May 21, 2010 – Recollections of a Marine


Featured Trades: (THE PACIFIC)

4) Recollections of a Marine. As the son of a Marine who served on Guadalcanal in 1942, I had an unusual childhood. The memories all came flooding back to me as the HBO program, The Pacific, came to its conclusion this week. Every scene in the ten hour series I had already heard about around campfires, at veteran's reunions, or in officers clubs around the world. At five, I learned how to open a coconut by tapping around the three eyes with a bayonet. At ten I could shinny up a palm tree with a belt. I learned that you can shoot down a zero by leading by four hands and aiming high. A tank can be disabled by ramming a log in its tracks. There was the survival training; practicing how to find water in the desert, setting a snare trap for food, and starting a fire with flint and steel. All the sniper training was fun, but was fortunately never put to use. But, I can still thrill the kids by hitting a quarter taped to a tree 50 feet away with a Winchester 30-30. We outfitted ourselves with surplus WWII equipment from the 'Supply Sergeant' for camping trips, and ate left over C-rations. Perhaps it was his explanation of how to make hooch out of canned peaches that led to a degree in biochemistry for me. In the end, I had my own Marine career as a pilot in Desert Storm. There you learn the true meaning of 'gung ho.' At 58, I stay in boot camp shape, which means hiking 20 miles a day for three days over rough terrain with a 60 pound pack. I know, because I did it last summer. Watching the series, I was reminded how feeble and meaningless my profession is, toiling all year just to create a spreadsheet with 12 numbers, and how the men of seven decades ago were made of sterner stuff. Buying a dip on a bad day just doesn't equate to 'take out that machine gun.' You can buy the Hugh Ambrose book the series was based on by clicking here at. I'll be renting the DVD as soon as it comes out.

Pacific.jpg picture by madhedge