Harry Baker of Pewaukee, Wis., turned 102 years old on Oct. 9, 2022, he did so with the well wishes of many people serving at Fort McCoy.

    “Coey Podraza, daughter of Lt. Col. Baker, reached out to me in September,” said Public Affairs Specialist Kaleen Holliday with the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office. “She shared that her father was turning 102 on Oct. 9 and was a World War II veteran who had been at Camp McCoy in 1943-44.

    “Our office reached out to Fort McCoy Garrison organizations and tenant units to see if they would help in wishing Lt. Col. Baker a happy 102nd birthday ... and they did,” Holliday said. “Videos were collected and compiled by Greg Mason at the Fort McCoy Multimedia-Visual Information Office and made into a great birthday video for him.”

    Also, as part of the video, Holliday provided a video tour of the Fort McCoy Commemorative Area, including the Fort McCoy History Center and World War II-era buildings at the Commemorative Area.

    “Almost 14 minutes of birthday wishes, and Fort McCoy tour were shared with Mr. Baker for his birthday,” Holliday said. Places like the Fort McCoy Noncommissioned Officer Academy, the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works, attendees to a garrison administrative meeting, and more provided birthday greetings.

    Baker’s daughter Coey said the video was a big hit and very much appreciated.

    “My dad is just so happy with this video,” Podrazza said. “He said, ‘Those are Soldiers currently serving sending me birthday greetings!’ Wow, wow, wow ... thank you so much. I didn’t think I could beat 100 and 101, but this video does it. Your respect and caring for my dad are incredible.”

    — Entrepreneur and business leader Don Weber served as the guest speaker during the 2022 Fort McCoy observance Oct. 20, 2022, for Disability Employment Awareness Month at McCoy’s Community Center.

    Dozens of people attended the event that featured Weber, who is the CEO and founder of Weber Health Logistics and the founder Logistics Health Incorporated (LHI — now Optum Serve Health Services) of La Crosse, Wis., recall memories from his youth as well as the importance of the contributions of people with disabilities have in the workplace.

    “I don’t tour and speak a lot,” Weber said. “I don’t. ... I’m a farm boy. And I went into the military as a Marine when I was 18, and it truly had so much to do with shaping my life and where I am today. I have so much respect for you. Men and women who serve — you’re less than 1 percent of our population. Think about that.”

    Weber also discussed in his opening about his father and how veterans fight through post-traumatic stress disability to continue with their lives in employment and more.

    “You know — the freedoms we enjoy every day — in the greatest country in the world, are because of ... your sacrifices ... you signed on that dotted line,” Weber said. “But we don’t realize, in some cases, it’s a lifelong commitment. It’s always here. Suicide rates amongst our veterans is 1.5 times greater than the general population.

    “So, when I was asked to speak about disabilities, I got thinking back about my father,” Weber said. “Seventy-seven years ago right now (he) was in a concentration camp. You’re down about 100 pounds, starvation, sleep deprivation, torture — all the things they went through. He believed he was going to die there. So he tries to escape. ... He had the courage to face his fears.
    “As I’ve gone through life, I realized some of the finest things in life are placed on the other side of fear,” Weber said. “You walk towards your fears, not away from them. ... He had a disability. ... He lived with that disability.”

    Weber also talked of a man with disabilities he got to know who now works for the company he founded.

    “It was about 10 years ago, his name is Hunter Wagner,” Weber said. “He had been blind since birth, but he has this beautiful voice. So back then when I had LHI, we hosted a huge concert every year for veterans causes called Freedom Fest. So, I asked Hunter if he’d be willing to open the event singing the national anthem.

    “And it was really interesting,” Weber said. “We got him up on the stage, and all of a sudden, it’s hush with over 1,000 people (in the audience). We’ve had the likes of Chicago, Three Dog Night, and John Fogerty, but there has never been a more heartfelt performance, and I dare to say truly by the time Hunter was done singing the national anthem, there wasn’t really a dry eye in the house.”

    — During two town hall sessions for the Fort McCoy workforce Oct. 27 in building 60, Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger reviewed his first 90 days as commander and discussed results of a climate survey completed by garrison employees.

    In a memorandum to the workforce leading up to the sessions, and as discussed during the sessions, Messenger communicated his message directly.

    “Overall, I assess the work ethic and professionalism of U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy as among the very best of organizations I have worked with in my career,” Messenger said. “We possess a talented and diverse team of experienced leaders from across the Department of
    Defense (DOD) who display the utmost teamwork and dedication to the mission. They spent the last 24 months highly engaged in the COVID-19 global pandemic and expertly accomplished the whole-of-government Operation Allies Welcome (OAW) mission.

    “Simultaneously, they have achieved exceptional results on major inspections in the past 90 days to include the Higher Headquarters Assessment, Organizational Inspection Program, and Environmental Health Site Visit,” Messenger stated in his message. “The team’s ability to execute multiple missions, conduct garrison operations with a high level of expertise, develop and implement long-range action plans, establish a superior multi-year budget, and collaborate with partners at the local, state, and federal levels have clearly cemented a culture of winning through cooperation. However, the garrison has worked hard, and OAW, COVID, and some cultural challenges have taken a toll on the workforce.”

    Messenger said he’ll do all he can to continue to help the Fort McCoy team to do well, and everyone should do the same.

    — Fort McCoy earns sixth safety streamer — During the Fort McCoy Garrison Commander’s Town Hall event Oct. 27, 2022, Installation Safety Office (ISO) Manager Randy Eddy presented the Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger with the installation’s sixth U.S. Army Excellence Safety Streamer Award.

    The award was sent from Brenda Lee McCullough, Director of Installation Management Command Directorate-Readiness. In a letter to the installation, McCullough described the award, and more.

    “It is with great pleasure to congratulate you and forward the U.S. Army Excellence Streamer Award to (U.S. Army Garrison) Fort McCoy,” McCullough’s letter states. “This award recognizes the extraordinary efforts and dedication to duty of the garrison in creating a positive safety culture. “Your accomplishment of completing over 12 months without experiencing a Class A or B accident; completion of the Army Readiness Assessment Program; and attaining 100 percent completion of risk management training demonstrates safety excellence,” the letter states.

    “Your efforts to accomplish the mission with effective safety and risk management programs are attributes of first-class organizations. A job well done in taking care of Soldiers, civilians, and families!”

    — Personnel with Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch (NRB) were alerted Oct. 19 and Oct. 27, 2022, by a family of trappers permitted to trap at Fort McCoy, that a wolf was caught in a trap within one of the training areas. Immediately, in both instances, staff responded to where the wolf was located.

    “Both wolves were caught by a family — Dan, Jacky, and Jaydan Willis,” said Wildlife Biologist Kevin Luepke with the NRB who responded to the calls. “The wolf caught incidentally on Oct. 19was a 3- to 5-year-old male, 87 pounds, and had a darker coloration to his coat.
    This wolf was caught on the south end of South Post.

    The wolf caught incidentally on Oct. 27 was a 3- to 4-year-old male, 79 pounds, and had more of a reddish coloration. This wolf was caught on the northern part of North Post.”

    With both wolves, Luepke said the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) was contacted.

    “We were put in contact with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Wildlife Services staff to coordinate collaring each wolf,” Luepke said. “And in both incidents, Dewayne Snobl with USDA-Wildlife Services was present to complete the collaring.”

    Additional staff with USDA-Wildlife Services were on hand to help with the wolf collaring and release, Luepke said. And Paul Napierala, WDNR-La Crosse/Monroe County wildlife biologist, was also present.

    — Officials with Fort McCoy’s Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch (NRB) were alerted Oct. 28, 2022, by a local trapper that a small bear was caught in a trap on North Post at Fort McCoy, and within a short time a team effort took place to get the bear safely released.

    Fort McCoy Wildlife Biologist Kevin Luepke with the NRB said he received a call from local trapper Mike Borchers about a yearling bear caught in a trap. Luepke alerted his supervisor, NRB Chief Tim Wilder, who then took the lead on the response from there.

    “The yearling bear had inadvertently gotten caught in the trap,” Wilder said. “Normally bears are strong enough to pull out of a smaller trap like this but this was a smaller bear, and it was having some trouble getting out.”

    For assistance, Wilder contacted DeWayne Snobl with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Wildlife Services who is an expert in using a tranquilizer to safely complete the release of the animal from the trap. Snobl, who supports the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for these types of emergency calls, responded quickly.

    Also supporting the response to help Snobl were WDNR’s Scott Roepke and Christina Kizewski. And from Fort McCoy, in addition to Wilder, responding to support to help release the bear were Conservation Officer Jesse Haney, Conservation Officer Chris Larson, and Police Officer Andrew Schwartz with the Directorate of Emergency Services Police Department, and Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger also witnessed the release.

    Wilder said he was proud of the quick response and teamwork of everyone involved to help get the young bear back on its way.

    “The USDA and WDNR employees worked together to tranquilize and remove the bear from the trap,” Wilder said. “Getting a bear in a trap is a rather unusual occurrence. ... The bear was uninjured — other than likely some bruising on the foot — and was released on site.”

    — Twenty-six hunters participated in Fort McCoy’s 2022 gun-deer hunt for hunters with disabilities Oct. 8-9. It was the 21st straight year this hunt took place on post. Every October, Wisconsin holds a nine-day gun deer hunt for people with disabilities. From 2002 through 2019, Fort McCoy participated by holding a two-day hunt the first weekend of the statewide hunt. In 2020, Fort McCoy adjusted the season dates to the last weekend of the statewide
    hunt which also overlaps the statewide youth gun-deer hunt. This has enabled Fort McCoy to offer opportunities for both groups of these qualified hunters to participate over the same two-day period in October, said Wildlife Program Manager and Biologist Kevin Luepke with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch.

    “A total of 37 applications were received for the hunt,” Luepke said. “Out of the total applications, 28 hunters purchased their Fort McCoy Gun-Deer for Hunters with Disabilities permit. However, only 26 hunters came out with 24 assistants.”

    Fourteen deer were harvested during the hunt for a 54 percent success rate based on check-ins, Luepke said. “This is one of the highest success rates that we’ve had in quite a few years now,” he said.

    In addition to the 26 hunters for the gun-deer hunt for hunters with disabilities, Fort McCoy also supported a youth gun-deer hunt for a third consecutive year Oct. 8-9. A total of 43 applications were received for the 2022 youth gun-deer hunt and 28 permits were purchased, said Luepke.

    “We had 23 hunters with 32 mentors come to the hunt,” Luepke said. “During this hunt, six deer were harvested.

    — Members of the Fort McCoy Logistics Readiness Center (LRC) Transportation Division team and Soldiers with the 411th Engineer Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, worked together in early November to load 52 railcars with equipment for deployment at Fort McCoy.

    The railcars were loaded with 128 pieces of equipment the 411th is deploying eventually to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, said Dean. R. Muller, unit movement coordinator/traffic management specialist with Fort McCoy LRC.

    “This rail movement included five LRC staff members supporting the 411th,” Muller said.

    “The 411th Soldiers did complete the Multimedia Rail Safety Course prior to completing their work on loading the railcars. Our staff members served as safety support staff for the movement.”

    The 411th is the latest of many units over the last decade to hold rail movements at Fort McCoy. As a matter of fact, for the many deto transport cargo and equipment to and from the installation by rail has always been there. And it’s a capability that will continue, said LRC officials said.

    During World War II, for example, the railroad at Fort McCoy was one of the main forms of transportation for bringing troops in for training and home after the war as well as for moving cargo and equipment in and out of the installation.

    — Twenty months after the construction of a second transient training troops barracks started at Fort McCoy, the Army Corps of Engineers-managed project is at 98 percent completion.

    In a Nov. 10, 2022, report, Ken Green with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office at Fort McCoy said the construction of a second four-story barracks remains on schedule and interior checklists continue.

    The barracks, funded at $18.8 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020, resembles another barracks that was also built by current contractor L.S. Black Constructors that is adjacent to this project in the 1600 block at Fort McCoy’s cantonment area.

    — Several Fort McCoy team members traveled beyond the installation to support Veterans Day events and more.

    “We had the most people go out to support events in probably four or five years,” said Public Affairs Specialist Kaleen Holliday with the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office. “And we received awesome feedback from the communities they supported.”

    Following are the activities that were supported:

    * On Nov. 11, Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger supported the Veterans Day program at Sparta High School in Sparta, Wis.

    * Also in Sparta, Fort McCoy Garrison Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Chad Maynard supported the Veterans Day event with the Sparta Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

    * Also on Nov. 11, Command Sgt. Maj. Raquel DiDomenico, Fort McCoy Garrison command sergeant major, supported Veterans Day activities in Cashton, Wis.

    * In Westby, Wis., Command Sgt. Maj. Latisha Turner, the command sergeant major for the 181st Multi-Functional Training Brigade, supported Veterans Day activities there.

    * Maj. Michael Carkhuff with the 181st gave a presentation for Veterans Day at Melrose-Mindoro High School.

    * Christopher Hanson with the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office spoke at Meadowview High School in Sparta. Hanson is also a Navy Reserve lieutenant.

    * Maj. James Lavelle, company commander for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy, supported Veterans Day activities at Bangor High School in Bangor Wis.

    * Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Amy Noble supported the Tomah Veterans Association dinner in Tomah, Wis., on Veterans Day. Noble is with the Fort McCoy Religious Support Office and is the garrison chaplain.

    — Construction on a future transient training brigade headquarters in the 1600 block on the cantonment area began to really pick up again in November 2022 at Fort McCoy. As of Nov. 15, 2022, contractor L.S. Black Constructors was busy building up the foundation of the new facility across the street from two of the newest barracks on post.

    In a Nov. 10 update by Ken Green with the Army Corps of Engineers Program Office at Fort McCoy, he said that work is the contractor placing footings into place for the new building as the
    project moves forward.

    — Army Reserve Soldiers with the 801st Field Hospital learned the nuances of providing care to adults, pregnant women, children, and infants when they attended the Basic Life Support class
    Nov. 7 at Fort McCoy, Wis., states a story by Cheryl Phillips with the 88th Readiness Division.

    The Soldiers with the Fort Sheridan, Ill., unit learned how to be part of a high-performance resuscitation team, whether serving as the lead or as a member. They practiced cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, using timed compressions, and ventilation. The compression techniques varied depending on the age of the patient. For example, two hands are used on an adult, one hand for children, and two fingers for infants. The compression depth for adults is 2 inches, while for children and infants it’s one-third the depth of the chest.

    They also trained on the safe and effective use of an automated external defibrillator, or AED. An AED is used to help those who experience sudden cardiac arrest. It analyzes the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, delivers an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart reestablish an effective pace.

    — Members of the Wisconsin Dells Singers of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin performed Nov. 17, 2022, during the 2022 Fort McCoy Native American Heritage Month Observance in McCoy’s Community Center at Fort McCoy. The Singers performed traditional Native music and dances in their regalia for dozens of Fort McCoy community members. November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. The month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. The Fort McCoy Equal Opportunity Office and the cultural resources coordinator with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch helped set up and coordinate the event.

    — Army veteran and comedian Jody Fuller performed at McCoy’s Community Center on Nov. 7, 2022, at Fort McCoy. Fuller reflected on his life to include his Army career, home life, and more — all while making everyone laugh. The show was free and open to all eligible patrons of Fort McCoy Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities. According to his web page,, Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer, and Soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. “I spent a little over two months (at Fort McCoy) back in 2007 prior to mobilizing to Iraq and then a week or so on the other end in 2008,” Fuller said. Dozens of people attended the event that was organized by the Fort McCoy Army Community Service Office.

    — Work on a new comfort station at Pine View Campground in the Pine View Recreation Area at Fort McCoy has continued into November mainly on interior work, Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works (DPW) officials said.

    Work on the project started in early spring 2022, said DPW Construction Inspection Branch Chief Dan Hanson.

    “The project consists of constructing a new 1,500-square-foot comfort station similar to the other recently completed facility at Pine View Campground, and it includes men’s and women’s restrooms and showers areas as well as a fish cleaning station.”

    The contractor for the project is MDM Construction, which is headquartered in Rockford, Ill. The contract amount to build the station is $475,736.

    DPW General Engineer Gareth Ferguson said in early November 2022 the contractor was completing finishing work on the interior to include tiling, wall finishes, installing countertops, and installing sinks and toilets.

    “I don’t have firm date on completion yet as some portions of the HVAC system are not yet delivered and possibly still on backorder,” Ferguson said Nov. 9. Regardless, the station is close to being completed and should be fully ready by 2023.

    — Police Officer Raymond A. Brand II received the Department of the Army Civilian Service Commendation Medal for “exceptional service and performance” Nov. 29 from Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger due to “heroic” efforts to rescue two people in a vehicle accident in February 2022.

    The ceremony was held at the Fort McCoy Directorate of Emergency Services headquarters with both firefighters and police officers in attendance as well as Brand’s wife Jennifer, and Command Sgt. Maj. Raquel DiDomenico, Fort McCoy Garrison command sergeant major.
    Brand recalled his response on Feb. 27 to a vehicle accident in Sparta, Wis., at approximately 10:40 a.m. that involved a 67-year-old man and a 67-year-old woman — a husband and wife — from a rural area just outside of Sparta.

    “I was with my family on my way to church,” Brand said. “We were heading out of town, and we were coming out on (Highway) 16 headed west. And then, as we’re almost to where it cuts from two lanes to one, there was a vehicle in my lane coming at me, and I thought to myself that I probably shouldn’t be here. As he was coming running to the truck, and I remember seeing flames coming out from underneath the truck. There was another family who had stopped, too.

    Brand said the man was in the driver seat.

    “We were able to get this guy out,” Brand said. “We pulled him to safety, and I asked the other rescue guy, I said, hey is there somebody on the other side? He said, ‘I think so.’ So, we went around the other side. I couldn’t remember grabbing ahold of the door and thinking I was gonna have to pull really hard and the door itself fell right off, but you could see the flames coming out from underneath the dash. I started to pull this lady out while her seat belt got caught, and so I yelled for somebody to get a knife because I couldn’t get her seat belt.

    “The guy on the other side came around, we pushed the lady back in, released the seatbelt, and we were able to get her out,” Brand said. “And no sooner that we got her out of the truck, it began to engulf in flames.”

    — The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) Operator New Equipment Training (OPNET) Course at the 88th Readiness Division-operated Draw Yard at Fort McCoy has hosted a variety of Soldiers, including Special Forces teams, states a story by Staff Sgt. Clinton Wood with the 88th Readiness Division.

    For the first time in its history, the class which teaches the students the characteristics and capabilities of the vehicles commonly known as JLTVs, hosted two U.S. Air Force Airmen from Nov. 14-17, 2022.

    Staff Sgts. Charlie McNair and James Jessie came all the way from the 48th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Royal Air Force Base Lakenheath, England — a distance of nearly 4,000 miles. Both are ground transportation specialists, which is similar to the U.S. Army’s motor transport operators commonly known as 88-Mikes.

    — Kevin Luepke just finished working his first gun-deer season as the Fort McCoy wildlife program manager and wildlife biologist with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch (NRB).

    Luepke began his duties Oct. 1 — shortly after his predecessor longtime Fort McCoy Wildlife Biologist David Beckmann retired in late September. But Luepke is no stranger to Fort McCoy’s natural resources management environment. Prior to his current position, he worked in the NRB as a natural resource specialist. In that position he supported the invasive plant species, wildlife, threatened and endangered species, and prescribed burn programs at Fort McCoy.

    And before that, Luepke worked for many years with the Colorado State University Center for the Environmental Management of Military Lands, which completes work through a cooperative agreement directly supporting Fort McCoy’s natural and cultural resources programs.

    — The Fort McCoy Directorate of Emergency Services (DES) 911 Communications/Security Center, also known as the DES Dispatch Center, is always open as it maintains operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

    A public safety dispatcher’s duties include providing emergency police, fire, and medical services to the public by answering emergency 911 calls and responding with appropriate personnel and equipment.

    Brandie Stello, lead public safety dispatcher at the Fort McCoy center, said each dispatcher has an important responsibility when receiving calls to the center.

    “Each dispatcher is responsible for caller interrogation to determine the problem and the nature of the call,” Stello said. “Dispatchers prioritize all incoming emergency and non-emergency calls, identify the nature of emergency and the level of response required, and they provide this and any additional information to the responding units.”

    Dispatchers use a variety of emergency communications and electronic equipment to complete their duties. This includes equipment that is commonly used by police, fire, ambulance, rescue, or hazardous materials units.

    — Going into the 2022 Fort McCoy gun-deer season, the minimum harvest goal was 300-350 deer, said Wildlife Program Manager and Biologist Kevin Luepke with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Natural Resources Branch. And that goal was surpassed — by roughly 50 percent.

    “The season went great,” Luepke said. “We definitely exceeded our minimum harvest goal. We currently have preliminary data, and it shows 464 deer being taken. We are still working on entering some data and analyzing, but that number shouldn’t change too much.”

    Luepke said there were many healthy, large bucks taken during the season, which ran from Nov. 19-27.

    “Overall, our herd looked very healthy — we saw high fat measurements which shows an ability to make it through the winter months, and good body weights, which means the deer are getting ample food throughout the spring, summer, and fall,” he said. “We will continue to look at the data closer, and see if any areas showed lighter weights and fat measurements and focus some habitat work into those areas over the next couple years.

    “Also, we ended up being able to sample 151 deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) by removing the lymph nodes,” Luepke said. “Those samples were sent into the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and hunters should be getting results back in the very near future.”

    Luepke said some hunters likely received results about CWD back quickly, especially if sampling took place over the opening weekend.

    “Fort McCoy tracks the results of the deer sampled on Fort McCoy, so we don’t need to rely on hunters to report their individual deer results to Permit Sales or our wildlife program,” Luepke said. And even though the deer harvest was larger than expected, Luepke said it will help keep the installation’s deer population at a good number and will lessen any likelihood of the spread of CWD.

    Fort McCoy held its 2022 Christmas Tree Lighting Event on Dec. 1, 2022, at McCoy’s Community Center with dozens of community members in attendance to enjoy a variety of holiday activities.

    After a military family officially lit the Christmas tree in front of McCoy’s Community Center to officially kick off the holiday season, Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger told the event-goers it was time to have fun.

    “Thank you all for being here,” Messenger said. “Now we are taking the festivities inside where it is a lot warmer. So come on inside and let’s go party.”

    Inside McCoy’s there were many things to do. People could get photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. There was also cookies and hot chocolate available for everyone, and there was a wide variety of holiday crafts and activities for children and families to enjoy.

    The event took place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., and in addition to having all the work done through the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR), there also were several volunteers from organizations throughout the Fort McCoy Garrison helping as well.
    Before the actual tree lighting, children active in the Fort McCoy Child and Youth Services program, also a part of DFMWR, sang Christmas songs to get everyone into the holiday spirit for the tree lighting.

    The 2022 tree lighting also was probably the closest the event came to resembling what it had been in the past in 2019 prior to the pandemic of 2020. And, DFMWR officials were thankful to get back to normal.

    “We’ve had to execute reduced-scale tree lighting ceremonies for the past few years due to the complications of with the pandemic and the demands placed on McCoy’s FMWR team,
    and during Operations Allies Welcome, so it was outstanding to see us return to the full-scale version of one of Fort McCoy’s favorite community events,” said DFMWR Director Patric McGuane. “Seeing the smiling faces on our Fort McCoy children as they got a chance to meet Santa and take part in the multitude of activities and crafts provided by our sponsors was clear evidence of how important this event is to our community.

    — Several new members to the Fort McCoy team completed their oath to federal service Dec. 5, 2022, under the guidance of Fort McCoy Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Messenger at the Directorate of Human Resources (DHR) Headquarters.

    “This is something new we’re doing to enhance our onboarding process for new team members,” said Workforce Development Specialist Jamie Gular with Fort McCoy DHR. “The garrison commander said he’s planning on continuing to do this for new team members.”

    Gular said Fort McCoy DHR has been working on \improving their new team member onboarding process over the past year based on feedback the directorate has received from new team members the garrison workforce and leaders.

    Fort McCoy military members were treated to dozens of free Christmas trees Dec. 2, 2022, courtesy of the Trees for Troops effort as a FedEx truck delivered the trees to the installation’s South Post Housing area.

    By midday Dec. 2, staff with the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works Housing Division were lining military members and their family members up to get their free trees.

    “There’s was a lot of people here when we started handing out the trees at noon,” said Housing Division Chief David Brande who was helping with the event. “This is one event that will definitely get you into the Christmas spirit.”

    The truck delivering the trees arrived at 9 a.m. Dec. 2, and Brande and a couple of the Housing Division staff members helped unload the truck. Once the trees were out of the truck and lined up, the delivery to the troops was next later in the day.

    According to, 15,300 total trees were picked up from 54 locations in 2022 and given to 84 total bases, including Fort McCoy. Trees are donated by individual farms and lots, the collective efforts of state and regional Christmas Tree associations, local sponsoring groups, and the customers of participating locations. Hundreds of donors and volunteers participate each year to make Trees for Troops happen, the website states.

    — Representatives from governmental and non-profit organizations from throughout the state of Wisconsin gathered at McCoy’s Community Center on Dec. 1, 2022, at Fort McCoy to hold a quarterly Inter-Service Family Assistance Committee (ISFAC) meeting.

    Dianne Sommers, a specialist with the Fort McCoy Army Community Service (ACS) office said the ISFAC provide services to veterans and those service members currently serving. Meetings for the ISFAC are held throughout the state in March, June, September, and December every year.

    “The meeting started at 9 a.m. and went until 1:30 p.m.,” Sommers said. “An hour of that time was devoted to networking among the attendees.”

    Sommers said some of main items discussed included the Soldier and Family Readiness Specialist with the Wisconsin National Guard reviewing the Military Family Financial Aid Program that is available to Wisconsin residents who are currently serving. Service members can apply to receive up to $2,500 per year for emergency financial assistance.

    “The Wisconsin National Guard also has personal financial counselors located throughout the state for service members with financial challenges,” Sommers said. “This service is free of charge.”

    Sommers said ISFAC members also discussed the need for donated household goods items to assist veterans who have obtained housing but lack essential items such as furniture, bedding, appliances, and other things.

    — Fort McCoy’s Central Issue Facility (CIF), part of the Fort McCoy Logistics Readiness Center, completed its 2022 annual inventory Dec. 5-16, 2022, with the overall inventory ending well, said CIF Property Book Officer Thomas Lovgren.

    The inventory is required annually by Army regulation, Lovgren said, and every year the Fort McCoy CIF closes for several days in December to get a full accounting of the millions of dollars of equipment and supplies they have on hand and maintain.

    The Fort McCoy CIF (building 780) was built at a cost of more than $9 million, and it’s a 62,548-square-foot facility. Central Issue Facility personnel began operations at the building Sept. 14, 2015. Since 2011, the Fort McCoy CIF has been issuing Reserve Soldiers their entire Organizational Clothing and Individual Equipment (OCIE) needs.

    For 2022, Lovgren said his team conducted an excellent inventory. “The Fort McCoy CIF Team did an exceptional job accounting for and safeguarding $49 million of OCIE items, which is currently stocked at this CIF,” Lovgren said.

    “This was definitely another successful inventory.”Having good accountability is important, Lovgren said. With so much equipment going in and out of the facility every year, having a low gain/loss percentage (below 2.5 percent) is good. And the Fort McCoy CIF percentage was .175 percent.

    Learn more about Fort McCoy online at, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.” Also try downloading the Digital Garrison app to your smartphone and set “Fort McCoy” or another installation as your preferred base.



    Date Taken: 01.21.2023
    Date Posted: 01.21.2023 02:40
    Story ID: 437045
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 

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