The naturalist and teacher had the last say. Sledge’s father was a prominent Mobile physician who was elected president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama in the late 1930s. By Depression standards, Sledge and his friends enjoyed a privileged life of fathers with professional jobs in the city, mothers who presided over comfortable upper-middle-class homes in the leafy neighborhoods off Government and Dauphin streets, African-American servants and family retainers, and pastimes that included deer and dove hunting on private estates in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and squirrel hunting in Baldwin County. Much of the HBO series is based on Sledge's memoir of battle "With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa," which Mazzello read. Brown, George W. Edgar (“Cigar”), Nicholas Holmes Jr., “Chibby” Smith and others — he was “Slag.” To his best friend Sidney Phillips, who grew up on Monterey Place and whose father became the principal of Murphy High the year Eugene graduated, he was “Ugin.” That changed to “Cobber Ugin” after Phillips returned to Mobile from the Pacific in August 1944 after serving with the 1st Marine Division at Guadalcanal and Cape Gloucester and picking up Australian military slang. " He found his salvation in science, it kept the flashbacks of Peleliu and Okinawa at bay. “As I strolled the streets of Mobile, civilian life seemed so strange,” Sledge wrote. While Sledge died in 2001, Mazzello spent time with the Sledge family, and the couple's two sons -- John and Henry. In the almost 40 years since its publication, “With the Old Breed” has become an American classic. During his service, Sledge kept notes of what happened in his pocket sized New Testament. Sledge’s mother was from an influential Selma family; his maternal grandmother, Ellen Rush Sturdivant, was the dean of women at Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Few seemed to realize how blessed they were to be free and untouched by the horrors of war. The Marine Corps taught me how to kill Japs and try to survive. When fighting grew too close for effective use of the mortar he served in other duties such as stretcher bearer and providing rifle fire. HyperWar Foundation. When he came to enroll at Auburn University, the clerk at the Registrar's office asked him if the Marine Corps taught him anything useful. Eugene Sledge died after a long battle with stomach cancer in 2001. On the back of a photo from August 1944, Phillips wrote: “As I was saying about the letters, Ugin, I think even my family used to get a little mad when I didn’t write, but [I] explained it over and over to your folks how the shooting is short and furious, but the shit is long and hard.” Filled with in-group lingo and references to their days at Murphy High, Phillips’ 1944-1945 photos of Mobile and its environs testify to the importance of home and prewar landmarks and pastimes to these young combat veterans of the Pacific war. “With the Old Breed” was published by the Presidio Press in 1981. His favorite pastime was hunting for Civil War relics — Minié balls, shell fragments, buckles and other kit — on the 1865 battlefields at Blakeley and Spanish Fort. A key turning point in his life and career followed when his father advised him that he could substitute bird watching as a hobby. Eugene Sledge is famous today as a combat Marine, but that was only part of who he was. Sledge was enrolled in the Marion Military Institute but instead chose to volunteer for the U.S. Marine Corps in December 1942. That same year he graduated from API with a Master of Science degree in botany. Be the first to know about local events, home tours, restaurant reviews and more! After being posted to Peking after the war, he was discharged from the Marine Corps in February 1946 with the rank of Corporal. Eugene Sledge died in 2001; Sid Phillips in 2015; Nick Holmes Jr. in 2016; and George W. Edgar in 2017. His father found him weeping after a dove hunt where Sledge had to kill a wounded dove and in the ensuing conversations he told his father he could no longer tolerate seeing any suffering. Joe Mazzello's emotionally haunting performance as Marine Eugene Sledge on "The Pacific" clearly had an impact on Sledge's real-life family. Back home, Phillips tried to keep his best friend’s spirits up by sending him packets of heavily annotated photos of Georgia Cottage, Ashland Place, the old Cochrane Bridge and their favorite Civil War hunting grounds. “It became the subject of the most tortuous and persistent of all the ghastly war nightmares that have haunted me for many, many years. A second memoir, China Marine: An Infantryman's Life after World War II, was published posthumously. "He told me he hopes to watch it someday.  Once he was out of school he was assigned duty as an enlisted man and was eventually assigned to K (King) Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (K/3/5). Recalling one of their prospecting expeditions on a photo from February 1945, Phillips wrote: “We will have to make up for lost time Cob. Sledge, like many other war veterans, had a hard time readjusting to civilian life. Over time, Sledge discovered four things that helped to keep the nightmares at bay: classical music, especially Mozart; literature, especially 20th-century English poetry; scientific research; and the close observation of the natural world and its creatures, which he shared with generations of students at Montevallo. In addition to nightmares, the war left Sledge with an aversion to violence and killing (a crack shot as a boy, he gave up hunting after the war) and a jaundiced view of overseas military entanglements. He collected Civil War-era firearms and uniforms, which he kept in a “treasure room” at Georgia Cottage and used in Civil War reenactments with his friends. 1 History 1.1 Series Prior 1.2 World War II 1.3 After Sledge Enlists 1.4 Eugene Returns Home 2 Trivia 3 References 4 See Also Edward Sledge was born on November 8, 1887, in Alabama. Sledge kept clandestine handwritten notes during the fighting on Peleliu and Okinawa in the margins of a pocket edition of the New Testament that he had been issued during his stateside training. [The Final Campaign: Marines in the victory on Okinawa "The Final Campaign: Marines in the victory on Okinawa"]. This is the same pipe that is represented throughout the series by the soldier seeking calm amidst the horrors of war. In 1981, Sledge published With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa, a memoir of his World War II service with the United States Marine Corps. To them, a veteran was a veteran – all were the same, whether one man had survived the deadliest combat or another had pounded a typewriter while in uniform.”.  He received his doctorate in biology from the University of Florida in 1960. Once an avid hunter, Sledge gave up his hobby. It remains blurred and vague, but occasionally still comes, even after the nightmares about the shock and violence of Peleliu have faded and been lifted from me like a curse.”. When the war ended, he took these notes and compiled them into the memoir that was to be known as With the Old Breed. What distinguishes “With the Old Breed” from dozens of other war memoirs is its clinical honesty and the author’s sensitivity. But spending time with the family gave him further insight to the man he portrayed. Now, if that don't fit into any academic course, I'm sorry. World War II has faded from the national memory. Thirty years later, at his wife Jeanne’s suggestion, Sledge used those notes and notes he took during the battle of Okinawa to write “With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa,” his now-famous memoir of the Pacific war. An early typescript shows that the book’s original working title was “Into the Abyss” — an accurate description of its contents. His 1981 memoir With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa chronicled his combat experiences during World War II and was subsequently used as source material for Ken Burns's PBS documentary, The War, as well as the HBO miniseries The Pacific, in which he is portrayed by Joseph Mazzello. Get the latest in fashion, food, art, homes, local history and upcoming events delivered right to your inbox. World War II has faded from the national memory. Sledge replied saying "Lady, there was a killing war. To his father, young Eugene was “Fritz.” To his friends and classmates at Murphy High School — W. O. The dream is always the same, going back up to the lines during the bloody, muddy month of May on Okinawa. Get the best of Mobile delivered to your inbox. Dr. Edward Sledge Sr. is Eugene Sledge's father and a relatively minor figure in the series. He was placed in the V-12 officer training program and was sent to Georgia Tech where he and half of his detachment "flunked out" so they would be allowed to serve their time as enlistees and not "miss the war". From 1956 to 1960 Sledge attended the University of Florida and worked as a research assistant. pp. The men and women who fought it on the front lines and endured it on the home front are almost entirely gone. It describes Sledge’s postwar occupation duty in Beijing, China, and his difficult return to civilian life in Mobile. As Dwight Garner put it in a 2017 appreciation for The New York Times, Sledge “is a gentle man who learns to comprehend hatred.” The result is a uniquely affecting testament to what Dwight Eisenhower called “the horror and the lingering sadness of war.”. Sledge… I told em you’re a comin.” Phillips also touched on the difficulty of explaining to family members what life on the front line was like. Eugene Sledge and his mother, Mary Frank Sturdivant Sledge, at Georgia Cottage, 1949. Born in 1923, Sledge was the younger son of Dr. Edward Simmons Sledge and Mary Frank Sturdivant Sledge. Sledge, page 135", http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1796, "Eugene B. Sledge receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Florida", http://content.lib.auburn.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/ebsledge&CISOPTR=158&CISOBOX=1&REC=18, http://americanherofilm.com/eugene-sledge/, "China Marine listing and review in the Oxford University Press catalogue", http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryOther/MilitaryHistory/WWII/?view=usa&ci=9780195167764, "Guide to the Eugene B. Sledge Papers, RG 96", http://www.lib.auburn.edu/archive/find-aid/096.htm, "Eugene B. Sledge Collection in the Auburn University Digital Library", http://diglib.auburn.edu/collections/ebsledge, "Finding aid to the Eugene B. Sledge Papers in the Auburn University Special Collections & Archives Department", "Studs Terkel audio interview with E.B. Close, constant study of nature prevented him from going mad; however, the war stayed with him, and finally at the urging of his wife, he began to put his thoughts on paper, at last allowing him to put his horrors behind him.
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