Monday, May 23, 2011

Vietnam Battalion Stringer -- Part Four: Tough act to follow

As hard as you wish time would stop when you're having fun, at some point your time runs out and it is time to go home.

If there's anything I can say that sums up my time as 4th Battalion, 77th Aerial Field Artillery (AFA), is that I did the best I could and took the battalion from obscurity to making the world aware of our existence.

I may not have been the best writer, I may not have won every battle with the division public information office, but I did try and I did my best.

I believe the battalion knew this and began to recognize the value and importance of a stringer. So when the time came to provide a replacement for my job, a young man came into my life and took on my responsibilities.

Basically, I had two weeks to show him the ropes. So, the first week, I introduced him to the people I had created a relationship with,  showed him where the photo-lab was located and provided him with tips on how to get the pictures he needed for the press releases.

The second week was more an education on how to take images of Cobras and the people who made it possible for those Cobras to be combat ready. I gave him my cheat sheets.

Then we talked about the many experiences I had while working for B Battery.  Talked to him about the life and death situations that had occurred on the El Toro tarmac and discussed why everything I did prior to becoming the battalion stringer helped me to write more effectively about the people, places and things we collectively knew as B Battery, 4th Battalion, 77th Aerial Field Artillery.

I also pointed out to him that both A and C Battery were of equal honor and deserved equal time and coverage with respect to press coverage.

As I walked off the tarmac for the last time, he turned to me and said, "I don't think I can do this?"

"Why not," I asked.

"You're going to be one tough act to follow."

"Well I appreciate that.  But you're going to do just fine. Just give yourself enough time to prove that to yourself."

Four days later, I would be reading one of my articles on the plane home published in Army Times.

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