The Pacific HBO Series: Part 1 and 2Waring Hills Mar 25, 2010
The new HBO 10 part miniseries on The Pacific has been out for two weeks now with Parts 1 and 2 showing the last two Sundays. The story of our Pacific War is seen through the eyes of three young Marines: Robert Leckie, John Basilone and Eugene Sledge. The series incorporates historical backgrounds of the war, but does not seek to show a broad themed coverage of the war in the Pacific, which was mainly fought by our naval forces. Instead, so far the miniseries has shown a personal view of the war through the young eyes of those fighting a war that they never could have imagined. Far from home and against a determined enemy who fights much differently than the enemy in Europe, these young Marines must face the terrors of war and somehow survive them in order to come home.
Part 1: With the advent of war after Pearl Harbor, we see a nation turned upside down and young men flock to recruiting stations to sign up for duty, while anxious mothers and fathers wonder if their boys are going to go and even more, if they are going to return from the war. Robert Leckie mentions to his neighbor Vera Keller that he has joined the Marines, and oh by the way, would she mind if he wrote her letters…John Basilone enjoys Christmas with his Marine buddies and they celebrate with their families and joke about being back home for next Christmas…Eugene Sledge is prevented from joining the Marines by a heart murmur and is devastated as he watches his best friend Sid Phillips and others leave to fight a war without him. Part 1 does a great job of portraying that young men never know that the great adventure they are looking forward to is a dangerous and ugly life that will change them forever if they make it home again…As another American war veteran remembered, “It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it.” Robert E. Lee
The end of part 1 shows the Marines landing unopposed on the island of Guadalcanal. The Marines are left alone as the Navy is forced to withdraw by superior naval forces…they have not been able to unload all their equipment or supplies and are now subject to nightly attacks by Japanese warships…Alone on a jungle island with incredible heat, humidity, the smells of war and a dangerous and determined enemy hiding in the jungle preparing to attack…
Part 2 begins with Robert Leckie writing home, “Dear Vera, We’ve been swallowed by the jungle and there are 5000 Japs waiting to kill us…” The Marines successfully hold the island and Henderson airfield against the uncoordinated Japanese attacks, but the cost is born by these young Marines who see their buddies die, in lots of bad ways. John Basilone is put in for a Medal of Honor for his heroism in fighting the enemy, but he loses his buddy Mandy Rodriguez in the battle.
Back in Alabama, Eugene Sledge’s persistence leads to his father giving him permission to enlist in the Marines. His father’s reluctance is not only for health reasons, but his own service as a doctor in World War I France where he saw firsthand the impact of war on young men. Eugene leaves like the other American’s before him, not knowing the darkness he is about to enter and leaves his youth behind…
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