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September 14, 2004

Thoughts on war coverage

Mail that arrived the other day included a piece that I always look forward to with interest because without fail it brings news of some people and places that I have not seen or heard about in years. It is the bimonthly newsletter issued by the European-Pacific Stars and Stripes Association. It is the remnant of some pretty good newspapermen and women who labored in combat zones during World War II. I am proud to have served on the edition that was printed for soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen in the mid-Pacific area. Our home base was on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, but most of our reporters and photographers were on the front lines on Guam, Saipan, Wake Island, Iwo Jima and the other assortment of Pacific Isles where Americans tangled with the Japanese in World War II.

After the Nipponese government capitulated to the U.S., another edition was originated in Tokyo, and it is surprising how many of the Stars & Stripes GIs found their life partners among the many Japanese women who staffed the Tokyo edition. They are among the most faithful members of this association.

Most of my friends on the Mid-Pacific edition are too old to attend the annual reunions, and many of them have gone on to that big press room in the sky, but it's nice to see the occasional mention of people I once knew. One of the stories in the newsletter had to do with a federal grant of $248,000 that has just been awarded the S&S museum and library in Bloomfield, MO. That is where the paper originated during the Civil War. Many World War II veterans, including your correspondent, have never visited the museum, but I have some things that are destined for that location. That includes complete bound volumes of the mid-Pacific edition. The pages already are becoming almost too fragile to handle. At the museum they will be microfilmed and there will be no further signs of aging in those files.

You might want to look up Bloomfield on the map and plan a vacation in that area some day. That is what we are going to do. The museum and library are becoming huge attractions to Bloomfield, and as their collection grows so will the public's curiosity. Think about it, and do plan a trip.