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January 2019, vol 14 no 4

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Bill Waters

Growing Up with G.I. Joe

In the 1960s, G.I. Joe was a proxy for the me I wished to be. Physically fit, self-reliant, and battle-tested (that facial scar!), he was armed and ready to defend American ideals. Loaded like a pack mule with equipment and supplies, Joe had all he needed to deal with enemies of any sort.

For me, G.I. Joe was not a figure of aggression. Like America itself (the romanticized version), he was as ready to extend a hand in friendship as he was to throw a punch in self-defense. He was part adventurer, part warrior, and part superhero – all that I was not.

Maybe I was too “into” G.I. Joe; I don’t know. But I was just a kid, and Joe – one of the true good guys in a boy’s life – helped me feel better about myself.

“it’s not a doll!”
ready for anything
his action figure


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