Thursday, June 8, 2017

Reflections 47 years later

You know, after all the work that has been done on this blog about the past like it was yesterday to almost all of us who were there, I thought it might be interesting to reflect a bit about what is going on today and how that might be reflected on by our children's children in the future.

So here's the central thought. We are like leaves on a tree that live and die throughout the seasons. Without blogs like this one, our story would go unheard and die as silently as the dead leaf does as the sap that gave it life decides to hibernate for the winter.

We have no control when we die. And become infatuated by its whisper of inevitability. Of course, my own infatuation with this process is I don't desire fame or fortune -- a new Thor Compass would be nice -- I just want to write about what I see and feel so others can enjoy my work and my efforts.

And, by the way, I've never in my life made enough money to own anything. Not a home, not a nest egg for retirement. Nothing. 

Perhaps, I could buy the hubcaps for that Thor Compass. But who cares anyway? 

It is just a dream of mine to own one. Like so many of us, we've lived our lives outside the realm of the main stream lifestyle. Especially, after Nam. We learned to trust no one. Primarily, because the institutions which made promises to us lied or we were forced to serve because we lived on the wrong side of the tracks in some town or city.

Funny thing is, I think our attitude of not living the American Dream and actually living off the grid is now seen as a normal way of life and glamorous!

But I'm digressing. Being that I am currently in Mesa, AZ, we decided to visit Fort Huachuca, AZ to see if anything was there that we could remember. Some things were still there, a lot of my wife and my memories of the past were not.

Once I got back to Mesa, AZ and on a whim, I contacted the Fort Huachuca Public Affairs office and talked to a girl there by the name of Angie. She sounded interested in my story and the two of us talked more than once over a two week period of time.

I asked her to e-mail me and I would send her some bio information on me and my wife. Well, the communications stopped rather abruptly at that point.

So, I posted this on the Fort Huachuca, AZ website:

I am 67 years old. During the month of my birthday, November, of 1970, I arrived at USAICS, Fort Holabird, Dundalk, MD.

I joined the Army in 1969, went to Vietnam as a AH-1G Cobra Mechanic and left Vietnam as a 71T20 -- Equipment and Records Specialist. 

I also spent the last 90 days in Vietnam taking images and writing stories for Stars and Stripes, Army Times and Rendezvous With Destiny Magazine.

So, you can imagine my surprise and concern when I was going to USAICS as my job from May to July was to rebuild our unit.…/vie…

I had no idea what a 71T20 was supposed to do much less how to do it.

By the time I felt comfortable with the new job, one of the senior staff members at USAICS told me that I was going to Fort Huachuca, AZ as part of the Advanced Party as USAICS was moving there.
I had never been to Arizona so my mind immediately visioned the move to sand dunes, camels, scorpions and sidewinders.

With a chaser of lead spitting Colt 45s aimed at your head should you veer off into unknown territory.

When we landed in Tucson, all of the visions of the wild, wild west vaporized with the humidity.

Back then, Fry boulevard, was a single lane highway being broadened which caused a lot of headaches for employees going into and out of the Main Gate.

So, we took over the old Hospital area -- which no longer exists and where Captain Newman, MD was filmed and where I inherited 450 Adler typewriters.


Few people knew it existed, many wish it hadn't. Joseph Pickard and I were the chief architects of the building. 

Rounding corners, painting walls black, covering windows with tie dyed sheets and using black lights, this wasn't exactly something USAICS was proud of or wish to remember.

But it did have its moments as the band heard about it and sent us a fish plaque we hung outside the building. 

Also, the Honorable Stanley Resor, Secretary of the Army, signed his name in the middle of the building.

2 days later, I believe, he resigned. 

Not sure if the two incidents were related.

By June we were ready to take on new students and one of them, a female with a GT score of 158, was Mary Anne Garner. She became my wife. She was a 96B20 -- Intelligence Analyst.

Anyway, I got out in December of 1971, and re-enlisted in 1972 where Fort Huachuca, AZ was my home from 1972 to 1973.

Not sure what to do with me, I worked various jobs including the Fort Huachuca Museum and the Fort Huachuca Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

When 12 cars that were loaded with 500 pound bombs blew up just east of Benson, AZ back in 1973, I took pictures of the remains and cleanup efforts.

My main responsibility at the EOC was the downgrading of classified documents and maintaining them.

I left Fort Huachuca in 1973 and was reassigned to the 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, KY.

For the next 7 years of my life, I became the most published unofficial photo-journalist in the History of the US Army with 5 stories accepted by SOLDIERS Magazine, 27 by EUR ARMY Magazine and hundreds of images published world wide.

I have a total of 3 ARCOMS. 2 were awarded to me because of my writing and photography efforts between 1975 and 1979.

Was put in for a 4th but it was turned down by the 3rd Infantry Division because I had just got one from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

Anyway, It was amazing to see how much changed at Fort Huachuca. The NCO Club where I met my wife is still there but re-purposed.

But the old Hospital, that is but a breeze of a distant memory.

Road markers where the hospital buildings once were like tombstones of what once was.

I got one like. You know, I'd be willing to bet you that if I were a retired Officer I would have been treated with much more respect.

Or, perhaps, that's the wrong approach, too.

Perhaps, the real issue here is the notion that what happened in the 1970s should stay in the 1970s, the 80s in the 80s and so forth and so on.

In truth, I think it it somewhere between the two. That no one wants to remember the past as though it were a plague.

And for good reason, today, we have personal computers, handhelds and mobile phones. Back then, MARS stations were the way you talked to anyone from the States.

We've come a long way since then. And, at the same time, have learned very little about 

Only the glamor of the movies -- detached from any kind of real time reality of the past or present -- would dare to tackle our business.

Furthermore, what real stories should we be conveying to our children and grand children? After all, how obscure are our thoughts? And why should they listen when we really don't have any stories to tell except ones that they couldn't possibly relate to?

It is like the leaves on the tree. We've served our purpose. The new leafs budding from the tree limbs must learn to discover their purpose.

No comments: