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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Sunday, August 30, 2009

You never know about people


The other day I switched channels and was fortunate enough to see Dick Cheney talking tough and displaying his usual swaggering arrogance. You wouldn't think that would remind me of a nervous, frightened kid of 18 who was summoned from deep in the Kentucky hills to serve in the infantry way back in 1943, but it did.
Russell couldn't do a thing to please the sergeants so they were on his back from sunup to midnight. He tried his best to please but he messed up everything he did so they just rode him all the harder. It was their job, their responsibility to get him ready for combat so he might have at least a glimmer of hope of staying alive. He never stopped trying but guns scared him to death so he couldn't even qualify with the M-1 rifle. They took him back to the range time after time but he just couldn't make the grade. Even so they shipped him out to Europe.
You just never can be sure what a man will do when all the chips are on the table. Russell, the least likely of men to do anything, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery, for action above and beyond the call of duty. The DSC is the second-highest award of all. Only the Congressional Medal of Honor ranks ahead of it. So it might have been well hidden, but Russell had it in him all that time when he was bumbling along and failing to please.
Funny, though, that tough talking Cheney showed yellow when he received a similar summons during the war in Vietnam. Not once but six times. He explained it away by saying he had other priorities. It wouldn't be surprising if some of the more than 50,000 men who died there had priorities of their own.
I guess it goes along with something I noticed back in 1944 and '45. The replacements who came up to the line talking tough always, and I do mean always, either shot themselves in the foot when things turned mean or just managed to disappear and weren't seen again. They say that talk is cheap. Tough talk is even cheaper.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Chet Headley said...

Dick, 30 Aug 09

Right on Dick, I wish there was a constitutional requirement that the President be a Military Veteran that had served honorably on active duty for at least two years. I think that would limit unnecessary “adventures.”

Your friend Russell reminds me of Pfc. Desmond T. Doss who was the first Conscientious Objector to be awarded the “Medal of Honor” and the only one during WW II. There is a documentary titled “The Conscientious Objector” produced and directed by Terry Benedict available on DVD. It took Mr. Benedict many years to convince Mr. Doss to allow his story to be told. It is the most inspiring story I have ever encountered. The DVD is available on-line, just search on “Desmond T. Doss.” Sorry for any appearance of “advertising.” It’s a great story and documentary that’s worth seeing.

I agree: “Talk is cheap. Tough talk is even cheaper.” If you’re going to “Talk the Talk” best that you have “Walked the Walk” first.

Chet

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Chet Headley said...

Dick, 31 Aug 09

Your great story of Russell and “tough talk” reminded me of an incident that occurred downtown Cuyahoga Falls during my junior year at Falls High.

On a balmy fall afternoon after school several of us went to Isaly’s Dairy Store on Front Street. While there an argument developed between “Dave,” a dapper dressing self-styled “tough-guy hood” from our class, and a good “ole country boy” from Stow High. As things heated up the two young men went outside to the sidewalk in front of Isaly’s to “settle” things. Lots of tough talk from Dave ensued while the “country boy” just stood there waiting for Dave to make the first overt gesture. It didn’t take long for Dave to realize his “tough-talk” wasn’t working its magic.

Dave’s next move proved just how tough he really was. He slowly slid his right hand into his front pocket; he then whipped out a switchblade knife. He stood there for a moment before pressing the blade-switch. As soon as the blade snapped open the “good ole boy” had had enough. He rushed at Dave who immediately dropped the knife and ran for all he was worth, with the “good ole boy” hot on his tail.

It didn’t take long before the “good ole boy” caught Dave in an alley between two of the downtown buildings. When Dave emerged his face looked as if it had been caught in a meat grinder. His eyes were swollen; his nose and mouth were bleeding and numerous cuts and abrasions adorned his face. Dave missed several days of school for some reason. When he did return his face was still a mess and there was a marked difference in his demeanor; his days of intimidating others were over.

Reminds me of something attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

Chet

3:31 AM  
Blogger STAG said...

I went twenty years in the military, and never saw anything which could be called "combat", though of course, I saw a lot of stuff. Some dull, some scary, and some kind of fun. The funnest thing I ever saw was when I took my "uncle" into the mess and some nineteen year old airborne was in there shooting off his cake hole. He saw the legion jacket and the clipped wings. "Why are those wings trimmed back like that?" he asked. "Well, you arn't allowed to have the full wings until you have made three jumps...all I had were two jumps."
The young fella said, "Yeah...I've got twenty five jumps. All you got were two?"

"Well yes, "my uncle noted between sips of his Genfiddich, "but they WERE into Burma, once in '41 and again in '43. Of course, we had to walk out."

The mouthpiece got really silent after that, and paid up the vets's bar tab on the spot.

That fella, my uncle (on my wife's side) was a Japanese Canadian, and he came home to discover that his whole family had been interned and his business consficated while he was fighing in the jungles of Burma. The government never gave it back, and they never apologized, but the the only thing which really pissed him off is that they would not allow him to make that third jump so that he could have full wings on his uniform.

Other than that, he would not talk about his time in Burma. That was how we could tell the vets from the fakers...the vets didn't talk about it. Heck, it was only when my dad died that I could convince him to attend a November 11th service. It was the first, and last that he ever attended.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Dick Stodghill said...

That's outrageous about confiscating the business and not giving it back.

1:29 PM  

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