Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Leaving the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division was like leaving a dream job and  signing on the dotted line for four years for a blind date.

I left tons of friends behind.

I left the Squadron Commander LTC Gary E. Luck, to fend for his own Public Affairs replacement of me and I left LTC John A.G. Klose, the Division Public Affairs Officer with a void to fill.

Granted these two would soon be back in my life in 1976. But that is another story.

All I knew was I was gambling on a 4 year bet that I could jump from one frying pan to another and there was no assurance that my feet weren't about to land in a burn ward.

Problem with public affairs at the Battalion level is it doesn't exist.  And if you're in a critical shortage MOS like I was, well the 67Y20 MOS trumps a non existent 46Q20 job every day.

So, you have to be a certified stir fried crazy to think the magic would happen again.

Anyway, prior to the 2/17th Cavalry change of command, my boss for 18 months was LTC Burnett R. Sanders. For those 18 months, the 2/17th Cavalry saw more than their fair share of stories and images that were published in The Fort Campbell Courier, Clarksville Leaf Chronicle, The Hopkinsville New Era and Army Times. Our new letter received an award and our news releases drew the attention of Division Support Command who sent their E-7 to our Squadron to learn how we -- I mean  I pulled this off.

So I arrive at Harvey Barracks, Kitzingen, Germany in November, 1975.  Get told I don't have the vision to do the work of a 67Y20. Was given two options and quickly picked the one for leaving the Army. The other was a blind luck job assignment.

I didn't sign up for blind luck.

But fate had its way.

I December, I was awarded my second Army Accommodation Medal and a Commander's certificate for the work I had done while with the 101st Airborne Division.

And in December, I got the job 3rd Combat Aviation Battalion's public affairs representative.

This was short lived.  In January of 1976, my wife joined me in Germany, her brother died and we flew back to the states for his funeral. 30 days later, we were back in country.

My TA 50 gear was stolen back at Fort Campbell. But that fact meant nothing so, when the IG inspection came up in March, I had no money to reacquire the equipment. Furthermore, since the IG inspection was an excuse for the battalion XO -- Major Shelley -- Who told me I would never get published and got rid of me, well, that period of time was not one of my brightest moments.

Guess I should have brought along this with was published after I left Vietnam:

 This plus the tear sheets from Vietnam of work published in Stars And Strips, Screaming Eagle and Army Times.
So, I got assigned to A Company, 3rd CAB, as a 67Y20 but was told I would be in charge of the Front Gate.

This lasted for about a month until I took over the recreational services photo-lab at Harvey Barracks,

I learned so much about photography during the months of April to July and spent a lot of my own money doing so. I also taught other photo-lab instructors how to use CyberChrome.

As the 101st Airborne Division came over on REFORGER 1977, I started sending back to Fort Campbell, KY images of the solders, their helicopters and the rest of the equipment

When John A.G. Klose brought the 158th Aviation Battalion to my back yard -- his unit as sponsored by the 3rd Combat Aviation Battalion, I told Major Shilley about this up in the Library and he threw me out.  Guess the part about Col Klose talking to our new Battalion Commander about ne getting my old job back rubbed him the wrong way.

Because I now had a civilian working with me at the photo-lab, I had tons of time to focus on the images. And when it came time Col Klose, as me to photograph the Air Assault In Action dress rehearsal the day before the official show for the "big wigs" in Europe, I was ready to go and I was professionally armed and dangerous.

A few weeks later, I was asked to come out with him and some of his pilots who were part of the Air Assault In Action demonstration for all the various country leaders in Europe. That day was basically the last dress rehearsal before the big day and all the invited press was there.
So, as far as I was concerned, my focus was on finding out what my "Enemy" knew about what was supposed to happen.
I was not paying any attention to the man in the middle of the field.
About the time I figure out they were clueless, I hear this "Dick Edwards get over here."
I knew immediately, who that person was in the middle of the field. It was my old boss from the 2/17th Cavalry.  It was LTC Gary E. Luck.
I went to salute him, he offered me a handshake instead.
"Dick, what are you doing out here?"
"I'm here to take pictures."
He got a bit upset with me on that so I told him the truth.  I was running a photo-lab and I was given permission to take images.
He was much happier with that and asked me where my photo-lab was and I told him.
I then saluted him and went back to where the press was located. I then explained to them what was about to happen and then excused myself and placed myself in a position where I would get the best images of the demonstration and waited for the events to take place.
Once back at the lab, I had to take 12 rolls of film, develop them the way I knew would give me what I needed and then printed what I thought were the best of the best.
As I'm drying the prints, a knock on the door occurred three times.  The last being the loudest. There was a sign on the door that said closed. So, I opened it on the third knock. I was looking at a Full Bird Colonel.
"At ease", he said, "are you SGT Edwards?"
"Yes, Sir."
"I'm here to pick up pictures. Gary E. Luck sent me."
I'm sure you can imagine my bit of surprise.  One that an LTC would have a Colonel pick up images for him.  Two,  that Gary E. Luck had enough confidence in me to know I would do exactly what I said I would do and have done exactly what I did.
So, I welcomed him in, gave him the images that had been dried and he helped me finish the last 25. I never saw that Colonel, Gary E. Luck or got confirmation that those images even got to Gary E. Luck.
I created another batch of the exact images, put the cut lines on them and sent them back to Division Public Affairs.
I also contacted USAREUR and 7th Army Audio/Video Department and sent over to them proofs of the negatives along with the negatives. From that a batch of 12 images were created and sent out as part of the press releases.
When it was time to say goodbye to LTC John AG Klose once again, he said, "You did a wonderful job for us. I talked to your boss. You need to talk to him. Dick, thank you."
"My pleasure, Sir."
I saluted, we shook hands. That was the last time I saw him.
By all rights, what I did for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) was more than a page in the history of that division.  It was as far as I was concerned something I was destined to do. I had seen the AH-1G Cobra go from an Aerial Rocket Artillery platform to a formidable anti-armor TOW Missile platform.

That I could be proud of and that, by all measure should have been enough.  So, talking to LTC Gerald E Lethcoe was like closing a chapter filled with Vietnam memories and proud accomplishments and starting a new chapter filled with blank pages.

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