A Stodghill Says So blog:
I've been too busy to blog the past few days. Then I got thinking again about being at Fort benning in 1952 and that took time. For six weeks I rented an apartment a block from downtown Columbus, Georgia. It was a bustling business district and just a short walk from the baseball stadium.
I had the apartment about a week when Fleming and Goulding cornered me and asked if a package had arrived there for them. Why, I wanted to know, would a package for them be delivered to my apartment in town?
"It would be safer," said Fleming. I didn't bother to ask more.
Every day they asked about it and every day I'd tell them no. Then it came, a two-foot cube in plain brown paper. I lugged it onto the camp bus. They were elated.
That night I stayed in camp and was in the sack by 9 p.m. I was on the verge of dozing off when Fleming came running up saying, "Stodgy, Stodgy, pretend you're asleep." I told him I would have been if he'd kept quiet.
Several minutes went by, then there was an explosion in the latrine at the far end of the barrack. I laid there until it dawned on me that anyone in his bunk would be looked upon with suspicion. Everyone but Fleming and Goulding was in the latrine, where all the porcelain had been blown off the shower room walls. The package delivered to my address had contained cherry bombs and M-1 firecrackers, the big kind.
One day as we headed out to the field, Goulding was carrying a metal tube and Fleming a Coke bottle. At lunchtime, when we went off by ourselves to eat our sandwiches and drink our beer, I saw that the tube was to be a mortar and the bottle was a shell. As they gleefully went to work, I sat looking out over a broad field about fifty yards below our level. In the distance a platoon was seated in a semi-circle while an officer delivered a lecture.
At the sound of a cherry bomb exploding, I turned and saw the Coke bottle flying away in the air. As it began its descent it became obvious the officer and his men were at ground zero. It hit about six feet to the officer's left. Men were leaping up, shouting and point. The mortar was left behind as Fleming, Goulding and I ran back to be hidden among the other men in our company.
Later I delivered a stern admonition. Someone might have been killed. They were having too much fun to listen. I spent many uneasy hours wondering if that package could be traced back to me. Had it been, my friends would have expected me to take full credit for the explosions occurring around Fort Benning. For them, that would have been safer.