In November 2004, the 617th Military Police Company of the Kentucky National Guard was one of many military units completing their mobilization at Fort McCoy for deployment, and before they left, some members of the unit decided they’d put together a “time capsule” of sorts in a plastic drawer they got from the Fort McCoy Exchange.
They stashed that time capsule away in the walls of one of the hundreds of barracks on the installation’s cantonment area where it remained undiscovered for 19 years. The time capsule was found in fall 2022 when contractors were beginning major renovations on 200 of the barracks at Fort McCoy.
Soon after contractors brought the find to members of the Fort McCoy Directorate of Public Works who then brought it to the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office. The items with the capsule are now considered artifacts and reside at the Fort McCoy History Center.
One of the artifacts within this unique find was a ball cap signed by members of the 617th Military Police Company before they left for their deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004. The white ballcap has some printed writing on a cloth front and has a mesh backing.
“I remember signing that,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy F. Nein in March 2023, battalion sergeant major of the 198th Military Police Battalion of the Kentucky Army National Guard at Louisville. At the time, Nein was a staff sergeant with the 617th. “I don’t know if it’s something we found. I don’t ever remember anyone wearing it.”
Nein said the ballcap wasn’t anything special to anyone at the time. He thinks it was probably something they would all end up having a laugh about when they returned for de-mobilization at McCoy in late 2005. But that never happened.
After leaving Fort McCoy and the time capsule with the ball cap behind, the Soldiers with the 617th went on to a deployment in central Iraq that was not only a year-long but was as Nein described as very intense and difficult.
“We deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, and we ran military police patrols for the most part,” Nein said. “We did some convoy escorts but the majority of it was support to the main supply routes keeping them clear and free from enemy activity.”
The daily patrols meant encountering improvised explosive devices (IEDs), enemy fire, and more, Nein said.
Of the 183 Soldiers who deployed with the unit, “probably 50 percent received Purple Hearts,” Nein said. “Also, two Silver Stars, multiple Bronze Stars with valor … multiple. I’m gonna tell you … (this is) probably one of the most decorated National Guard units for combat action in the Iraq conflict.”
And after two decades of the capsule sitting in walls of a barracks building at Fort McCoy, the items to include the ball cap, as basic and ordinary as they might be, will eventually make their way to a permanent display in the Fort McCoy History Center at some point. The items are directly connected to a time in the installation’s history where for a decade the installation mobilized tens of thousands of troops for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom between 2001 and 2011.
The time capsule also connects directly to a unit that spent its time at Fort McCoy, then went overseas to fight in a war like so many Soldiers had done before them.
Fort McCoy’s motto is to be the “Total Force Training Center.” Located in the heart of the upper Midwest, Fort McCoy is the only U.S. Army installation in Wisconsin.
The installation has provided support and facilities for the field and classroom training of more than 100,000 military personnel from all services nearly every year since 1984.
Learn more about Fort McCoy online at https://home.army.mil/mccoy, on the Defense Visual Information Distribution System at https://www.dvidshub.net/fmpao, on Facebook by searching “ftmccoy,” and on Twitter by searching “usagmccoy.”
|Date Posted:||10.20.2023 16:44|
|Location:||FORT MCCOY, WI, US|