About the Book

Technology changes with every war, but the universal human experience of combat remains the same. Marines from the battlefields of Valley Forge to the streets of Fallujah understand patriotism, fear, death, loneliness, and the humor that helps them through the rough times. Separated from family and loved ones, each generation of combatants knows that their mental and physical survival depends upon the camaraderie they share.

The fifty-two World War II veterans in this book recall their wartime service and are transformed from insightful octogenarians back into the invincible teenagers they once were. In their war, diaries and personal cameras were forbidden and mail was censored thus making their experiences impossible to share. But they held fast to their memories and now recall with clarity the battle-scarred events from their youth.

Their stories offer a literary archeological dig of 1940’s culture and technology. Body armor was a canvas shirt with a metal covered copy of the Bible in the breast pocket. Camouflage clothing was do-it-yourself burlap suits stippled with Max Factor women’s make-up. Cutting edge medicine was sulfa tablets to treat infections and blood plasma shipped in glass bottles to field hospitals. Canvas hammocks stacked ten to twelve high served as bunks aboard overcrowded ships. They used salt water soap for salt water baths and were issued OPA tickets, V-mail, C-rations, K-rations, and helmets that served as sinks and saucepans. Creating the safest foxhole took some ingenuity and a few discarded tank parts.

With orders to secure another Japanese held island, they grabbed their M-1 rifle, climbed down rope ladders into waiting landing crafts and hit the beaches. They faced not only an embedded, well-equipped enemy, but also flesh shredding coral reefs, malarial and dengue fever ridden jungles, mosquito and crocodile infested swamps, and a noxious moonscape sulfur island. Fighting with their backs against the sea, they courageously took those Pacific islands.

Nearly 700,000 Marines served during World War II, and as this Greatest Generation of warriors falls in for final formation, their war stories will be lost forever. The oral histories of these few veterans, both enlisted and commissioned, serve to honor and represent the many whose stories will never be told.