FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. – In 1945, Staff Sgt. Samuel Countee, an African American Soldier and artist, painted a mural for Fort Leonard Wood’s World War II era Black Officers Club located in Building 2101. After 74 years this very building will be memorialized in his honor.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for SSG Samuel A. Countee Hall, also to be referred to as Countee Hall, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Aug. 13 at Building 2101. An open house for the public is slated to take place from 1 to 4 p.m.
Renovation on the historic building began a little over a year ago. During this time the mural was on display at the installation’s John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex, giving the public a rare glimpse at the historic piece.
“I’m thrilled to see the rehabilitation completed and the building memorialized,” said Stephanie Nutt, Directorate of Public Works cultural resource coordinator. “The process was a collaboration of so many different people and organizations, and their hard work has resulted in a stunning facility,”
DPW Environmental Division Chief Charlie Neel said he is excited for everyone to see the finished product, and those who already have are very pleased with the end results.
“I have an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, for Fort Leonard Wood and for the Army,” Neel said. “The building speaks to an important piece of American history and I have had the honor to help preserve it.”
In addition to being the home of what is believed to be the only surviving piece of artwork created during Countee’s military career, the building also features masonry stonework built by German and Italian prisoners of war. The building is one of the last World War II era segregated officers clubs in the Army.
“Fort Leonard Wood is honored to be able to preserve this important piece of the Army’s World War II history,” Nutt said.
Media wishing to attend this event should contact the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office at 573.563.4145 or 573.563.5038 no later the 3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12.
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 82,000 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 and Air Force detachments 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