Thursday, April 29, 2010

Episode 7 Pacific

On Sunday night I talked a little to Jerry before the Episode came on about boot camp.

"I took a train from Providence with about maybe twenty other guys. We got down to Washington DC and got off there. We were herded to another area where a Coastliner was waiting for us. Everyone on that train was headed to Parris Island.

Upon arrival we were met by Master Gunnery Sgt. Lou Diamond." With a gleeful laugh and hand gesture Jerry said" Oh yeah that was something else. 'We were useless, the worst excuse for Marine recruits he had ever seen in his career. 'They were just trying to break us down. Which they did. But there was a purpose for it. It probably helped save a lot of Marines in combat. If they said go you just went. It was automatic. We were well trained."

People have to move as one in combat but you still can't shake the feeling of fear. In reading some books on combat in World War two it was felt by a lot of doctors that men could only endure sustained combat for about a month. It would begin to take a toll. What these Marines went through was pretty tough combat.

We see Sledge lose his LT. very shortly. During the night the Japanese began to infiltrate into the Marine lines. One guy got out of his fox hole and was killed. Master Sgt. Holt dresses down his Marines and tells them this is what happens when you leave your fox hole at night.

Jerry commented "Yeah, you didn't leave your fox hole. The night was tough because your eyes played tricks on you. The least little noise and the whole line would open up and it was tough to hear the cease fire being called. One night I got delayed out in front of the lines with my Lt. while scouting. We didn't dare cross back into our lines."

Well I said how about all those World War Two movies where they said hey who plays for the Yankees?

"Oh my God that was BS. You didn't say a word. You just stayed where you were and hoped you didn't run into the Japanese. Any noise would have brought a response from our lines. No such thing as friendly fire. My Lt. and I stayed out there all night. I was dying for a cigarette. Then the Japanese were crawling by us. At one point I could have reached out and touched them. I was dying for a cigarette." Then he starts laughing and says; We got through the night and then came back into the lines at daybreak. No big deal."

No big deal? Ah Okay. I think that would be described as an underwear changing event.

At one point while the Marines are moving up through the the hills into the Japanese lines and a guy has to relieve himself. He walks over to a cave entrance. As soon as he gets his pants down he is charged by a Japanese soldier. The Marine shoots the Japanese soldier and begins to make a tactical retrograde. (Unassessing the area some might call it.) Jerry begins laughing hysterically along with the Maines on the show as another Jap chases the Marine who is still trying to get his pants up. Finally the Japanese soldier is shot and the Marine is pulling up his pants hollering at his fellow marines for taking so long to shoot the Jap.

Jerry is still laughing clearly he has been reminded of something.

"On Iwo this guy was squatting down relieving himself. All of a sudden the enemy opened up on him. He started running with his pants at half mast and I just started laughing. Then I was howling. It was a good thing the guy was altittle further down and the Japs were shooting. Otherwise he'd have probably come over and beat the sh*& out of me. I was laughing so hard I wouldn't have been able to defend myself. Oh God that was funny." Jerry gives that classic grin and shakes his head.

As the Marines are moving up further into the hills they call for the CO. He passes up to the front. A short moment later and gunfire breaks out in the same direction the CO was heading. The word passes down that the Captain was killed. The Marines are clearly hit hard by the loss of the Captain.

I commented that it must have been hard losing a good officer.

"Yes it was hard. It was hard losing a friend. It ah... it was just hard, you know. You get to know these guys and we were like brothers. The loss was hard. You never knew when it would happen. But you did your job. We had to keep going."

The episode ends with the Sledge and his fellow Marines being returned to the rear area and being greeted by Red Cross workers giving them Orange Juice.

The episode also covered Basilone on the Bond tour and getting antsy to be back in the Corps.

Jerry again just shakes his head.

"I don't know why he went back. I had seen enough after Saipan and Tinian. After Iwo I just know my luck would have run out. We were suppose to hit the island of Honsho. It was a home Island. I was pretty sure I was going to get hit." Jerry gives a shrug of the shoulders and stares at the television with a very resigned look. "We had lost a lot of guys. The odds were against me."

Jerry gave the episode an overall great rating saying it had that mix of combat and life as a Marine.

We were getting together this Sunday for a big gathering of Jerry's Marine Corps buddies from Providence Police Marines. However it has been postponed to to the last episode when we can gather everyone and head for Chow and them back to view the last episode with Jerry.

Stay tuned to WPRI Channel 12 with Walt Buteau, Jerry and his son Steve Sherlock for "Street Stories."

" My answer as to why the Marines get the toughest jobs is because the average Leatherneck is a much better fighter. He has far much more guts, courage and better officers... These boys out here have pride in the Marine Corps and fight to the end no matter what the cost.

2nd Lt. Richard Kennard USMC, Peleliu, World War Two

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