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, January 21, 2009

Loneliness


There was nothing wrong with him and it wasn't that anyone disliked him. Aside, perhaps, from the sergeant, who seemed to dislike us all. He was just there doing the same things we did, a young fellow of 18 from some little town in some obscure state. In the barracks he’d lie on his corner bunk and laugh at the horseplay taking place, or whenever someone told a joke. For some reason, though, he never was included in the horseplay, although no one would have been displeased had he joined in. When a group was leaving for a few hours in town, no one ever thought to invite him to go along. He never asked if it would be OK. The same was true when some of the fellows headed down to the PX for a beer or two.
The half-mile long road leading to the company area was lined by rocks on each side. He was ordered to paint the rocks white. That meant a full mile of rocks. No one knew why he was given the job, no one ever thought to ask if he’d like some help.
He managed to survive the first weeks of combat in Normandy. When the fighting reached the port city of Cherbourg, we blasted holes in walls with a bazooka to keep from going out on the street. There were cross streets, and that meant sprinting in the open to the other side. At one of them the first man was cut down by bullets from a machine gun, a slow-firing American gun. It was easy to distinguish them from the rapid bursts from a German gun.
He said he would go around the corner to tell the gunners of their mistake. The squad leader said to wait three minutes until two of us had time to climb to the third floor of the building, see if there was a window from where the gun was visible. There was, but we reached it just as the young guy from somewhere started out. We could see two men rise slightly above a barricade. They wore German helmets. It was a captured gun they were firing.
Disposing of it with a grenade wasn’t a problem, but that was a little late to help the volunteer. I’d call him by name, but long years ago I forgot what it was. He was just there, the fellow on the corner bunk, that was all.

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