With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

Sledge, E. B.

Ballantine, 1981

pp. 264 - 265, 268, 270

Conditions on Okinawa were brutal: men had to flight and sleep in driving rain. They had to march, crawl, and try to run in mud that was often knee-deep, or deeper. They had to retrieve fallen buddies under fire on difficult terrain and in the mud. They were often shell-shocked. In the tropical climate they got malaria, Dengue Fever, pneumonia. And then there was the wetness. Always in mud, feet were never dry. They started to peel. They got so sore it was hard to walk on them, let alone to run on them. The condition was called “immersion foot,” or in WWI, “trench foot.” Other skin—on hands, especially, wrinkled and sprouted painful sores. It often took months for these “jungle rot” conditions to heal fully. GIs had to read their mail as fast as possible, before the rain or the mist made the fountain pen ink start to run. Their weapons rusted. Bomb craters filled with water and sometimes contained marine corpses as well. GIs often dreamed of hot showers, dry pajamas, and, especially, dry socks.