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 02, 2009

Living it up at Fort Benning

When the opportunity arose for three men from K Company to leave Camp Polk for a 14-week Weapons and Leadership School at Fort Benning, Fleming, Goulding and I leaped at it. Starting another cycle of basic training when a new detachment of men arrived held no appeal whatsoever.
We made the trip to Columbus, Georgia on a DC-3 from the Flying Tigers Airline. It was uneventful aside from having a few men ask why the wings were flapping.
We were setting up our bunks in a barrack, the three of us near the far end, when I saw an officer walk in the door. He came straight for me, scowling. “Soldier, don't you call ‘Attention’ when an officer walks in the room?"
I blinked a few times and squinted in his direction. "Begging your pardon, sir, I didn't have my glasses on and couldn't see you."
Knowing I didn't wear glasses, Fleming removed his and tossed them on his bunk so I could pick them up if the officer ordered me to put mine on. It proved unnecessary as all he said was, "After this wear your glasses." He then stalked out the door without ever explaining why he had entered in the first place.
We soon learned that the "school" at Benning was nothing more than an infantry basic training cycle. A good share of the men in our company were from the Air Force. That didn’t make any more sense than sending the three of us all that way to do exactly the same thing we would have been doing at Polk.
The food at our mess hall was the worst I ever ate, or couldn't eat, during my two tours in the Army. We could skip breakfast and eat dinner elsewhere, but were captives for lunch. Soon men began packing lunches. Anyone watching us hike out to the field would have seen a company of men with rifles slung over one shoulder and a brown bag swinging along in their other hand. Only a few cretins ventured near the chow truck when it arrived.
One day Goulding came back from town with a small round cooler with a handle for carrying. From that day forward we put three cans of beer and a lot of ice in the cooler, then covered it all with grape Kool-Aid. If a nosy officer decided to inspect it, all he would have seen was purple juice.
At lunch time we would find a place off by ourselves, eat our lunchmeat sandwiches and Twinkies, then drink a cold can of Budweiser or Blue Ribbon. It made the day a whole lot brighter.
I have written previously about our platoon sergeant, the most vulgar man I have ever met. Considering the people I have associated with all my life, that’s saying a great deal. One day while having us standing at attention he told us about his wife. "When I'm off in Korea or someplace I expect her to get that itchy feeling and that's OK just as long as I'm head hog at the trough when I'm home." That was far more information than most of us cared to hear. Turned out, though, that another hog was getting to the trough ahead of him.
And so went the 14 weeks. Fleming, Goulding and I didn’t learn a thing we didn't already know, but at least we were away from Polk.


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