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October 13, 2015

'The Pacific' - 'Peleliu Airfield' Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 19th 2010 12:09PM
(E06) Part two of what I'm going to call the 'Peleliu Trilogy' offered more of what we saw with 'Peleliu Landing,' and then some. This extended look at one island campaign is to show us just how intense and long these boys were fighting for this one chunk of land, and how intense the fighting got.
It wasn't quite hand-to-hand combat this week, but it was about as close to that as you would want to be, considering the weaponry being used. If the arrival on the beaches of Peleliu looked horrific, it was nothing compared to the crossing of the airfield. This wide swath of open ground, with virtually no cover at all, while the enemy soldiers are entrenched all around it just waiting for their chance to take out as many marines as possible.

Crossing there is the objective. Whenever you're ready, marine.

The injuries are starting to pile up, as were the graphic scenes of soldiers losing life and limb all around. After the crossing sequence, I half expected the episode to be over before realizing it had only been about twenty minutes of showtime. Just like those certain key moments in your life seem to last much longer than they are in reality, so was watching this dramatization of men crossing an airfield.

I kept looking through the smoke and haze to see which of the men we've been following was going to make it, and which weren't. When Leckie was sent back to relay a message, I knew he was in trouble. I don't know if those bag radio phones ever actually worked in World War II (I'm sure they did), but they were as close to useless in this week's installment of 'The Pacific' as a cellphone floating in a toilet bowl.

It's unclear what kind of injuries Leckie took, presumably when he slammed into that tree, but he looks pretty well dazed even when we saw him up on deck with his buddy. In a wheelchair and barely able to focus, he must have cracked his noggin pretty good on that trunk. There may not be as quick a return to action for him this time.

Luckily for the 1st Marines, "Sledgehammer" is in the house. "Snafu" is certainly one unique cat, easily one of the oddest soldiers I've ever seen in any war film. His deliberate way of talking, coupled with his attitude and those bug eyes make him downright impossible to read. And yet, despite himself, he seems to have taken a liking to Sledge, who's learning fast and furious what war is really like.

You don't think about situations where you have to possibly take down one of your own men to save the rest, but that was faced when one of the marines erupted with a case of the night terrors. I couldn't tell if it was the same guy who was counting Japs earlier, but both are signs that the lack of water, and the intensity of their situation is enough to push some guys over the edge and into insanity.

We saw a bit of the aftermath of these situations when Leckie was in the military loony bin a couple of weeks ago, but now we get to see just how dangerous this can be for the soldiers around them. These people have weapons and are trained fighters. Watching someone like that succumb to madness, even if just temporarily, must be scary to watch. Even more horrible if it's someone you've come to know personally.

Next week, the episode is dubbed 'Peleliu Hills,' which is where we left the boys this week. Now in a more secured position on the island, it's time to start the process of eliminating the Japanese soldiers holed up all around the marines, and take the island and airfield for the US military. No problem, right?

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I have been trying to read up on the battle to understand why it was they needed to cross the airstrip like that. Obviously there must have been no alternatives, but does anyone know the exact reason that prevented them from going around and coming in from the back? That was some of the most intense battle sequences I have ever seen.

April 20 2010 at 8:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Leckie was suffering from internal injuries if the bleeding from the mouth is any indication.

I thought the episode was over when the crossed the airfield - that was intense.

The people I was watching this episode with also made the comment that it is luck of the draw whether you live or die. All they can really do is buckle down and remember their training.

April 19 2010 at 9:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

The thing that you have to understand is that what they were fighting for were these little chunks of rock, often a few square miles, against an enemy who not only wouldn't retreat but quite literally couldn't retreat because there was no place to retreat to. And the biggest thing is that the Marines did it again, and again and again. Compared to what they would face at places like Pelelieu, Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Guadalcanal was a paradise, and no one who had fought at Guadalcanal thought of it as anything less than a green hell.

April 19 2010 at 3:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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