The Pacific

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BWV 1080
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The Pacific

Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Mar 23, 2010 12:54 pm

anyone else watching it?

So far its at least the equal of Band of Brothers, so far has given a good look at the vicious struggle the USMC and Army units faced at Guadalcanal

my only WW2-geek quibble is that they did not show the 37MM AT guns at the Tenaru. They were a major reason for the victory, firing cannister rounds (like giant shotgun shells) into the charging Japanese

I had some fears that discomfort with the racism of the period and the internment of Japanese civilians might lead the producers to downplay the brutality of the Japanese army, but the first episode put that to rest when the marines discover the mutilated remains of some POWs

HoustonDavid
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Re: The Pacific

Post by HoustonDavid » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:22 pm

Steve:

I have been waiting to watch this for as long as I've known Spielburg and Hanks were working on it.
I have watched their "Band of Brothers" many times and am avidly interested in "The Pacific" as a
former Marine myself. Fortunately, I didn't have to crawl through the Guadalcanal jungles, or storm
the nearly impregnible defenses at Peleliu or Okinawa, as did the living, breathing heroes of this series.
There isn't a former Marine alive who went through boot camp and didn't learn about two Marine
immortals: Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller and Sergeant John Basilone. Most of them are probably interested
in watching "The Pacific", even if they have to wait for the DVD version. Any reader of Marine Corps
history would know about Robert Leckie's "Helmet for My Pillow" and Eugene Sledge's "With The Old Breed"
and "Goodbye Darkness", upon which this series is based.

The Battle for Guadalcanal is shown in the first two episodes, through the eyes of Sgt. Basilone, Pvt. Leckie,
and Lt. Col. Puller. As portrayed vividly in the second episode Sergeant John Basilone was a Marine machine
gunner attached to Col. Puller's battalion, and who, according to Wikipedia "received the Medal of Honor for
his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal… where he held off 3,000 Japanese troops after his 15-member unit
was reduced to two men. He was the only enlisted Marine in World War II to receive the Medal of Honor and
(later) the Navy Cross.

According to Wikipedia "Col. Puller earned his third Navy Cross for action that was later known as the "Battle
for Henderson Field", in which the (first battalion of the seventh regiment) 1/7 battalion was the only American
unit defending the airfield against a regiment-strength Japanese force. In a firefight on the night of October
24–25, 1942, lasting about three hours, 1/7 sustained 70 casualties; the Japanese force suffered over 1,400
killed in action, and the battalion held the airfield. While on Guadalcanal, Puller was shot by a sniper twice and
wounded by shrapnel in three different places; he was awarded the Purple Heart."

Not shown in the second episode, according to Wikipedia: " Soon after arriving on Guadalcanal, Col. Puller led
his battalion in a fierce action along the Matanikau, in which Puller's quick thinking saved three of his companies
from annihilation. In the action, three of Puller's companies were surrounded and cut off by a larger Japanese
force. Puller ran to the shore, signaled a United States Navy destroyer, and then directed the destroyer to provide
fire support while landing craft rescued his Marines from their precarious position, actions that earned his Bronze Star.

Also portrayed in the first and second episodes, was Pvt. Robert Leckie who was a scout and a machine gunner in
the 1st Marine Division and saw considerable action on Guadalcanal, including a particularly vivid and realistic Japanese
naval artillery attack shown in the second episode. All three men will be featured in most of the eight episodes remaining
which I am very much looking forward to. I will certainly be adding this series to my rather large DVD collection.
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

BWV 1080
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 10:05 pm

Re: The Pacific

Post by BWV 1080 » Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:52 pm

I was confused in the first episode & thought that Puller was Vandergriff who I think has not been seen in the series. Its also too bad, but understandable, that the Raider Battalion commanded by Merrit Edson was not featured in the show with the battle for Edson's ridge

With the Old Breed deserves its reputation as the best memoir from any war. Have not read Leckie's book

HoustonDavid
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Re: The Pacific

Post by HoustonDavid » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:04 pm

I went through Marine infantry training at Camp Pendleton in early 1960 and one of my instructors
was a Master Sergeant (don't remember his name) who was a member of Edson's Raiders on Guadalcanal,
and told stories of their behind-the-lines guerilla activities against the Japanese. Some great stuff
that will be lost as these old warriors finally go to stand guard at heaven's gates (the Marine Hymn).

The battle for Guadalcanal was directed successfully by General Vandergriff, who was also awarded
the Congressional Medal of Honor for that very difficult and complex but successful campaign. He
returned to Washington, D.C. to become the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Chesty Puller reached
the rank of Lieutenant General (three stars) before his retirement.

A great many Marines fondly remember his love of his men and the Corps, his often foul and salty
mouth, and his great combat leadership during both World War II, and the Korean campaign. It was
his salty language as much as anything that kept him from achieving that fourth star and the
Commandant's very important but highly political position.

Another battle (one of many others) that will not be shown in this series is the one for Tarawa,
assaulted by the Second Marine Division. I was fortunate enough to stand at inspection arms in front of
Lieutenant General David Shoup in San Diego's Marine Corps Recruit Depot in 1959. General Shoup was
inspecting Marine facilities in preparation for promotion to full General (four stars) as Commandant of the
Marine Corps the following year.

Then Colonel Shoup led the first regiment of Marines ashore on Betio atoll, at Tarawa. For holding the
narrow beach head behind the seawall throughout that first awful night with no reinforcements, at great
sacrifice of his men, David Shoup was also awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was quite an
honor to stand in front of a man wearing that singularly important decoration. I have never forgotten it.
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

BWV 1080
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Joined: Sun Apr 24, 2005 10:05 pm

Re: The Pacific

Post by BWV 1080 » Thu Mar 25, 2010 11:05 am

David,

Very cool, thanks for sharing that. A co-worker recently showed me some pictures of a recent reunion at Camp Lejune his father attended, who was a stretcher bearer at Red Beach on Tarawa

Have you been to the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredricksburg?

I have a 50 cal round taken from Tarawa, which I bought at the museum sitting on the bookshelf in my office next to some other collected WW2 relics

HoustonDavid
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Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:20 am
Location: Houston, Texas, USA

Re: The Pacific

Post by HoustonDavid » Thu Mar 25, 2010 12:42 pm

I was unaware of the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredrickburg until you mentioned it. I've known
about the similar museum in New Orleans dedicated to the European Theater, but not the Fredricksburg
one. It would make an interesting weekend outing from Houston, so I might make the trip. My father
earned five campaign stars on his Pacific Theater ribbon, so it is particularly important to me. He
finished the war as a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy and completed 20 years service before his
retirement in 1956.

I'm sure you have watched the movie "Sands of Iwo Jima" starring John Wayne. He portrays tough
Marine sergeant John Stryker leading and training raw recruits in preparation for their first encounter
with the Japanese, which happens to occur at Tarawa's Betio Atoll, as part of the Second Marine
Division. Actually, most of the story is centered on that battle, not Iwo Jima as the title implies.
Movie Director Alan Dwan (there's a trivia question for ya) decided to incorporate some actual newsreel
footage of the battle into the movie (they are both B&W) and actually meld together fairly well. In
those newsreels is a Marine Colonel speaking into a field radio. His name (not mentioned in the film
or the credits) is Colonel David Shoup, winner of the CMH "The Medal" for his actions at that battle.

Your co-worker should be very proud of his father, as I'm sure he is. Red Beach was a hell-hole for
the first 48 hours, with reinforcement Marines being stopped at the coral reef that surrounded the
atoll and having to wade ashore through hundreds of yards of Japanese machine gun and mortar fire
while they were helpless in the surf. Pictures of the hundreds of bodies bobbing in the surf still haunt
anyone seeing those tragic pictures. Being a corpsman and stretcher bearer must have been horrific
work with so many dead and dying before enough Marines finally made it ashore to overwhelm the
Japanese fortifications.

The heavy losses and sheer savagery of the Tarawa battle caused a significant rethink in the U.S.
approach to subsequent Pacific (and European) battles involving amphibious invasions of defended
shorelines from the sea, the most difficult and dangerous mode of attack and a specialty of the Marine
Corps. Future generations of Marines can be very grateful for the invention of the helicopter and other
modern approaches to getting troops ashore against defended coastlines.
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

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