This episode was all about the advance across the airfield on Peleliu. If episodes in Band of Brothers had subtitles like “The Breaking Point” or “Carentan,” this one could have easily been called “Flying Limbs” because there were plenty. At one point, Leckie crosses the airfield with his companions amidst thick artillery and small arms fire, witnesses all manor of horror, and is then asked to go back across the airfield to get a radio and a corpsman. Cue more horrific-ness on the return trip, including getting hit in the head by a flying boot, blown off the leg of another marine. Moments later, another artillery shell lands close and our man Leckie is knocked out of action. Concussion, internal bleeding. Spitting blood.
At the end of the episode, we see Leckie meet up with Runner on a hospital ship (over a nice peaches gag), who was also wounded, and the two share a sad moment, as there is no word about Hoosier, who wounded on the first day of the landings. For veterans of a third campaign, it’s that “million dollar wound” that allows them to sail off into the sunset.
There was another Band of Brothers moment as well. Think episode 3 (“Carentan”) where Private Blythe confesses his fears to LT Spears on a dark night from the bottom of a foxhole. That moment cemented the tone for the dark Spears character, who said “you have to accept the fact you are already dead” to be able to function as a soldier. “All war depends upon it,” he said with nod of his head. After the airfield dash, Sledge confesses to Captain Haldane (Ack Ack) that he had never been that scared in his life than crossing the field. Ack Ack responds by saying that “any man who isn’t scared is a liar or dead.” Then, he kneels down next to Sledge and lays out the position that their work is a patriotic necessity (also heard was the rising dramatic music). The moment was meant to show (I think) the closeness of the captain to his men, to show him inspiring them to be part of this most difficult endeavor. Sledge’s book is full to such moments that commemorate Haldane as a leader. Even though that moment felt a little forced, it is in keeping with the spirit of Sledge’s book.
We learn too that Sledge’s work that day running across the field was recognized by leadership, cementing his place among the other veterans. SNAFU pins the name Sledgehammer on Sledge, and it’s likely that his attitude toward him will shift in upcoming episodes. Another marine is named ball-peen hammer.
Amidst all of this, there was one very funny moment. After the airfield run at night, the guys were dug in and Gunnery SGT Haney is making the rounds, talking about how he doesn’t need any dog (pictured behind him with another marine) to sniff out the enemy. Sledge mentioned that he had a dog back home, sounding distant and defiantly not in the moment. The SGT repeats the instructions for the night, SNAFU answers, but then the SGT says he was asking Sledge if could do that. Sledge answers in the affirmative, and the SGT stands up to walk away. He then leans back down into the shot and says “woof.” No one saw that coming and it brought a light moment to an otherwise horrific day. A SNAFU stated, “WTF was that?” It was most unexpected.
To sum up: a “wow” episode. Must see. All that.