Newspaper to pause production: Staff have reported on Division, garrison for six decades

By Mari-Alice JasperMarch 15, 2023

Newspaper to pause production
Yvette Smith (left), public affairs specialist, Fort Campbell Public Affairs; and Mari-Alice Jasper, managing editor of the Fort Campbell Courier, look at bound volumes of the Fort Campbell Courier from the past 60 years. Fort Campbell has had a weekly post newspaper since 1950 when the “Courier” was established, according to an article that published in the Fort Campbell Post News Jan. 5, 1968. (Photo Credit: Dawn Grimes) VIEW ORIGINAL

After more than 60 years of serving the post community, the Fort Campbell Courier, the command information news source, will pause as installation leadership explores options for the best platform to support the Fort Campbell community’s information needs.

The Fort Campbell Courier supports Soldiers and Families by sharing their stories and keeping them informed on local and Army-wide topics.

“From its inception to present day, the Fort Campbell Courier has been the voice of the command and our entire military community,” said Brendalyn Carpenter Player, director, Fort Campbell Public Affairs. “The stories reflect the courage and valor of our Soldiers as well as the dedication of our workforce, volunteers and community partners.”

Within its pages are countless stories about deployments, tragedies and triumphs; the evolution of the most deployed units in the Army; along with the continuous quality of life improvements that make Fort Campbell a special place to live and serve, she said.

“I am honored to have been part of an amazing team of award-winning reporters and editors,” she said. “I am thankful for all of you who trusted us with your words and, in many cases, the most vulnerable aspects of your lives to tell the Army story.”

Serving a historic division

Fort Campbell has had a weekly post newspaper since 1950 when the “Courier” was established, according to an article published in the Fort Campbell Post News Jan. 5, 1968.

At the time, the post newspaper was known as “The Shield and Circle,” which was selected after a contest in 1964. The shield represented the crest of the 101st Airborne Division and the circle represented the Third U.S. Army units at Fort Campbell.

“This newspaper begins the new year with a new flag or name – the Fort Campbell Post News,” the article reads. “It was decided that the new flag, which was chosen by Army officials and the publisher, would best represent all post activities whether a major unit arrived or departed or not.”

June 7, 1968, the masthead changed to “On the Line at Fort Campbell.” About four months later, the masthead on the Oct. 11, 1968 edition reverted back to the Fort Campbell Courier.

First Lieutenant Patrick Seeling, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) historian, said the 101st Abn. Div. and Fort Campbell have experienced many historical milestones and events in the past 60 years.

In 1965, 1st Brigade (Separate) deployed to Vietnam and became known as the Nomads of Vietnam. Two years later, the 101st Abn. Div. conducted Operation Eagle Thrust and deployed to Vietnam.

In the Jan. 5, 1968 edition, an article titled “Story of 1967: Division leaves, another activates” explains the month-to-month build up for the division’s deployment overseas.

“Then the events that had been foreshadowed in August came rushing rapidly to a climax,” it reads. “In one of the largest airlifts ever, the 101st moved from Fort Campbell 10,000 miles to Vietnam, with the command group leaving Dec. 11 aboard a Military Airlift Command Starlifter jet.”

Accompanying the article is a collage of photos, including one that shows Soldiers loading equipment onto a plane. The caption reads: “Men of the 101st Airborne Brigade received the division alert orders for Vietnam in August and went into intensive training above in preparation for their departure. A total of 373flights lifted the Division to Bien Hoa and the war in Vietnam.”

In August 1968, the 101st Airborne Division was redesignated as the 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), Seeling said. The 101st returned to Fort Campbell in 1972 and in 1974 it was redesignated as Air Assault.

Tragedy struck Dec. 12, 1985 when eight crewmembers and 248 Soldiers who were attached or assigned to 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment “Strike and Kill,” 2nd Brigade, 101st Abn. Div. were killed when their plane, Arrow Air Flight 1285, crashed at Gander International Airport in Newfoundland, Canada. The Soldiers were returning home from a six-month deployment to the Sinai Peninsula on a peacekeeping mission to monitor the demilitarized zone between Egypt and Israel.

The Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office maintains a collection of Fort Campbell Courier bound volumes that chronologize coverage of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell 1968-present. The collection does not include a bound volume for 1985, so it is unknown what the Courier reported on the tragedy at the time. The newspaper frequently covered annual Gander remembrance ceremonies on and off post in the years following.

In the Dec. 13, 1990 edition of the Fort Campbell Courier, Sgt. Conrad College, a Courier staff writer, wrote about that year’s memorial service. In the article he quoted retired Col. Robert E. Jones.

“It has been five years of sorrow and healing and remembering,” Jones said in the 1990 article. “Let’s keep it in perspective and continue to rebuild our lives as we have done since that tragic day. The way of the Soldier and his Family is often hard and fraught with danger, as evidenced by the present deployment of our military forces overseas.”

Soldiers of the 101st Abn. Div. and Fort Campbell are always ready to answer when the nation calls.

In August 1990, Screaming Eagle Soldiers deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. This became known as the Gulf War.

In the Aug. 23, 1991, edition of the Fort Campbell Courier, a letter from Maj. Gen. J.H. Binford Peay III, commanding general of the 101st Abn. Div. and Fort Campbell, was published addressing his Soldiers.

“We are embarking on another historic, important mission,” Peay writes in the letter. “The success of which is necessary to the security and prosperity of the United States of America.”

Operation Desert Shield transitioned to Operation Desert Storm at 3:26 a.m. (Baghdad time) Jan. 17, 1991, when Task Force Normandy, consisting of nine AH-64 Apache helicopters from the U.S. Army’s 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Abn. Div. accompanied by four Air Force MH-53 Pave Low special operations helicopters, flying fast and low, opened fire behind Iraqi lines, according to the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

March 7, 1991, the Fort Campbell Courier reported that troops were scheduled to return home in the coming weeks.

In the 32 years since, Soldiers of the 101st Abn. Div. and Fort Campbell have deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom; Operation Iraqi Freedom; Operation Freedom’s Sentinel; and Operation Inherent Resolve.

Seeling said some historical incidents in that timeframe include Operation Anaconda in 2002 when 3rd Brigade and other units attack militants in the Shahi Kot Valley, Afghanistan; the Invasion of Iraq in 2003; and multiple Global War on Terrorism deployments.

As COVID-19 began to spread across the world in early 2020, the 101st Abn. Div. and Fort Campbell took action to prepare and protect Soldiers and their Families, and the garrison workforce.

The Fort Campbell Courier played a pivotal role in keeping the community informed about the pandemic as it impacted the installation. During the height of the pandemic Courier staff reported on weekly Facebook Town Hall meetings; the operation of Blanchfield Army Community Hospital’s COVID-19 Clinic, and the historic outdoor Fort Campbell High School graduation ceremony.

Because every individual played an important role, whether on the frontlines or working in support, the Fort Campbell Courier published “COVID-19 Heroes,” a series that highlighted garrison employees and their contributions to the installation’s COVID-19 response.

In 2022, the Screaming Eagles continued their ‘Rendezvous with Destiny’ by deploying to Europe to assure NATO allies and deter Russian aggression.

Major General JP McGee, commanding general of the 101st Abn. Div. and Fort Campbell, and Sgt. Maj. Veronica Knapp, senior enlisted adviser, 101st Abn. Div. cased the division’s colors July 5, 2022, during a ceremony at division headquarters.

Sirena Clark, who served as a Fort Campbell Courier staff writer 2021-2022, reported on the ceremony in the July 8, 2022, edition.

“For 80 years the 101st Abn. Div. has had the unofficial motto: ‘If You Want it Done, Ask the 101,’” McGee said during the ceremony. “Today our nation is asking the 101 to do a critically important mission, a mere 250 miles away from the frontlines of the fight in Ukraine, knowing full well that no matter what happens in Europe we will get it done.”

Over the past 60 years, Fort Campbell Courier staff writers were there every step of the way providing coverage for Soldiers and Families and reporting on historical moments.