By Brian Hill
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Sept. 30, 2021) — The U.S. Army Military Police Corps celebrated its 80th anniversary as the U.S. Army Military Police School here hosted Regimental Week events.
The theme this year, “Military Police winning in competition, crisis and conflict,” was echoed by Brig. Gen. Niave Knell, USAMPS commandant, as she thanked the MP Soldiers and civilians across the Army, who “take care of the mission and our people.”
“As we tackle the challenges ahead, never forget that we are the Army’s premier dual-purpose force,” she said. “In competition, we preserve readiness; in crisis, we secure critical capabilities, assets and activities; in conflict, we support maneuver with security and mobility support, police and detention operations. Our actions mitigate strategic risk, all day, every day, because of our MP Soldiers, civilians and families, who stand ready to do our nation’s bidding.”
According to 2nd Lt. Elijah Brown, one of the organizers at USAMPS, COVID-19 precautions changed the look and feel of the annual celebration, but also provided the opportunity to emphasize a broader online presence throughout the week.
“One major initiative our team committed to early on as we planned regimental week was expanding both our social media coverage as well as overall activity online,” Brown said. “Given the COVID environment, we knew regimental week would look a bit different from years past. Our primary goal was to ensure, given our constraints, all members and supporters of the Military Police Corps still got to participate, albeit virtually.”
Brown said one of the virtual initiatives this year was a daily physical training challenge posted to social media throughout the week. Regimental leaders asked MP units to add photos of Soldiers participating. The first day, for instance, units were challenged to run a combined 80 miles to celebrate 80 years of the MP Corps.
One of the units that stepped up to the first challenge was the 795th MP Battalion. They posted nearly 20 photos of their cadre and trainees “getting after it.”
“The challenges allowed us to highlight the efforts of our troops and light the fire for some friendly competition within the regiment,” Brown said. “Despite the constraints, participation was at an all-time high. We are a multi-purpose force, able to adapt and overcome new challenges while still preserving readiness.”
Also on Sept. 20, senior Fort Leonard Wood MP leaders gathered at the MP Memorial Grove to pay tribute to fallen MP brothers and sisters.
Invited guests of honor at the ceremony included local Gold Star families of fallen MPs, and music was performed by former MP Christiana Ball.
At the event, MP Regimental Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Bennett spoke on the importance to the MP Corps of the memorial grounds.
“For all of us in this regiment, this is where it all starts, and this is where, ultimately, it ends,” he said. “It serves as a rally point for those who have served, but more importantly, it serves as a waypoint for the regiment to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Following remarks, Col. Steven Yamashita, USAMPS assistant commandant, Regimental Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Arnold, and Bennett laid a wreath in honor of fallen MPs before a 21-gun salute and a rider-less horse passed the grove while bagpipes were played.
Events on Sept. 21 included a bass fishing tournament at the Lake of the Ozarks Recreation Area and an 80-mile regimental motorcycle ride.
It was the fifth year for the bass tournament, Brown said, and 98 participants in 49 boats competed. The winning big bass weighed 5.04 pounds, and was caught by the team of retired MP John Pimentel and his son, Jonathan. The first-place team was Dennis Freeman and Mike Dewitt, who caught a combined weight of 17.22 pounds. Finishing in second place were the Pimentels, who caught a combined weight of 16.35 pounds. In third was the team of Brad Fuller and Brandon Morris, who caught a combined weight of 12.86 pounds. All of the winning team members and the individual who caught the biggest bass received trophies and gift certificates.
A total of 23 motorcyclists participated in this year’s regimental ride, which, along with promoting esprit-de-corps and pride in the MP Corps, also provided another opportunity to ensure compliance with all motorcycle safety policies here. The ride included stops in Osage, Missouri, and a visit to the bass tournament.
On Sept. 23, USAMPS held a change-of-responsibility ceremony on Gammon Field, where Bennett relinquished responsibilities to Command Sgt. Maj. Shawn Klosterman. The event also included a retirement ceremony for Bennett, who served 27 years in the Army.
Yamashita presided over the ceremony in place of Knell – who was on a temporary duty assignment. He called the change of responsibility a “public demonstration of the continuity of leadership for the unit’s Soldiers.”
“It allows us to look at a unit and its accomplishments, as well as formally recognize the outgoing and incoming leaders,” he said.
Yamashita also thanked the MP Corps Soldiers and their families for the sacrifices they make for the nation.
“The reason we are successful is not any more complex than it was in the days when our nation was first born,” he said. “It’s because of the men and women in uniform, those who go out every day and become involved — not for power, not for glory, not for money, but because they love our country, believe in freedom, and they are willing to give whatever it takes to help us succeed.”
To Bennett, Yamashita offered his thanks for 27 years of hard work and dedication.
“The hard work and untiring efforts of you and your teams have made a significant and measurable contribution to our nation,” he said. “Without a doubt, you made every formation you stood in or in front of better.”
Yamashita also offered a congratulations to Klosterman and welcomed him to USAMPS.
“You were chosen to lead our school and shape our regiment, and we have the utmost confidence in your abilities, leadership and simple know-how to get the hard jobs done,” Yamashita said.
After thanking family, friends and colleagues, Bennett said the MP Corps sets itself apart from the rest of the Army.
“When we are not directly supporting combat operations, we stand a watch over our communities, day and night,” he said. “We guard the most dangerous criminal offenders and conduct felony-level investigations around the world, just to make our Army safer.”
Bennett spoke on the full confidence he has in Klosterman’s ability to thrive in his new role.
“If my son was to join today, I’d want him in (Klosterman’s) formation,” Bennett said.
Klosterman, who comes to Fort Leonard Wood from the 18th Military Police Brigade, at Grafenwoehr, Germany, said he is “excited for the voyage ahead.”
“I will lead with energy and optimism, striving to do the common things uncommonly well,” he said. “I’ll be the best servant leader I can, and never lead based off the piece of cloth I wear on my chest, but the heart underneath it.”
The week’s events concluded with a golf tournament Sept. 24 at Piney Valley Golf Course. Out of more than 100 participants, the team of Mike Abram, Jeff Caquelin, Tim Thorne and John Wales finished in the top spot.
The MP Corps is one of the youngest branches of the Army, having been officially established on Sept. 26, 1941.
About Fort Leonard Wood
Fort Leonard Wood is a thriving and prosperous installation that has evolved from a small basic training post 80 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