FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — A former Drill Sergeant at the Army post now makes it her mission in retirement to pass on the history of the military to the next generation of soldiers and civilians.
Since 1940, veterans and active duty soldiers have served their country right here in the Ozarks at Fort Leonard Wood.
The Army post prepares thousands of military men and women for duty every year, and some of them stay
After 21 years of Army service, Cynthia Riley helps lead the Museum complex at Fort Leonard Wood. It’s a job she had to have when it came open years ago.
“I just jumped at the chance,” Riley says. “I got this job in 2009, almost 15 years ago, and I’ve been here ever since. I think what I love the most is just working with the soldiers. You know, they are so committed and, it makes me feel committed as well.”
The Museum has three galleries: The Military Police Corps, the Army Engineer Corps, and the Army Chemical Corps Museum, which Riley oversees.
“The majority of our collection is ordnance or things that go boom. We use those for research and as well as trying to tell the story,” Riley explains.
The self-guided tour takes you through the history of America’s wars and shows some of the ways battles were fought, and what weapons were used.
“All the way from we’ve got a main battle tank that whose main armament is a flamethrower all the way down to a piece of shrapnel that was removed from a soldier during World War One,” says Riley.
Riley says some people will come to look at one specific exhibit, and some will spend hours soaking in everything the museum has to offer. Regardless of age or background, Riley says there is a connection to be made for everyone.
“You’re going to learn something and you are going to walk away with a little bit of knowledge you don’t possess before and possibly have an aha moment.”
Despite the museum being located on an Army post, civilians can visit. To do so, visitors must check-in and get a pass at the Visitor’s Center at the North Entrance. Admission is free.