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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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Leveling the Bubbles

Because generals and war and stuff like that have been in the news my thoughts have once again drifted back to Camp Polk during the lovely summer of 1952. Many people may not realize just what it was that Pop, the mortar section sergeant, actually did to earn his ridiculously small paycheck so this might be called an informative blog. To fully understand it is necessary to know a little about a 60 millimeter mortar, the kind used back in the good old days.
There was the tube, the baseplate and the sight. On the sight were two bubbles like those on a carpenter's level. To keep them straight we will call one the back and forth bubble and the other the up and down bubble. It was the gunner's job to level them. Say he leveled the back and forth bubble and then did the same with the up and down bubble. However, leveling the up and down bubble would throw off the back and forth bubble so it had to be leveled again but doing so would unlevel the up and down bubble. Obviously getting both bubbles level at the same time was not as easy as it sounds.
Next came the aiming stake. This, as might be imagined, was a wood stake planted in the ground well out in front of the mortar. Along with the bubbles, there was a place on the sight to look through. When you did you would see a vertical line and this line had to be placed exactly on the left side of the aiming stake. After this was accomplished, the bubbles no longer would be level. The gunner then leveled the bubbles again, but of course this meant the sight no longer was lined up on the aiming stake.
A logical person would quickly realize that getting both bubbles level and being lined up on the aiming stake all at the same time was an impossibility, yet a skilled gunner could do it in a matter of seconds. Pop could do it too, although it might require five or even ten minutes. No one in the section was aware of this because like all good sergeants he used the time-tested method of, "Don't do as I do, do as I say." In other words he never did any of that himself, he just told the others how to do it. And even today some people believe you don't have to be smart to be in the infantry.


Blogger STAG said...

Back when I fixed airplanes, my corporals and privates would come to me with some sort of problem they could not solve. I would always give them an extra hour to find the snag, and demand they take notes.
Looking at their notes, I would see that of say, eight possible things, they had eliminated 7 of them. (though its not quite so self evident as that!) That left me to go out to the aircraft, and "magically" walk right up to the snag, find it, fix it and come back for coffee.
Got me quite the reputation for being a miracle worker!
I often thought that telling them that they had done all the slogging test work didn't hurt give credit where credit was due. They simply thought I was being modest....when in reality I saw further because I stood on their shoulders.

Can't say I really missed those days, but there were times when it wasn't so bad.

10:32 AM  

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