Rural Missouri - April 2013 - (Page 44)

EXTRA Daily Newspaper of the U.S. Armed Forces in the European Theater of Operations EXTRA THE SOLDIER’S PAPER Museum returns Stars and Stripes to its roots in Bloomfield James Mayo holds a recent copy of the Stars and Stripes newspaper in the Stars and Stripes National Museum and Library. James and his wife, Sue, opened the museum in Bloomfield to showcase the history of the U.S. military’s independent news source. by Neal Fandek info@ruralmissouri.coop photos by Kyle Spradley Stars and Stripes National Museum and Library, located in Bloomfield. The GI newspaper began in the Bootheel in 1861, and today, the museum preserves historic editions, n July 1966, Gary Cooper is with photographs and hundreds of items a 12-man squad less than half a from America’s wars that chronicle the mile from the Cambodian border. history of the U.S. military’s indepenAs dawn approaches, the soldent news source. diers trudge back to base The museum is the brainthrough thick jungle after child of James Mayo, a former a long night watching for artillery forward spotter and Viet Cong. They don’t find any. history buff. While serving in Europe, Mayo was Suddenly, the squad leader surprised to find Stars throws up a hand. Everyone and Stripes originated freezes. He spots three Viet Bloomfield • in his hometown and Cong. But the enemy spots worked hard to make them, too, and they open up with AK-47s — a lot of AK-47s. a museum a reality. He and his wife, Sue, who also “It doesn’t take long to realize there serves as the organization’s librarare more than three,” Cooper would ian, gladly take visitors through the later write. “Many more.” museum to point out exhibits of The GIs dive for cover but there unusual interest, including a metalisn’t any — only 4-foot-tall elephant and-wood replica of the paper’s first grass. One man drops, a hole in his printing press. Also on display is an chest. Another slumps against a tree. original copy — not a replica — of He’s been shot in the head. The noise the first issue of Stars and Stripes. Only is deafening. two other copies are known to exist, “The Viet Cong, now maybe 50 or one in the collection of the Library of 60, have us surrounded,” wrote CooCongress and one housed at the Uniper. “They’re screaming and yelling, versity of Michigan. hoping to panic the squad. It sounds The paper did not have an auspilike a Western movie with Indians cious start. In November 1861, Fedwhooping.” eral soldiers from Illinois converged But this is no movie, and this Gary on rebellious Bloomfield and took it Cooper is no actor. without a shot. Some of the recruits Cooper, a Stars and Stripes photoimmediately began to loot the county journalist, drops his Nikomat camera, seat. “Women’s bonnets, girl’s hats, grabs an M-16 and shoots back. The, mallets, jars of medicine, flat irons, a notoriously finicky rifle jams. The nice side table and I don’t know what jungle turns dead quiet. wasn’t there,” Mayo quotes one sol“Suddenly it hits you. You’re fightdier as writing. ing for your life,” he adds. But another group of soldiers Cooper’s terrifying tale is one of found something much more interestmany that visitors will find inside the I 44 ing — the intact printing press of the Bloomfield Herald, abandoned when its publisher skedaddled with the proConfederate Missouri State Guard. These soldiers took it upon themselves to produce a newspaper. The Stars and Stripes appeared the next day as a morale booster, its subhead reading, “THE UNION. IT MUST AND SHALL BE PRESERVED.” But the newspaper also provided a hard, honest look at the terrible conditions soldiers faced in the then pestilent-laden swamps of Stoddard County and what to do about them. The first edition had the kind of clear-eyed appraisal that has since characterized the paper. It included a review of new “two-horse wagons,” plus a roster of the two early companies of Stoddard County’s State Guardsmen the Federal soldiers faced. During the Civil War, the military Stars and Stripes was published in only a few areas of the trans-Mississippi West, and it was discontinued with peace. When World War I broke out a half-century later, Missouri-born Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing revived the broadsheet as a news source. American forces were dispersed throughout the Western Front, often mixed at the unit level with British, French and Italian forces. The mission of Stars and Stripes was to provide these scattered troops with a sense of unity and an understanding of their part in the overall war effort. The eight-page weekly featured news from home, sports, poetry and cartoons. The staff used a network of trains, automobiles and motorcycles to deliver the news to the doughboys. One Stars and Stripes issue probably went further than Pershing wished. Headlined, “Uncensored RAW WAR in Pictures,” it featured photos of the effects of poison gas. This tradition of telling it like it is was continued into World War II, when the paper became a daily, printed in dozens of editions in Europe, the Pacific, North Africa and other operating theaters. Bill Mauldin’s grubby “Willy and Joe” cartoons, several of which are on display, feature those weary, disheveled “dogfaces” fighting the stupidity of brass as much as Axis forces. On display at the museum, you’ll find Stars and Stripes front pages that record momentous events in U.S. and world history. Among them are a 1945 edition that reads, in giant type, “HITLER DEAD” and a 2011 edition that simply reads “AT LAST,” detailing the death of Osama bin Laden. The museum also contains photos first published in the paper, including those taken by Cooper and several World War II photographers. Some of these shots have become part of our collective memory — GIs huddled in a Battle of the Bulge bunker, mammoth German guns overlooking Omaha Beach after D-Day, GIs teaching German kids how to play baseball. That’s really what makes the museum unique, says Mayo. “It carries the history of the whole country. What makes Stars and Stripes so special is that it isn’t the generals’ history but that of common soldiers.” The Stars and Stripes National Museum and Library is located at 17377 Stars and Stripes Way and is open weekdays, except Tuesday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are accepted. For more information, visit www.starsandstripesmuseumlibrary.org or call 573-568-2055. Fandek is a freelance writer from Columbia. A collection of uniforms worn by U.S. Armed Forces during World War II is one of many pieces of military history featured at the museum in Bloomfield. WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://www.starsandstripesmuseumlibrary.org http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - April 2013

Rural Missouri - April 2013
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Companion planting
News Briefs
Operation cooperation
Outdoors
It’s all about redemption
Best of rural Missouri
Hearth and Home
Marmaduke’s Cape expedition
Around Missouri
Marketplace
The soldier’s paper
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - April 2013

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