Celebrate with us: 75 years of Stars and Stripes

Photo courtesy of Stripes archives
Photo courtesy of Stripes archives
Photo courtesy of Stripes archives
Photo courtesy of Stripes archives

Celebrate with us: 75 years of Stars and Stripes

by: Staff | .
Stripes Europe | .
published: April 14, 2017

In 2017, Stars and Stripes commemorates 75 years of continuous operations of the U.S. military and Stars and Stripes Europe. To celebrate this milestone anniversary, several community events will take place Saturday, May 20th on Armed Forces Day. Military ID card holders are invited to participate in the 7.5K run/walk and news panel taking place in the Ramstein community. Be sure to reserve your seat at the news panel by April 30, and keep checking back for more information about the run.

“We want to provide our longtime loyal readers and those who just discovered our news products the opportunity to celebrate with us – it’s bound to be a lot of fun and enjoyable for everyone,” said Marketing Manager Cheryl Boujnida.

Stars and Stripes Europe history

The first edition of Stars and Stripes, published on April 18, 1942, featured an interview with Gen. George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff. Marshall quoted Gen. John J. Pershing, World War I American Expeditionary Force (AEF) commander, who believed that Stripes had been a major factor in sustaining service member morale.

"We have his (Pershing's) authority for the statement that no official control was ever exercised over the matter which went into Stars and Stripes," Marshall said. "It always was entirely for and by the soldier. This policy is to govern the conduct of the new publication." Putting out the newspaper in the midst of bombs and battles was no small feat and staffers were always on the move, setting up shop as close to the front as possible. The product of their efforts was in demand and circulation eventually reached over 1.2 million.

Stars and Stripes also found a special champion and protector in Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander. Eisenhower enforced a hands-off policy regarding Stars and Stripes, routinely defending the paper against whatever complaints and protest ensued. World War II ended, but the command wasn't ready to dismantle the newspaper. In the end, Stars and Stripes was instructed to continue publishing as long as U.S. troops remained abroad. As wartime military staff began returning to the States, the newspaper began replacing them with a full-time civilian staff of professional journalists and newspaper business people, augmented by a small contingent of military journalists and managers. Stripes reporters and photographers joined American troops in the field throughout the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. During the 1990s (Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Provide Comfort), Stripes’ dedicated staff of journalists and business specialists showed their camaraderie and support. The paper established a Middle East bureau for reporting on the war, and circulation of Stars and Stripes nearly doubled within weeks. When American troops deployed to Bosnia in 1995, Stars and Stripes was there to greet them. While delivering 12,000 papers to Bosnia, Stars and Stripes covered the civilians, service members, families, and communities supporting deployed personnel as well as actions in the Bosnian region.

Stars and Stripes Europe today

Many changes have occurred since 1942—but the mission of providing independent news and information to the military community continues to be the primary purpose. Considered to be the “hometown newspaper” for service members, government civilians and their families stationed overseas, Stripes provides news and information of interest and value about issues in service members’ host countries, local communities and commands and has one of the widest distribution ranges of any newspaper in the world; it covers over 40 countries where there are U.S. bases, posts, service members, ships, or embassies.

From the very outset of the war in Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), Stripes journalists were there to report first-hand. Initially printed in Europe and shipped in, by November 2004 print operations were set up in Kabul so Stripes could assure that forces received their newspapers more quickly and reliably. During the war in Iraq (Operation Iraqi Freedom), Stripes reporters have embedded with military units, as well as on Navy ships in the region. Staffers continue to report from Iraq. Today the Mideast edition that serves forces in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Iraq and other countries in the region delivers about 52,000 copies per day throughout the war zones, which is distributed at no cost to our service members in contingency areas. The European edition differs from the Pacific editions substantially in order to better serve our readers in each theater. We publish wherever our troops go, so where we set up operations always depends on the deployment plans of the military. Currently, we publish different editions for Europe, Japan, Korea, and the Middle East. In May 2004 Stars and Stripes began offering its newspaper in a digital edition, available at stripes.com to anyone in the world with access to the Internet. Today all daily editions are available as PDF downloads at no cost. Stripes.com also provides a broad range of local information to the overseas military community including travel, entertainment listings, and a free photo share service, in addition to useful services such as free classified advertising. On any given day, the total average daily audience for Stars and Stripes is about 500,000.

“Stars and Stripes mission is to provide members of the military community independent content delivered how and when desired using best business practices,” said Publisher Max D. Lederer Jr.

Tags: Stars and Stripes, 75th anniversary, newspaper, US military
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