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Fort Leonard Wood Museum

by Bob McEowen

The World War II-era barracks on our cover likely will seem familiar to veterans who experienced basic training at Fort Leonard Wood from the 1940s through 1970s. The restored troop quarters may be among the only sights that older veterans recognize at the U.S. Army base, however.

In recent decades, Fort Leonard Wood has undergone major upgrades and modernization as the installation’s mission has expanded. Opened as an infantry facility in 1940, the base now houses the Army’s engineer, chemical and military police schools. The missions and history of these specialities are presented at the John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex.

The Fort Leonard Wood Museum recalls the development of the facility through displays of military hardware and a restored company compound. The U.S. Army Chemical Museum — the antique gas masks shown at left are on display there — traces the history of chemical, biological and radiological warfare and the role of the Army’s chemical corps, from World War I through its response to today’s terrorist threats. The U.S. Army Engineer’s Museum recalls the contributions of the army engineers during war and peace time, while the U.S. Army Military Police Museum honors military law enforcement from 1775 to the present day.

The museums are open to the public Monday through Saturday (except federal holidays) and admission is free. The Fort Leonard Wood Museum closes during inclement weather.

Fort Leonard Wood is located south of Interstate 44 at Exit 161. Civilians must submit to a brief security inspection and present a driver’s license and proof of vehicle insurance and registration to enter. Motorcyclists must also present a Motorcycle Safety Foundation card. For more information, call 573-596-0780 or log onto www.wood.army.mil.

 

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