Captain Dye's Blog
Saturday, 19 April 2008
Week 40: Victory in The Pacific!
The news arrived swiftly and silently like one of the Japanese artillery rounds that have relentlessly pounded the Marines on Okinawa. And it hit the ranks of weary fighting men with the same shattering impact. The Japanese have surrendered. All across the assault line, through the depleted ranks of the rifle platoons, inside the tank turrets reeking of gasoline and cordite, to the gun crews in artillery batteries nearly invisible behind mountains of expended shell casings, the reaction was the same. This has got to be some sick bastard's idea of a joke. The Japs never surrender. But the brass quickly confirmed the news when orders were passed to cease-fire and pull back to assembly areas while translators went forward to insure Japanese holdouts got the word from the Emperor in Tokyo. It's over. Now the survivors of the grueling campaigns in the Pacific will stand down for a bit, clean up as best they can, pray for orders home and begin to deal with the inevitable guilt of being among the living when so many of their buddies are not. There's a similar reaction among those of us who have tried to chronicle the ordeals faced by men like Manila John Basilone, Eugene Sledge and Robert Leckie of the 1st Marine Division. And our mission hasn't ended yet. In the short time remaining to us here in the South Pacific we must fill in the blanks. We'll resurrect Basilone from the black sands of Iwo Jima to tell the story of his whirlwind romance with Sgt. Lena Riggi at Camp Pendleton and see them happily married before John ships out with the 5th MarDiv to meet his fate. We'll spend time in upstate New York with Leckie as he tries to rebuild a civilian life and put his wartime experiences as far behind him as they'll go. And that's not far as he's a writer with stories to tell. We'll ride a train south with the survivors of K-3-5, to New Orleans where mortarman Snafu Shelton will arrive back in The Big Easy; stop at a little burg in Texas to drop off squad leader Sgt. R. V. Burgin, and finally arrive in Mobile, Alabama where a radically-changed Cpl. Eugene Sledge reaches home at last. We know what lies in store for these veterans, but they certainly don't. As any combat veteran will tell you, often the hardest part of war is surviving the surviving. Semper Fidelis.
Posted By Captain Dale A. Dye at 11:26 PM in Category:The Pacific War
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