This is the second of a series of reprints from Ernie Pyle past writings, in
which the development of the "mutual society" between Ernie and GI Joe will be
traced. Ernie is currently on leave for a rest.
SAN DIEGO: I've heard a couple of funny soldier stories in this soldier-sailor
One has to do with a new contingent of draftees, among whom there happened to be
The lawyers, after getting onto the ways of the Army, began giving the oldtime
noncoms money to go out and get them extra things to eat and drink.
But the oldtimers pulled a fast one on them ‹ they'd take the money and never
bring anything back. And they figured the newcomers would be afraid to squawk.
Well, the lawyer-soldiers didn't squawk. But they got together one evening,
talked the situation over and then called their cheating superiors before them.
They read them the Constitution, the Army regulations, and certain sections of
California law dealing with larceny and embezzlement. Then they summed up the
case in good courtroom fashion. Before it was over they had the perplexed noncoms
looking right through the penitentiary gate.
So now the "wise" noncoms are running errands for the lawyers wlth no pay at all.
The commissioned officers have heard about it, but they're just puttlng their
tongues in their cheeks and grinning.
THE OTHER one had to do with a draftee from a wealthy family, who was on sentry
duty in a San Diego office building taken over by the Army.
One day he hired another soldier to go to a restaurant and get him some
sandwiches in a paper bag. He had just received them, and had them in his right
hand, when a captain walked through the lobby. The soldier quickly stuck the bag
behind him, fumbled with his rifle, and saluted snappily with his left hand.
"How long have you been in the Army?" the startled captain asked.
"Five months," said the soldier. "but I was drafted." (I don't know what that has
to do with the story, but that's what the soldier said.)
"You certainly know after five months how to salute," said the captain. "Now
salute me properly."
Whereupon the befuddled soldier shifted his rifle to his left hand, handed the
captain the sack of sandwiches, saluted correctly with his right hand, and then
reached out and relieved the captain of his burden.
The captain sensing the futility of it all, just let the matter drop.
RIVERSIDE, CAL.: On the way out from Los Angeles I picked up a couple of soldier
They turned out to be midwestern boys, university graduates, who had enlisted
before the draft could get them. They had been to Los Angeles on overnight leave.
They went hoping they could find a nice place to dance but they never did, and
they were disappointed.
"We weren't looking for society girls, nor the other kind either," one of them
said. "We just like to dance, and we thought maybe we could meet a couple of nice
girls who work in stores or as secretaries."
But they didn't. They tried two or three taxi-dance places, but didn't like the
types of girls. They wound up at a place which said, "Reduced Rates for Men in
Uniform." A dark stairs led up to a sad little bar in a gloomy room. One lone
sailor was sitting at the bar, half asleep, and looking very lonesome among the
girls of the place. So the boys gave up and started back to camp.
THEY TOLD me a couple of things about the public. One was that in Los Angeles men
in uniform are constantly being stopped by nice old ladies who are grateful to
them for helping save the country. The old ladies don't want anything except just
to express their appreciation. The boys seemed quite touched by it.
The other was that panhandlers continually play the soldiers for handouts. This
burns the boys up. Making $21 a month, and then getting hit twice a block by
One of my soldiers said he gave one panhandler a little lecture on ethics. But it
didn't faze the panhandler. He gave the soldier a cussing.
THESE TWO boys are probably typical of thousands of youngsters in the Army now.
They are well educated, obviously from gaod families, and intelligent. And they
find Army life tough, from the mental standpoint.
Some of the old-timers seem to take special delight in browbeating anybody who
has been to college. The boys can take it ‹ but it dulls the keen edge of their
euthusiasm for giving all they've got to man-to-man decency.
And yet, they think America is in the mess it's in now because we got too soft.
Nobody wants to work hard, everybody's looking out for himself, nobody wants to
give up his comforts. One of the boys said:
"And another thing. People think too much about sex in this country. That's what
caused France to