The Pacific: Part 10: Going Home
Leckie is in the hospital when he finds out the war is over, August 15, 1945. There is excitement in the hospital. Leckie just takes it all in. Eugene Sledge, Snafu and Burgin share a bottle of scotch on Okinawa and wonder what they’ll do next. It’s been a very taxing and difficult four years. They all reflect.
Leckie starts back to work as high school sports writer for the local paper in New Jersey. He aggressively gets his job back telling the editor that his prose puts the present guy’s work to shame. Same aggressive, confident attitude that carried him in the Marines. While he is working on a story he sees the woman he has been seeking since before the war started, Vera. She is across the street with a man walking her to the door. Leckie’s mother, a cold person, comes in the room and tells him he doesn’t have a shot with her.
Sledge, Snafu and Burgin take a train across the country with Burgin and Snafu getting off at their respective towns. They look at each other with reverence as Burgin gets off the train. When Snafu gets off in New Orleans, Sledge is asleep. Snafu thinks about saying something to him, but goes ahead and leaves.
Meanwhile, Lena Basilone, John’s wife, goes to see his parents and gives them the late Basilone’s Medal of Honor he earned on Guadalcanal, a battle where he must have killed over 100 Japanese troops. Basilone, if you remember, was killed on Iwo Jima.
Leckie gets to Vera and battles off another suitor. They hit it off immediatley and fall in love.
Meanwhile Sledge makes it back to Mobile and his friend, Sidney Phillips, who had served prior to him in Pacific combat, picks him up at the train station. Phillips is getting married and wants Eugene to be his best man. Eugene, of course, accepts.
Eugene has an emotional reunion with his mother and father. His father a good man, understands the pain his son is going through and gives him his space. Sledge tries to sign up for classes at a Mobile University and is asked by the girl at the desk what can he do. “I’ve killed Japs,” he says. “And I was pretty good at it.” He walks away.
Sledge goes to a dance with Phillips after telling his brother he’ll never wear his uniform again. He leaves the dance and goes outside to smoke his pipe. Phillips tries to console him and tells him to come back to the dance and he’ll get him a girl. Sledge declines. The war has made a major emotional impact on him.
Sledge’s father, a kind and loving man, takes Sledge hunting, and, on the walk down the field, Sledge drops to his knees and starts crying saying why did he make it back and his friends didn’t. His father comforts him.
The series ends with a look at what all the men who fought did after the war. Sledge got his PHD and got married and had kids. He wrote a book: With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Should be a must read for all Americans. I’m going to read it. Will tell you about it. Leckie married Vera and had kids. He worked as a journalist catching on with the Associated Press. He died in 2001. Lena Basilone never got married again. She passed away late in 1999. Phillips is still alive today and resides in a small town outside Mobile. Snafu stayed in New Orleans, got married and died in the 80′s.
These men left an indelible mark on this country. Their efforts should never be taken for granted. It was a tough, tough, brutal war they fought in in the Pacific with many very young men sacrificing their lives for the greater cause. Their heroism makes me personally want to be a better person every day of my life and to make whatever mark I can make in my life. A great series. Great Americans.
(Sledge and Phillips pictured above, actors Joe Mazzelo, left, and Ashton Holmes)General / Comments (0) / make a comment