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With the Old Breed: The World War Two Pacific Classic
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With the Old Breed: The World War Two Pacific Classic [Format Kindle]

Eugene B. Sledge
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Chapter One

Making of a Marine

I enlisted in the Marine Corps on 3 December 1942 at Marion, Alabama. At the time I was a freshman at Marion
Military Institute. My parents and brother Edward had urged
me to stay in college as long as possible in order to qualify for
a commission in some technical branch of the U.S. Army.
But, prompted by a deep feeling of uneasiness that the war
might end before I could get overseas into combat, I wanted
to enlist in the Marine Corps as soon as possible. Ed, a
Citadel graduate and a second lieutenant in the army, suggested
life would be more beautiful for me as an officer.

Mother and Father were mildly distraught at the thought of
me in the Marines as an enlisted man–that is, “cannon fodder.”
So when a Marine recruiting team came to Marion Institute,
I compromised and signed up for one of the Corps’ new
officer training programs. It was called V-12.

The recruiting sergeant wore dress blue trousers, a khaki
shirt, necktie, and white barracks hat. His shoes had a shine
the likes of which I’d never seen. He asked me lots of questions
and filled out numerous official papers. When he asked,
“Any scars, birthmarks, or other unusual features?” I described
an inch-long scar on my right knee. I asked why such
a question. He replied, “So they can identify you on some Pacific
beach after the Japs blast off your dog tags.” This was
my introduction to the stark realism that characterized the
Marine Corps I later came to know.

The college year ended the last week of May 1943. I had
the month of June at home in Mobile before I had to report 1
July for duty at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

I enjoyed the train trip from Mobile to Atlanta because the
train had a steam engine. The smoke smelled good, and the
whistle added a plaintive note reminiscent of an unhurried
life. The porters were impressed and most solicitous when I
told them, with no little pride, that I was on my way to becoming
a Marine. My official Marine Corps meal ticket got me a
large, delicious shrimp salad in the dining car and the admiring
glances of the steward in attendance.

On my arrival in Atlanta, a taxi deposited me at Georgia
Tech, where the 180-man Marine detachment lived in Harrison
Dormitory. Recruits were scheduled to attend classes
year round (in my case, about two years), graduate, and then
go to the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia, for officers’

A Marine regular, Capt. Donald Payzant, was in charge.
He had served with the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal.
Seeming to glory in his duty and his job as our commander,
he loved the Corps and was salty and full of swagger. Looking
back, I realize now that he had survived the meat grinder
of combat and was simply glad to be in one piece with the
good fortune of being stationed at a peaceful college campus.
Life at Georgia Tech was easy and comfortable. In short,
we didn’t know there was a war going on. Most of the college
courses were dull and uninspiring. Many of the professors
openly resented our presence. It was all but impossible to
concentrate on academics. Most of us felt we had joined the
Marines to fight, but here we were college boys again. The
situation was more than many of us could stand. At the end of
the first semester, ninety of us–half of the detachment–
flunked out of school so we could go into the Corps as enlisted

When the navy officer in charge of academic affairs called
me in to question me about my poor academic performance, I
told him I hadn’t joined the Marine Corps to sit out the war in
college. He was sympathetic to the point of being fatherly
and said he would feel the same way if he were in my place.
Captain Payzant gave the ninety of us a pep talk in front of
the dormitory the morning we were to board the train for boot
camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California.
He told us we were the best men and the best Marines in
the detachment. He said he admired our spirit for wanting to
get into the war. I think he was sincere.

After the pep talk, buses took us to the railway station. We
sang and cheered the whole way. We were on our way to war
at last. If we had only known what lay ahead of us!
Approximately two and a half years later, I came back
through the Atlanta railway station on my way home. Shortly
after I stepped off the car for a stroll, a young army infantryman
walked up to me and shook hands. He said he had noticed
my 1st Marine Division patch and the campaign ribbons
on my chest and wondered if I had fought at Peleliu. When I
said I had, he told me he just wanted to express his undying
admiration for men of the 1st Marine Division.

He had fought with the 81st Infantry Division (Wildcats),
which had come in to help us at Peleliu.* He was a machine
gunner, had been hit by Japanese fire on Bloody Nose Ridge,
and was abandoned by his army comrades. He knew he
would either die of his wounds or be cut up by the Japanese
when darkness fell. Risking their lives, some Marines had
moved in and carried him to safety. The soldier said he was so
impressed by the bravery, efficiency, and esprit of the
Marines he saw on Peleliu that he swore to thank every veteran
of the 1st Marine Division he ever ran across.

The “Dago people”–as those of us bound for San Diego
were called–boarded a troop train in a big railroad terminal
in Atlanta. Everyone was in high spirits, as though we were
headed for a picnic instead of boot camp–and a war. The trip
across the country took several days and was uneventful but
interesting. Most of us had never been west, and we enjoyed
the scenery. The monotony of the trip was broken with card
games, playing jokes on each other, and waving, yelling, and
whistling at any and all women visible. We ate some meals in
dining cars on the train; but at certain places the train pulled
onto a siding, and we ate in the restaurant in the railroad terminal.
Nearly all of the rail traffic we passed was military. We saw
long trains composed almost entirely of flatcars loaded with
tanks, halftracks, artillery pieces, trucks, and other military
equipment. Many troop trains passed us going both ways.
Most of them carried army troops. This rail traffic impressed
on us the enormousness of the nation’s war effort.

*Together with the 1st Marine Division, the U.S. Army’s 81st Infantry Division
comprised the III Amphibious Corps commanded by Maj. Gen. Roy S.
Geiger, USMC. For the Palau operation, the 1st Marine Division assaulted
Peleliu on 15 September 1944 while the 81st Division took Angaur Island
and provided a regiment as corps reserve. The 81st Division relieved the 1st
Marine Division on Peleliu on 20 October and secured the island on 27 November.

We arrived in San Diego early one morning. Collecting our
gear, we fell into ranks outside our cars as a first sergeant
came along and told the NCOs on our train which buses to get
us aboard. This first sergeant looked old to us teenagers. Like
ourselves, he was dressed in a green wool Marine uniform,
but he had campaign ribbons on his chest. He also wore the
green French fourragère on his left shoulder. (Later, as a
member of the 5th Marine Regiment, I would wear the
braided cord around my left arm with pride.) But this man
sported, in addition, two single loops outside his arm. That
meant he had served with a regiment (either the 5th or 6th
Marines) that had received the award from France for distinguished
combat service in World War I.

The sergeant made a few brief remarks to us about the
tough training we faced. He seemed friendly and compassionate,
almost fatherly. His manner threw us into a false
sense of well-being and left us totally unprepared for the
shock that awaited us when we got off those buses.

“Fall out, and board your assigned buses!” ordered the first

“All right, you people. Get aboard them buses!” the NCOs
yelled. They seemed to have become more authoritarian as
we approached San Diego.

After a ride of only a few miles, the buses rolled to a stop in
the big Marine Corps Recruit Depot–boot camp. As I
looked anxiously out the window, I saw many platoons of recruits
marching along the streets. Each drill instructor (DI)
bellowed his highly individual cadence. The recruits looked
as rigid as sardines in a can. I grew nervous at seeing how
serious–or rather, scared–they seemed.

“All right, you people, off them damned buses!”

We scrambled out, lined up with men from the other buses,
and were counted off into groups of about sixty. Several
trucks rolled by carrying work parties of men still in boot
camp or who had finished recently. All looked at us with
knowing grins and jeered, “You’ll be sorreee.” This was the
standard, unofficial greeting extended to all recruits.

Shortly after we debused, a corporal walked over to my
group. He yelled, “Patoon, teehut. Right hace, forwart huah.
Double time, huah.”

He ran us up and down the streets for what seemed hours
and finally to a double line of huts that would house us for a
time. We were breathless. He didn’t even seem to be breathing

“Patoon halt, right hace!” He put his hands on his hips and
looked us over contemptuously. “You people are stupid,” he
bellowed. From then on he tried to prove it every moment of
every day. “My name is Corporal Doherty. I’m your drill instructor.
This is Platoon 984. If any of you idiots think you
don’t need to follow my orders, just step right out...

Revue de presse

“Eugene Sledge became more than a legend with his memoir, With The Old Breed. He became a chronicler, a historian, a storyteller who turns the extremes of the war in the Pacific—the terror, the camaraderie, the banal and the extraordinary—into terms we mortals can grasp.”—Tom Hanks
“In all the literature on the Second World War, there is not a more honest, realistic or moving memoir than Eugene Sledge’s. This is the real deal, the real war: unvarnished, brutal, without a shred of sentimentality or false patriotism, a profound primer on what it actually was like to be in that war. It is a classic that will outlive all the armchair generals’ safe accounts of—not the ‘good war’—but the worst war ever.”—Ken Burns

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Commentaires en ligne

3 étoiles
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4.7 étoiles sur 5
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6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Un récit de guerre réaliste 6 mai 2011
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
Jeune Marine qui s'enrôle comme simple soldat, Sledge raconte sa formation dans le corps des Marines et son engagement dans deux batailles du Pacifique contre les Japonais. Ecrit bien après la guerre, sur la base de notes personnelles, ce récit est remarquable de précision, fouillé dans les analyses sur les horreurs des campagnes militaires, et très centré sur l'esprit de corps des Marines, avec des portaits de soldats très détaillés pour réstituer la camaraderie au combat.
Un des meilleurs récits de soldats de la guerre du Pacifique.
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Old breed 17 février 2013
Par Martial
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
Un témoignage de première main, cinglant et sanglant sur la Campagne du Pacifique. Un témoignage plein d'humanité et de compassion. Loin des clichés.
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3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 war at work 25 octobre 2011
un livre facile à lire, même si votre anglais est moyen, n'hésitez pas !
si vous avez aimé la mini-série "band of brothers : pacific"
il faut lire ce livre !
un témoignage très descriptif et immersif à la fois,
qui nous plonge dans l'action et le vécu de ce soldat...
bref,il est facile d'y entrer et on y reste plongé !
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Le meilleur récit sur la guerre du Pacifique... 5 juin 2012
Par sylvain78
Et peut-être même sur la guerre tout court.L'auteur, en plus d'être un excellent soldat, emporté dans la tourmente et les horreurs du combat, est également un excellent écrivain. Il nous fait partager le quotidien de ces hommes, sur le front du pacifique,qui rappelle parfois les pires moments de la 1ère guerre mondiale. A lire absolument.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 très bien 13 janvier 2014
Format:Poche|Achat vérifié
intéressant et édifiant pour les férus d'histoire comme pour les autres. je le recommande vivement pour comprendre comment un gamin lambda réagit face à l'horreur de la réalité.
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Let's try to be happy for once! 28 décembre 2013
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Sledgehammer, this war hero tells us with a lot of humanity the brutality and the waste this war was. After reading his book, we are more able to think about how beautiful our life his before complaining comparing to the hell this warriors endured in the Pacific!
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