OT: The Pacific

Submitted by the_big_house 500th on March 25th, 2010 at 9:43 PM

I just finished watching part 2 of the new HBO mini series The Pacific and so far I think it's excellent. I really can relate with the topic because a majority of my family fought in the Pacific theatre during WWII. My grandfather served on a destroyer during the battle of Sai Pan and enlisted two days after Pearl Harbor. My uncle became a Marine also after the Pearl Harbor attack and fought in the battles of Guadalcanal, Laos and Burma from 1941 to 1943. He has severe trama after the war and was hospitalized with post war depression. Things like thunder and lightning would cause him jump and even panic. My grandfather on the other hand didn't have any issues after he was finished serving. He wasn't in the frontlines like the Army or Marines were. He still though, saw his fare share of firepower from the Navy. This series though really shows how horrible war really is in reality. It's deadly, costly and comes with loss. Its a horrible, horrible thing to see another person dying in combat no matter who's side your on. It takes a toll on you both physically and psychologically. Those who go though it are the true pariots of this nation. If anybody who is on this board is in either the Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines or whatever branch you serve in, I tip my hat and salute you. Or if you have family who has fought in war or served I salute them too. I thank you and them for all that you do or have done.



March 26th, 2010 at 8:49 AM ^

I have a high level of respect for all people who serve in the military, but that particular generation was incredible. I question my manhood a little when I think of what the men (and women) of that gereration accomplished. Leave home as a teenager to fight in a war across the world...check. Survive years of face to face, hand to hand combat while watching hundreds of my friends die around me...check. Come home, raise family and work all day every day for 40 years without complaining...check. Retire and live out my days in a world where most of the stuff I buy was made in one of the countries I fought against...check Never complain...check


March 26th, 2010 at 11:16 AM ^

...but I think it's worth recycling.

For an outstanding treatment of the Solomons Campaign I highly recommend the series of posts on the topic available at steeljawscribe.com, a high quality milblog specializing in naval aviation and ballistic missile defense topics and run by a colleague of mine. There are 21 separate posts on the campaign, so if you're a serious or casual military history buff, dig in and get some great context for your "The Pacific" viewing.

Dark Blue

March 25th, 2010 at 9:59 PM ^

There is a WW2 vet who lives across the street from me. This gentleman lost a leg in the war and has a hard time getting around. I often go over to his house and sit on the porch and listen to him tell stories about his time in the war. This truly was "The Greatest Generation" The horrors that these men endured, and there ultimate victory is something mere words can't adequately express. There is quite a few people in my neighborhood who don't like this gentleman, and it's disgusting. These people don't realize that they owe their freedom to men like this. Any kind of historically correct WW2 documentary has my respect. Their stories need to be told and retold.


March 25th, 2010 at 10:04 PM ^

HBO looks like they're getting in their groove of some good series again. I am always into anything to do with WWI and WWII so this was an easy sell to me. The previews of Boardwalk Empire, coming this fall, also look good. If it weren't for their series I would've dumped HBO a long time ago. Who needs their movies when you have Netflix. I still miss The Wire though.


March 25th, 2010 at 10:08 PM ^

As somebody getting ready to join the military (not settled on a branch) it's great to see there are still people who respect and appreciate soldiers. There aren't many like that here (the student body). I can't describe how mad it makes me when someone bashes my decision.


March 26th, 2010 at 8:21 AM ^

Just my .02 from someone who has been there: All of the branches will give you great things you can use throughout your life. The pay is the same across the board assuming no hazard pay/combat pay etc. You will meet some of the brightest and dumbest people on the planet no matter the branch. So the only real questions are:
1. Do you like to play with boats? (Navy)
2. DO you like to play with Planes? (Airforce)
3. Do you like to camp and play with awesome new camping gear? (Army)
4. Do you like to camp and play with broken down used Army gear while eating shit sandwiches? (Marines)

Seriously though good luck in whichever you choose. Semper Fi


March 26th, 2010 at 3:58 PM ^

I'm going in as an officer. It's going to be air force or army. My dad retired as a colonel after 24ish years in the AF and my mom was a captain when he she left (thanks to me!). So, they are pushing for Air Force. I lean Army because they do a lot of really cool infectious disease research and that is where I hope medical school will land me. With that said, I'm kinda sick of school and am highly considering pursuing my other love in life- aviation. So the better choice to be an aviator is the Air Force.

Decisions decisions.

Also thanks for the well wishing!


March 25th, 2010 at 10:12 PM ^

I would like to thank your family for their sacrifices they made for this country, they are the true heroes of our citizens. I am sure that they would not view themselves as hero either, they would just say that they were doing their duty.

About "The Pacific" i have only seen episode one and i truly thought it was amazing, but that is what i was expecting from HBO. I do not get HBO anymore, poor college student, so i am hoping HBO continues to put them on their website so i can continue watching them. The way HBO uses their primary sources for these series is amazing, they are able to tell stories that must be passed on.

Another important history topic overlooked is Jewish resistance to the Nazis. I am a German history concentrated history major so this is really what i study. If you ever want to read some inspiring, saddening, and amazing stories look up the "sonderkommando" and read some of their memoirs and watch some of the personal testimonies, Michigan-Dearborn has program called "Vision/Voices" that deals with personal testimonies of Jews during WWII. If you can find anything on the October 1944 uprising in Auschwitz it is worth reading/watching.


March 25th, 2010 at 10:46 PM ^

Yeah i read this book about two years ago for a class, it is called "The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943." It is written by Inge Scholl (i think family, but not sure) and it is a great overview of the entire story of the White Rose, i found it to be a very easy read and entertaining.

If you are interested in actually Nazi resistance to the Nazis as well, i just got done reading a book called "The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi who Saved Jews" by Michael Good. It was a real interesting read that really made me question who is a hero against the Nazis. A really good story that few know about.

skunk bear

March 25th, 2010 at 10:59 PM ^

is that of the Polish Home Army, the two Warsaw uprisings, and the way they were hung out to dry by their allies.

Poland lost over 6 million lives to the war, or about one in every six citizens, about half Jews and about half Catholics.

Also, they lost as many 250,000 children kidnapped by the Germans because they were blond and blue-eyed.

And the eastern part of their country.

And their freedom.


March 25th, 2010 at 11:08 PM ^

I know it is just horrible to even think about, i just read about the Children Aktions (German spelling) in Warsaw and in Vilna. I believe it was Adam Czerniakow in Warsaw that actually committed suicide after he had to carry out a children's aktion. He was the Jew that had to carry out the Gestapo demands of rounding up the Jews to send off to the Death Camps.


March 25th, 2010 at 11:26 PM ^

on your point of overlooked aspects of WWII, specifically in regards to the Holocaust, is the role the Einsatzgruppen played. I, too, was a history major with an emphasis in German history, and I actually wrote my senior thesis (not at Michigan) on this specific topic, looking at the nearly daily Operational Situation Reports sent by these Einsatzgruppen ("special task forces," essentially mobile killing groups) back to Berlin.

When one thinks about the Holocaust, you generally think about the death camps, and for good reason. What is not as well known, however, is that nearly one-quarter of the victims of the Holocaust were killed by these Einsatzgruppen in Russia following Operation Barbarossa. Essentially these Einsatzgruppen would take Jews and other "dissidents"- but mostly Jews- out to the woods, make them dig their own graves, and then shoot them face-to-face. This was something that I didn't know about the Holocaust until my junior year of college, and I considered myself someone who knew much more than the average person regarding the subject (yay History Channel and books). It shocked me how so many people could do that to other people, and it was the toll it took on the Einsatzgruppen (alcoholism, insanity, suicide, etc.) that actually led the Nazis to look to other means (gas chambers) to solve the "Jewish Question."

If anyone has further interest in this subject, I would suggest reading "Ordinary Men" by Christopher Browning and "Masters of Death: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust" by Richard Rhodes. Also, check out Stanley Milgram's "Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View" for a different take on how individuals respond to authority.

Your comment reminded me of my own studies and I thought it was applicable to share here. Also, it really reminds you how there is evil in the world, and that there needs to be people willing to fight said evil, so, again, another shout out to our past, present, and future veterans for standing guard.




J. Lichty

March 26th, 2010 at 10:34 AM ^

by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, which attempts to refute the theory that "ordinary" Germans had nothing to do with the holocaust.

Much of the focus is on the Einsatzgruppen, which were largely comprised of auxiliary soldiers and police battalions of non-nazi party or SS germans.

Another important aspect is the use by the Germans of the local anti-semites such as local poles, ukranians and lithuanians to actually do the dirty work - and who were all to happy to help kill the jews.


March 26th, 2010 at 12:32 PM ^

That is a great book. I would add to get the everyday German contribution to the Holocaust i would read Robert Gellately's "Backing Hitler." This book shows the fear that everybody in Germany felt during the 1930s and dealt with on a daily basis. The threat of being turned in by your neighborer for "fraternizing with the enemy of the state" or "being Non-Aryan in actions or words" when the realty was the neighbor did not like you for whatever reason.

The book really attacks the "we did not know" excuse from Germans.


March 25th, 2010 at 10:56 PM ^

The Pacific has been absolutely phenomenal so far. Tom Hanks was on the Colbert Report a few weeks ago and is correct when he said "If you are anywhere between 21 and 53 ... you will watch this series and feel like a big fat pussy."


March 26th, 2010 at 12:13 AM ^

It isn't the quality of BoB, but it still is solid.

World War II is incontestably the most just war we have waged in our nation's history. Sure, there are events that have inspired criticism in the decades after the end of the war. The fire bombing of Hamburg and Toyko, the dropping of the atomic bombs, the rough post war reconstruction of Japan and Germany. But these were acts of war in a war of breathtaking brutality on a scale never before seen. Japan and Germany brought upon themselves these whirlwinds of destruction.

All war is a terribly destructive event from a moral, physical, and psychological standpoint. But as someone who has read extensively about WWII, this war was extraordinary in its destructiveness. My belief is that people should honor those who defeated the Axis, but not the war itself. See it as a terrible necessity that was brought about because some were too limp wristed to challenge Hitler.

The most tragic thing about WWII was how preventable it was.So many lives destroyed because so few were able to see Hitler's true intentions.


March 26th, 2010 at 12:35 AM ^

At the Marine Corps Ball this year our guest of honor was an Iwo Jima veteran. When it was time for him to give his speech, he said only a couple words about the battle then couldn't go on any further and cried, unable to form any coherent thoughts other than "God bless you." I spoke to him after the ceremony and he said he had been working on that speech for five months. The fact that something which happened over 60 years ago can still affect him that much is a truly humbling thought.

the_big_house 500th

March 26th, 2010 at 1:00 AM ^

And it was the first time I got to see the new World War II memorial and while I was there, there was a young man wheeling around a disabled man who had on his dress khakis from WWII and his hat indicated he was a D-Day veteran. I eagerly and respectively greeted him and asked him what unit he was with during the invasion. He said "29th" 3rd wave in. He told me how horrible the fight was and how so many of his comrades and friends died in it. I gave a him an honorary salute, shook his hand and thanked him for his service to our country. I was so stunned as I walked way thinking to myself "I just shook the hand of a D-Day veteran" It was just overwhelming.

I Bleed Maize N Blue

March 26th, 2010 at 5:05 AM ^

I have been enjoying The Pacific, but perhaps not quite as much as Band of Brothers. And I think I know part of the reason why. In The Making of The Pacific they talked about wanting to show how things were back home, so they start with various marines taking leave of their families and friends.

I mentioned in an earlier thread that I was expecting boot camp, and now I think I miss that in the story, because it gives you a chance to get to know the characters. If I hadn't read Leckie's and Sledge's memoirs and weren't reading The Pacific by Hugh Ambrose, I think I'd feel a bit more at sea.

Now granted, the focus of The Pacific is bigger than just one company - Manila John Basilone (nickname from his stint in the Army) starts out the war as a corporal in D company, 1st battalion, 7th Marines; Leckie will be in H/2/1, as will Sledge's friend Sidney Phillips; Sledge ends up in K/3/5. I think in a sense the story suffers in comparison to Band of Brothers because it's not about a group of people in the same unit, but about various marines in different units fighting on the same islands. So there isn't the same continuity.


March 26th, 2010 at 8:57 AM ^

I loved BOB, but I am having a harder time following The Pacific so far. I don't think they developed the charachters enough so far and they failed at explaining what was going on at Guadalcanal last week. The Marines were supposedly stranded, but the Army comes waltzing in with supplies that they didn't want to share?? I think they needed to explain why the Army wasn't helping?? I think they also needed to explain what the Japaneese were trying to do and why they were trying to attack with not much ammunition.

I looked it up online and I got a better understanding of what was going on.

Does anybody know why you didn't see that machine gun in the European campaign?? It looked like it was mowing guys down at a video game rate, but in all the WWII stuff I have seen in Europe I don't recall seeing something like that.

Six Zero

March 26th, 2010 at 7:46 AM ^

but whether or not it surpasses BoB is still to be seen. While watching the first two episodes I've found myself in a much similar situation with my first take on Band of Brothers, in that you just don't know all of the faces well enough to be emotionally invested in their survival, so to speak. They're just strangers to the audience yet, and I remember reading that this is by design-- producers wanted it that way because that's how it was for the enlisted men, just meeting someone and two days later watching them die in your hands, etc.

For me, Band of Brothers was much more riveting the second time I watched it, after becoming familiar with all of the characters and learning how much of a miracle it was to get home in one piece. Now The Pacific, from what I understand, will be a bit different by design in that we're following three core soldiers rather than an entire ensemble. Either way, it's certainly worth watching.


March 26th, 2010 at 9:58 AM ^

There were machine guns in the European theater, it is just they were machine guns designed to defend rather than attack. In BOB most of the machine guns we see are German that are surrounded by sandbags or other defensive materials (the episode of BOB when Winters finds two battalions). This is the same way in "Saving Private Ryan," the German defensives on D-Day were MG-42 built into defensive positions. We don't see to many American machine guns because the US troops were on the offensive and machine guns are not the easiest thing to carry around. The much light Browning Auto Rifles (BAR) were easier to take into combat.

Another thing to be considered is that on the offensive soldiers often would outrun their supply lines, thus machine ammo was hard to come by.


March 26th, 2010 at 8:32 AM ^

I love the Pacific so far. The ONE thing I would have liked them to do is in the first episode start us off with more back stories on the characters - rather than just the few minutes they gave us.

In the first Band of Brothers they started them all in basic and went from there. We cared more about the characters by the time they actually went into battle(I know this one is trying to differentiate itself). With the Pacific we're learning more about the characters while they're already in combat. It just makes it a little hard to follow who is who.


March 26th, 2010 at 9:42 AM ^

One of my favorite parts of Red Wings games is when the recognize the soldiers in attendance. As soon as they do, I try and be one of the first on my feet to give a standing ovation. Not a fan of country music, but in that context the "Proud to be an American" (don't know the correct title) song they play sends chills down my spine.

If I see a soldier at a restaurant, I try and pick up the tab or send drinks (if possible). Figure it is the least I can do.

As to the Pacific, I agree that it doesn't develop the characters as well as BOB, but it is doing a better job at showing the grim realities of war.

Crime Reporter

March 26th, 2010 at 10:07 AM ^

I have really enjoyed the series thus far, but some of the character development is lacking. It's not a bad thing by any means, and I'm sure on a second watch I will be able to match names with every face.

The one thing I do like is the attention to detail, even in small things. From my readings and interviews with WWII survivors of some of these historic battles, I can tell you this series is pretty authentic.

And thank you to those who serve. You guys are better men than I would ever hope to be.