Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Fort Carson Mountaineer

2021 Year in Review: Leadership change, resiliency take center stage

By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Though Fort Carson and surrounding community members began receiving the first of (now three) COVID-19 vaccinations in early January 2021, the virus continued to impact Soldiers, Families and Army operations throughout the year.

After initially creating a vaccination site at Evans Army Community Hospital, Mountain Post leaders ultimately opened a large vaccination site at the William “Bill” Reed Special Events Center to handle demand and processing of vaccinations on a larger scale.

Despite challenges presented by the pandemic, however, Fort Carson Soldiers and community members remained resilient and tallied a multitude of achievements and accomplishments.

The Army Field Support Battalion-Carson officially opened the post’s new Ammunition Supply Point off of Wilderness Road with a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony in March 2021. Meanwhile, a few other projects broke ground with official ceremonies – Army and community leaders gathered to kick off the initial stages of construction on a new fitness center near the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team footprint and cut a ribbon to mark completion of a road-improvement project that created better access to Gate 19.

Two 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team medics earned top honors in the U.S. Army Medic Competition, besting 21 other teams in the event at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Early in the year, elements of the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade redeployed from the U.S. Central Command area of operations while remaining (deployed) units joined their teammates at home in late spring. Just a few months later, the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team cased its colors and deployed to Iraq as part of the U.S. commitment to Operation Inherent Resolve.

Units also deployed stateside to assist the Department of Defense in its vaccination efforts. Elements of the 1st SBCT assisted vaccination efforts in the Los Angeles area while 627th Hospital Center Soldiers traveled to the east coast to assist Federal Emergency Management Agency efforts there.

As the summer months rolled in, the Fort Carson community celebrated Independence Day with Freedom Fest and Army units once again hosted Ivy Week, two events that had been cancelled in 2020 due to the post’s pandemic response. The division also held a grueling physical training competition Nov. 24, 2021, to commemorate the Battle of Huertgen Forest.

Mountain Post leaders also brought several Army and emergency response organizations together in mid-July 2021 to conduct a full-scale exercise, dubbed Mountain Guardian 21, an effort that tested the installation’s emergency response and recovery systems and capabilities. The exercise included several scenarios including an aircraft crash, mass casualty and occupation of a federal facility.

Maj. Gen. David M. Hodne capped summertime activities by assuming command of the 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson during an August 2021 change of command ceremony at Founders Field.

As the Fort Carson community transitioned into autumn, it seemed the nation and the local community might have neared the end of the pandemic. However, as new variants emerged, infection rates began climbing around the world again, forcing the Army to mandate vaccinations and require mask wearing at all indoor facilities on post. EACH began offering vaccinations at various Mountain Post locations and expanded COVID-19 testing hours at its Centralized Screening and Testing Center.

As the holiday time frame approached, culinary specialist Soldier volunteers partnered with the Colorado Springs Salvation Army to cook roughly 3,000 holiday meals at the Fort Carson Culinary Academy kitchen for Front Range community members.

Post leaders quickly followed Thanksgiving festivities by hosting a Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony at Iron Horse Park the first week in December 2021 and Directorate of Public Works crews closed the year by completing paving on Essayons Road leading to Gate 19.

2021 Year in Review: Leadership change, resiliency take center stage
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