Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Episode 10 The Pacific

Great night with Jerry and his fellow Marines!

We started the night off at the Greenville Inn with Jerry his son Steve, Ed Malloy, Carl Weston, Steve Cileli and myself. The usual buffoonery with Ed setting the tone at the dinner table. At one point Gary Tikoian stopped by to exchange pleasantries with everyone and trade barbs with Eddie.

Gary's uncle was Harry Kizirian. Rhode Island's most highly decorated Marine in World War Two. Harry was with E Company, 2 Batt., 22nd Marines, 6th MARDIV.

Jerry 's dad worked for the Post office for 39 years in Providence and was friends with Harry. Jerry met Harry after the war.

Great food and then back to Ed's house and sat down to watch The Pacific. We watched Episode 9 again. Steve Cileli does a great impression of Snafu. We won't delve to far into that. You had to be there.

Ed's wife, Ellie made coffee and provided dessert. She made a special dessert for Jerry. Steve Sherlock and myself gave Jerry a hard time because he usually raids the dessert table at family gatherings. "I like to try one of each to make sure it is safe to eat." Yeah okay!

Ryan Malloy came in to watch the final episode and to meet Jerry. Ryan is a big Marine Corps fan. He'd have to be. His grandfather is legendary Providence Police Lieutenant Ed Malloy, Eddie is a Marine and uncle Carl Weston is also a Marine.

Ryan listen intently to Jerry talk about his experiences in the Pacific with the 4th MARDIV.

Again, Jerry filled in some of the guys about calling a fire mission in on Japanese positions while with JASCO. Ed asked Jerry what weapon he carried and what he liked.

Jerry of course said he liked the M-1 Carbine.

'I carried about ninety rounds with me. Six clips. We would cut a cross or X in the bullet to add stopping power. I would use my pliers and take a file and make the cut. One guy used to sell the ammo. He would cut an X on the top and then sell the ammo for like 20 bucks for a hundred rounds."

It made a difference with the carbine round being equivalent to an A plus P38 special. It turned the bullet into a hollow point. I know some of you people are getting torqued about about the Geneva Convention. Listen, I'm pretty sure if Jerry went to Geneva to fight the Swiss, he'd abide by the Geneva convention.

Jerry spoke about the Japanese getting fired up on Saki and then launching a banzai charge at around 2200 at night.

"They'd get all fired up on the Saki and charge. A couple guys found a cave that was as high as a tenement house. It was loaded with beer and saki. A guard was placed on the cave so the Japs didn't sneak back and get liquored up. A couple days later we came off the line and made a pit stop. We were supposed to get some R and R. Shower, hot chow and rest up. We got into the beer and Saki. Then we got word that the battalion that relieved us got pretty well beaten up. We got word to go back and relieve them. That was pretty rough. I'm not sure how many guys weren't hung over. We smelled pretty bad too. The Japs must have smelled us coming"

When the final episode started it showed guys coming home. Bob Leckie got home and was dropped off by a cab driver. The driver refused to take Leckie's money. The cab driver was a paratrooper who jumped into Normandy. The Paratrooper says the Gyrenes had it tough.

Leckie gets his job back with the paper as a sports writer. He courts Vera Keller.

Lena Basilone goes to New Jersey and meets up with John's parents and brother George. George tells her that he saw the grave site at Iwo and he is with his fellow Marines. I pointed out the shoulder insignia of the Fourth on George Basilone' uniform. Jerry nodded.

Jerry told us about coming home via ship to California. He had to make a deposit for a Marine sergeant.

"This sergeant won $8,000.00 playing craps. He gave several of us $2,000.00 to bring back. We had his bank and name to deposit it in. He told us that if we stiffed him, he'd find us and get the money back or kill us. As soon as I got stateside I deposited the money." Carl Weston asked if Jerry got a fee. "Oh yeah about $500.00 dollars."

The scene cuts out to Sledge and Snafu on the train heading back from the west coast. Jerry told everyone how they boarded trains and headed home. It took six days to go across the country.

"We would stop every morning and get a breakfast and then they'd give us a box lunch for the day. We would pull right into a town and go into a Harvey House and eat. There was a movie that came out called the Harvey Girls. Judy Garland played in the movie. One place, we stopped right in the middle of the town, got out and went to a bar. They had closed the main door and moved everyone to a side entrance. Inside was a long bar filled with beer bottles. You could walk up, pick up your beer and pay for them at the other side. It was one of the most efficient operations I ever saw!

Eventually I got to Washington, DC and attempted to get back to Providence by train. I got picked up by the MP's. They asked for my orders. I was trying to get back to Rhode Island in time for my sister Fran's wedding. I was going to be the best man. She was marrying Vin Campbell. They put me in a truck along with a whole bunch of Marines and we got sent to Bainbridge, MD to muster out. I never made it to the wedding."

Snafu gets to New Orleans and gets up to leave. He looks at Sledge who is asleep. I think we all see Snafu is reluctant to say goodbye. He walks off the train letting Sledge sleep.

Jerry remarked that once he mustered out from Bainbridge, he got back to Rhode Island by train.

"I got to Providence and it was early. So I took a bus to Pawtucket and went home. My mother was there. I wanted to see my father, who was on his mail route in Providence. My mother immediately told me to head back to Providence as my father would be thrilled to see me. He had told everyone that I was in the Marine Corps and was rather proud of me. I went to the Post office and they told me where he would be. So I surprised him on his route and then I walked the route with him. He introduced me to everyone. My sister was still in Hawaii and Jack was still in Europe. Paul was in Paris at SHAPE.( Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) Tough duty. Ted was still with the Coast Guard and Henry was at sea with the Navy."

Editors Note: Paul was still in high school when Jerry returned home. He was the youngest of the group and didn't get to go to Europe until well after the WWII.

The show concluded with a post script on what happened to each of the Marines. It was uncanny how much the actors looked like the characters they portrayed.

Jerry was a little subdued near the end. I suspect he saw a little of himself in all of the characters. He has told his daughters that the series has evoked some memories.

He told me that he had a long night after the Iwo episode. He laughed but it was his stalwart character kicking in. It was clear that some strong feelings were brought back. We talked at length about Jonesy.

I was able to find some info on Jonesy. He died of his wounds and was buried at sea. He is still listed as missing/buried at sea in Department of Defense records. Jonesy is listed on the Tablet of the Missing in Honolulu at the War Memorial.

Eugene Sledge's father had worried about what would happen to his son after the war. He had treated returning soldiers from World War 1 and had seen the suffering of these veterans.

Sledge and others eventually figured it out and moved forward.

The highlight of the night came when Carl Weston gave Jerry a special gift. Carl had taken part in a contest on line answering questions about the Marine Corps. Carl won and received a bag of volcanic ash from Iwo Jima. Carl built a box, painted it Marine Corps Red and placed the Eagle Globe and Anchor emblem on the top.

Carl presented the box containing the ash from Iwo to Jerry. Jerry is still pretty thrilled over the gift. Something only MARINES would understand. Something so simple yet complex. That box and what it represents to Jerry and Carl transcends the boundaries of a generation of MARINES.

The Pacific is over and it has received great reviews from Jerry. It did bring back some memories. Not all good but he laughs and moves on keeping us all chuckling. Jerry says Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have hit the mark. He is awaiting the next project from them and has his own ideas.

The blog will continue. As Jerry said the other night; "I have a lot more stories to tell!"

Special thanks to Ellie and Ed Malloy for opening there wonderful home to Jerry and his Gang.

Especially to Ellie for her hospitality.

Thanks to Carl Weston ,Steve Cileli and Ryan Malloy for joining us on the evening of the final episode.

Jerry has been thrilled all week. His time with family and his MARINES mean so much.

"The man who will go where his colors will go, who will fight a phantom foe in a jungle or a mountain range and will suffer and die in the midst of incredible hardship, without complaint, is still what he has always been. He is the stuff of what legions are made. His pride is his colors and his regiment, his training hard and thorough and coldly realistic, to fit him for what he must face and his obedience is to orders. As a legionary, he held the gates of civilization for the classical world... he has been called UNITED STATES MARINE."

Lt. Col. T.R. Fehrenbach, US ARMY in "THIS KIND OF WAR"

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