Wealthy Draftee Becomes
Confused Saluting Captain
 In U.S.A.
September 11, 1944
Ernie Pyle
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 town.

One has to do with a new contingent of draftees, among whom there happened to be several lawyers.

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 hitchhikers.

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 panhandlers.

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


--Ernie Pyle

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