Tuesday, January 9, 2018
#52Ancestors Favorite Photo (Week 2)
This photo was taken on 20 November 1976 in the 25th Signal Battalion Chapel, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. How many photos do you have in which you know the exact date and place taken 41 years later? Well that is because this is a picture from my wedding to my love- Vickie Jean Ray, also a Lieutenant in the 25th Signal Battalion at the time. We were married by Chaplain (Capt) Brian Donley. I was a Lieutenant and Dad was Major General. Not everyone gets to have a two-star general give away the bridge. Vickie and I both wore our dress blue uniforms and Dad did also. The other officers in the battalion made a sabre arch as the newly married couple exited the chapel.
The chapel had long been in disuse until a new chaplain arrived in the battalion and decided to start up church services on Sundays. Our battalion occupied old World War II style barracks with a layout of four companies, A-D and each company having four two-story barracks buildings, one for each platoon in the company. One of the buildings held the company headquarters. There was a motor pool, supply office, mess hall, battalion headquarters, parade field all in close proximity. The battalion was completely self-contained in about 20 buildings and when we went to the field to perform our communications mission, we were also completely self-supporting. Each battalion of about 500 soldiers has a chaplain assigned. Chaplain Donley asked for help from Vickie and me to get the chapel aired out, cleaned up, re-carpeted and with his chaplain's assistant we started holding weekly services there. Everything in this old barracks layout was in walking distance so a soldier did not need any transportation to perform duties or even attend chapel.
The photo represents a day that can never be forgotten. Full of joy and future we went straight from our wedding weekend with lots of family and guests to a field exercise the following week. Honeymoons would just have to wait until the Army made time available. We were a communications company so I had no trouble calling my wife during the two-week field exercise but there were probably a few operators listening in to the newlyweds? That's life in a signal battalion. First out in the field to set up communications for XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters (they called us Dragon Soldiers because of our shoulder patch) and last back in to garrison when war training was complete.