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Carnett: Remembering the venerable Stars and Stripes

December 23, 2013|By Jim Carnett

I don't suppose one can expect Stars and Stripes forever.

I refer not to Old Glory, America's cherished red, white and blue national symbol, but Stars and Stripes, the ubiquitous and venerated daily newspaper published for eons by the U.S. military. According to recent reports, it may be on the chopping block.

If that's the case, it's a calamity of significant proportions.

Once, long ago, I proudly wrote for that august newspaper.

Soldiers, sailors, Marines and Air Force personnel stationed around the globe have depended on that publication for decades for their daily ration of news and opinion. It's been around since the Civil War, and has been published continuously since World War II.

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I was a Stars and Stripes stringer in 1965 and '66 while a public information specialist with the U.S. Army in Korea. I was located in Seoul, and the Pacific edition of the newspaper was published out of Tokyo. We regularly "TWXed" (sent by Teletype) stories and information to the Tokyo bureau, 700 miles to our east.

I don't recall if I ever actually landed a byline in the printed publication or not, but I had some news items published.

As a cost-cutting measure, the Department of Defense — which contributes $7.4 million annually toward the subsidization of Stars and Stripes — announced that it is mulling over the paper's possible demise. The DOD is looking at a number of other cost-cutting measures as well.

Stars and Stripes' first edition was produced in 1861 by Union troops, according to the publication's website. The soldiers utilized the facilities of a captured newspaper plant in Bloomfield, Mo. A Paris edition of Stars and Stripes — targeted for America's World War I Expeditionary Force under the command of Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing — emerged in early 1918.

During World War II, Stars and Stripes was published from 25 different locations in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific.

Today, almost exclusively, civilians produce Stars and Stripes. Back in my day, a substantial segment of the staff was U.S. military personnel.

I joined the Army in February 1964 and attended the eight-week U.S. Army Information School at Fort Slocum, N.Y. I was trained to be a military correspondent or public relations specialist.

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