Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on August 27, 1972 · Page 125
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 125

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 27, 1972
Page 125
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Page 125 article text (OCR)

Help Your Postal Service is handling 5 million more letters everyday than last year. To keep this volume of mail moving, to keep your letters from getting bogged down, we need your help. Write legibly- and use Zip Code. You'll find the correct Zips for your area in your phone book. For out-of-town Zips, simply call your Post Office. Help us help you. UseZipCode. \burPbstalService1 Space for this advertisement has been contributed as a Public Service by this magazine. 20 /oe Maggio, now an author, spent many years as a hired soldier. He says that the quality of the mercenary today isn't as high as it used to be. SNRROfFMR T he trade of a mercenary--a hired soldier--isn't what it used to be, according to Joe Maggio. Mr. Maggio, who's been out of the business more than seven years (ever since the war in the Congo between Joseph Mobuto and Moise Tshombe), says pessimistically that there doesn't seem to be much call nowadays for soldiers of fortune. "Back in the Congo days you could walk into the Memling Hotel or the Purple Cow Bar in Leopoldville and wind up with a well-paying fighting job," says Joe with a trace of nostalgia. "Today it's gotten much tougher." Maggio says he has done most of his own free-lance fighting on behalf of the CIA which, he claims, has freely employed mercenaries in the past. Working on contract as a CIA "adviser," he has seen service in the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, in Laos, Thailand and elsewhere. He has just written a novel based on his experiences called Company Man, published by Putnam. The title alludes to the CIA which, Maggio says, is known among mercenaries as "The Company." Maggio got his credentials for mercenary work, by serving a three-year hitch in the Marines after dropping out of military college. "People become mercenaries for two reasons," he explains. "Either they're attracted by the romance of the idea, or they're trying to get away from something. With me it was the romance. I thought the most adventurous life possible was that of a soldier of fortune." Photo of a soldier of fortune: Maggio ready for jump into Vietnam in 1963. Maggio claims that he doesn't share the feeling of many mercenaries that it doesn't matter whom you're fighting for as long as the pay is good. "Some mercenaries have a mentality that says: 'For $500 I'll kill this guy.' I never felt like that. My idea was to be on the right side. Like in the Bay of Pigs, we thought. we were right. We also never doubted that we'd win, with the whole weight of the U.S. supposedly behind us." Maggio, a 34-year-old native of Atlantic City, N.J., who now makes his home on a schooner in Nassau, says that the best mercenary force in the world still is the fabled French Foreign Legion, which numbers around 8000 men and is stationed mostly in Southern France. Belgians and Scotsmen, he claims, make particularly good mercenaries. Pay is good For most mercenaries, he admits, the big attraction still is the money. "A freelance infantryman makes up to $1200 a month," he says, "and a pilot as much as $2600. That's tax-free, of course-you don't get W-2 forms when you're a mercenary. And you also keep all you can steal." Maggio says that the quality of mercenaries isn't as high as it used to be. "There were about 3000 soldiers and 500 officers in the Congo," he recalls. "The officers were pretty good material but there were plenty of alcoholics, deviates and bums among the troops. I saw some guys there that were in the Bay of Pigs operation, too." Maggio ascribes the current lack of mercenary opportunities to a UN crackdown on hired armies following events in the Congo. But despite the present lack of openings, Maggio says there still are plenty of would-be mercenaries ready for action. However, lie can't recommend it as a likely career, especially for youngsters-ready to run away from home in search of adventure. Experience necessary "You really have to have a good background as a soldier and the papers to prove it," he says. "There's an office in Paris that keeps a kind of register of available mercenaries. I don't know just where it's located right now, but if I went over there to the neighborhood of the Boulevard St.-Michel and the Rue St.-Jacques I could find it in no time. You can go there and apply, but they want credentials on your military record--they're interested only in true professionals. If they do get you a job, they keep 30 percent of your pay for six months. "But there just doesn't seem to be any market for mercenaries any more. The profession is dying out. I can see why, but it's too bad for a lot of guys who were men left behind by time and could only find themselves in this kind of life.l know that there are lots of people who'll say 'good riddance/ but for me there's a kind of sadness in it, too." H.K. PARADE · AUGUST 27, 1972

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