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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Saturday, November 22, 2008

What is the true meaning of hero?

The word "hero" is bandied about quite freely today. If you hit the home run, score the touchdown or sink the basket that wins a game you are a hero. People are called heroes when in fact they have done something that rightly should be referred to as commendable. Occasionally an obituary will say a person fought heroically against a life-threatening disease even though it was their own life that was threatened.
I have a different definition. A hero is someone who willingly places his life in jeopardy to aid another in grave danger. I have known a few men like that, served with them in infantry combat. They are a rare breed.
At the top of the short list of heroes I have known is the name of Eddie Wolfe. Those who have read the book Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War know of a few times when he risked his life while others failed to act. As fresh in my mind as if it happened yesterday is the morning when some of us had moved into the wrong field in the dark of night and then at first light were subjected to a horrific artillery barrage directed by Germans who could see us. Eddie, who was in the adjoining field safely behind a thick dirt hedgerow repeatedly called, "Stodgy, Stodgy, are you guys OK?" I assured him we were until finally the concussion from shells hitting close by left me unable to move or even speak. I could see, though, and in the midst of the shelling, when it was difficult to distinguish anything because of the brilliant bursts of silver laced with gold and red, I saw Eddie crawling toward me. He gripped me under the arms and, crawling backwards while pulling me and my equipment weighing well over 200 pounds, dragged me to safety.
That was just one of the times Eddie left a safe place to help someone when the odds were stacked against his surviving. He never got a medal, never even a word of thanks because that just wasn't something men did.
Eddie, a platoon sergeant, never slept while one of his men was out on patrol or doing some other extremely dangerous job. A few other sergeants called him "Mother Wolfe" and meant it as a compliment. But without meaning to, Eddie made most compliments meaningless to me on a night when I had to lead an ammunition train of rear-echelon men through rugged country while a German patrol was loose and roaming the area. At four in the morning when the job was finished he put an arm over my shoulder and said, "You did a good job tonight, Stodgy." Coming from him, to an 18-year-old soldier that was the supreme compliment that could never be equaled.
The fact that he was a Jew didn't keep Eddie from sending me Christmas cards. He was too big a man to let something like religion keep him from doing things like that, things he felt like doing.
Time catches up with everyone, though. Eddie Wolfe would have been ninety or close to it when he died this week. His kind seldom come along. The world isn't quite as good a place without him.

2 Comments:

Blogger STAG said...

Oh maaaan!

My sincerest condolences.

2:54 PM  
Blogger DWJ said...

Hello Dick,
I read your post about heroes with great interest. Here is another example which I'm sure you can relate to given your service in WW2

In my recently published historucal novel, NIGHT OF FLAMES, I wrote about a group founded in Belgium in 1942 called the Comet Line. This organization, founded by a 24 year old Belgian nurse was responsible for saving more than 800 Allied aviators shot down over belgium and Holland and leading them to safety - at their own peril, as almost the same number of Comet Line agents lost their lives in the process.

After the book was published I was invited to address a group in Brussels that keeps alive the memory of the Comet Line. And, best of all, I got to meet and talk with two surviving Comet Line agents, both women now in their mid eighties. They were very pleased that I knew their story and wrote about it but what amazed me the most was their humility. When I asked one of them (Nadine, that was her code name during the war and she still uses it) why she did it, her answer was, "Because they needed help and it was something I could do. I did it for freedom." Nadine survived capture by the SS and three years in concentration camps in Poland. She and many other common people like her were great examples of heroes.

Douglas W jacobson
Author,
Night of Flames: A Novel of World War Two

11:48 AM  

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