1st MIBARS Colors return to Ft. Bragg, from the Michael Tymchak collection
--The 1st Military Intelligence Battalion (ARS) was deployed to Vietnam on 1 December 1965 and was in continuous combat service until 30 April 1972.

-- The Battalion returned to Ft. Bragg NC in 1973, and continued in world-wide support missions until inactivated 15 July 1982.

-- A phased reactivation began in 1983 and the Battalion was officially reactivated on 14 January 1984.

1st MIBARS at Ft Bragg, NC

Change of Command, June 1980. (L) Tony Lackey, outgoing Commander, passing the Battalion Colors to Col. Owen Seaton (R) who will then pass the Colors to Billy Rea, incoming Commander (back to camera). Photo provided by Tony Lackey
Paul Tanguay, Battalion XO, 5/80 - 6/81

I was at Ft. Bragg with the 525MI BDE right out of CGSC. COL O.B. "Obie-wan" Seaton, CO 525 MI Bde came out there and asked me to be LTC Billy Rea’s XO in 1980. All was glorious until LTC Rea died of a heart attack in 1981. LTC Phil Harper came in and took command until the Battalion was transferred to an Intel EAC Bde up in New Jersey the following year (470th or 570th?? Can’t remember which). Knew LTC’s Bentz and Tony Lackey from those days. CPT Bill Skinner was the Det CO at Shaw AFB. The Battalion did move back to Bragg after Nam with Dets at Shaw AFB and Bergstrom AFB in Austin, TX. The other two Dets plus HHC were located at Ft. Bragg. After LTC Rea died in 1981, LTC Phil Harper took command for a short time and eventually moved the Bn to Ft Monmouth, NJ to be a part of the 470th MI Echelon Above Corps (EAC) Bde. I left Bragg in 1981, so I lost track of what happened to the 1st MIBARS after that. The Bn S-3 when I was there was MAJ John Glasier. I remember CPT Sheila Tupper who commanded one of the Dets at Bragg who went off to flight school from that assignment. We had to replace the Det CO at Bergstrom (forget his name he had a license plate on his car that said ABN RGR). The Aerial Delivery Platoon was commanded by a CPT (name forgotten) who finally left the Army, joined the Navy as a P-3 pilot, and was later killed in a training crash in California. The S-1 was Paige Kellogg who married then LTC Keith Kellogg (G-2 of the 82nd ABN, he went on to become a LTG) , and the S-4 was CPT Christine Bowers (Quartermaster Corps). We were joined by the 319th MI BN and the 519th MI BN at Bragg, and those Bn’s together with the HHC Company formed the 525 MI Bde. Tony Lackey who commanded the 1st MIBARS became the Corps G-2 for a while and was replaced by J Barrie Williams who was the best margarita drinker at Bragg! COL Seaton left the BDE in 1981 and was replaced by COL Harmon as Bde CO.

Det A at Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter, SC

Bill Skinner with Det A at COC ceremony. Photo provided by Tony Lackey
Bill Skinner, '78 - '79 S4, HHC; 79 - 7/81; CDR, Det A

When I was assigned to the 1st MIBARS it was still MIBARS, (AE) came in a little later not sure of the timeframe. Tony Lackey was our BN CDR. There were two Dets at Ft Bragg along with the HQ and the Delivery Unit. There was Det A which I moved from Bragg to Shaw AFB and there was DET C at Bergstom AFB. During the time frame I was there we supported many major exercises and were part of the 18th Airborne Corps. Warrant Officers Silas Barron and Lou Westfall were my II TECHS and then SFC William J Fowler was the DET SGT. We worked very closely with the 62d TRS, actually enbeded in their PIF (Photo Interpretation Facility).

Det B at Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, NC

DET B, 1979. Photo: J.R. Pournelle
(L) SFC Sterling T. McCormick. (R) 2LT Jennifer R. Pournelle. Photo: J.R. Pournelle
DET B, 1979. Photo: J.R. Pournelle

Jenny Pournelle, '79-'82 ARLO & CDR, Det B & BMO, 1st MIBARS

I began as Det B's ARLO under CPT Bill McConnell & SFC Sterling McCormick in 1979, and became Commander I think the following year, after a stint as BMO. Rhonda Ritzel was ARLO for A Det at the time, and Sheila Tucker was in Det D (we had come through OCS together). I really looked up to Billy Rae, and about a month before his death I threw a right tantrum when my tour as ARLO was up, and he'd decided to send me up to Briade HQ to replace Paige Kellog in the S-1 shop. I told him I hadn't signed up to be a secretary, and I'd rather have any job on earth than that one. "Hell," I said, "I'd rather be down in the motor pool." (In those days it was still in unairconditioned, unventilated WW II-era 'temp' buildings, we had no Warrant Tech, and it was known as a "career graveyard" assignment.) Well, he granted my wish - and shortly after had the heart attack, while out on a morning run. I was really torn up about his death, and really regretted that argument. But I put the motor pool back on its feet, and nearly killed poor SGT Lee (a brand-new baby buck sergeant) doing it.

So, I was marching in that CofC ceremony depicted above, and remember "Tank" Tanguay and his hot Corvette very well. I am sort of surprised that he doesn't remember me, because Chris Bowers & I used to pull any number of pranks on him when I was BMO. B Det was assigned the "world wide mobility" mission, so we were forever loading everything up on trucks, trains, and airplanes and heading off to marry up with RF-4 squadrons at godforsaken airfields. We responded to all kinds of missions, and did a lot of contingency planning - a lot of that for Southwest Asia, which came back to haunt me when Desert Shield/Storm geared up. The first MIBARS unit de-activated in preparation for the transition to the EAC redesignation was B-Det. We'd done well on a series of inspections & statistics thanks to my stellar NCOs, including not only "Sergeant Mack" but SGT Sheila Thompson (RATT rig), SGT Freeman (supply sergeant - he couldn't string two words together in a coherent sentence, but he never had a single gig in his supply room or on my property book- no mean feat under "Her Holiness" the S-4!), SGT Haines (went on to OCS), and a couple of others I remember well but am blanking on names for. So B- Det transferred all of our top-notch equipment and personnel to other Dets with shortages (and I went on to become S-2 of Ft Bragg's 3-68th HAWK BN).

The biggest 1st MIBARS innovation under Billy Rea - and the reason for its ultimate move to EAC - was introduction of the DITB (Digital Imagery Test Bed). At the time, the existance of "non-air-breathing, near-real-time" overhead digital imaging capacity was classified at echelons above TS, and we could not even admit that the detachment existed. I don't remember its designation. It was Billy Rae's braonchild, and its rollout changed everything. Under Harper's command, while I was BMO we rolled the whole shebang down to Eglin AFB for live exercise testing in a tactical situation. Remember, this was way before phone cards, let alone cellphones, and the BN vehicles had no radios, so moving a convoy that included such high-vis equipment in a "hush-hush van" over open highways was far from easy. The tests went well - and the rest is history.

Det C at Bergstrom AFB, Austin TX

Bob Rundall, Det C ARLO, 9/75 – 2/78

I was reassigned from the Officers' Career Course at Ft. Huachuca in 1975 and was a liaison officer with the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing's 91st Tactical Recon. Sqdn. until January of 1978. When my classmates at Ft. Huachuca found out where I was going, several of them got pretty upset. The reason was that, while they had rotary wing flight training, I had no flight training of any kind. My assignment with the 91st TRS required me to fly as the backseater (navigator) in the RF-4C, which was later phased out in favor of the RF-15. To say that assignment was a blast is to blaze a new frontier in understatement! About a year after I arrived at Bergstrom AFB in Austin TX, the Army and Air Force made a change in military doctrine, which required Det. C to move from Ft. Bragg to Bergstrom. For about the first month after Det. C arrived, they lived in a tent city, until proper quarters could be made available on base.

I can't remember the exact date, but if I remember correctly, it was sometime in 1977 when Det. C came to Bergstrom. As I mentioned, the Army and Air Force combined recce and I.I. functions. I believe this was because someone (or a group of someones) at TRADOC came up with the idea of combining the I.I. capabilities of the two services, to see how it would work out. I believe the combination of Det. C from 1st MIBARS and the Air Force I.I. shop at Bergstrom was the trial balloon, but I don't know how long it lasted. I left the Army in Feb. 1978, so things might have changed sometime after that. I do know that the Vietnam war taught us the need for a closer working relationship and better communication between Army and AF recce units. At any rate, the Army shipped in a full TIIF and parked it right next to the Air Force I.I. shop. Although the sections remained segregated (AF with AF, and Army with Army), there was a lot of back-and-forth with regard to film sharing and cross-training. The AF I.I.s learned more about what the Army required from IPIRs and SUPIRS, as well as communication coordination between AF I.I.s and Army commanders. On the other hand, the Army I.I.s learned more about the generation of frag orders, what it took to get a recce bird in the air, how the AF recce crews were interpreting Army requests, what actually happened when film was off-loaded from the aircraft, and how to speak AF lingo (i.e., TIIF [Tactical Image Interpretation Facility] v. PIIF [Photographic Image Interpretation Facility]). From my perspective, the concept didn't seem terribly productive. The primary benefit was that Army I.I.s got to see the AF imagery sooner than usual, and the personnel got to know each other better, but I'm not sure there was much more benefit than that. I would have to say, too, that once the two I.I. services combined at Bergstrom, the job of the ARLO was pretty much over. Whereas you once had one ARLO per squadron through whom everyone could communicate, now you had several Army officers and NCOs giving input and vying for the aircrews' attention. Later, with the introduction of more modern computers (not to mention more doctrinal modifications), things changed even faster, but as I say, that was after I left.