I made a mistake. Last week, November 4th, was the 89th birthday of a soldier that forever changed the way I think about war. Eugene B. Sledge served in the Pacific in World War II. He was a private, a grunt, a jarhead marine. He slogged his way through rancid, fetid sludge in scorching heat and suffocating humidity thick with death and excrement fighting in epic hand-to-hand combat battles in Peleliu and Okinawa against an enemy that viewed him as subhuman. He kept notes in a pocket size Bible that later became “With The Old Breed“. I made a mistake by not putting this out on his birthday. He deserves to be remembered and his memoir read.
I think this should be essential reading for everyone. He describes the day to day terror that shadows battle in vivid description. You’ll see the wriggling maggots fat from the dead, hear the screams as the enemy’s eye is gouged from its socket because he mistakenly snuck into the wrong marines foxhole on a banzie mission, and smell and taste the rancid putrescence hanging in the air. It dispels the perception of a sterilized glory of battle and replaces it with uncompromising fear. I strongly recommend reading With The Old Breed and encourage you to do so.