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Seamans: Mauldin Stamp

03/31/10 7:55AM By Bill Seamans
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(HOST) Commentator Bill Seamans may have to start collecting stamps - in honor of two old buddies named Willie and Joe.

(SEAMANS) I was absolutely delighted to hear that the Post Office Department is putting out a new stamp memorializing of one of my greatest heroes. 

He is Bill Mauldin, the cartoonist who created Willie and Joe, the famous infantry grunts of World War Two - who dwelled in foxholes in ripped and torn uniforms wallowing in rain and mud, boots wrapped in rags to try to keep feet warm, unshaven faces brightened only by their gallows humor, their gripes, their dislike of higher ranking privileges, and above all their morale-boosting fortitude that helped hold the Army together during its darkest days.

My shelves are weighed down with favorite books, but the collection of Mauldin's cartoons, "Up Front with Willie and Joe," ranks above all as a very special book because it carries the memories of surviving World War Two infantry veterans - now in our rapidly fading eighties

Who of us can forget Willie telling a medic - "Just gimme a coupla aspirins.  I already got a Purple Heart." 

And the Generals admiring a mountain scene as one asks, "Beautiful view. Is there one for the enlisted men?"   

Joe warns, "Tell them Kraut prisoners to ack sloppier in front of the lootenant. He might start gettin ideas." 

And one of my favorites, a young Lieutenant, heavily bearded and slovenly, playing cards with Willie and Joe in a bunker, a crooked cigarette dangling from his lips and bottles of cognac nearby. Willie asks: "By the way, sir - what wuz them changes you wuz gonna make when you took over last month?" 

A young GI tells Joe, "This is the town my pappy told me about" - and we note that some of the locals just happen to bear a family resemblance. 

And we sadly sigh as a sergeant, hand covering his tearful eyes, shoots his beloved Jeep in hood because one of its front wheels is terminally broken.  

A thirsty Willie and Joe about to ambush a German carrying a precious breakable bottle of Cognac: "Don't startle him, Joe.  It's almost full!"  And there are many more

Willie and Joe reached our troops in the Army newspaper "Stars and Stripes" that found them where-ever they were.   I've often wondered whether they later joined our troops in Korea, Vietnam, and now share the infantry's misery in Afghanistan.  Do Willie and Joe still draw a morale-boosting laugh or are they now shaven clean and wearing the new camos of the day - dirty only when they get back to their base after a difficult patrol.

I hope that Willie and Joe today are still a part of the Army's fighting soul as they were back in World War Two.  And as for the new Bill Mauldin stamp, I hope that not too many of today's young GI's ask, "Who is that?"
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