Category Archives: The Pacific

A Little Smug Because…


The Pacific by Hugh Ambrose



The Pacific Part 10: Home


Ten weeks ago when I first started watching The Pacific, I never expected anything big. Never wanted to, actually. I was very much impervious to research then, hence I didn’t read any reports about the show. But episode after episode, I started to enjoy watching The Pacific and my outlooks slowly escalated. Some installments pleased me, other not so. Notwithstanding that, I became a fan and I will always be a fan! And after days of anticipation and watching reruns of the show, Part Ten has finally aired on HBO Asia. This episode definitely presented the expectations that I solely sought for. I’m not only going to commentate about the episode but I will also be somehow evaluating on the whole show. I found the events very much similar to the Bon Jovi lyrics, “Mother, mother, tell your children that their time has just begun. I have suffered for my anger. Some wars just can’t be won. Father, father, please believe: I am laying down my guns. I am broken like an arrow. Forgive me. Forgive your wayward son.” This libretto is also very much applicable to every Marine – Eugene Sledge in particular. The war isn’t over. The aftermath is held within themselves.

In the previous episode, Okinawa, Mac told Sledge and his buddies that a nuclear bomb dropped on the Jap mainland and completely destroyed the city. That bomb must have been the opening that the US has been looking for and the final straw for Japan. In this installment, while a nurse is reading to two wounded Marines – one of which is Robert Leckie (!), who is clearly more engrossed with the comics he was holding – a ward walks into the memorial and merrily proclaims that the Japs have surrendered. In Okinawa meanwhile, Marines also are having a victory party in where Snafu points out his Snafu’s Packer to Sledge and Burgy. With the war over and the rest of the Marines’ lives set ahead of them, one questions draws to the three’s mind: what do we do now?

After finding out that his parents have turned his bedroom into an attic, and with some military lieutenant banging on Vera Keller’s door, Robert Leckie’s homecoming didn’t give him much pleasure. Sure enough, Bob did start working immediately, covering for sports on a local paper. He also made “quite an entrance” back to work, making the room buzz and requesting the editor to demote the guy who replaced him then start hiring him again. James Badge Dale is amusing and deeply delighted me with Leckie’s act of winning over Vera’s heart. He didn’t even have to try so hard! I guess his wittiness got him ahead of life. Like his mother advised him to, Leckie rapped on Vera’s door wearing his blues (in which Mrs. Keller found him unfamiliar, but which Vera found discernible). I remember the first episode again when Bob passed by Vera on the church steps and introduced himself, in which Vera stifled a laugh and said she knows who he is. This time, Leckie is afraid that Vera would really not remember him, much like her mother. Leckie then tells off Mr. Charles Dunworthy, eventually scoring himself a date with the girl of his dreams. Here, leckie reveals his fancy for Vera and the letters he wrote to her during the war. Sadly, even for me, the letters have all been wiped out in Cloucester. But even then, Leckie and Vera still continue their relationship throughout the rest of Bob Leckie’s life. Leckie died in 2001. And even during his life’s journey with his Alzheimer really bad that he has forgotten his children’s names, Robert Leckie never forgot about the war.

Lena Riggi is shown walking across the street to the Basilone household. Mrs. Basilone is easily revealed to be in great distress, her eyes puffy from crying. Mr. Basilone sits in his chair. And aside from George Basilone telling Lena about the praises that his brother John shared about his wife before parting this life, the house is quiet and the silence is awkward. The Congressional Medal of Honor did slip my mind, so like the Basilones I initially had no idea what Lena’s priority was for coming. John Basilone is an unforgettable character, and Jon Seda who plays the part also is featured at the end of the episode in where profiles were briefly told. This scene ended with the women choked up in tears.

Eugene Sledge on the other hand… oh boy. I never really thought that I would like Eugene when I first saw him on the show. But because Joseph Mazzello is a great actor, I do now. Before his arrival back home, Eugene spent his time traveling on board a train with RV Burgin and Snafu Shelton. Snafu of course still manages to be the dirty-humored guy who gets slapped by a woman he’s been trying to hit on. I was bothered when Snafu hopped off the train without saying good-bye to the sleeping Sledge. I don’t think I can ever believe that Merriell Shelton didn’t have contact with any Marine for thirty-five years until he read Eugene Sledge’s With the old Breed.

RV Burgin meanwhile was first to get off the train. Snafu eventually goes on thanking him before they part. And in turn, RV tells his friends that they were “good Marines”. As Burgy reunites with his little brother and the train rolls on, Snafu and Sledge look daintily on, filled with deep wonder regarding their homecoming. RV Burgin went on to marry his sweetheart from Melbourne, Florence, and becoming literally part of The Pacific, in where he is usually seen at the beginning of most episodes narrating stories about the war.

Eugene Sledge received one heck of a homecoming. He’s hesitant as soon as he reaches the front door – as though thinking about how he would show himself; how he would come home. There was a big dinner in the Sledge household with his older brother also back from the war in Europe, and Sidney Phillips’s upcoming marriage with Mary Houston. It was nice seeing Eugene and Sidney with one another again. It seems to me now that they really have grown, whereas when I first saw them in Part One, they looked much more novel. I admire Sidney’s resilience of having the time to talk to the confused Sledge. Sidney Phillips of course continues to live on with his large kin. And like RV Burgin, he continues to be part of the commentaries during the beginning of most Pacific episodes.

In some such way, Sledge still finds himself centering on the thoughts of “why?”. He has managed to be “idle”, according to his mother but has really been thinking about the war; carefully reviewing the “why’s” in his experience. Unlike Burgy and Leckie, when Eugene came back home he didn’t have any particular goals set (“no job, no girls, no plans”). Not having the desire to get laid yet, Sledge makes a break for it during Sidney’s wedding. And clearly not wanting to have a job, he tells his mother that he’s never going to work at a bank like his brother. It was the only thing he had set in his mind. All he ever wanted was to literally “do nothing for a while”. Based on what I’ve watched, Sledge was the most messed-up after the war.

I was deeply distraught when Sledge was getting his application reviewed. The girl on the counter was asking him all sorts of questions about his capabilities and the skills he can continue outside the battlefield. Sledge ends the conversation with an outstanding, “They taught me how to kill Japs. I got pretty damn good at it”. It also was a depressing sight seeing Dr. Sledge sit up by his son’s bedroom door as Eugene receives his constant nightmares regarding the war. This also leads to Eugene divulging to his older brother that he doesn’t want to put on the uniform again. Ever. But the most heartbreaking thing that I have witnessed throughout the whole episode was when Dr. Sledge took Eugene out for a walk to shoot some animals down by the marshes. Before they could get too far, Eugene suddenly breaks down and apologizes to his father, saying he can’t do it anymore. That scene genuinely still reverberates in my mind as I write this (kudos to director Jeremy Podeswa). Eugene Sledge ends the show – the entire program – with himself primarily laid down on the grass, flower in hand. This scene clarifies the love Eugene has for living creatures (in the end, we find out that he has a PHD in Biology). He twirls the flower up to the sun, gets up, and walks away.

Watching The Pacific the other night, I was outright astounded with the events that occurred. I can distinctly remember them since Day One. I can say that The Pacific is a great show. I don’t care what anyone else says. I’m an avid watcher who has neither read any of the books nor watched Band of Brothers. The only basis for my judgment is what comes out of my TV screen, and it is an excellent program. I am glad that I decided to watch this show that night in April. I witnessed the first Jap encounter in Guadalcanal, the respite and start of development in Melbourne, the unbelievable conflict of nature in Cape Gloucester, the forgotten war of Peleliu, the death of John Basilone in Iwo Jima, the unbelievable combats and ultimate breakdowns in Okinawa, and the unanswerable questions queued in a Marine’s mind back home. Twice, thantaphobia kicked in and I got sort of disheartened watching. That, I’ve known, is how the show made an impact on me. The whole show, I suppose, got me. It really did. The guys deserve an award, really. All the Marines. All the actors who played their part. I love The Pacific – is all there is left for me to write. May the US Marines who fought in the war in the Pacific during World War II rest in peace.

Five out of five.

I shall be purchasing a copy of Hugh Ambrose’s The Pacific in a month! 😀

The Pacific Part Nine: Okinawa


I still choose Part Seven as my favorite Pacific episode. In my opinion, Part Eight never topped that one, and I admit that I had high hopes for Part Nine. I’m afraid Part Nine never did surpass my great expectations though. Still, they have to give Joe Mazzello an award for an excellent portrayal of his character. I guess I also have to say the same about Rami Malek as Snafu for still being very roguish and (yes) Brendan Fletcher as Bill Leyden for the way he comforted Hamm, narrated the story of his first actual witness of death – and for having nine lives.

Basically, Sledge and his group have reached the outskirts of Japan itself: Okinawa. It was the bloody hell, according to a Marine, for it had such a great number of casualties – the largest digit in fact. It was such a war that not only were the Marines and the Japanese soldiers the ones involved, but also the Okinawan families and civilians themselves, however innocent they are. Similar to Gloucester, it sporadically rained so AmTracks couldn’t get casualties on board. Often, they would be stuck in muck, so bodies were left to rot on the grounds of Okinawa. You can tell that the Marines were already tired from fighting. I felt empathy while watching Part Nine. Not that the production was bad but the war was tiring; as though I were in the Marines position. I understood this again when Sledge uttered out of frustration, “When are [the Japs] going to take a break?”. Then again when Hamm mildly asked, “When are [the Japs] going to surrender?” In the beginning, one veteran made it clear that by the time they reached Okinawa, everyone already was weary and anxious about the thought of ever going home.

The Marines have the closest encounter with the Japanese people this time. Over all, Part Nine is brutal. Brutal as to the point that Sledge would even advice the other Marines to wait until the Japs get closer before they could shoot at them. And that the Marines would shoot at a boy without further ado (“He’s a Jap, ain’t he?”). As long as they were holding guns and facing Japs (“We’re all set to killed Japs!”) the Marines would fire like crazy. Civilians – even the most innocent ones – got thrown into the middle of the gauntlet as well. But sporadically, they just accidentally get bombed or shot at. I can still recall that part wherein a family was running for safety from all the flying ammunition. One of the kids was still moving even after his kin got hit. I think I would have done the same thing Hamm did. That was a really powerful moment because it was Hamm’s supposedly first clear view of seeing someone dying right in front of him. I think the Marines and the Okinawans have this subtle agreement not to attack the innocent; most of the time, the Marines let the women and children get past them. But men? Oh boy. You should have seen those guys make fun of the Japanese prisoners; calling them “fucking monkeys”; throwing cigars and even spitting on them.

Of course, it’s rather obvious that we would be seeing the biggest change in Eugene Sledge. I can never believe that it was him who pushed down that Japanese soldier who, insulted, refused to sit down. We still got a few shades of the younger, more innocent Sledge when he slipped down a hill and lunged into a muddy hole, going literally face to face with a rotting body. Sledge immediately cleans himself with his dagger, which reminded me of Snafu in Part Seven when he warned Sledge about the “germs”. Eugene also becomes sort of superficial towards the place. Eventually, his new axiom stated that the only thing to matter is for them Marines to kill anyone – as long as they are Japs. And that he wished he could finish every last bit of them. Also when he received the letter that his dog Deacon died, he seemed somewhat lost in a trance and only talked less when Snafu asked him about it. Up until the last scenes, Sledge was rather unfeeling, even telling Hamm to “grow up”. We would still see him relentlessly smoke his way throughout irregular predicaments.

New characters like the mendacious Peck, the apprehensive Hamm, and the slighted Lieutenant Mac were all introduced in this installment. With the show clearly at its climax, I had assumed that we won’t be seeing any more character development. Bruce C. McKenna somehow got that underway, though I still think we didn’t and won’t get to know such characters as well as we do Sledge and Leckie. Peck made his mark through his incompetence and foolish ideas, thus leading to the killing of Private Hamm, and by lying about having a wife named “Kathy”, hence his nickname. Lieutenant Mac, on the other hand was constantly disrespected by the Marines. Also, his views weren’t easily venerated, for he was nothing like Ack Ack, Hillbilly or Gunny Haney. Even with new “draftees” on their team, the company was still very small and had to strive their way carefully through the war.

I really think I have to write down the most humorous scenes, most of which include Snafu. One is when he deceived Peck to trade cots with him and the mischievous one ends up resting on a clean sheet. Another one was when he started “working on Peck’s Christmas present”. And another was when he advised Peck – whom he constantly called “boot” – to be “mean too”, like the Japs. That performance is very much etched in my memory! The most heartbreaking scenes on the other hand were when a woman was giving the US Marines her baby, and ends up getting bombed; when Bill Leyden got too close to the explosives after a heated argument with Peck; and every time one of the Marines get so volatile. The most distressing scene was when Sledge finds a dying Japanese woman in a cottage by the Okinawan hills. The woman appeals to Sledge to shoot her on the spot. Sledge refrains from the request and instead, cradles the woman in his arms until she died.

The end of the episode served as a relief. I was glad to see everyone clean and in new clothes. I have assumed that they would all be going home. My biggest complaint? The duration of the whole episode. Seriously, they need to extend the time to two hours. I’m not disappointed with the episode, but as I said, nothing still topped Part Seven. Part Nine is more than enough to tell me that The Pacific is worth watching ten weeks long.

The Pacific Part Eight: Iwo Jima


Slap a Jap. Well how about it boys? I thought you all want to do more than “slap a Jap”. Slap a Jap. That’s what the enemy is to you, huh? A fucking buck-toothed cartoon dreamed up by some asshole from Madison Avenue! Well let me tell you something: the Jap I know – the Japanese soldier – he has been in war since you were in fucking diapers! He’s a combat veteran. An expert with his weapon. He can live off a maggoty rice and muddy water for weeks and endure misery you couldn’t dream of in your worst nightmare! The Japanese soldier doesn’t care if he gets hurt or killed – as long as he kills you. You can call ’em whatever you want. But never ever fail to respect their desire to put you and your buddies into an early grave! Is that clear?!

– John Basilone

I wouldn’t say that it was a terrible episode. I actually liked the fact that Part Eight focused on John Basilone. I hadn’t really caught a glimpse of the guy since Part Three, and I’ve been itching ever since I heard this episode was going to be his. I also enjoyed his courting days with Lena and the scenes with the guys in Camp Pendleton. But the battle at Iwo Jima and John Basilone’s demise during that war? Over all, Part Eight just isn’t my favorite. Also, I felt as though I didn’t do much justice with my Part Seven appraisal. The raggedy-assed Marines fought an “unknown battle” after all. Hearing that MacArthur didn’t actually use Peleliu to recapture the Philippines, I was frustrated. It was an “American victory” with five thousand casualties.

The initial parts were given to Sledge who, back in Pavuvu and while in the midst of brushing his teeth, spots a Marine throwing a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s Men at War into the waste basket. Sledge later gets a hold of this book and finds out that it actually was Ack-Ack’s property. I think this incident must have placed him in quite a bad mood, because if that wasn’t dire enough, Jay appears with the announcement that he’s been moved to another company. Sledge also gets momentarily annoyed with Snafu, who frequently asks if his eyes have turned yellow; freaked about the “heeby-geebiz” or the “yellow john” (hepatitis). I can never really tell if whether Snafu was serious when he said, “I’m dying”, or if he has only turned pessimistic from the war.

From there, we were taken to the life of one John Basilone – looking (and sounding) a bit bored on a radio show. I myself felt his irritation towards his brothers and people who have been taking him for granted. He quickly states, “I don’t want everyone to know me”, which his family deeply begged to differ from. He later lists as a mentor in Camp Pendleton USMC, training; keeping his body in shape until he can’t lift himself from a push-up any longer. The Camp Pendleton days really were amusing with Jon Seda playing the daunting John Basilone. He would especially play this persona towards two Private First Class students, who ironically were witnesses to his very death. Fortunately, before the battle at Iwo Jima, Basilone gets a little genuine and sincere with all his learners. The “slap-a-Jap” scene really owned! 🙂

When John Basilone first met Lena Riggi (portrayed by Annie Parisse), not to sound cheesy, but it was a wonderful match. Here is a popular, obnoxious Marine going head over heels about a sarcastic yet equally-respected NCO. I liked Lena’s derogatory remarks and worship her indifference towards Basilone. At some point, I thought she was already going to pass John to her friend Lucy, who appears to be the more interested one. But persistence does pay off for the Gunnery Sergeant (“when you get shot down, you keep coming back”). Lena narrating the story of when she first met the famous (and rather ignorant) “Hero of Guadalcanal” definitely fascinated me. I was already starting to have doubts if Lena was really going to be Basilone’s wife when she finally invites him to breakfast – wherein they got to know each other a little better. Basilone telling Lena that she was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen (one which Lena admitted she had never heard very often from anyone before) became the turning point in their love lives. After running by the beach and John confessing about his Marine enlistment, the two finally get married, laid (“we’ve done respectable”), and bid each other goodbye. It was the last time they ever saw each other again.

It definitely wasn’t the way I had imagined Basilone’s death would be. As much as I wanted to change my opinion regarding the battle at Iwo Jima, I still keep ending up with the same conclusion: that I wasn’t interested. I’ve watched this episode twice, tbh. It was chaotic, of course. But at the end of the day, I never really recalled much about Iwo Jima and appreciated the John-Lena scenes far more. Of course, I can never really defy John Basilone in his final moments, but I think he died rather quickly and sadly. Even then – and furthermore, when Lena was showed alone, crying by the beach – I was thinking of Basilone’s wife, their new home, the promise of having six kids (one which Lena believed would have happened if Basilone had come along ten years earlier), and the necklace Lena gave her husband before parting. It was sad because Basilone hasn’t seen JP after Melbourne, and the war he fought on his last day didn’t exactly consist of any of his friends. The episode ran by too quickly, I might add. I was expecting Sledge and his buddies to make another appearance but the credits rolled instead. Still not my favorite episode, but it did keep me excited for Part Nine.

The Pacific Part Seven: Peleliu Hills


With Joe Mazzello’s well-honed acting skills and with Timothy Van Patten’s impressive directing, Part Seven just took The Pacific to a whole other level. This has to be the best episode so far! I was so hooked; I even unabashedly increased the volume to forty to drown out the unnecessary outside noises. I was careful not to miss anything. Every part of this installment just soared high and flat-out captivated me.

This episode leads us to the war at the hills of Peleliu. I think the hills are the reason why the Japs wiped out from the landing and the airfield. The hills in fact, had more than five hundred underground holes – all unexpectedly occupied by those sly Japs. And now that they’re officially back to battling it out against the US Marines, the war is even more frightening than before. I never actually thought that the Japs would be even more daunting than their artillery. Though don’t get me wrong: the Japanese resistance was strong. In fact, it was so strong that the US Intelligence can’t even get past it. Truly, it was something I’d never forget. It’s a “fight to the finish”.

The flashbacks got me. That’s for sure. Like that part wherein Sledge was scribbling sticks on his little notebook as memories of the war he’s fought started flickering before him; haunting his thoughts. The other one occurred in a John Basilone scene, in where Basilone, still at loss with the Famous People World, turns over a golf course to take his chances. Reminiscences of Guadalcanal entered his mind – and he suddenly sees Manny and JP subtly calling out to him. I love that part! Especially when the scene forwarded towards the evening and Basilone becomes aware of of his blistered hands. And when some truck’s headlights flashed behind Jon Seda’s silhouette – I have to admit, that was wonderful.

A lot of changes has come upon Eugene Sledge. He’s not that shy Southern boy from Mobile, Alabama anymore, but is a full-fledged man exposed to the bitter realities of war. In addition to that, he now takes a cigarette time and again, accepting anything Gunny Haney offers him. I am starting to see that Sledge is becoming even more cautious with his surroundings. I thought it uncanny of him to be the aware one, when he heard the Japs talking in the underground hole. Part Four came back to me then: when Sledge was still in training and shot two of his cardboard friends. Nonetheless, I was amused. This scene led to the most brutal fights against the Japs. When Snafu told Sledge to check a particular side of the Jap hole, one Jap soldier showed up – and it scared the holy moly out of me! Of course, Sledge isn’t as bad-ass as Basilone was in Guadalcanal, but you should have seen him handle that Jap with his gun: the Jap fell on top of Sledge before drawing his last breath! It was appalling and amusing all at the same time. The best part has to be the flamethrower: Japs were scampering out of the hole – in flames! It was merciless. Even Sledge grows quickly disturbed with the sight of this.

I was surprised when Sledge’s division met the First Marines. William Sadler makes another appearance as Chesty Puller with the injured leg. Still standing, for all I know. I just can’t say the same about Chuckler, who even makes the more surprising appearance. I was hands-down shocked. He was being carried on a stretcher; a little unwary, smoking a cigarette butt! And when Sledge asked if he was all right, he merely cringed in excruciating pain. I wonder how Leckie and Runner would take that, considering that they’ve been waiting for poor Chuckler to return to them.

I was also shocked with the demise of both Ack-Ack and Hillbilly. Especially Hillybilly’s though. I wasn’t very sure where he got shot (I’m thinking it was by the ribs, or just below the heart), but they poured salt on the spot before he died. That has to be a terrible predicament before fading! And even though a lot of Marines had tears in their eyes when Ack-Ack was getting carried off on a stretcher, his death seemed a little extraneous to me. I was happy with Gunny Haney; he wept on both occasions. Now that those two are gone, Gary Sweet definitely has to step up a little more and play a much bigger role.

So far, I’ve also been impressed with Martin McCann and Brendan Fletcher playing the roles of RV Burgin and Bill Leyden. And when that grenade exploded right on Leyden’s face – that was the shiz! If he ever shows, I’d like to see his outcome in the next episode; I heard he has a tough Irish ass and that he’d be back as soon as possible.

Rami Malek portraying Snafu Shelton is very interesting. He still demonstrates this curiosity on Sledge. He even performs Sledge’s indirect command to “put the dead Japanese soldier out of its misery”. There also was this scene in where Snafu was showed snatching a Japanese flag from a dead Jap soldier. It suddenly takes me back to the earlier parts of the show when a packer was asking for a Japanese souvenir so he can go home – plus he’ll pay them really big. Meanwhile it did surprise me that Snafu was the one who stopped Sledge from removing a Jap’s gold tooth because of “bad germs”. They had a slight argument in which Eugene left Snafu speechless. It was a nice sight seeing Shelton savor the air, though. And become happy once he’d realized that they’d been given the morning off.

I never thought that Jay De L’eau would break down – especially not in front of Sledge, who I thought was rather the more anxious one – so yes, it was a little surprising. When he said he’ll get hit but doesn’t care anymore, it made me think a little bit. But when he cried out that Japs are everywhere (like a bunch of roaches, I presume), his intolerance of his emotions nearly got me. It’s a good thing that I had this touch of comic relief in this scene: Jay, supposedly going to do his “business”, goes to a hole, takes his pants off – and gets jumped at by a Jap! Not only did the group take a long time to shoot the Jap, but Snafu also gets the audacity of making fun of Jay (“You looked like you were in a sack race, Jay… you left a trail, boy. They’re gonna find us now.”).

After such a depressing sight, watching them march; deadbeat, it made me glad that they eventually had a peaceful AmTrack ride back to… Pavuvu! As soon as they did, beautiful ladies stand in wait, handing out lemonades to the clapped-out Marines. I don’t know if Sledge fell in love or something like that. But some random guy definitely ruined the moment for him. Best episode ends. It actually is now my favorite one now. It is definitely a must-see. Big kudos to Tim Patten. I heard he’s directed Part Nine as well. Now I have to watch that. I also bagged a lot of wicked quotes watching this episode. My only complaint is the run-rime; I think this one went for fifty minutes or less. But anyway, I am on great expectations now. I am waiting to see which next episode will top that.

“Never run when you can walk. Never walk when you can stand. Never stand when you can sit. Never sit when you can lay down. Never lay down when you can. And never pass a bucket of clean water. Amen.”

The Pacific Part Six: Peleliu Airfield


I applaud The Pacific for doing such a tremendous job so far. I cannot imagine having to go through the same turmoil as these guys did. One Marine depicted the war in Peleliu as an experience so frightening that it might have just been a “horror show”. And truly, just watching the episode alone and seeing corpses almost everywhere, I find my propensity towards combat act up again. I felt as though I was stepping into a nightmare myself before being eaten completely alive by the monster at the opposite end. Part Six defined that, most definitely. The Marines not only had to cross the airfield to get to the other side, but they also had to dodge the booby traps situated by the astoundingly clever Japs. And these aren’t just ordinary bullets or bombs and whatnot: the Japanese resistance was exceptionally fierce. The only worse things than Peleliu’s temperature exceeding to a hundred day after day, were lack of water and thirst constantly moving stealthily in.

Water was a very huge issue. Everyone was thinking about it (well that, I can relate to). This matter was exacted by a Marine at the beginning of this episode: you can go on without food for days, but never without water. And the heat was awful. It was a hundred and fifteen, as documented in Eugene Sledge’s record book. In the previous installment, I heard Robert Leckie mention to Runner that he was already thirsty. Well this time, his longing has terribly increased. Heck, his comrades watched as he eagerly searched a dead Marine, hoping he could get some water from his canteen! Don’t get me wrong, Peleliu wasn’t completely desiccated – there was water, yes. The only problem was that the Japs had “poisoned” it. If seeing the lips of every Marine completely white from dehydration was bad enough, just imagine the disappointment when one of the combatants lifted the head of a decapitated goat from a small brook. Some of the pitiful scenes include Sledge and his friends passing around a canteen of water, and Snafu offering Eugene a cigarette butt – and (much to my surprise) Mr. I-Don’t-Smoke took it just to quench his thirst.

I also am beginning to notice Sledge and Snafu getting along fine with each other. I never thought that both guys would actually make a good team, or at least be comfortable in the the other’s company. The more surprising thing is that Snafu seems to be the more engrossed one, even one time admitting that he practically observed Sledge reading and writing some night since. When they were firing ammo at the Jap territories across the airfield, there was a momentary cut in which they seemed like old buddies who completely understand one another. Another one was Sledge helping Snafu when he plummeted from a nearby explosion. This amity was once more seen when Snafu backed Sledge’s remarks regarding Captain Hillbilly Jones’s verdict of killing a Marine having an incongruous nightmare. Through this harmony, Sledge would also earn his nickname “Sledgehammer”. Moreover, Rami Malek still plays his downbeat role wonderfully (“no asswipes, no chow, no water”).

Speaking of Eugene Sledge’s friends, Sidney Phillips actually made it safely back home. In the beginning of the episode, he would appear in the Sledge household to have dinner with Eugene’s folks. While he might have convinced Mr. and Mrs. Sledge that their Eugene is a mortar man (hence, is behind the “hot stuff”) and that he’s not worried about his boyhood pal, I thought Sid was rather uneasy and/or uncertain himself.

The most shocking events were depicted as the Marines were crossing the airfield. It was horrific. So many men got killed; casualties gradually increased by the numbers. There was still no word from Hoosier – and Runner already got hit! The scene was heartbreaking because it justified the exclamation point of Leckie’s efforts to empathize for his friends. He went back after successfully crossing the airfield just so he can seek medical attention for Runner. I was, without a doubt, upset and taken aback when he got hit himself. And seeing Leckie snivel in agony at a medical ship with blood jetting from his mouth, I admit that it dismayed me.

Moreover, Ack-Ack’s group was successful in crossing the airfield. But not everyone remained in perfect condition; Oswalt suffered major injuries, giving the group more men to update with. The sound of the planes whizzing past the airfield made the hairs at the back of my neck stand up. Sledge himself admits that until he crossed that turf, he had never been more scared his entire life. I thought Scott Gibson did a great job portraying Captain Ack-Ack. The same goes for Leon Ford as Hillbilly Jones. Ack-Ack’s speech to Sledge really appealed to me, giving me this sudden idea of making this banner that I now have as a KHQ signature. Of course, Hillbilly Jones stabbing one of his deranged men with all the other Marines on witness also came off as a shock. I thought they were just going to hit the guy with something, but… that truly was horrifying. What really startled me was Daniels “counting the Japs” across the airfield when there really weren’t any Jap in sight (in fact there weren’t any throughout the entire episode). It was was morose having to wonder how much more sanity had been taken toll on just because of this war.

Gunny Haney of course, never failed to amuse me. I thought it was funny that Sledge was sort of interjecting (“I have dog. His name’s Deacon”) when Gunny was explaining how he never trust the army dog they brought along. And then he uttered “Woof!” afterwards. Ha-ha. Another entertaining part was when the guys found themselves a barrel of pork chop. Dextrose was even mandatory during the night.

The last words uttered by Runner in this episode were rather vague, but the most heartbreaking part must have been the last scene. Perhaps I have just gotten accustomed to seeing Leckie, Chuckler, Hoosier and Runner all sitting and cracking with each other. Leckie and Runner both met at the medical ship. I practically smiled when Leckie was forking through his peaches and someone called out his old nickname. I knew it was going to be Runner, but I was a bit dismayed that Hoosier and Chuckler weren’t with him. Chuckler probably still is in Peleliu but we’re still left to wonder about his actual fate. Even Leckie thought it would be wonderful to not think about the war for some time; he even asked Runner to take him out on deck so they can have some fresh air. It was a depressing sight seeing the two together, physically broken. Leckie seemed to be distressed himself, and Runner was a little vexed. I doubt I would be seeing any of these guys in the next episode. It wouldn’t be the same if that happens, but at least we will see character development with Sledge and his friends. Also, John Basilone hadn’t shown himself again throughout the whole affair.

It isn’t my favorite episode. It was unsettling and depressing, in fact. But it really got me, and that has to count for something. In Part Seven, the Marines will be moving to Peleliu Hills.

Happy Birthday, James Badge Dale. : )

The Pacific Part Five: Peleliu Landing


Joe Mazzello plays Eugene Sledge in The Pacific.

Holymotherofpearl.This episode left me utterly speechless. Even now as I write this, I am still deep in thought, thinking of the most appropriate interjections I can insert within this entry’s paragraphs. Oh gawd. That was only the first of the many combats. And to think that the mêlée lasted for two months! It also was so close to the Philippines – probably the closest call the Marines could get from having the country raided even more by the Japs. It scares me that even to this day RV Burgin himself still sees the battle at Peleliu Landing as a “nightmare”.

In the beginning of this installment, we were taken to the rich(?)-and-famous life of one John Basilone. He still hasn’t dressed up for battle, by the way. Nevertheless, he had it going good! It was amusing seeing him next to Virgina Grey: he’s a lost boy who didn’t seem to know whether he wanted to quit this war bond trade and go back with the NCO’s, or continue the fate Chesty sealed for him. And speaking of Chesty, I also had not seen him since Melbourne. Also… wth? Was it only Jon Seda or did Basilone really have those massive tats? That’s some revelation, I’m telling you! We also got to see John’s kid brother, who I first thought was JP Morgan. It was an intense conversation, with John Basilone ending it with a sole advice (“don’t feel like you’ve got to prove nothing”). It led me to wonder if whether we’d catch a glimpse of George in the next Pacific episodes as well.

We also get a substantial view into the first war struggles of Eugene Sledge. Joseph Mazzello has grown up, that’s for sure. He’s very diverse from the Star Kid pubescent, but in some such way still gave me shades of Radio Flyer. It was short-lived but I was happy when Sledge and Phillips met again after such a long time. If only it wasn’t interrupted by Captain Ack-Ack (putting Eugene in hot water on the first day, Sid?). I was also impressed with Ashton Holmes in this installment. A poignant part was when Sidney explicated how bad the war was. It’s as though he never wanted to talk about Guadalcanal or Gloucester at all, and that one word about the war will spoil the reunion. I felt as though I was Eugene myself and that I have again convened with the best friend I ever knew. But he has become a gloomy, traumatized stranger, who even got in close proximity to burning a beach crab. And it’s sad because I was never really there to see how this change had come to pass. What’s even worse was Phillips shipping out of Peleliu without bidding Sledge goodbye. Well, at least he received the privilege of going back home.

And ho-ho-ho, Leckie got back to his buddies. Not a word about Banika, but he did play the role of Santa Claus (“In the south, Christmas starts in June”). It was a nice gathering that also made me smile. I can never actually imagine an episode without the four of them! The surprising thing was Leckie and Sledge’s meeting at a tent. I knew it was going to happen, but never thought it possible with Phillips out of the picture. It was also very quick, I was flat-out surprised. Leckie then plays a short naivety towards the “other” war across Europe. And seeing that Sidney Phillips was his biggest customer, Leckie’s book collection would also serve as the very element to connect himself with Sledge. Leckie’s brooding about God was also very scary. I remember seeing him climb down the church steps in the first episode. But now as he talks about “the old geezer” to Eugene, there was absolute disbelief and loss of faith from the guy. James Badge Dale, of course still plays Robert Leckie beautifully.

I thought I was going to watch this time and again like I did the last four episodes. But I sort of slacked off for some personal reasons. If I had not, I think I would have recognized everyone even more. I admit that I was a little irritated with so many characters suddenly popping up. So far, I remember Snafu Shelton (played by Rami Malek). Monotonous; deranged; ominous; and somehow finds eerie amusement seeing “new guys sweat”, he is closely becoming one of my favorite personas. The first time I saw him in the cabin (what was he doing with his foot then anyway?), I knew he wasn’t exactly going to be very cordial – not towards newcomers like Sledge, Oswalt and Leyden, most especially. But I definitely – definitely – I received a spasm of tingle at the back of my spine when he abruptly removed a gold tooth from a dead Jap’s mouth. I also enjoyed Gary Sweet’s appearance as Gunny Haney. It struck me amusing that I even laughed the first time he got himself in cameo (“Take. That. Jap!”). He must have appeared at least thrice in this episode, and I hadn’t recognized him until I got the chance to watch Part Five for the second time. It was so rigid to get past the guy that even Ack-Ack was bamboozling other Marines, siding with Gunny. Jay De L’Eau also came off funny, for he had this ridiculous knack of spelling his name (capital D, small E, captial L, apostrophe…) amongst introductory conversations.

At the beginning of the episode, it was also revealed that after Gloucester and Pavuvu, the last thing at the back of every Marine’s mind was to get involved in another combat. They really thought, and wished, and prayed that they could all go back home, or at least rest again at Melbourne. But oh boy, the Japs thought otherwise. The place wasn’t exactly pleasant itself: it reeked, everyone tended to be more captivated with their game of cards, and rats and crabs got along together well. But trust me, the war in Peleliu landing has got to be the most brutal one I have ever gotten to watch! And if you thought John Basilone was badass on Guadalcanal, wait until you see the Japs’ artilleries and the damages they have done to the Marines. I never knew that the war would be even more daunting in the morning than it already is at night. I was inclined to react to Sledge’s sudden apoplexy the first time he landed on shore; I honestly thought that it was his heart murmur acting up. Also, I was immensely shocked when I saw Hoosier pass out from getting hit. The sad part actually was Leckie seeing it happen with his own eyes. And while Hoosier may wind up in either a hospital back home or at a morgue, Chuckler has somehow gone missing. The series has indeed left us hanging with regards to both their fates. It still is horrifying to remember. Just think about all those many, many corpses lying out by the beach. As I said, it only was day one – yet, there already was carnage everywhere. I don’t think there are enough words to express how brutal that combat really was. It really left me silenced and thinking even as the credits rolled.

The most amusing scenes were Snafu disgorging his guts just as their amtrack landed on the beach, Leckie referring to Hoosier as Sleeping Beauty, Sledge easily reddened by his packed “babyfood”, and the Marines watching a movie off a projector. It’s a great episode not only because of the extremely awe-striking war, but also because it gave me so very diminutive ripples seeing the exposure of a religious, terribly good-natured and inexperienced boy scout to the dangers of artillery. Faith is also questioned, acquaintanceships are left unclear, and change has come even sooner when we least expected it. For the next two episodes, the Marines will still be posted in Peleliu. How I wish this miniseries would extend to a 20-part!