When an M.P. stationed outside Baghdad got scammed in the War Zone who did he call?
WPIX New York consumer reporter Howard Thompson.
In the fine tradition of M*A*S*H's Radar O'Reilly, J.J. Sefton (Stalag 17), this editor's father*, and other wartime scroungers, Master Sergeant Rich Reddell and members of his unit (the 306th Military Police Battalion out of Uniondale, N.Y.), had "captured" a war-torn pool table and were trying to nurse it back to health with some billiard supplies ordered over auction site ebay.com.
When the online vendor took the GI's hard-won cash and failed to deliver the goods, Reddell contacted Thompson, who is working on tracking down the online scammer. “There is low and there is low," he says. "But scamming American servicemen who are risking their lives for their country is a new low.”
But Howard and WPIX weren't waiting around for the ebay lowlife to make good. Seeing an opportunity to help out soldiers, not to mention get the kind of press it is getting here, the station arranged for Blatt Billiards (809 Broadway, by the way, and check out the "Park Avenue" polished stainless steel model) to donate American Flag-themed felt, cues, balls, a rack, books, and chalk (the whole nine yards, or "feet" if we're talking full-sized table), with DHL delivering the much-needed supplies free of charge last week.
The July 4-themed show will actually air in the July 5 10 p.m. news, when the "Help Me, Howard" feature usually runs. That will also give the station another day to get photos of the delivery, though it will run the story with or without the pictures. Plus, Howard will likely have a larger audience on Tuesday than during prime fireworks time Monday night.
*Radio man Al Eggerton once secured enough coffee somewhere in the Philippines for an entire batallion, with an old Jeep figuring into the equation.