Sunday, May 29, 2011

General Gary E. Luck (ret)

I think LTC Gary E. Luck was more impressed with me than I with him.  Don't get me wrong, I knew he was going to move up fast through the ranks, we just didn't have a lot of time to get to know each other.

From what I knew about him, he had spent a lot of time up at the Pentigon. He worked on the design of the combat uniform including the helmet the US Army soldiers are wearing today.  He also worked on the MRE rations the soldiers use today.

The most unique feature of the man, aside from talking with the troops like Alexander Haig, was his nose. When he looks at you straight on, his nose appears to providing you with a rather snotty attitude.

But once you come to know him a while, that look is assumed normal and you don't take insult to it.

I remember seeing him sitting down beside Secretary Of The Army Howard Hollis "Bo" Callaway once when we were conducting an Air Assualt In Action demonstration so he was probably Callaway's Aid De Camp.

So, with that said, to appreciate what was about to come next, you also have to understand the people who knew me well. I had taken a very serious image of General Sidney Berry, my wife worked for the 101st Avaition Group. The names below either knew me by first name or knew of my photographic reputation or worked for the 101st Aviation Group. They also became Commanding Officers of the 101st Airborne Division:

  • MG John N. Brandenburg March-78 – June-80

  • MG Jack V. Mackmull June-80 – August-81

  • MG Charles W. Bagnal August-81 – August-83

  • MG Teddy G. Allen May-87 – August-89

  • These men served in name, brought their units back and were responsible for preparing the 101st Airbone Division Air Assualt for Reforger 76.  Except for John N. Brandenburg, the rest were either Lieutenant Colonels or Colonels.

    Here's the story:

    I'm over on the tarmac over at Fort Campbell Army Airfield. A C-5A had just landed and I was there to take images of it. I did my usual 360 around the aircraft. Once I was done and had all the images I wanted, I had to wait on LTC Gary E. Luck to get a ride back to the 2/17th Cavalry -- it was five miles on the other side of range road.  I could have caught another military cab and left him there.

    But what I was seeing was to comical to not want to stay and watch.  Apparently, the rest of the 101st Avaition Group thought the same thing.

    Here's my boss inspecting the C-5A like he had never seen one before.  He was all over it.  In the wheel well, looking at tires, walking through the C-5A, going up to the top portion of it and peering out from up top where the chief flight technician would peer out of as the plane taxied along.

    About that time,  I think it was  Colonel Charles W. Bagnal walked up behind me.

    "Sergeant Edwards, isn't that your boss," he asked in a voice of disbelief.

    "Can I plead on the 5th, Sir?

    We both got a good chuckle out of that one.

    As it turns out, I would meet LTC Gary E. Luck, in person and up close and personal in just about 1 year.

    Along with BG Charles W. Bagnal and the rest of my cast of characters I fondly knew as the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault. The entire division was about to return to Germany during Reforger 76.

    Just another Rendezvous With Destiny I'm proud to be part of.

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Burdett R. Sanders

    When I knew him, LTC Burdett R. Sanders stood all of 5'7". He was instrumental in developing an a morale intensive environment for the 2nd Squadron, 17th Air Cavalry.

    The first part of this environment included creating a program that brought the soldiers into the world of the mission tasking.

    This was literally unheard of.  Even in Vietnam, very few soldiers actually knew what was going on with respect to daily mission activities. Yes, the infantry was briefed on each task they were to perform but to have a similar daily briefing on mission activites which included all of the soldiers involved simply didn't happen.

    I did for each soldeir involved with the 2/17 Cavalry between 1973 and 1975 when "The Chicken Man" was the commander.

    The second part of this morale intensive environment involved public affairs and more specifically me.

    My job was to develop a program that would focus on the individual and how that job title played an important role in the success of that area of expertise and how it affected the overall performance of the Squadron.

    Today, we call that process management. My job was to highlight all the sections that built up to Squadron level.

    We accomplished this by providing Division Public Affairs with "Day in the life of"  photo features, our "Out Front" newsletter, a very dynamically driven awards and decorations program and timely images -- pictures without articles -- to the editor of the Fort Campbell Courier.

    When the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault celebrated its 101st birthday, it was my images that took up two pages in three different newspapers:  The Clarksville Leaf Chronicle, The Courier Post and The Hopkinsville New Era.

    Many of these images were of the Air Assault demonstration.

    When we went to Fort McCoy, I was there to take pictures and to document -- I was with the Blue Platoon when it launched an attack on the National Guard. I brought a screen and a move projector and showed movies.

    When we went to Fort Bliss, Tx, I went in a C-130 and took pictures of the C-5A as it opened the cargo door and we unloaded it.

    When we went to Fort Polk, La, I went with LTC Sanders and, again,  I brought a screen and a move projector and showed movies.

    We weren't just about Cobras and recon. We also had an ground Troop. D Troop used 106 recoilless rifles. Photographing them in action was awesome.

    I remember, once, taking a picture of a jeep dropped at 500 feet from under a chopper.  Wasn't pretty.

    We didn't just photograph exercises.

    When the women of he officers wives club went to a retirement home up in hopkinsville, I took pictures and wrote a story about it.  I remember an older gentleman kept on insisting we see a young man at the retirement home. When I asked him what the age was of this young man, he said 53.
    As I write this, I'm almost eight years older than that "young man"

    We also once landed at a school up in Hopkinsville.  I'm not sure why we did but one school teacher thought it might be nice if we could return with some of the other helicopters we used. So, we did after a few weeks and I took pictures and wrote the article.

    There were times when we just had fun laughing at ourselves.  Maj McDermitt comes to mind.  I accidently took a picture of him holding the purses of then BG Jack V. Mackmull wife's gloves and purse. LTC Sander's wife thought that to be totally halarious considering McDermitt was well known for not liking to do such things.

    So, I printed it up and it was given to McDermott during the hail and farewell cermony for LTC Sanders.

    As if that wasn't enough salt in the wound, BG John N. Brandenburg asked McDermitt to have me report to him so he and I could have a pcture taken together.  Want to guess who had to take the picture. McDermitt.

    It was sad to see such a good leader leave after a year and a half but that's the way of the Army.

    LTC Gary E. Luck assumed command and thats another story in itself.

    So, when it is all said and done, we lived up to our motto as being "Out Front".


    Sunday, May 8, 2011

    A budding writer and photographer gets mentored by one of the best

    I developed my photography skills more than my writing skills between 1970 and 1974. I returned to the 101st Airborne Disivion. Got assigned to the 2/17th Cav there and offered my writing and photography skills to the them. I became their Squadron Public Information Officer.

    Working interactively with the Division Public Affairs Office, I met John AG Klose and an Sergeant by the name of Charles "Chuck" Drake. Chuck was an extremely gifted and talented young man who was willing to work with me on my writing. With his help and with Col Burnett R.Sanders approval and Col John AG Klose's
    enthusiasm I managed to average a story and a picture in the Fort Campbell Courier. There were also times when 10 of my images were used over a two page spread -- known as a double truck -- and published in more than one newspaper.

    Not only did the military paper use the images, so did the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle and the Hopkinsville New Era.

    In 1975, I re-enlisted and received orders to head to Germany. But not before we had a new Squadron Commander: Gary E. Luck

    I was published in:

    Army Times
    Clarksville Leaf Chronicle
    Fort Campbell Courier
    Hopkinsville New Era

    I photographed:

    The Honorable Bo Calloway
    The Honorable Harold Jones
    MG Sidney Berry
    MG John W. McEnery
    BG John N. Brandenburg
    COL Jack V. Mackmull
    COL Charles W. Bagnal
    LTC Teddy G. Allen
    LTC Gary E. Luck

    Along with a ton of other folks from privates up. For me and my boss, the focus was on the enlisted and how they made the Squadron work. The bottom line here is around 50 images were published.

    I received another Army Acommodation Medal ARCOM and a Commander's Certificate for my efforts.

    My new discovered resources

    Division Commanders:
    • MG Sidney Bryan Berry August-73 - July-74
    • MG John W. McEnery August-74 - February-76
     Assistant Division Commander:
    • BG John M. Brandeburg
    Public Affairs Officer:
    • LTC John AG Klose
    2/17th Squadron Commanders:
    • LTC Burnett R. Sanders
    • LTC Gary E. Luck
    Personal Public Affairs Mentor:
    • SP5 Charles "Chuck" Drake

    Home again with the 101st Airborne Division and you're assigning me to WHAT?

    One of the more proud moments in my life was when I was once again assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY. The KY should have clued me in on what was to happen next.

    Instead of being assigned to the 4th Battalion, 77th Field Artillery, I got assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry.

    I also found out that my good freind, now Major, Craig Gies was stationed there. Figured he just might be my trump card.  I figured wrong.