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Soldier Leads the Way by Putting Best Foot Forward

March 14, 1986|JENNINGS PARROTT

--Pvt. Allen Pepke, who as a civilian hiked more than 500 miles to disprove Army doctors who twice rejected him for bad feet, was graduated from basic training with a perfect test score. Pepke, 19, whose family traveled from New Haven., Mich., for the ceremony, was graduated after two months of basic combat training at Ft. Knox, Ky. He won a rifle sharpshooter badge and scored 100% on a final course exam. He leaves for Ft. Rucker, Ala., today for advanced training in helicopter maintenance. Pepke was twice rejected by Army doctors who said his feet couldn't tolerate long marches in combat boots because of a skin ailment. He set out last Oct. 13 on a 600-mile walk to the White House to appeal to President Reagan. Thirteen days later, and about 90 miles short of the White House, the Army relented, based on the results of another physical.

--Dissident physicist Andrei D. Sakharov fell on the ice and has been confined for much of the winter to his apartment in Gorky, where he lives in internal exile, Soviet sources said. Sakharov, 64, reportedly injured several ribs in the fall and, as a result, has suffered from coughing spells. The sources said that he had to stay alone in his apartment for most of January and February. He has improved, the sources said, and recently was allowed a visit by his daughter and granddaughter, who live in Moscow. It was described as the first such visit in two years. Sakharov's wife Yelena Bonner, is in Massachusetts recovering from heart surgery.

--The biggest fuss in Punxatawney, Pa., is usually the yearly weather forecast given by a groundhog named Phil. But this time, Principal Gary Stonbraker has the town in an upheaval. He has raised a storm of parental protest over his toy ban at elementary schools. "Education is more important than Cabbage Patch dolls," said Stonbraker, who issued the edict Feb. 19 in a memo to teachers of 2,000 students at 10 elementary schools he heads. "You have some kids who are lucky to have a warm meal every day and then to see $50 and $60 toys waved under their noses, that's not right," Stonbraker said in a telephone interview. "The straw that broke the camel's back was class disruption," Stonbraker added. "If I'm a teacher conducting a math class, I don't want someone coming to the door to see if someone lost a wheel off a GI Joe toy." School Board President Robert Stein promised to study the matter.

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