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    This Month in Fort McCoy History — July 2023

    This Month in Fort McCoy History — July 2023

    Courtesy Photo | This is a photo of a clipping of Page 12 of the July 24, 1943, edition of The Real...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office           

    Fort McCoy, Wis., was established in 1909. Here is a look back at some installation history from July 2023 and back.

    80 Years Ago — July 1943
    FROM THE JULY 24, 1943, EDITION OF THE REAL MCCOY NEWSPAPER: Camp McCoy Rejoices at Sicily Success (Story by Sgt. William Norton) — There was elation in Camp McCoy this week at the news of the Allies moving forward on all the world’s major battlefronts.

    Interest centered on Sicily whose western half had fallen to the lightening charging American 7th Army. Enna, a geographical and fortified center of the island, and everything west of Palermo, Sicily’s biggest city, on the north coast, were in American hands. Hand-battling Nazis were slipping slowly before attacks of the British 8th Army at the fringe of Catania, key to the east coast.

    FROM THE JULY 24, 1943, EDITION OF THE REAL MCCOY NEWSPAPER: Remodeled Tomah USO Dedication draws 6,000; Col. Brown there — About 6,000 people attended the ceremonies last weekend dedicating the remodeled USO building in Tomah, Wis.

    Lt. Col. Harry R. Brown., Post Executive Officer, headed the Camp McCoy representation. Also attending was Lt. Col. A. F. Ewert, Post Chaplain. Cpl. James Rliordan, represented the Enlisted Men’s Committee of Camp McCoy. Rabbi William Schwartz, civilian chaplain at Camp McCoy, offered the benediction at the formal dedication ceremonies.

    Preceding the formal program was a concert by the 1650th Service Unit Band of Camp McCoy, which was given in Gillette Park across from the USO building. Open house at the Tomah USO followed the dedication program. Buffet supper was provided. Two dances made up the rest of the weekend program.

    The Camp Williams orchestra played for both the pre-dedication dance on Saturday night and the dedication dance on Sunday evening.

    60 Years Ago — July 1963
    FROM THE JULY 12, 1963, EDITION OF THE REAL MCCOY NEWSPAPER: McCoy sergeant saves drowning man — An unidentified 50-year-old man was saved from drowning in Lake Arbutus near Black River Falls on Saturday evening Sgt. 1st Class Alfred M. West Jr., Sergeant Advisor to the Fifth Army Evaluation Board.

    Sergeant West was relaxing on the beach at Lake Arbutus when his attention was drawn to a woman’s scream to a man struggling to keep above water about 30 yards from shore. Instantly Sergeant West plunged into the water and swam to the imperiled bather.

    Upon reaching him, the sergeant found that the man had already submerged. West then dove down after him, hooked his arm under the victim’s chin, pulled him to the surface, and the incapacitated man to shore.

    Completely exhausted by his heroic effort, Sergeant West unobtrusively left the scene after being assured that the bather was in good condition.

    50 Years Ago — July 1973
    FROM THE JULY 26, 1973, EDITION OF THE REAL MCCOY NEWSPAPER: Kokomo comes to ‘God's Country’ — The 199th Supply Company from Kokomo, Ind., the “City of Firsts” has come for annual training to Camp McCoy in the heart of “God's Country.”

    The 199th is a general support, repair parts supply company, commanded by Capt. Gary C. Steinhardt. This is the third consecutive year the 199th has trained in supply operations at the Wisconsin reservation. Their mission at annual training is operation of the repair parts facility at building 2652, issuing repair parts, and maintaining stock control records.

    30 Years Ago — July 1993
    FROM THE JULY 16, 1993, EDITION OF THE TRIAD NEWSPAPER: $20,000 being spent here to combat spread of oak wilt (Story by Lou Ann Mittelstaedt) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service is spending $20,000 for contract work at Fort McCoy this summer
    to combat the spread of oak wilt.

    Oak wilt is a fungal disease that attacks the vascular system of both red and white oak species. No longer able to effectively move water and nutrients from its roots to its leaves, the tree’s leaves turn brown and fall off, which eventually causes the tree to die.

    According to Fort McCoy Forester Jim Kerkman, trees that suffer a wound in the bark in May or June are particularly susceptible to initial exposure to the disease.

    “The wound causes the sap to flow, and the sweet smell of the sap attracts picnic beetles,” he said. “As beetles move to new trees from those already infected with oak wilt, they transfer spores of the fungus.”

    The disease then can be passed to other trees through shared root systems, also called root grafts.

    The money being spent at Fort McCoy will be used to perform root plowing, which separates the root grafts of an infected tree, or group of trees, from healthy trees surrounding it, Kerkman said.

    Approximately 200 oak wilt “centers” will be root plowed at Fort McCoy this year, he said. These centers range in size from a single infected tree to a dozen or more. In root plowing, a thin, knife-like blade is slipped through the soil that surrounds an infected tree or cluster of infected
    trees. The blade, which cuts to a depth of five feet, cleanly severs shared root systems but leaves behind no trenches or other visible indicators of the procedure.

    “Root plowing probably will need to be done here on an ongoing basis for a number of years,” he said. “Oak wilt can be real bad — much like Dutch elm disease was almost 20 years ago. It’s becoming more and more prevalent in this area of the state.”

    Although research into ways of eradicating the fungus continues, Kerkman said one of the best ways to prevent the disease from occurring is to be careful when working around trees.

    “Don’t prune a tree or cut into its bark at all during May or June,” he said. “Also, you need to be careful when you mow your lawn, so the mower blade doesn’t injure the tree's bark or root system.”

    5 Years Ago — July 2018
    FROM THE JULY 13, 2018, EDITION OF THE REAL MCCOY NEWSPAPER: EOD personnel train at Fort McCoy with Exercise Audacious Warrior 2018 (Story by Scott T. Sturkol) — Nearly 60 Airmen from 10 states as well as teams of international service members who are part of explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams trained at Fort McCoy for 12 days in late June to early July as part of Exercise Audacious Warrior 2018.

    Training also took place at Volk Field, Wis., for the EOD Airmen, said Chief Master Sgt. Edward Smith with the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s 115th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Flight at Madison. Smith serves as a program chief for EOD National Guard Airmen across the country.

    “This is the eighth year we’re doing this training, and it has grown every year,” Smith said.

    Air National Guard Airmen from Oregon, Florida, Texas, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Vermont, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Delaware, and Nebraska participated in the training. The training was supported on post by the Fort McCoy Counter Improvised Explosive Device (CIED) training team that includes Shannon Frey and Adam Kodra, both with contractor Veterans Range Solutions.

    Kodra said his team worked with the 115th to build more than 60 training aids for the exercise.

    “We also helped develop scenarios for training, and I was on hand to assist with training events,” Kodra said.

    Throughout the training, the EOD Airmen completed scenarios in convoy operations, populated-area responses for IEDs, and more.

    “The type of training and scenarios we have changes each year,” Smith said. “It changes because we have to keep up with the latest EOD tactics, techniques, and procedures. We also change it up based on feedback we received from training in previous exercises.”

    The exercise is also good for the Airmen to complete their annual Air Force-specific training requirements for the EOD career field, Smith said.

    “Those who train here are able to satisfy those EOD-specific training requirements that can only be done in a training environment like we have for this exercise,” Smith said.

    And to do the training at Fort McCoy makes sense, Smith said.

    “This is an exercise that allowed them more hands-on training with the tools of their trade,” Smith said. “At Fort McCoy, with the support we receive and the spaces that area available, we can add more realism to give these EOD Airmen the kind of training they need to stay on the cutting edge of readiness.”

    In previous years, the EOD Airmen would commute from Volk Field to Fort McCoy each day — about a 50-mile round trip each day.

    “Our feedback from past training told us that many of the participants didn’t like all the commute time each day, and it took away more time they could have for training,” Smith said. “This year, all of the participants are staying at Fort McCoy, and it has worked out well.”

    Senior Master Sgt. Gilbert Holcomb, 115th EOD Flight superintendent, said the training has been good for everyone involved.

    “In a career field as small as ours, sharing the (tactics, techniques, and procedures) that are successful is crucial to ensuring everyone’s success,” he said.

    EOD is one of the smallest career fields in the Air Force. Many of those who participated in the training have deployed overseas with EOD personnel from other services many times over.

    Smith said he’s proud of all of them. “I’ve been doing this a long time and it’s always great to be able to do this kind of training where we can all learn from each other,” he said.

    Fort McCoy was established in 1909 and its motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.”

    Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.

    The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.

    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.

    (Article compiled by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office.)


    Date Taken: 07.25.2023
    Date Posted: 07.25.2023 23:10
    Story ID: 449987

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