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JBLM Armed Forces Day Celebration

Something for everyone

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:34PM May 18th, 2017

If you go

What: The annual Joint Base Lewis-McChord Armed Forces Day celebration

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Cowan and Memorial Stadiums, Lewis Main

Cost: The Armed Forces Day celebration is free and open to the general public. Civilians must enter the installation by using the DuPont Gate off I-5, exit 119. DOD ID cardholders can use any open gate.

To learn more: For a complete list of JBLM Armed Forces Day activities and events, visit

Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s annual Armed Forces Day celebration has become more than a celebration of the United States military; it’s also as a showcase for the installation.

The event is set for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a large footprint on Lewis Main with Cowan and Memorial Stadiums and the surrounding areas. There’s something for everyone to enjoy from roving entertainment, games and rides and displays to current and past military presence.

Armed Forces Day is open to the public and is a chance to highlight JBLM to those who live outside of the installation.

“It’s become more of our community event,” said Colin Brooks, special events coordinator for JBLM’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. “To me, it’s our open house to show the community what we do as a whole.”

JBLM units will provide static displays that are generally a hit with families. The 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will bring a variety of Stryker vehicles. The 17th Field Artillery Brigade will bring a M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System launcher and the 2nd Infantry Division Artillery will bring a M777 Howitzer towed gun.

Brooks said kids tend to view the variety of Stryker vehicles as one of the most popular attractions for younger patrons.

“Just the size of those Strykers is a wow factor for them,” Brooks said. “When you’re not on base seeing these all of the time, they’re pretty impressive.”

While families can get an up close and personal look at current military gear, equipment from past generations will be on display through living history groups.

Organizations like the Tuskegee Airmen Association, the Northwest Historical Association and the Washington Civil War Association will provide display items from past wars inside Memorial Stadium. There will also be historical re-enactments scheduled for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Lewis Army Museum will have a tent inside Memorial Stadium with its own exhibit from the 100 years of JBLM history.

“Everything from clothing to items showing the history of JBLM promoting our centennial (will be there),” Brooks said.

Armed Forces Day will have no shortage of entertainment. The 19th annual tradition of the Pacific Northwest Army-Navy Rugby Championship will take place at Cowan Stadium at 11 a.m. The Army team has dominated the overall series with a 17-1 record, including last year’s 43-0 win.

“It’s unique, and it’s a traditional Army-Navy rivalry that is neat to have at Armed Forces Day,” Brooks said.

Entertainers will roam throughout the area, like Leapin’ Louie, a world-class stilt walker and trick rope artist, and balloon-twisting clown Terri Foust. They could pop up anywhere.

“Literally, you could be standing in line (for a ride), and there would be a magician there,” Brooks said.

Recreational activities are planned for all ages. There will be a 5K and 10K Volksmarch — a noncompetitive walk that started in Europe. The 5K course takes people around places like Watkins Field and the 10K course showcases Grey Army Airfield.

Children can also get some exercise with bounce rides and kids’ rides, as well as games of laser tag inside Memorial Stadium. Youths will have plenty to enjoy with carnival rides and games, a petting zoo and more.

Dean Siemon: 253-477-0235, @deansiemon