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, April 23, 2009

Honorable Men Don't Torture

Word spread through the rifle companies that the regimental commander, Col. Russell P. Reeder, had been seriously wounded. He had been a star running back for Army during his years at West Point. Red Reeder's running days were over because he had lost a leg.
Along with many other wounded men he lay in the hot sun outside a battalion aid station tent. One by one the men were taken inside to be worked on by the battalion surgeon. Again and again Reeder told the aid men that all the others were to be cared for before his turn came. When only he and another man with a less serious wound than his own remained, he repeated the order. "But he's a German," he was told.
The colonel said, "Then first move him into the shade where he'll be more comfortable."
Red Reeder was an honorable man. Although in great pain, he insisted that an enemy soldier be made comfortable before he was treated himself.
Not long after that I was one of several men who lowered the swastika banner flying in front of Gestapo headquarters in the city of Cherbourg. It was a pleasure because evil men served in the Gestapo. They engaged in torture. Americans did not. Except on the rarest occasion, German soldiers did not. Evil men torture prisoners and most front line soldiers behaved honorably.
Little did any of us lowering the flag realize that the day would come when Americans did indeed torture prisoners. Nor could we have believed that the order to do so came from the very top.
Saying they are terrorists and are evil themselves isn't an excuse. We fought against men of Das Reich, the 2nd SS Panzer Division. On the way to the front they had wiped out the French village of Ouradour sur Glane. Only two of 687 people survived. The women and very young children were locked in the church, then it was set afire. If anyone tried to escape, they were gunned down. The older children were taken on a "picnic" and shot.
We captured men from Das Reich. Evil men indeed. We didn't torture them.
Should I have saved that Gestapo flag so that one day I could raise it on a pole at CIA headquarters? No, I'm too ashamed by behavior I never expected of Americans. From the highest ranking to the lowest, those who have engaged in or approved of torture are evil, dishonorable men. No excuse is acceptable. Those who contend it was justified are less than honorable themselves. If he were still living, what do you suppose Red Reeder would have to say about the torture of prisoners? I know. Some who call themselves Americans do not.


Anonymous Dodie Hruby said...

Mr. Stodhill,

I am one of Red Reeder's daughters and have just read your essay, "Honorable Men Don't Torture".

I am both touched and honored that you singled out my father as a World War II humanitarian.

RPR lived to be 96 years old, a proud American until his last breath. It is heart warming to know that his spirit is still alive today in words such as yours.

Good luck.
Dodie Reeder Hruby

12:34 PM  
Blogger Dick Stodghill said...

Thank you for your kind words. Your father was a fine man and a great leader.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Robert Lopresti said...

Great essay, Dick. I'm passing it on to a few friends.


10:12 PM  

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