Created in 1940 and named after General Leonard Wood, a former Chief of Staff, Fort Leonard Wood was originally constructed to train infantry troops for World War 2. It soon became a training post for engineer units, however. Because of its location in the Missouri Ozarks, many refer to the army base as the "Fort Lost in the Woods." Because of its location, it has been great for training troops in a variety of extreme weather conditions. Over the years, the US Army Engineer School, the US Army Chemical Corps and Military Police Corps schools were transferred to Fort Leonard Wood.
Updated: February 12, 2015
Ft. Leonard Wood is Missouri’s only Army base. Home to U.S. Army Chemical, Engineer, and Military Police Regiments, and also the Force Command’s 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, this large Army training post is located in Pulaski, Missouri, right in the heart of the Ozarks. The closest cities are Waynesville and St. Robert, although Rolla is relatively close, as well. Only two hours from St. Louis by interstate, Ft. Leonard Wood is located in a scenic area that has lots of housing, plenty of educational opportunities, lots of amenities, and plenty of outdoor recreational activities.
The post has 2,100 housing units in four different neighborhoods. Because it uses privatized housing, soldiers receive a housing allowance to live on post. There are also plenty of apartment and homes for rent in the surrounding areas. There is often a waiting list for post housing, so many people stationed here do rent independently.
For children in pre-k through high school, Pulaski County offers seven school districts where a high percentage of students are dependents of military personnel stationed at Fort Leonard Wood. For college students, nearby Rolla is home to Missouri University of Science and Technology. This school is one of the world’s leading technological universities. It offers programs for undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees. The school is well-known for its engineering programs.
Amenities are plenty at Ft. Leonard Wood. The Post Exchange features Greek cuisine, Chinese food, steaks, and pizza. Fast food options include Burger King and Church’s Chicken. It also has shops for optical needs, flowers, engraving, cell phone service, a GNC store, a packing and shipping store, and shoe shining services. A nearby mini-mall offers a shoppette that features Blimpie Sandwiches and a Taco John’s.
Hunting and fishing are synonymous with the Ozarks. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities for people stationed here. There are also interesting cave systems, along with lots of walking trails that wind through this scenic region. The surrounding area features lots of rivers and tributaries, and many people in the area spend the weekends camping, canoeing, rafting, and kayaking. The Ozark region is known for being a sportsman’s paradise.
The land the post now encompasses was once home to Native American populations, and caves that exist on the military base are now protected archaeological sites. The base was also a train station at one point that connected the U.S. post railway system to commercial railroads. Because it’s located in such a remote part of Missouri, some service members call this base “Fort Lost in the Woods of Misery.”
Ft. Leonard Wood has been a basic training center since 2009. Many non-combat personnel receive their training here, and almost all Army personnel are stationed here at some point during their training and careers. A base where people receive training, work, and live in an area nestled within the Ozarks, Ft. Leonard Wood is a place where thousands of service members are proud to be stationed.