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The military training installation currently known as Fort Leonard Wood was established in December 1940. In January 1941 the War Department named it after Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, who served his country for 40 years.

Wood was born Oct. 9, 1860, in Winchester, New Hampshire. He was a descendant of four Mayflower passengers, all of whom signed the Mayflower Compact in 1620. He attended Harvard Medical School and earned his M.D. in 1884.

Wood married Louise A. Condit Smith on Nov. 18, 1890, and the union was blessed with two sons and a daughter.

An army surgeon, he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1886, and later, had the honor of being the personal physician for presidents Grover Cleveland and William McKinley.

During the Spanish-American War, Wood and Theodore Roosevelt organized what became known as the Rough Riders. After the war, Wood stayed in Cuba and served as military governor of Santiago in 1898 and of Cuba in 1899-1902. During that time, Wood used his medical experience to make medical and sanitary improvements. In 1902, he was sent to the Philippines.

Appointed by President Taft in 1910, Wood became the only medical officer to serve as Army chief of staff. Wood created the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), the Preparedness Movement (now the Selective Service), and the Mobile Army.

During the Great War, Wood was promoted in 1916 to the permanent rank of lieutenant general, a rank not often given and that hadn't been used since 1869.

In 1920, Wood made an unsuccessful run for president. He retired from the Army the following year and was made governor general of the Philippines in 1921, a position he held until 1927.

Leonard Wood died on Aug. 7, 1927, and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery along with his wife and their three children.

Today, Fort Leonard Wood occupies more than 61,000 acres in Pulaski County, Missouri, and trains 90,000 military and civilian personnel annually.

Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County and has written Historically Yours for the Boonville Daily News for more than 10 years. In celebration of Missouri's Bicentennial, she has syndicated her column statewide and encourages readers all over the Show-Me State to submit topic suggestions for future columns to HistoricallyYours.davis@gmail.com.

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