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Monday, May 30, 2016

Catching up with Leaders of the Past – 29 May 16

Lost Connections showing up

People pass into and out of our lives, particularly if you move around as much as I have. Where do we keep them? How do you stay in touch with all of them> do you want to stay in touch with each and every one of them? Maybe not!

Sometimes reconnection kinda just falls into your lap, right out of the blue. That’s what happened to me today. Two of my best associates (and friends) from the past fell right into my lap.

Edward J. Herrera

Pulling yesterday’s mail from my box this morning I found I had a short note from Edward Herrera. Eddie was my fish old lady during my Corps of Cadets days at Texas A&M. He looked after me and I looked after him. That’s what you did. We were assigned these positions because we were back to back alphabetically (Hatfield & Herrera) on the roster of freshmen assigned to Company H-2 in the Corps of Cadets. This relationship lasts forever, but becomes less immediate after graduation, but a lifelong commitment, once established, endures.

All through our tenure at A&M, Eddie and I discussed what we would do if we were put in charge. As each year passed, we gained privileges, but never were we able to enforce the control and implement the ideas we always planned on putting in place. If we could just make it through our current set of circumstances, it would all fall into place. Each year turned out to be the same as the one we just experienced.


Edward J. Herrera

After graduation, we went our separate ways, Edward off to the Military Police Corps in the Army and I off to the Quartermaster Corps in the Army as well. We reconnected years later, fifteen as a matter of fact at our twentieth high school reunion. Edward was working down in Sugar Land, Texas and I was working in the Dallas area. We didn’t see much of each other except at the every five year reunion. I do not recall ever seeing Edward at the every five year Texas A&M class reunions. I always connected with his sister Betty, also in our high school class and she would pass along my wishes to get together to him.

Staying connected seemed to be much harder than it should have been. Off and on, then off again. Edward gave me a new email address just last summer and then today I get this note stating: “I haven’t had a computer for some time, but just got a new one. Here’s my email and phone number.”

I have reconnected with one of the most important people in my life. Or, should I say: one of the most important people in my life has reconnected with me?

William Douglass Brown

After the mail box walk with my Pups and discovering my Edward mail, I was checking my Facebook page and came upon another reconnection. Just like the previous, Doug Brown had initiated the reconnection. I cannot tell you the hundreds (maybe thousands) of times I have tried to find Doug Brown on Facebook or Military.comafter all its been 40+ years since I had seen him. There must be millions of Doug Brown out there. I have been as deep as 10 pages on both sites searching and finally giving up to time and promising myself that I would try again and harder.

I have yet to ask Doug why and how he came across my name on Facebook. I’ll get to that later. There’s been far too much to discuss today as we fly emails back and forth mentioning the slightest memories of our past and common acquaintances. What a time this afternoon has been.

What ever become of… Do you know where So-in-so is now? Do you remember the guy that… On and on the questions went, back and forth. It just got better and better.

Background on Doug

Doug had joined my platoon in Alaska just at the right time. Larry Wilson had been wanting out of his position as Petroleum Section Leader. I believe the stress was beginning to be more than he was willing to take. At the time, I was coming up on DROS (date returned from overseas) and I think that Larry really didn’t want to be next in line to assume the leadership role for the platoon. Things changed and the Army ask me to stay another year and Larry was off the hook. By that time, Doug had joined the platoon and was an easy replacement for Larry’s position.

Doug was just out of Officer Candidate School (OCS), full of vim and vigor as they say and ripe for any challenge. I was surprised that Doug was back. You see, he had just left us as a Staff Sergeant not that many months agonow he’s back as a Second Lieutenant. Doug didn’t have any real petroleum experience, but that didn’t matter. Between the two of us, I had all we needed. During the training process, I could make the difference. The ball would just keep on rolling. Doug fit in real well. One of the best officers I ever served with and right up there at the top in dependability.

Together, Leadership came as easy as any other time I had in the Army. We were challenged and came out on top.

Continued to Reconnect

In his final email (now) yesterday, Doug stated: “Here is Ted's email address: He remembers you very well and I just received an email from him.

Ted Kuchta was Doug’s replacement as Petroleum Section Leader, coming at just the right time, with the Petroleum School under his belt and allowing Doug to move over into a Platoon Leader position and, again, keeping the ball rolling. I have fired off a reconnect email to Ted Kuchta and hope to hear back from him real soon I can hardly wait!

Key to Support Battalion Picture
172nd Support Battalion Officers
Doug Brown, 4th from right, front row standing
Ted Kuctha, 3rd from right, front row standing
John Howard Hatfield, 3rd from right, back row standing