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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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

He Always Wanted a Friend

We joined the National Guard at the same time, Ken and I. He decided I would be his buddy. We both were infantry combat veterans of the war that had ended a few years earlier, but there the similarity ended. I was there for the camaraderie found in a rifle company. He was there because he loved everything about the Army. He'd put on his uniform even to walk to the corner grocery for a loaf of bread.
At summer camp he had the bunk closest to the barrack door and mine was next to his. Someone forgot to assign men to KP for our first full day at Camp Atterbury. The CQ came in at 4 a.m., shook Ken awake and said he needed a KP. Thinking I was asleep, Ken said the man in the next bunk would do fine. I went ahead and spent the day in the kitchen without saying a word, but Ken got the cold shoulder from me from then on.
Soon we both were staff sergeants, but on different paths. He was on the way up. I got teed off about something and told the captain what he could do with the stripes. He didn't, but I was a private again.
Then we were federalized for the Korean War. They promoted me to corporal and gave me the job of sergeant at corporal's pay. Our First Sergeant was made a warrant officer and Ken was given his old job.
He had a private room at the end of the barrack and would parade around at night in pajamas and a red bathrobe. No one else wore pajamas. He liked to say RHIP, rank has it privileges. No one could stand to be near him. When he'd join a group of guys talking, the others would leave. Everyone had found out what I had learned that first night at summer camp.
He tried to make men like him. All he'd get were one-word responses. One night six or eight of us were drinking beer at a table in the PX when Ken walked in. He bought a Zippo lighter and came over to our table to show it off. I said, "Nice," just to get rid of him. He went back and bought another lighter and handed it to me. Then he flicked his own, but they had put in too much fluid and it was a ball of flame. He dropped it onto the floor that was oiled to keep it from warping. The floor caught fire and everyone was stamping their feet to put it out so we wouldn't lose our PX. The jukebox was playing so it looked like we were doing some sort of ritualistic dance.
Eventually I was discharged but Ken reenlisted, going for a 20 or 30 year career. I never had the misfortune to see him again but I heard years later that his son joined up and they were together. He finally had someone he could call a friend.
The last I heard of Ken, he and the son were convicted of rape and went to prison together. Guess he still had one friend.


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