Defense Mapping School
DMS Alumni News
6 April 2020
Greetings T3 Folks
In the midst of our global crisis I have to pass along sad news times two.
We lost former DMS Instructor Rickey Lang to COVID 19 this past Friday evening. I was told Rickey was 57. A retired print Staff Sergeant, Rickey blessed us on the press floor from 1989 to 1995. I learned about his passing late Friday night but at that point his cause of death was only rumored to be the virus so I hesitated until now to pass along the bad news. Based on his Facebook page I am confirming the COVID 19 affliction. After military retirement he stayed employed at Fort Belvoir but at first Dewitt Army Hospital and then the new Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in the Orthopedics Clinic at the front desk. Rickey always had something nice to say and was for sure “great people”. I’ll truly miss him. The last time I saw him I gave him a hug goodbye but never dreamed it would be a final goodbye. Thanks for your friendship Rickey. Prayers and condolences go to his wife and family. I also heard his mother is also fighting the virus. Due to the nature of the virus funeral arrangements are to be private. Thanks to George Bass for passing this along.
The other schoolhouse loss is from the D-TOPO days. Lloyd William Gaylor passed away last July. Bill was 94. For those of you that attended our school’s 100th Anniversary in May of 2018 you may recall what I call the best moment of the day. I had never met Bill and had only talked to him on the phone. He was the oldest known former schoolhouse staff member that I was aware of. Between military and civilian service he was there at least from 1947 to 1964 . I may be wrong and probably am on the details. During the introductions of key personnel attending our event I asked if “Bill Gaylor” was there and his hand raised up way in the back of the banquet room. I called him forward to introduce him and as he reached the front one of his old friends stood up and faced him. With admiration to each other in their eyes and hands on each other’s shoulders Bill took a deep breath and said “Jim Harnden”. Definitely a warm and beautiful moment that I will always remember. It made all the work organizing the event well worth it. After the reunion I had tried to pair Bill and my super vet Gene Tatem together to car pool to our monthly luncheons. The connection never materialized and then communication to Bill stopped when his phone number stopped working. My searches for him failed because of my own error. I was searching for “William” but his name was “Lloyd William”. Only through some heavy searching Friday night did I discover his passing. Jim Harnden had nothing but good things to say about him.
I had a lot of things to pass along with this email but the nature of the above two paragraphs put most of them on the back burner until next month. The only thing I want to pass along was the receipt of an email from perhaps our most famous student (D-TOPO 1954). I heard from retired Colonel Bruce Crandall. Colonel Crandall because of heroics during the Vietnam War was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was portrayed in his military heroics in the movie “We Were Soldiers” staring Mel Gibson. The Colonel’s role, “Snake”, was played by Greg Kinnear. I forwarded the Colonels email to our website guru Ray Chapman. In it the Colonel gave some interesting 30th Engineer Battalion history which included former DMSr LTC Cornelius John Radu. We’ll pass along all his comments in the near future. I was truly humbled to hear from Colonel Crandall. Thank you Sir!! You can read about him on our BelvoirDMS.org website under the tab “More than a School”.
I talked with a good handful of former DMSrs the past couple weeks. In the fear I will forget someone I will simply say that everyone says hi to everyone.
Apologies to Ange Meoli of the NGA Alumni group. I was supposed to be passing along their social get together calendar but with the things the way they are their events are on hiatus as well.
I promise to provide the names of those whose email addresses have been bouncing on me next time.
As expected our monthly get togethers will be suspended pending our world getting back to normal. Social distancing will be practiced. I’m used to people avoiding me anyway. Hope all are staying safe.