His voice sounded the same. And his memory was as sharp as ever.
Gary Beylickjian, 84, a member of the Army Public Affairs Hall of Fame, is retired and living in Forestville, Maryland. I found his phone number by searching on the Internet and gave him a call Thursday.
"The Army has changed," he said during our conversation. He is a veteran of two wars, Korea and Vietnam. He was wounded in action in Korea.
Beylickjian is a legend in the Army newspaper field. He pioneered how our newspapers started covering formerly taboo topics such as birth control and suicide. Later he would critique Army newspapers worldwide for the Pentagon.
He won National Press Photographer's Awards in 1963 and 1965. In Chicago, at Fifth Army Headquarters, Beylickjian developed the "Blue Pencil Award," which is the forerunner to the current journalism award. In 1965, Beylickjian went to Europe to serve as U.S. Army, Europe's enlisted chief of 105 newspapers. He critiqued more than 100 newspapers weekly.
At Beylickjian's retirement in September 1977, then Chief of Public Affairs Maj. Gen. Robert Solomon said that Beylickjian had "single-handedly changed the face of Army newspapers." He became a civilian volunteer at the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, critiquing newspapers published throughout the Army, but he subsequently stopped because of health reasons.
The retired sergeant major was inducted into the Army Public Affairs Hall of Fame in 2000. Among the other members of the hall is the late Dave Harris, who became known as the voice of Redstone Arsenal when he served as public affairs chief for the former Missile Command. Harris was inducted in 2008.