Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another July 25 when the sun was up and the sky was blue

At six in the morning the sun was shining, the sky was clear, the rain had finally ended. Without being told we made up our blanket rolls, unsure of what the day would bring but aware that "this is it." No one spoke because there was nothing to say.
There was no feeling of excitement or anticipation, not even dread - just nothing. From the faces of those nearby I knew it was the same with them. And so we waited.
A company runner made the rounds calling out, "If anyone wants to write a last letter home, mail will be picked up at oh-nine hundred hours." Army diplomacy.
None of us, not even in our wildest fantasies, could have imagined what the next few hours would bring. First a massive artillery barrage that had to have had a devastating effect on the Panzer Lehr Division on the other side of the highway. Then dive bombers, then medium bombers, then the dive bombers back again on a second run.
There can come a time when men on the ground, the foot soldiers, believe that enough is enough and a feeling of empathy for other men on the ground sets in. It matters not that those other men wear a different uniform and speak a different language. Even men weary of combat start to feel that the killing from a distance should stop and now the infantry should take over.
But it had only begun. Unless you saw it yourself I don't believe it is possible for anyone to visualize the sight of one thousand-five hundred heavy bombers coming over a small section of ground. Think of that many jetliners flying above you in formation. Think of them dropping thousands of strips of tinfoil much like Christmas tree tinsel on you. Think of the sound as thousands of bombs began coming down. Think of the sickening realization that instead of moving away from you the bombs now were falling on your side of the road and drawing steadily nearer.
A pathfinder plane flying back and forth finally made the men in the far bigger planes aware that they were dropping their bombs in the wrong place. Couldn't they have seen that for themselves or didn't they even care that they had killed hundreds of American soldiers?
At last it ended and an eerie silence fell over those Normandy fields. A squad leader, Curly Walsh, was the first to speak: "If there's any Jerries left after that we should turn and head for the beaches."
His answer was a quick burst of fire from a German machine pistol. "We're still here," it seemed to say. "Come on over."
No, not all the men in Panzer Lehr had died. Those who had survived were ready to fight.
July 25, 1944. It was one helluva day. No one who was there can ever forget it, not until he draws his final breath.


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