Edward Albert Falck

Edward Albert Falck

Died August 2013

Edward went off to war and never came back.

After Yale he spent a year in law school at the University of Wisconsin before deciding to fulfill his Army R.O.T.C. commitment. After training at Fort Sam Houston in Texas and Fort Meade in Maryland, he was sent to Vietnam as a captain in the Army’s Medical Service Corps. He was stationed in Saigon and responsible for keeping the medical clinics in the capital supplied. For his service there he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Army’s fourth highest medal, for meritorious service in a combat zone. He had a natural ability in languages and was soon speaking Vietnamese. For R&R, Edward went to Bangkok and, when his one-year tour of duty in Saigon was complete, volunteered to serve out his remaining three years in Thailand rather than return to the States.

Edward “had fallen in love with the country and the people of Thailand,” his brother, Jon, says, so when his tour was over “he just mustered out of the Army there.” He quickly became fluent in Thai and used that skill to start a business negotiating rentals for U.S. Air Force personnel who otherwise would have been ripped off by their Thai landlords. It was a profitable little venture but when the war ended and the U.S. military pulled up stakes, all of his customers went home.

Edward joined the American University Association Bilingual Institute, where he stayed for the next 15 years, teaching English and writing instruction manuals for other teachers to use. He became so proficient in the language that he acted in a local play. He fell in love with a Thai woman and brought her back to the States to meet his parents. But the marriage was sabotaged by the woman’s father who found that he could get out of a $10,000 debt he owed to a banker by giving his daughter to the banker. “Edward was crushed by that,” Jon says.

Edward only returned to the U.S. on two other occasions, once en route to an international conference in the Middle East and once for a family funeral.

Jon tried to convince him to stay and use his fluency in the Thai language to work for an international corporation, but Edward was committed to the expat life and able to live well in Bangkok on a teacher’s salary. But he was afflicted by debilitating leg and back pain and (his brother thinks) depression. He quit his job and could no longer afford the expat life, moving to the outskirts of Bangkok where rents were cheaper.

Edward died on August 15, 2013, lying in bed fully dressed as if he were about to go out. His brother did not learn of his death until six months later.

Edward had been gone so long that Jon was afraid no one would care. They both had gone to the St. Albans School in Washington, so Jon called the Secretary for the St. Albans Class of ’61 to have a notice put in the alumni notes and to ask if anyone would attend a memorial service. The Class Secretary said there were only a dozen members of the Class of ’61 still living in the Washington area, but “if you have a service, we’re coming.” They did have a service and 35 members of both Edward’s and Jon’s class were there.