With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

Sledge, E. B.

Ballantine, 1981

pp. 266 - 267

Under horrific conditions, men from Sledge’s Company K fought on Peleliu and Okinawa. Many men were killed. Many were wounded, sometimes irreparably. Most had some degree of shell shock. But they did get mail, and were hungry for it. Sometimes, it came from former buddies in Company K who had fulfilled their round of duty and had returned stateside. Typically, their early letters expressed relief and joy over the comforts of family and home. But later letters would express bitter disillusionment. Veterans found it hard to adjust to a society in which (despite rationing) life was “safe and easy.” Veterans were aware that plenty of people would buy them a beer, but none could really understand what a Marine had gone through in the Pacific. And Marines struggled with the attitudes of Americans, ignorant of real horror in battle, who now “griped because America wasn’t perfect, or their coffee wasn’t hot enough, or they had to stand in line to wait for a bus.” And Marines missed their buddies terribly—the ones they would have died for. Quite a few stateside Marines considered re-enlisting, and some did.