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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Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day and Military Pay

This, they say, is Memorial Day. For more than a century it was observed on May 30, but then it was decided to make it part of a three-day weekend. To tie it to time off from work seems to diminish its meaning.
In his address at Arlington National Cemetery today, Bush placed special emphasis on those who had died in Iraq, his own personal war. It's unfortunate that service men and women have died there, especially since there was no reason for the war to begin with, but recent deaths are no more meaningful or beneficial to the country than those that occurred in earlier wars. Having had friends die in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, I resent that implication.
CNN devoted a portion of its noon news to pay scales in today's military. I was astounded to learn that a private's base pay is $34,000 a year. Inflation must be considered, of course, but that doesn't account for the whopping increase from the $600 yearly base pay of a private in World War II. Deducted from that was the $76.80 all service personnel were required to pay each year for a $10,000 term life insurance policy.
When a WWII private was shipped overseas he received a twenty per cent boost in pay. That amounted to $10 per month. Some of those with high risk jobs received a little more. For example, earning the Combat Infantry Badge meant another $10 a month for me. All told, I was making $840 a year while overseas. Minus the $76.80 for insurance. By the time I went back to the Army during the Korean War the pay had increased ever so slightly. It had gone up somewhat by the time of the Vietnam War, but but not all that much.
It is good that today a private earns as much or more than many civilians. It is good, too that overseas personnel can communicate with those in the States by email, computer and telephone, something not available during earlier wars.
I was fortunate in being overseas for a mere two years in WWII. Many others I served with had been there three or four years. One of those who had been away from home for fours years had a four-year-old daughter he had never seen. His wife had died in childbirth.
So Bush should not place emphasis on those who have died lately. The roughly 450,000 who died in those previously mentioned wars paid the exact same price.
Nor should a local politician have his way. He wants to change the designation of a highway so it honors two area men killed in Iraq rather than honoring the several hundred from the region who died in Korea. Death is death regardless of what war it came in. None should be honored above another.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your memorial day comments. It certainly placed things in the right perspective.
Concerning the $34,000 base pay of today's private, that is unbelievable. In addition to the high pay, I assume that comes with the basic 3 square meals a day, plus housing and uniform allowance. If you place a value on that, and one must, I would come out of retirement and enlist if they would accept me.


1:20 PM  
Blogger STAG said...

I think Abe that there will be deductions for wet mess dues, mess dress, and all meals and housing are paid by the members, though of course I can't be sure how much of it would be subsidized...lots in theatre, less so in garrison. You get a uniform allowance, and your first suit free, but subsequent suits you have to pay for.

You DO get free dental and medical of course, but most sojers are young, fit and healthy, so that doesn't account for much. That comes in handy later on though. Even then, it is a little disconcerting to discover that being overweight or develop a drinking habit, or getting an infected tattoo can put paid to a promising career.

I googled the pay scales of the Canadian Forces, and compared them to several other NATO forces including the American forces, and found that still, even with the massive rise in renumeration since the '70s, it is not even close to equivalent civilian pay scales.

At least the modern military has not had a "March to Baatan" or "Trail of Thirst", or "Burma Railroad", or "Passendale Ridge". Those guys went through hell...there is NO pay that can compensate even a survivor! Though never say never.....

7:27 PM  

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