Meet the Fort – Chaplain Oanca


One chaplain’s faith and duty

Originally published in the Fort Leonard Wood Guidon

To serve those who serve, where others fear to go

Born, raised and educated in Romania, Chaplain (Cpt.) George Oanca, pronounced Wonka, currently serves as a religious support officer for the 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Chemical Brigade here on Fort Leonard Wood. But how he found himself here is no average tale.


Chaplain (Cpt.) George Oanca

“It is a long story, but I’ll try to make it short,” he said humbly with a subtle accent.

Although Romania is a secular state, a clear majority of the population identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox Christians. It is this faith that guides Oanca every day, through good times and bad.

“I was 19 years old when the revolution came in Romania,” he said. “I remember that it was December, and I was in my third year in the seminary. I was caroling, and when the revolution started, we were so happy.”

“We heard about freedom and about democracy,” he said. “We were thinking we are blessed because now we can experience that.”

In the years following the 1989 revolution, “everything was good,” Oanca said. He married his wife in 1992 and they had their first child in June of the following year. “In 1993, I got my first parish as an orthodox priest,” he said.


Chaplain (Capt.) George Oanca reads aloud from Scripture. Image courtesy of Mountain Warrior Brigade.

Oanca dedicated six years to building this church from the ground up in Ibrianu, a farming village of about 350 families. “Wonderful people,” he said fondly. “Good memories.”

But life has its twists and turns, not all of them happy or productive.

“Our second child was born in October 1997,” he said. “Unfortunately, the little angel came with a broken wing.”

Oanca’s daughter, Elizabetha, was born with VATER syndrome, a collection of birth defects affecting the esophagus, kidneys and vertebrae. It currently has no known cause.

“It couldn’t be fixed (in Romania),” he said. “So, with the generosity and help of the people from the United States, we came here.” In September 1999, Dr. W. Hardy Hendren of the Boston Children’s Hospital offered to perform the surgeries that would save Elizabetha’s life.

Following her recovery, “we decided to immigrate to the United States,” Oanca said. “The Romanian Episcopate sent me to Las Vegas on my first assignment as a parish priest.”

This parish was a little different, he said. Families struggled, and came and left through the revolving door of gambling addiction. But the experience in Ibrianu fortified him for his new assignment, he said, so “it was easy for me to adapt and start a ministry there.”

“The biggest enemy out there is not the bullet or the RPG, or the enemy that wants to kill you, to destroy you,” he said. “The biggest enemy is the separation that we have to endure during the deployment.”

Less than two years later, a crisis appeared again – and he answered.

“I saw what happened with the twin towers,” he said. “The war started, and I saw the Soldiers going into combat.”

“I thought, ‘now it’s time to pay back what this country gave me – how it saved my daughter’s life,’” he added.

Oanca walked into an Army recruitment office, told the sergeant his story, and joined. “I want to serve those who serve, where others fear to go,” he said. Upon completing the Army Chaplain Center and School program, he was assigned to the 367th Engineer Battalion in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

“By March 7, 2010, my boots were on the ground in Iraq,” he said. “It was quite a different ministry.”

Chaplain (Capt.) Oanca stands with Eastern Orthodox priests in front of a shrine during his deployment to Baghdad, Iraq. Courtesy photo.


Chaplain (Capt.) Oanca stands with Eastern Orthodox priests in front of a shrine during his deployment to Baghdad, Iraq. Courtesy photo.

“I think when you are in a combat zone, your faith is tested every moment, going on patrol, going outside the wires, and knowing that you have to face the enemy,” he said.

Although chaplains are defined by the Law of Armed Conflict as non-combatants, that did not mean Oanca was detached.

“I slept where they slept, in the tents, on the cots, on the ground,” he said. “Doesn’t matter if it was raining outside, if it was snowing, if it was muddy, I was with them.”

Through this bonding with fellow service members, he learned and formed a message he hopes can help Soldiers coping with deployment stress today.

“The biggest enemy out there is not the bullet or the RPG, or the enemy that wants to kill you, to destroy you,” he said. “The biggest enemy is the separation that we have to endure during the deployment.”

That is why “the ministry of presence,” a principle he was taught in training, is so important. “(Chaplains’) presence brings a lot of moral courage and support for the Soldiers,” he said.

To any service member looking to talk, “it doesn’t matter when – I am available 24/7,” he emphasized.

Oanca has had his own struggles after returning. “I found myself putting the uniform on after I came back,” he said. “My wife would look at me and say, ‘You are in the Reserves. You are a priest, back at church.’”

“My family is back in Colorado Springs. I miss them,” he said, having not lived with them for four years. “But I am grateful at the same time, because they support me and understand the sacrifices that we, as parents, make.”

Elizabetha, whose life led Oanca to join the Army in the first place, is now 21 years old, studying biochemistry, and plans to attend medical school to become a doctor.

“She wants to give back to the people that are suffering or in need of help,” he said.

“The United States is my adopted mother,” he continued. “I would like to express my gratitude to all the wonderful people I’ve met since I came here.”

The family still visits Romania every other year.


History of Fort Leonard Wood


The Beginning 

The history of Fort Leonard Wood dates back to the dark days just before World War II. By 1940, war had engulfed Europe and much of Asia. By then, many Americans believed that it was only a matter of time before the country would be drawn into what was rapidly becoming a global conflict.

The nation’s leaders worked to increase the size of the armed forces, procure modern equipment and merge the two into an effective fighting force. One of the major challenges was finding suitable training areas for the expanding Army. In 1940, the War Department decided to establish a major training facility in the Seventh Corps area. This command comprised most of the states of the central plains. The site for the new training center was south-central Missouri. On Dec. 3, 1940, military and state officials broke ground for what was known as the Seventh Corps Area Training Center. In early January 1941, the War Department designated the installation as Fort Leonard Wood.

Gen. Leonard Wood

The post is named for Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, a distinguished American Soldier whose service to his country spanned 40 years. A warrior and a surgeon, Wood graduated from Harvard University and began his military service as a contract surgeon during the Apache Indian Wars in the 1880s, winning the Medal of Honor for valor. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Wood commanded the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, better known as the Rough Riders. His second in command, Theodore Roosevelt, took over the regiment when Wood was promoted.

Inclement weather complicated construction; bulldozers often were needed to drag lumber trucks through the mud. But through sheer determination and hard work, construction crews completed their task by June 1941. They had built nearly 1,600 buildings, comprising more than 5 million square feet of floor space, at a cost of $37 million and had done the job in six months.

Wood served as the Army’s Chief of Staff from 1910 to 1914. His last position of service was a governor general of the Philippine Islands, which Spain had ceded to the U.S. after the Spanish-American War. Wood held this position until his death in 1927.

Building the Fort

Building a major training center in the rugged terrain of the Ozarks presented a formidable challenge. the nearest rail service was several miles away. There was no housing for the thousands of workers who would build the post. Fort Leonard Wood had to be built quickly, because the first troops were scheduled to arrive in only a matter of weeks after the initial groundbreaking. First to train at Fort Leonard Wood were elements of the 6th Infantry Division.

Barracks Construction on Fort Leonard Wood circa 1941

Original Training Mission

Fort Leonard Wood was to be the home of the 6th Infantry Division. In time, four other infantry divisions — the 8th, the 70th, the 75th and the 97th — trained at the installation. In addition, a number of nondivisional units, ranging from field artillery battalions to quartermaster companies, also trained on the post. During World War II, more than 300,000 Soldiers passed through Fort Leonard Wood on their way to service in every theater of operation.

While the post was initially designated as an infantry division training area, Fort Leonard Wood quickly took on an engineer training mission. In March 1941, the first elements of an Engineer Replacement Training Center arrived in south-central Missouri. The growing size of the engineer force and limited training facilities at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, prompted the chief of engineers to look for additional training locations. Initially, engineer training focused on the training of individual replacements for established units. Soldiers went through a program that included both basic and engineer Soldier skills. The training schedule varied from eight to 14 weeks, depending on the need for engineer replacements. In time, engineer units were formed on the post and completed their training prior to movement overseas.

All information taken from

Know your OPSEC – Holiday Block Leave


By Amanda Sullivan, PAO Volunteer

What is OPSEC?

Holiday Block Leave is an exciting time for Soldiers in training and their families. The chance to reconnect and share their experiences in the middle of initial entry training is a rare opportunity for Soldiers to give their families a glimpse into their new life.

Having a Soldier home for the holiday season can make you want to share your excitement with the world. Unfortunately, there are people out there who will take advantage of your excitement such as identity thieves and hackers.

When you share information over the phone, internet or social media, that information could potentially be used this information to harm you, your Soldier, or the overall mission of the United States Military.


You have a Soldier in your family now, so you must stop thinking like a civilian. Giving out information about your Soldier can put them and their fellow troops at risk. People targeting troops and their families is not unprecedented – keep that in mind when you are posting or talking to others about your Soldier.

It may seem like the tiniest bits of information are harmless, but for an adversary it could be the final piece of a big puzzle that could lead to serious consequences.

To guard against this, it is important to practice Operations Security. In the military this is referred to as OPSEC. OPSEC is the protection of critical and sensitive information, which includes personally identifiable information (PII).

U.S. Army OPSEC has an amazing Facebook page you can follow to learn more:

Examples of information you should NOT share:

  • Flight times, itineraries, whether it is arrival or departures.
  • Troop movements – like what time troops are headed to the airport, mode of travel, number of personnel port, etc.
  • Personally identifying information (PII) like birth dates, social security numbers, etc.
  • Deployment dates

When creating social media posts, sending email, or talking to others keep these questions in mind:

  • Has this information been publicly released by the Army? If not, don’t share it.
  • Does this person or group NEED to know this information?
  • Is there specific information like flight times, countdowns, etc.? If so, do not share it.

Other tips:

  • Do not add people you have not personally met on social media.
  • Do not give information out without verifying who is asking – the U.S. Army will never reach out asking you for information about your Soldier.
  • Do not assume Facebook support groups are safe even if they are closed or private. You can be anyone on the internet.
  • Avoid third party communication tools offering to send your letters to trainees. When you submit your correspondence over the internet the information can be stored and there is no guarantee when it comes to security.

Basic Training Family Guide – Holiday Block Leave (HBL)


Specific questions regarding travel arrangements, finances or other aspects of the Holiday Block Leave Program should be directed to the Soldier in training or the unit.  

Please review our blog about practicing OPSEC during Holiday Block Leave. Help keep our troops safe: Know your OPSEC – Holiday Block Leave

The Holiday Block Leave (HBL) Program gives enlisted Soldiers in Basic Combat Training (BCT), Advanced Individual Training (AIT) and One Station Unit Training (OSUT) the option to take leave during the holiday season.

According to the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training, HBL gives Soldiers in the middle of initial military training a much-needed and well-deserved break. It also gives families the unique opportunity to reconnect with their Soldier during their initial military training – something most Soldiers in training and their family members do not experience!

Some Soldiers may choose to stay at Fort Leonard Wood. Taking leave is optional but should a Soldier decide to stay on the installation, rest assured they won’t be alone.  Organizations like Fort Leonard Wood Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) and the USO of Missouri typically host outings and events for Soldiers who remain at Fort Leonard Wood for the holidays.

HBL generally begins at the end of December and concludes in the first week of January of the new year. Soldiers should look to their command for guidance regarding travel arrangements, restrictions, finances, or other aspects of HBL.




Fort Leonard Wood Graduation Dates and Information


By Amanda Sullivan, PAO Volunteer

Finding graduation dates:

Most graduation dates can be found on our website and should be announced by the time your trainee begins Basic Combat Training:

If you cannot locate a trainee’s unit on the schedule you can contact the unit directly using the information found in the Commander’s Letter, the unit’s Facebook page, or on the unit’s web page.

Tips for attending graduations:

  • We suggest business casual attire.
  • Photography is allowed at graduation events. Photography on other areas of the installation may be prohibited.
  • Gate traffic is heavy on graduation day. Allow yourself at least one hour to get on post and to the venue. Passes are not required when attending graduation. However, if you are planning on coming onto the installation PRIOR to a graduation, or staying AFTER, you will need to obtain a pass at the Visitors Center. You can find out how to obtain a pass here:

Additional Resources:

Graduation Event Map

Gate Access

Letters and packages during Basic Combat Training


By Amanda Sullivan, PAO Volunteer

Frequently asked questions


When can I start sending letters?

As soon as you receive the trainee’s address. Trainees have an opportunity to call with their address when they reach their basic training unit. The information can also be found in the Commander’s Welcome letter. For information on when to expect phone calls, see our previous blog post: Basic Training Family Guide – Phone Calls

The address can also be found in the Commander’s Letter if the unit provides one, and sometimes on the unit’s Facebook page. If all else fails, contact the unit.


How are letters and packages processed and distributed?

When letters and packages are received at the United States Post Office on Fort Leonard Wood, they are distributed to brigade mail rooms. Drill sergeants retrieve the letters and packages from there. Mail is distributed to trainees same day.


Is mail held from trainees as punishment?

No. Absolutely not. This should never happen. See potential reasons for delays below.

Why hasn’t my trainee received my letter or package?

There could be a few reasons for this:

  • It’s early on into Basic Combat Training – It can take a couple weeks for mail to start flowing smoothly.
  • Mail volume – Brigade mail rooms handle incoming and outgoing mail for thousands of trainees at a time.
  • Addressing issues – If the letter is addressed incorrectly, it may be redirected or returned and therefore delayed. You’re new at this and so are trainees. Don’t be hard on yourself, military addressing takes some time to get used to.
  • Letters passed like ships in the night – Your trainee may have written you a letter in the morning saying they hadn’t received any letters, and then received three letters at mail call that afternoon.
  • Training schedules may not have allowed for daily mail pickup – Usually, drill sergeants pick up mail from the brigade mail room Monday through Saturday. Sometimes training does not allow for this and it can be two to three days between pickup. This is not common, but it does happen.


Do drill sergeants read the letters?

No. Letters are inspected for contraband and inappropriate photos but are not read. All photos are looked at by the drill sergeants, so don’t send anything that may embarrass you!

Packages are inspected and prohibited items are confiscated (see below for examples of prohibited items.)

Why am I not receiving letters from my trainee?

Some of the most common reasons families do not receive letters:

  • They aren’t writing home – The Army has no control over if they write, or who they write to.
  • User Error – Your trainee did not address the letter correctly or add postage so it has been returned to sender. This happens more than you would think.
  • They don’t have writing supplies – If they didn’t buy supplies at Reception or after arriving to the BCT unit they won’t have another opportunity to buy them for a few more weeks. You can send them supplies if they express the need over the phone.

Tip: Many of these issues can be resolved by sending trainees self addressed, stamped envelopes!

 What should I include or not include in my letter?

  • Motivate them and be positive.
  • Try to avoid complaining and telling them of negative situations going on at home.


The importance of sending letters

I recently sat down with Sgt. 1st Class Lucas Aragon, who emphasized the importance of sending letters and the impact it can have on a trainee’s morale:

“Send letters of encouragement. Remind them to look at the light at the end of the tunnel and of their goals and what they came here for so they have something constantly inside them to keep the fire burning,” Aragon said.  “It’s as simple as sending a card. That can make or break their day.”

He added that not receiving mail can have a negative impact:

“When mail comes and they are sitting there seeing their battle buddy getting five or six letters and they don’t get any, that can be rough,” Aragon said. “This is a time where they need that support from their loved ones.”

Send those letters, support your trainees and know that you will get through this. Basic training is a tough adjustment for trainees and their families, but letters can be the silver lining for everyone involved!

Care Package Tips

Care packages are not necessary during Basic Combat Training. Trainees have access to, or are issued, anything they need once they get to Fort Leonard Wood.

However, if you’d still like to send a package, here are some examples of basic do’s and don’ts.

Individual units can provide a more specific list. 



  • Envelopes
  • Stamps
  • Pens and pencils
  • Paper
  • Soap
  • Unscented lotions
  • Toothbrushes
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash (alcohol free)
  • Deodorant
  • Appropriate photos


Cough Drops

I see a lot of questions about cough drops. If they are allowed is up to the individual unit. Ask the unit or the trainee directly.


Don’t (these items will be confiscated)

  • Weapons
  • Tobacco
  • Alcohol
  • Food products (any and all food products are confiscated, save your money!)
  • Jewelry
  • Makeup
  • Perfume
  • Pornography
  • Clothing items
  • Electronic






Fort Leonard Wood Gate Access


By Amanda Sullivan, PAO Volunteer

This is a basic guide for gaining access to Fort Leonard Wood. Additional questions should be directed to the Visitors Center listed below, or to a trainee’s unit.



  • Identification is required for everyone in the vehicle age 18 and older
  • Valid driver license for the driver
  • Valid vehicle registration
  • Valid proof of vehicle insurance
  • All vehicles are subject to inspection

Identification must be shown every time you enter the installation.

Driver license, registration and insurance must be presented if asked.


Department of Defense identification card holders

  • Your military ID or Civilian Access Card (CAC) must be presented at the gate. If you don’t have one, see the next section.
  • Government issued photo ID must be presented for anyone 18 years of age or older in the vehicle.


Escorting/Sponsoring others:

When you act as an escort/sponsor for a visitor or guest you are responsible for them and everything they do on the installation. By allowing them to use your name to enter the installation you are vouching for their integrity and character. If they cause trouble on post, it can lead to consequences for the sponsor.

Caution: Do not agree to bring someone on post you do not know personally. You should be wary of anyone attempting to avoid the correct entry procedures.

It is common to see individuals online asking ID card holders to drive them on so they can “avoid the process” at the Visitors Center. DO NOT DO THIS.


Guests and Visitors


  • Valid identification for all individuals over 18 entering the installation.
  • Proof of valid insurance, driver license for the driver, and vehicle registration.
  • Background check All visitors and guests must submit to a criminal background check. If denied unescorted entry you may be approved for escorted entry.
  • Valid reason to enter Fort Leonard Wood You will need to explain your specific reason for requesting access to Fort Leonard Wood. Going to the PX food court, for example, is not a valid reason for requesting access.
  • Visitor’s pass This will be issued once the background check is completed and you are approved to enter the installation. You can pre-apply for a pass here: Depending on need or circumstances, pass validity time can range from one day to 12 months.


Vehicle Inspections

All vehicles entering the installation are subject to inspection. This is something you agree to when requesting access to Fort Leonard Wood.  If selected, you will be guided to the inspection area and asked to provide your license, IDs for everyone in the vehicle, valid vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.


Graduation Access

This article serves as a general guide for entering the installation.

Please contact the individual unit for specific information on accessing Fort Leonard Wood on Family and Graduation Day.



  • Do not run the gate: Nothing good has ever come from someone running the gate on a military installation. They are not going to say “oh well” and forget about it.
  • Be respectful to the gate guards: They work long hours, sometimes in extreme weather, to ensure our safety. They are just doing their job.
  • Weapons: For visitors traveling with personal protection, Fort Leonard Wood does not provide storage for weapons, however, the Saint Robert Police Department will sometimes store weapons for visitors to Fort Leonard Wood. They can be reached at 573.336.4700.
  • Prohibited Items: These are common sense: Drugs, weapons, open alcohol containers, etc.


More information:

Visitor Access

You can find more detailed information about access control and gate entry procedures for Fort Leonard Wood here, call the Visitors Center at 573-596-0356, or e-mail


Reception; a trainee’s first stop at Fort Leonard Wood


By Amanda Sullivan, PAO Volunteer



Once trainees arrive at Fort Leonard Wood, their first stop is the 43rd Adjutant General Reception Battalion in Grant Hall.

Here they will be issued uniforms, receive immunizations and medical exams, and fill out essential paperwork.

Trainees will also have an opportunity to purchase envelopes and stamps at this point so they can communicate with their families during training.

The time a trainee spends at reception depends on their job and whether they are here for Basic Combat Training (BCT) or One Station Unit Training (OSUT). Trainees here for BCT will spend about 3 to 4 days at reception, while those who are here for OSUT will be at reception for 7 to 10 days.

Trainees are given two phone calls in reception. The first call is permitted after they first arrive before their phones are turned over. The second is allowed before they are sent to their basic training unit.

Please remember: Not all trainees choose to call home. If you do not receive a call, do not call the installation or 43rd. Neither the installation or 43rd can provide information on individual trainees for privacy reasons. If you have an emergency and need to contact a trainee, please follow the instructions in our Emergencies post: Basic Training Family Guide – Emergencies



The Basic Combat Training breakdown



By Amanda Sullivan, PAO Volunteer

Hello, and welcome to the Army Family! This article will provide you with essential information to help you navigate a trainee’s time in training at Fort Leonard Wood.

It can be difficult to know what to expect when a loved one ships off to basic training if you have no experience with the military.

It is normal to not hear from a trainee for lengthy periods of time. While this is hard on the heart, keep in mind the invaluable training they are receiving. Find strength in the idea that your loved one is working hard to become a valuable member of this nation’s Army. The skills they are learning now will lead them to success in the future.

Basic Combat Training (BCT)

The basic training unit is the trainees second stop on their journey after Reception. They will remain here for 10 weeks while they learn the basics of being a Soldier in the United States Army.

Many times, commanders will also post a Commander’s Letter on the company Facebook page. Check there if you haven’t received the letter from the trainee. Facebook pages are also a great place to see photos of the training events and receive important information distributed by the trainee’s unit. I recommend finding the relevant page once the trainee contacts you with the unit information.


If you have an emergency at home such as serious illness or death, you will need to contact the American Red Cross. You can read about how to do that and the situations that warrant it in our blog post about emergencies: Basic Training Guide for Families – Emergencies

Phases of Basic Combat Training


Family Day and Graduation

Graduation is not guaranteed! It’s best not to make travel arrangements before you receive this call. If you must, I recommend Travel Insurance. A lot can happen in a very short time and their graduation could be postponed. For instance, if they fail the final PT test or are injured, their graduation could be delayed. If you make travel arrangements before you receive this call, it could end up costing you a lot of heartache and money.

Family day and graduations are the fun part! Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions as well as a few tips:

  • Graduation dates If you don’t know when the graduation is, you can look at the schedule on Fort Leonard Wood’s website: Not all units post their graduation dates and times on the website. If you don’t see the unit you are looking for, contact the unit directly.
  • Access to Fort Leonard Wood You can find the gate entry policies and procedures online here. According to the Fort Leonard Wood website: “Visitors are provided information by the sponsoring DoD unit/organization on access procedures and requirements for attending graduation events.”
  • Dress code Business casual is appropriate for both events. Remember, these are official military events and trainees will be looking their best – and so should you. You reflect on your Soldier now. Jeans and a nice shirt or blouse works well. Try to avoid anything provocative or otherwise revealing.
  • Photos Photos are permitted at both events.

Finding your Soldier’s unit on social media

By Amanda Sullivan, PAO Volunteer

Basic combat training can be a difficult time for families. For many, this is the first time they have been separated from their loved ones. When you combine this with scarce communication it can be stressful.

Aside from letters, social media is generally the best way to feel connected to your Soldier in training. Most units on Fort Leonard Wood have a Facebook page and post updates, photos and important questions.

Some Commander Welcome Letter’s will provide contact and social media links. For those that don’t, links are provided below to each battalion web page where you can find their social media information.

Tip: Some pages do not have links to the specific companies. To find your trainee’s company go to the battalion’s main Facebook page and check their posts for links to individual companies. You can navigate from there. 

You can usually find the unit’s contact info on these pages. While the unit will not provide updates on specific trainees, you may contact them for general questions.

Examples of general questions include: Family Day and Graduation dates, times, and locations; questions about obtaining a pass for installation access; and questions about prohibited mailing items.

Another way to feel connected is to follow U.S. Army Fort Leonard Wood on social media. You never know when your trainee may show up in a photograph.

Please note: The U.S. Army cannot respond to or notify a trainee of an emergency situation at home without a Red Cross Message. In case of emergencies please contact the Red Cross first. You can learn more about sending a Red Cross message in our Emergencies blog post: Emergencies during Basic Combat Training


Fort Leonard Wood Social Media Links


U.S. Army Fort Leonard Wood social media: 





Show Me Fort Leonard Wood


Fort Leonard Wood BCT and OSUT unit social media links:  

Fort Leonard Wood Basic Combat Training Packing List

This list applies to Basic Combat Training and One Station Unit Training trainees.


  • Your Orders: Be sure to have all copies of orders and documents issued by your unit recruiter and/or Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS). These orders must be delivered by you and by hand.
  • Travel and meal tickets will be provided.
  • Social Security Card.
  • Driver’s License.
  • Direct Deposit Form 1199 signed by a bank official, or the name, address, account number, and routing number of your financial institution.
  • Notarized copies of your Marriage Certificate, Divorce Decree, or Separation Order.
  • Notarized copies of Birth Certificates for all your children under 18.
  • Affidavit of Support for Parents.
  • Court Documents and direct deposit forms if ordered to pay spousal and/or child support.
  • Proof of Citizenship (if applicable).
  • The name, Social Security number and military address of your spouse if you are married to another service member in the Army or any other military component.
  • Copies of your lease agreement or rental contract for any dependents residing outside of government quarters.
  • Documentation of any ROTC experience.
  • High school and college transcripts.


  • $10, but no more than $50.00 in cash.
  • Traveler’s Checks or Money Orders.
  • ATM Card or Personal Check.

For Access to your money while at Basic Training you will be given an advance on your first paycheck for any required purchases.

Clothing and Hygiene

BCT Packing ListHere is a printable version of the list:

Packing List

Items not on this list may be stored until the completion of Basic Combat Training. It is always best to pack light and only bring necessary items.

Exceptions are made for a wedding band and one religious pendant.

For more information about Basic Combat Training visit

Fort Leonard Wood Museum Complex

By Amanda Sullivan, PAO Volunteer

Address: 495 S Dakota Avenue, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 65473
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m Mondays through Fridays; 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Saturdays
Phone: 573.596.0780

Know before you go:

  • You will need to access Fort Leonard Wood to visit the complex. For more information on Gate Access, read our blog Fort Leonard Wood Gate Access.
  • Admission is free for all areas and ages.
  • Tours are self guided.
  • Most areas are handicap accessible, however some areas may be difficult to navigate. You can call the museum for clarification.
  • If you intend to visit all areas, plan to spend several hours at the complex.
  • Photography is permitted within the complex.

The John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex offers self-guided walking tours of five areas

  • Fort Leonard Wood World War II Complex
  • Military Vehicle Complex
  • United States Army Military Police Corps Museum
  • United States Army Engineer Museum
  • United States Army Chemical Corps Museum

The complex is named after John B. Mahaffey, an Army veteran who developed multiple programs for the Soldiers of Fort Leonard Wood.

Military Police Corps Museum

Originally opened at the Provost Marshal General Center (PMGC) at Fort Gordon, Georgia, in 1956, the museum later moved to Fort McClellan, Alabama, in 1976, along with the U.S. Army Military Police School. In 1999, the museum followed the school when it moved to Fort Leonard Wood.

The primary mission of the MP Corps Museum is to preserve the history of the MP Corps. Through interactive displays, authentic audio recordings and artifacts the museum takes you through the history of the MP Corps and their predecessors starting in 1775.

Engineer Corps Museum

The Engineer Corps is the oldest of the three branches represented in the museum. The Corps has a history dating back to the Revolutionary War showcased through artifacts, dioramas and displays.

Chemical Corps Museum

The Chemical Corps Museum was established following World War I to preserve the history of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps.

Originally established at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland, it followed the US Army Chemical School to Fort McClellan, Alabama, and now calls Fort Leonard Wood home.

With over 6,000 artifacts and lifelike displays focusing on the history of biological, radiological, and chemical warfare spanning World War I to modern times, this museum is a must see!

Military Vehicle Complex

Across from the museum you will find the Military Vehicle Complex. The complex displays military vehicles and equipment, as well as a brief history of each item on display.

WWII Mobilization Area (Historic District)

Located across the street from the museum is the World War II Mobilization Area The district is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The complex features various WWII era buildings including barracks, a mess hall, and chapel.

Many of the buildings are open for a self-guided walking tour allowing you to experience what life was like for a Soldier at Fort Leonard Wood throughout the history of the installation.

Memorial Groves

Attached to the WWII Mobilization areas are the MP, Engineer, and Chemical Corps Memorial Groves. They are not part of the museum complex, but are definitely worth a walk through.

These memorials stand as a remembrance and reminder of the ultimate sacrifice made by Soldiers throughout the history of the three Corps.

Please remember these areas are memorials and should be treated with the utmost respect.