FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — (Feb. 28, 2023) Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers are teaming up with surrounding schools by presenting a Leadership Award to students exemplifying one of the seven Army Values: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage.
“The students who are given these awards are helping their classmates, helping their teachers, they are participating in programs in their communities. We want to recognize kids who are living the Army Values,” said Amanda Sullivan, a public affairs specialist with the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office.
Each month the PAO assigns a different Army Value, and the school districts submit their nominees. The office coordinates with the three major brigade teams on post — the 3rd Chemical Brigade, 1st Engineer Brigade and 14th Military Police Brigade — to find a Soldier who would like to present the award.
On the day of the presentation, the students receive a certificate signed by the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanding general and command sergeant major.
Lt. Col. John Moran, 554th Engineer Battalion commander, went to Rolla Jr. High School in Rolla, Missouri, to present the award for this month’s value — Honor.
“Honor to me means doing what is right. Always striving to do your service while upholding the valued traditions and the ethos of your community. It means doing things you can be proud of,” Moran said.
Student Cami Kotschedoff said she was nervous when she was called to the principal’s office.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh no, what did I do?’” the seventh grader said. “I was very surprised to see someone in uniform waiting there for me.”
Cami’s father beamed with pride as he watched her receive the award from Moran.
“It makes me feel good to know that she respects everybody and gives them the same respect she would want,” said Josh Kotschedoff, Cami’s father.
After receiving her certificate, Kotshedoff’s parents offered to take her to lunch to celebrate, to which she responded: “I need to finish English class first.”
For the 12-year-old, Honor to her isn’t something she strives for, it is just part of who she is.
“It means always living up to what you know you can do. I want to be as helpful to others as I can,” she said. “It makes me feel good to be recognized.”
Moran said he likes to present the Leadership Award because it shows local communities that the Army is making their community a priority.
“Is it my normal job? No. But it is something that allows me to make an impact. It takes a lot of planning and preparation, and it is important to me to be present,” Moran said. “The military is very much a family driven business. We are building the community up.”
Lt. Col. John Romito, 1st Battalion 48th Infantry Regiment commander, said he takes every opportunity to recognize virtuous behavior, especially in young people.
“Presenting a value-based award is incredibly rewarding. Particularly when the recipient is surprised by the recognition,” he said.
Romito’s favorite Army Value to present is Duty.
“I think feeling a strong sense of obligation to your team and the nation drives a person to be their best,” he explained.
Romito recalled a particular award presentation he will never forget.
“We presented an award to two young men at Rolla High School, who recognized another student in need of winter clothing. They spent their own money to purchase new shoes and a coat for the person in need,” Romito said.
Neither student personally knew the student in need, Romito added.
“It was a simple, yet profound act of kindness that is unforgettable,” he said.
According to Sullivan, nearly 100 students from 14 schools spread throughout 11 different school districts have received the Leadership Award.
“The feedback from the schools and their participation has surpassed the expectations we had in the beginning,” Sullivan said. “We really aim for the districts that may not get to see Soldiers in uniform every day.”
The Leadership Award Program only has a couple more months left this school year, but the PAO hopes to bring it back again next year.
“We would like to expand it and get to schools a little bit further out,” Sullivan said.
About Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post more than 80 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains nearly 80,000 military and civilians each year.
Fort Leonard Wood is home to the U.S Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and three U.S. Army schools: the U.S. Army Engineer School; U.S. Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School; and the U.S. Army Military Police School. In addition to training engineer, CBRN and military police specialties for the Army, Fort Leonard Wood also provides gender-integrated in-processing and Basic Combat Training for new Soldiers.
Fort Leonard Wood also hosts and trains with the largest Marine Corps Detachment and Air Force Squadron on any Army installation as well as a large Navy construction detachment.
More information about Fort Leonard Wood is at: https://home.army.mil/wood/index.php/about/mission