Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lt. James Drummond Erskine, 89, of HQ 1/506 PIR dies

A memorial service is scheduled Saturday April 4, 2009 for John Drummond Erskine of Cold Spring Harbor, a former member of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

In 1942, Erskine volunteered for the Army's first airborne unit, and completed jump and glider training at Fort Benning, Ga. He served as a trainer with the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, the subject of the History Channel documentary "Band of Brothers. "Erskine's wartime tales of running up and down mountains were no exaggeration. The 506th was based at Currahee Mountain, Ga., and the unit's obsession was physical fitness.As a young lieutenant, Erskine broke his hip during a maneuvers jump in Tennessee and was told he would never jump again. However, he recovered enough to join his unit in Europe, where he participated in some of the biggest battles of the war, including the Battle of the Bulge. He ended his service as a lieutenant colonel.

Erskin was a longtime character actor best known in recent years for cameo TV appearances that included a running gag on the David Letterman show. Erskine died March 21, a few weeks short of his 90th birthday. His acting career spanned more than 50 years, including the appearances on "Late Show With David Letterman" last year, where he pretended to be an aging Regis Philbin. "The idea of being on the planet and not living life to the fullest was unthinkable to him," said a niece, Marion Lee of Manhattan. "He used to run up and down mountains in the service. "James Drummond Erskine III, better known to his many nieces and nephews as "Uncle Drummy," was born in Manhattan in 1919. He enrolled in a series of private schools and the University of Virginia, before leaving to join the Army at the onset of World War II.

After the war, Erskine worked for the Firestone tire company in Liberia and the United States, while also pursuing an acting career. He appeared in more than 75 films, and also in TV and stage productions. His deeply chiseled features made him a natural for frequent performances as Abraham Lincoln, including once in a 1950s " Alcoa Hour" show. A favorite Erskine story was of his narrow loss of the lead in a play to a scene-stealing Charlton Heston. "He wouldn't just walk down the stairs - he'd leap," Erskine told a Newsday reporter.Erskine is survived by a sister, Alison Farrar of Lyme, N.H., and three generations of nieces and nephews. The 11 a.m. memorial service is scheduled at St. John's Episcopal Church, Cold Spring Harbor, to be followed by a reception.

Information from JOHN HILDEBRAND Newsday

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Campbell gets new commander

The Associated Press: Friday Mar 27, 2009

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, deputy director for regional operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been named the new commanding general for Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division.

The military announced the assignment Friday, but it will likely be months before he officially takes command of the installation on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line.

Campbell will replace Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, who is the commander of U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan.

Read the whole story

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Campbell reaches out to families about suicides

By Kristin M. Hall - The Associated Press Thursday Mar 12, 2009

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Fort Campbell officials struggling to stem a recent increase in military suicides hope family members will be able to spot signs that soldiers may be depressed and hesitant to seek help from the Army.

Of the 100 family members and spouses at a meeting at the post Thursday, more than a dozen raised their hands when asked if they knew someone who had committed suicide. Those family members — often the first to notice problems — received information and training on recognizing signs of suicidal thoughts — and how to get help for the soldiers at the installation along the Tennessee state line.
Read the whole story in the Army Times

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Caring for Veterans?

By Rick Maze - Staff writer Army Times Mar 9, 2009
Major veterans and military groups don't like the Obama administration’s proposal to raise money for the 2010 VA Budget by billing veterans’ private health insurance for some of the cost of treating service-connected injuries, illnesses and disease.
Read the whole story Vets slam VA’s private insurance idea