Saturday, May 7, 2011

Vietnam -- General Sidney Berry

I didn't know the General personally in Vietnam.  Fact is, I only took one image of him when I was there and that picture wasn't exactly one I kept.
However, I did know him personally and took many pictures of him professionaly when I was assigned to the 2/17th Cavalry nad he as the Commanding Officer of the 101st Ariborne Division Air Assault.
The very first encounter with him was humorous. A helicopter landed near our Tactical Operations Center (TOC).  We had a lot of them land there but this one had a red plate on the side with two gold stars on it. I expected the crew chief to hop out, slide the door back and let the General out.
Instead, the pilot door to my side of the helicopter opened up and General Berry got out with his flying helmet on.
The ground was wet from a quick shower that came and went.  The trail down to where he would have to walk was a bit steep and angular. So as the General tried switching helmets he almost slipped and fell. He saw me holding my camera up and realized I had taken a picture. I went to full attention and saluted him.
General Berry smiled, put his hand on my should and said while laughing, "I see you caught me almost falling on my ass." I smiled.
A few moments later, I took a very serious image of General Berry and, perhaps, one of the most powerful images of my life. I photographed three men in that picture. All three were Commanding Officers of the 101st Airborne Division.
General John M. Brandenburg and General Teddy Allen were the two others.
Months later when General Berry was about to leave, he passed me in the hallway while I was once again taking pictures and said, "This is the most picture taking Battalion I've ever seen.  Then laughed, put his hand on my should once again and said, "How are you doing Sergeant Edwards?"
I smiled back, "Just fine sir."
It was at this point in my military career that I realized that I was finally doing what I was meant to do in the Army. I had rendezvoused with my destiny.

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