With the Old Breed

“With The Old Breed” by Eugene Sledge is a startling account of World War II was based on his memoirs he witnessed as a mortar man with Kilo Company 3/5 on Peleliu and Okinawa. Less popularly know than other battles in the Pacific region, these battles were as bloody and ferocious as any other. Eugene Sledge gives a straightforward approach, illustrating the climate, conditions, and characterizing the morale of the Marines surrounding him fighting the Japanese. Eugene Sledge’s experience with the military began at Marion Military Institute.
He later joined the V-12 officer-training program to prepare himself to become an officer in the military. He promptly left the comfortable life of college by leaving the program to enter boot camp at San Diego, California. The Marine Corp Recruit Depot, San Diego, became Sledge’s new home. The training He would receive would eventually save his life in the future. Corporal Doherty, Sledge’s drill instructor, amplified everything it meant to be a Marine and set a positive example for the recruits in his command.
He demonstrated the attitude, character, strength, endurance, enthusiasm, experience, and determination of a true professional. He taught his platoon the basics of being a Marine. Weapons handling, shooting, marching, and discipline were emphasized through the entirety of boot camp. Sledge would use the basic Marine Corp knowledge as he furthered his training and preparation for combat at Camp Elliott. Arriving at Camp Elliott, Private First Class Sledge had to make a decision about which weaponry he wanted to be assigned and He would choose 60 mm mortars.

A Non Commissioned Officer taught Sledge his entire knowledge of how to effectively operate his weapon, assemble and disassemble, and the knowledge to strike the enemy when the opportunity came. For PFC Sledge, the opportunity came earlier than he could imagine. PFC Sledge’s accounts of the battle are a great illustration to the actual battlefield. As though you are in the story, you can imagine the nervousness of the men, the sound of explosions, the whistling of rounds flying down range, and the cries of dying and injured Marines.
From the beach assault to making landfall, Sledge carefully describes every footstep. September 15, 1944 was the day the Marines of Kilo Company 3/5 landed on Peleliu. Peleliu was a defensive stronghold for the Japanese, who were entrenched and waiting for the attack. The 10,000 Japanese defenders covered every square inch of Peleliu and fought use a new style of fighting. The defense-in-depth tactic would be used to cover more areas and inflict many more causalities than previous strategies. The bonsai attack, which sent the surviving Japanese on a suicide run towards the Americans, would not be used again.
Private First Class Sledge would begin to learn that war does change a man forever. Sledged witnesses a human being cut open like an animal carcass for slaughter after the battle at Peleliu. A combat veteran comes upon the incident without hesitation and begins collecting all the gear of the dead man as though it is a scrap yard. Sledge freezes during the moment only focusing on the dead Japanese soldier. He would foreshadow the he too will be hardened later on as the battles become bloodier and the loss of friends weigh deeper on his mind.

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