Fort Campbell Courier

Courier staff reflect on storytelling, reporting on post

FORT CAMPBELL COURIER


Samantha Houck (center) helps her son, Eric Jr. decorate a boot in honor of his father, the late Sgt. Eric Houck who was killed in Afghanistan June 10, 2017, as daughter Violet watches, Monday, just before the opening ceremony at division headquarters. MARIA RICE MCCLURE | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER

Samantha Houck (center) helps her son, Eric Jr. decorate a boot in honor of his father, the late Sgt. Eric Houck who was killed in Afghanistan June 10, 2017, as daughter Violet watches, Monday, just before the opening ceremony at division headquarters. MARIA RICE MCCLURE | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER

In the more than 60 years that the Fort Campbell Courier has been in publication, many talented journalists have lent their voices to tell the stories of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell.

The Fort Campbell Courier, the post command information news source, is written and prepared through a partnership with contractors and the garrison Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office and is supported through the contributions of 101st Abn. Div. Public Affairs Office and tenant unit public affairs teams.

At its height in the 1990s, more than 15 staff writers contributed to the Fort Campbell Courier. This year, three people managed the workload.

Maria Rice McClure, who served as Editor-In-Chief of the Fort Campbell Courier 2015- 2023, said the post newspaper was an outstanding training ground for Soldiers and civilians who wanted to learn how to write.

“It’s because of the staff’s hard work that the newspaper succeeded,” she said. “I enjoyed my time working with the Courier team. It was so rewarding to watch people grow in their job. I am so glad to have been a part of that.”

Private Adam Spangler joins his unit in prayer Feb. 15, 2022, before deploying to Europe in support of Joint Task Force Dragon, a mission to assure NATO allies and partners in the region. ETHAN STEINQUEST | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER

Private Adam Spangler joins his unit in prayer Feb. 15, 2022, before deploying to Europe in support of Joint Task Force Dragon, a mission to assure NATO allies and partners in the region. ETHAN STEINQUEST | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER

When McClure came on board in 2015, she redesigned the Fort Campbell Courier to give it a fresh, modern look. She also prioritized local news specific to the installation and its Soldiers.

“I wanted to give the readers something useful to read that also was nice to look at,” she said. “I wanted the paper to be full of news you can use and information about the post community. I tried to be very mindful of the audience we serve.”

McClure spent about a year researching trends in newspaper design and referenced publications such as the New York Times when developing the Fort Campbell Courier’s new look.

“I wanted the newspaper to look good in the news rack so it would invite people to pick it up and read it,” she said.

The redesign also encouraged reader engagement.

“We wanted to give readers an opportunity to contribute to their community newspaper,” she said. “We started soliciting and publishing baby announcements, birthday announcements, and community briefs about events happening on- and off-post.”

Jeff Beck, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, helps a Soldier don his personal protective equipment at the Donning Level II Station as part of the Force Health Protection – Operation United Assistance training Oct. 9, 2014, at Dreyer Field House. The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history. YVETTE SMITH | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER

Jeff Beck, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, helps a Soldier don his personal protective equipment at the Donning Level II Station as part of the Force Health Protection – Operation United Assistance training Oct. 9, 2014, at Dreyer Field House. The 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest in history. YVETTE SMITH | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER

During her time at the Fort Campbell Courier, McClure had a few opportunities, in between her editorial responsibilities, to write articles and take photos. Of those, a few stand out in her mind.

In 2017, McClure attended the Boots on the Ground opening ceremony at division headquarters, where she met Samantha Houck, a Gold Star Family member. Boots on the Ground is an annual display of more than 7,500 boots, that honors the lives and legacies of service members who have died since 9/11.

“I was out there with people as they walked through the boots and there was Samantha with her two young children. I started talking to her. It turned out her husband, Sgt. Eric M. Houck, died three months prior in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, while supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. He was one of the three Rakkasans who were killed that year. I was deeply moved and honored that she would share her story with me.’

Sergeant Daniel Desena, 184th Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), low crawls through muddy terrain during the Brass Monkey, a combination run and obstacle course hosted during 52nd EOD’s inaugural Hell Cat Week July 13-15, 2021. ETHAN STEINQUEST | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER

Sergeant Daniel Desena, 184th Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), low crawls through muddy terrain during the Brass Monkey, a combination run and obstacle course hosted during 52nd EOD’s inaugural Hell Cat Week July 13-15, 2021. ETHAN STEINQUEST | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER

McClure reported when the installation’s Gander memorial – Task Force 3-502nd Memorial Park – closed December 2018 and reopened one year later in a new location.

Ethan Steinquest, who served as a Fort Campbell Courier staff writer 2021-2023, said working at the Fort Campbell Courier was a unique experience.

“I’m incredibly grateful to have spent the last few years learning about the people on post and sharing their stories,” he said. “I never thought I’d be able to ride in a helicopter, meet some of my favorite musicians or see military training exercises firsthand, but the Courier gave me all that and more.”

Steinquest said of his innumerable assignments during his tenure at the Courier, his most memorable is photographing President Joe Biden at Campbell Army Air- field in 2021.

Soldiers of 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div., hone their skills in air assault operations regardless of weather conditions at Fort Campbell, Ky., Jan 19, 2018. Destiny and Rakkasan Soldiers working together and building on a foundation of teamwork prepare the Screaming Eagles for their next Rendezvous with Destiny. FORT CAMPBELL COURIER ARCHIVE

Soldiers of 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div., hone their skills in air assault operations regardless of weather conditions at Fort Campbell, Ky., Jan 19, 2018. Destiny and Rakkasan Soldiers working together and building on a foundation of teamwork prepare the Screaming Eagles for their next Rendezvous with Destiny. FORT CAMPBELL COURIER ARCHIVE

“I especially loved being able to tell my Family that I was part of the White House press pool for a day, and I know I’ll be holding onto that press pass for many

Firefighter Milicia Cook, Nashville Fire Department, and Capt. Jeremy Conner, Portland Fire Department, ready their equipment during a comprehensive airport fire exercise conducted as part of an International Fire Service Accreditation Congress Airport Firefighter course hosted Sept. 20-24, 2021 at Fort Campbell. ETHAN STEINQUEST | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER

Firefighter Milicia Cook, Nashville Fire Department, and Capt. Jeremy Conner, Portland Fire Department, ready their equipment during a comprehensive airport fire exercise conducted as part of an International Fire Service Accreditation Congress Airport Firefighter course hosted Sept. 20-24, 2021 at Fort Campbell. ETHAN STEINQUEST | FORT CAMPBELL COURIER