I was very pleased several weeks ago when I learned the Leavenworth Times would be carrying a weekly stateside edition of the military newspaper Stars and Stripes.
My introduction to Stripes was as a second lieutenant in Korea in the early 1960s. For we who subscribed to it, at the cost of five cents a day, as I recall, it was a touch of home in a faraway land. It was available at breakfast in the officers' dining room, and I poured over it as I wolfed down my vittles.
I immediately liked it, and wanted to find out more about it. I learned there was an Asian edition and a European edition. I'd never seen it in the states, as there was no stateside edition. I suppose the theory was that military personnel stationed in the states would have access to stateside newspapers and would have no need of an Army version of news.
I missed it when I went to Fort Knox, but subscribed to the Louisville paper, and avidly read the post paper, Inside the Turret. After a year at Knox, I was off to Nuremberg, Germany, to subscribe to the European edition. I loved it as well. A photo I took even made the front page.
Alas, those were the days of the Vietnam War, and after a quick year in a cavalry regiment guarding the East-West German border and enjoying reading Stripes daily, it was off to Fort Campbell, Ky., and no more Stripes. I had to get my news from the Nashville Banner and the local training center weekly paper.
Next it was off to the only war zone of the day, in Vietnam. Again, I enjoyed the daily news in the Asian Stripes and the 9th Infantry Division weekly paper.
I didn't go overseas again until 1975, and by that time I'd morphed into an Army public affairs officer. As the publicist for the 1st Armored Division in Ansbach, I worked almost daily with the Stripes correspondent in Nuremberg.
We had somewhat of a love-hate relationship. I liked the correspondent, a medically profiled former cavalry sergeant, but he had a penchant for sensationalism that I didn't care for. My ideas of Stripes being a totally unbiased Army publication took a hit in that assignment.
I loved visiting the paper's headquarters in Frankfurt, and even managed to attend a Christmas party one year. A cartoonist made caricatures of party attendees, but for some reason, perhaps since I was in uniform and not a civilian as everyone else at the party, I had a hard time convincing him to draw a caricature of me. He finally did, and today it remains a prize.
Once I was even an ad hoc Stripes reporter. Our division air defense battalion was going to its annual firing exercise at a NATO base on Crete, a Greek island. The Stripes reporter arranged for a photographer, and the three of us were going. But the reporter's wife got ill and needed an operation, so he asked the Stripes editor if I could take his place.
Page 2 of 2 - I was elated when the answer was yes, and it was one of the best one week TDYs I ever spent. There was never a doubt the articles I wrote were the most positive ever submitted to the paper by a division public affairs officer…and temporary ersatz Stripes reporter.
My journalism master's thesis at KU was about Stripes. A prior CGSC student had written a thesis about the WW I issues of Stripes, and mine was about the post-war Army of occupation issues. Which brings me to a correction of an error in the first issue in the Leavenworth Times.
On page 15 in a background piece it says Stripes was printed in WW I, but ceased printing at the war's end. Whoever wrote that never read my thesis about the more than 30 issues published during the Army of Occupation in Germany after the war.
I must confess that the current stateside Stripes, although much appreciated by this veteran Stripes watcher of many years, leaves much to be desired. But keep it coming. I'll try to adjust.
John Reichley is a retired Army officer and retired Department of the Army civilian employee.