Brian Hill and Matt Decker
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Sept. 30, 2020) — The U.S. Army Military Police Regiment celebrated its 79th anniversary last week. Planners had to adapt to several challenges posed by COVID-19 to make this year’s Regimental Week a success, according to Col. Niave Knell, U.S. Military Police School commandant.
“It’s gone great,” Knell said when asked to sum up the week Friday at Piney Valley Golf Course, where MPs gathered for the annual Military Police Regimental Association Golf Tournament.
“We’ve been able to do most of the things we wanted to do, even if we had to change them a little bit,” Knell said. “The one big thing we weren’t able to do this year was the ball, unfortunately. But we were able to do a Retreat — we just didn’t have a big formation. We were able to do our memorial, which doesn’t take a lot of people. We did our run this morning with just our colors and our commanders — hopefully, next year we’ll have that big formation again. Even with all that and seeing everything everybody’s been posting on social media every place we have MPs, we’ve still had the celebration, even though it’s been kind of a strange year.”
As the MP Corps celebrated turning what Knell described as, “a seasoned 79,” this year’s MP Regimental Week demonstrated that MPs have proven themselves to be smart, adaptable and flexible in the face of COVID-19 and ready for future challenges.
“MPs are always here,” she said. “Seventy-nine years, through big wars, small wars, MPs are always there. We’ll always find a way to do the mission, and we’ve got great people who can do that — even if that mission is just to have a good time because it’s your birthday week.”
The week kicked off Sept. 21 with a memorial ceremony at the MP Regimental Memorial Grove, where Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Bennett spoke on the role MPs play in preserving the freedoms Americans enjoy.
“Military Police Soldiers, corrections officers, investigators and Military Working Dog teams are out front, putting themselves between the threat to our way of life and our loved ones,” Bennett said. “The names on the brick that surrounds us come from all walks of life … they come from rich families, poor families and some from no families at all. They joined this organization to become part of something much bigger than themselves. It is an idea that we have sworn an oath to — the idea of freedom, and that we will do what ever it takes to protect it, even if it means giving our life.”
Following the memorial ceremony, a monument honoring Military Working Dogs was dedicated at the memorial grove. The 5-foot-tall bronze statue — created by Springfield, Missouri, sculptor James Hall — commemorates working dog contributions.
“The working dog has been part of the regiment for well over 50 years,” said Sgt. Maj. Timothy Timmins, Office of the Provost Marshal General Military Working Dog Program. “A lot of people say dog handlers are emotional — and there is some emotion that goes into what we do dealing with a living animal — but I would say we are a very passionate group. Every day, no matter what, when they go into the kennels that dog is excited to see them, and there is just something that gets you excited about that.”
After a bass tournament and regimental ride to the Lake of the Ozarks Recreation Area Sept. 23, the MPs held a Retreat ceremony Sept. 24 at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence Plaza. Knell spoke on the past, present and future of the MP Corps.
“This year has been far different than any of us expected, and we don’t know what the future holds, but we are confident that the MP Corps will adapt to face new demands and threats,” she 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 75 years ago to a premier Army Center of Excellence that trains more than 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