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This may be hard for some of you to imagine, but once upon a time, there was no internet.

<gasp!>

I know! Crazy, right?

Now imagine being far from home – away from your family and friends – and potentially in a dangerous place. Are you homesick?

But… there’s something there that can link you to the people you left behind. Something that covers the issues that are important to you – a newspaper published just for you!

puppy sits next to typewriter with Stars and Stripes painted on the side
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This adorable puppy, Scoop, was the mascot of the Korean office of the Stars and Stripes newspaper.

What is the Stars and Stripes?

The Stars and Stripes is a soldier’s newspaper, by soldiers. It is printed daily and covers issues important to the US military and its members, with a focus on those serving overseas.

Though paid for in part by the Department of Defense, Stars and Stripes maintains complete editorial independence.

Army radio operator in Korea eats while reading Stars and Stripes newspaper
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Pfc. Clarence Whitmore, voice radio operator, 24th Infantry Regiment, reads the latest news while enjoying chow during a lull in battle, near Sangju, Korea. August 9, 1950.
4 US military police officers sit on jeep while reading about Nazi surrender in Stars and Stripes newspaper
4 US MPs reading about the German surrender in the Stars and Stripes newspaper

When was the first edition of Stars and Stripes printed?

A single paper was printed on November 9, 1861, in Bloomfield, Missouri, by four enlisted Union soldiers. Even though this was just a single incident, it established an enduring tradition of a military-specific newspaper. Three other separate, unrelated newspaper single editions were printed during the Civil War, all created by soldiers.

front page of the Stars and Stripes newspaper from April 1945
This front page of the Stars and Stripes gives a taste of what sorts of news is printed in the paper.

In World War I, the Stars and Stripes newspaper (which continues today) was officially established by the US government. The first printing was done in Paris.

This short film from 1960 tells the Story of the Stars and Stripes newspaper.

How does the Stars and Stripes get to the front lines?

There is an online edition of the paper but there are a lot of places where American soldiers are serving that don’t have internet access. The paper is printed daily and delivered to combat zones, traveling via road and air. This Stars and Stripes documentary is aptly titled The World’s Most Dangerous Paper Route.

American Marines on a break from battle receive a copy of Stars and Stripes Newspaper
Central Command Area of Responsibility (Apr. 4, 2003) — Command Sgt. Maj. John Sparks delivers copies of Stars and Stripes to U.S. Marines from Weapons Platoon, 3-2 India Company. The Marines are part of Task Force Tarawa, deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Marine Corps photo by 1st Sgt. David K. Dismukes. (RELEASED)

An interview with documentary filmmaker, Steven C. Barber

Enjoy this 2018 interview from a local radio station, WTOP, with the creator of The World’s Most Dangerous Paper Route.

Watch The World’s Most Dangerous Paper Route

Watch the full documentary to get a better sense of what’s involved in delivering the paper and the significant impact its existence has on America’s dedicated military forces.

Visit the Stars and Stripes Museum

The Stars and Stripes Museum and Library is located in Bloomfield, Missouri, where the first-ever issue was printed during the Civil War.

This video tells the history of the museum.

Thanks to all the military photo-journalists that capture daily life in the service and share it for the world to see! The Day in the Life edition of All Hands Magazine was always one of my favorites when I was on active duty.

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A Newspaper of Their Own – The Stars and Stripes and The World’s Most Dangerous Paper Route via @behindeveryday
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