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, June 30, 2009

Just an Army AWOL

When my orders arrived I read them, read them again and then read them a third time. Then I read Fleming's and Goulding's. All were the same: name. rank, serial number and "report from Fort Benning, Georgia to Company K, 145th Infantry, 37th Infantry Division at Camp Polk, Louisiana."
A clerk had slipped up. No date to report, nothing saying "by the first available means of transportation." Just report, that was all. Opportunity had knocked so I answered.
I was an old veteran, Fleming and Goulding were new to all this so that was their tough luck. My lips remained sealed.
Our 14 weeks of Weapons & Leadership School had proved to be nothing more than infantry basic training. The graduation ceremony was like that at any high school. One man at a time marched across a stage and was handed a diploma. I was eager for it to end because a northbound bus would soon be leaving nearby Columbus.
Then disaster struck. We had to march across the stage a second time so officers could smell our breath. Not surprising as half the men were drunk. I wasn't, but time was of the essence. Finally it ended and those not arrested milled around saying goodbye to friends they had made.
Not me. I ran to our barrack, grabbed my loaded duffel bag and flagged down a bus headed for town.
Somewhere along the way I changed into civilian clothes and arrived in Akron early the next day. A week of relaxation followed. I visited the people at the place where I had worked before being called up for the war in Korea, watched the Little League team I had managed play a game, goofed around in general.
When it began to seem likely that military policemen might be coming to the door I talked my less-than-enthusiastic father into driving me to the railroad station in Cleveland. A New York Central train took me through Muncie at first light the following morning and then on to St. Louis. From there the Missouri Pacific carried me through Little Rock and then arrived in Texarkana at midnight. There was a four-hour wait before a Kansas City Southern train would take me to Leesville. There are few places more dreary than Texarkana in the wee small hours.
At Leesville about nine in the morning I changed into my uniform and caught a bus for Camp Polk, expecting trouble when I arrived. Instead when I walked in the door of the orderly room Warrant Officer Fred Slabaugh jumped up, came around his desk and shook my hand while calling, "Captain, come and see who's here. Stodghill's back."
Captain Prasher was all smiles. Slabaugh said the company was out in the field and wouldn't be coming back until the following evening. He said, "Should we send Dick out with the chow truck?"
The captain shook his head. "He's probably tired. Have him just take it easy around the barracks until the men come back."
So I did. I'd go to the mess hall and eat before the chow truck would leave, head for beer at the PX when I was thirsty, sleep when I was weary.
Fleming and Goulding spotted me when the company returned my second night there. They were outraged. Questions such as, "Where have you been?" were fired at me. I grinned and said, "Akron." Their anger peaked.
When they ran out of breath I said, "You young guys need to learn how to read orders." They simmered down after a week or ten days.


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