Opinion » Heck

War is Heck



I was helping my grandfather clean his art studio last Tuesday, when I discovered a stack of old World War II-era military newspapers--specifically, Boise's own Gowen Field Beacon. Ever since the time I pulled up the linoleum in an old house and discovered an issue of the Idaho Press-Tribune with the headlines, "Johnson Predicts Vietnam Will Be Minor Conflict" and "Study: Beating Your Wife Can Save Your Marriage!" I'll put aside whatever I'm doing to pore over old tabloids. Needless to say, the studio still isn't safe for visitors, and I'm still lost in 1943. So, rather than pretend I want to talk about the depressing present, let's review the headlines from Idaho's war-torn past.

The big news on July 3 was that several officers and soldiers had gotten in trouble for sewing creases into their shirts and pants, believing it to be army regulation. Actor-slash-soldier boy Jimmy Stewart had been spotted getting, er, "chewed out" by a Seargent backstage at the Gowen Follies. The Coke machine that had been providing officers with free soda had been fixed. A few soldiers had graciously agreed to help get rid of Boise's "pestiferous jack rabbits" by "sniping" them. And the biggest story of all ... A gunner on a B-17 bomber attributed his ability to survive combat to the lucky skull that he had stolen from a graveyard in Palestine. "'John Doe' was promoted to staff sergeant and taken along as mascot on the plane 'Raunchy,'" reported the paper. "From his position above the bomb bay he watched the bombs rain terror on Axis towns, seaports and convoys in the Mediterranean."

Think about that image for a moment. Get all deep and pretend it's some mythological precursor of contemporary Palestinian-U.S. relations. Isn't that cool? If that's the kind of stuff they write about in the military, I'm going to hitch up with Stars and Stripes.

--Nicholas Collias



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