The Pacific Miniseries on HBO: Parts 7 and 8

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Sledge and his Marine buddies fight their way through the Umurbrogol Hills at Peleliu.

Part Seven: Eugene Sledge and his Marine buddies continue to fight the Japanese on Peleliu. The fighting gets increasingly nasty among the Japanese controlled Umurbrogol Hills bristling with numerous caves and pillboxes. Their beloved skipper, Captain Jones, is shot down… and then shot and killed as he is carried in a stretcher by Sledge and Snafu…the Marines openly weep at the loss. After a month of endless fighting, Sledge and his buddies are relieved and sent to the island of Pavuvu to rest and recover…

Replacements march by Sledge and his buddies as they exit the Umurbrogol Hills on Peleliu.

Back in the States, Sgt. Basilone continues his war bond drive, but feels increasingly guilty and yearns to return to his Marines and the fight…

Part Eight: Sledge and his buddies are trying to get mind and body back to something near normal on Pavuvu, but it is a long road ahead for these young Marines traumatized by combat. While dealing with his memories, Sledge remembers something that his father told him before he left Alabama for the war (His father had been an Army doctor in France during World War I).  “Son, the worse thing about treating those combat veterans of war was not that they had their flesh torn, it was that they had had their souls torn out…”

Back in the States, Sgt. Basilone is successful in returning to the Marines, first at Camp Pendleton as an instructor and then restored to a combat unit assaulting Iwo Jima. Tragically, he is killed in combat on the first day of the battle. The battle for Iwo Jima marked a milestone in the Pacific War, over 6000 Marines were killed here and over 20,000 total casualties (almost a third of all Marine deaths and the first time American’s suffered more casualties than the enemy).

General Tadamichi Kuribayashi

The Japanese general at Iwo Jima was General Tadamichi Kuribayashi. He had spent time in America and thought that the Japanese should never fight America…but ended up fighting as the professional he was…his tactics were not supported by the Japanese high command, yet he ended up as our most dangerous enemy in the Pacific…after the battle of Iwo Jima, Marine General Holland Smith stated, “Of all our adversaries in the Pacific, Kuribayashi was the most redoubtable.” Another Marine remarked, “Let’s hope the Japs don’t have anymore like him.”

Read a review of the book on Kuribayashi’s letters home, So Sad to Fall in Battle, here…

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