Home Another Vietnam Story Cherry Point Windsock/Informational Services Office | Next | Previous
Official USMC Photo by SSgt Dave Deyerle

The above photo was the final act of the 2nd Air Wing Change-of-Command ceremony in June 1967. General Anderson, shown above with his Marines, was going off to war. General Elwood was his replacement.

I didn't take the photo. I directed the entire thing from the ground while SSgt Dave Deyerle, my boss, was on a maintenance stand, used to work on the C130s, taking the photo.

Tweedledumb was standing nearby in complete fright. How could he let a PFC direct this photo? He should be gratefull I was directing this shot and not him.

We had to get everyone in place prior to the General showing up. The Marines were already in place and I was trying to determine where the General would stand. Dave was up on the stand. If it didn't look good to him we had to get things changed before the General showed up.

No one minded me doing this. It was when the General showed up and I'm telling him where to stand, where to look, also telling him not to worry about the wind. Everything looks much more natural if everything is blowing in the wind. Tweedledumb wanted me to get someone to pin the corner of the General's jacket so it wouldn't blow up like it was. Hell, everything else was blowing all over the place, why not the General's jacket.

I was also hatless, outside. This too scared Tweedledumb. He was sure the General would be very upset when he saw me hatless. The General's aid had to tell Tweedledumb to relax.

As you can see the picture turned out great. Dave took a great shot. I gave great direction and the General took excellent orders.

But this is the end of the story. Now to the beginning.

The day before the Change-of-Command ceremony I get called over to the ISO office to see Tweedledee and Tweedledumb. Tweedledumb is going over to the area where the Change-of-Command ceremony is to take place and see what may be needed by us and the civilian press. I was to go over with Tweedledumb.

The Change-of-Command cemeory is taking place over by the C130 hanger. We go over. The General's aid is there and we get the details on where everyone will be during the ceremony. The important info is the location of the Generals during the Ceremony. Once this is known I go into the C130 squadron hanger and ask for the XO. He and I had done business before and I needed his help.

I needed to get the squadron to put one of it's maintinance stands in place outside so that the local TV news camera crews, as well as the press photographers, will have a good view of the Change-of-Command. I also told him it needed to be extra stable because of all the people climbing onto it. The XO said "No problem, that it would be done by the end of the day."

Now you may be asking yourself, "Where is Tweedledumb while I'm talking with this XO?" Completly lost. He had no idea of the relationships I had developed over time. I respected them. They respected me. Rank was immaterial when it involves making the Generals look good. I think this was the first time Tweedledumb saw me out in my environment. I think he was a little dazed by it all.

Anyway the maintenance stand was set up and it worked just fine. Later that same stand would be carried by a bunch of enlisted marines over to the location where we took the above photo. I may make jest of the people I had to work for but when it comes to team work no one can beat a group of enlisted Marines. No one.

Back at the office I instructed a couple of the reporters on what cameras they would be using. We just didn't have enough photographers to cover the entire cemeory so Bill Gregory and another reporter would be taking pictures along with my boss, Dave Deyerle. I would stand by and jump into the lurch if something went wrong. After giving my briefing I turned to Tweedledumb and asked if there was anything else he had to add?

"No." he said.

The day of the ceremony I get over to the location early. At the maintenance stand, that the C130 squadron had set up, there is a bunch of civilian photographers and some TV guys just standing around. I never met any of them and they don't know me from adam. I introduce myselft and ask them why they haven't set up on the stand?

"You mean that's for us?" someone said.

I want to say, "No shit sweetheart." but just didn't bother. I just told them it was there for them. Just leave room for one military photographer. And if you don't I will introduce you to a very nasty MP. Clear?

They left space and Bill Gregory ended up on the stand.

Now the ceremony starts. Everything is fine. Marines parade by. Speeches made. Only one problem. The Change-Of-Command was taking place a good 50 yards beyond where we were told it was going to happen.

Bill yells down to me that it's to far out for his camera. So I decided just to walk out to the ceremony and take the pictures and then get out of the way. I've got the Mamiya C33.

I've got to get out there before the ceremony is over and get a shot. I shart to hurry.

Halfway to my destination disaster strikes. The C33 is a twin-lens camera and it is heavy. Suddenly the camera is no longer heavy. The lenes have fallen off the camera. They land on the blacktop. Undamaged. I flip the light blocker (You remember the red bar in the viewfinder.) reach down and pick up the lenes, hold them to the camera with one hand while I crank a couple of exposures to get to some unexposed film and then get the light blocker out of the way with the other hand. I'm doing all this while walking as fast as I can to the Generals.

When I finally look up General Anderson is looking at me and he has that look of total disaster. I give him the thumbs up to let him know everything will be O.K.

General Elwood has his back to me but he must know something is wrong by the strange expresion on General Anderson's face.

I reach the Generals and start taking pictures of the change-over. This involves the out-going General passing the Wing colors to the incoming General. Plus some saluting and hand shaking. Good-old-boy stuff.

I get the shots and leave the area.

Later I found out the TV guys got it all on film and I was apparently the lead in the 6 pm news. I never saw it. Was at the lab working. No VCRs in those days.

The pictures I took with the C33 came out fine. Everyone's work came out great. Job well done by all.

The C33 used a spring type lever to hold the lenes in place. It broke. This was a common problem with all the Mamiya twin lens cameras. It was repaired and back in service in a couple of days.

General Anderson was so concerned about the ISO office having a realiable camera that he arranged for the Base Photo-lab to provide the ISO photographers a Leica M3 camera. Only Dave and I could use it. Not bad.

Turns out for every black disaster there is a silver lining or a silver Leica M3.

note: The photo shown above was scanned into the computer from a print done in June 1967 by SSgt Deyerle. It has lasted all these years. Can that be said for any color print made today on a computer printer? [Next]