If you spend any time on Reddit, you might know about the Q and A’s called “Ask Me Anything” (AMA). A recent AMA included Joss Whedon of Avenger’s fame, and other assorted entertainment, gaming, scientific, and internet celebrities have appeared. Reddit bills itself as the front page of the internet, and it is famous among with a younger generation for its prolific charting of memes, and the content there is managed generally by readers in an upvote/down vote system.
With the Memorial Day weekend in full swing here in the US, marine veteran Sterling Mace, author of Battleground Pacific: A Marine Rifleman’s Combat Odyssey In K/3/5, recently completed an AMA, and while it did contain questions like “did you ever kill anyone?”, several areas of interest emerged, among them Eugene Sledge. His response to begin is not promising.
Sledge. I get this question all the time. See, Sledge was a good marine like all the others, and yes we were both in K/3/5, but Sledge was in the mortars and I was a rifleman. In combat those mortars are around 100-75 yards behind us riflemen, otherwise they would be out of effective range with their mortars.
It seems I remember the kid a couple of times on Pavuvu, but he was such a quite country boy…not like our New York crowd.
Years later Sledge contacted me and a few other riflemen to help him with his book. You’ll find my name in the acknowledgements of his book.
There has been talk over the year whether or not Sledge took some of what happened to us and made them his own.
Maybe he did. But as far as I can tell, he was a good marine.
A low fatality rate in those mortar squads.
Not a fan, I gather. Sledge came up later in the AMA:
Sledge was in the mortars about 100-75 yards behind us riflemen. So anything he saw was after the fact for the most part. He was a good marine. I barely remember him as a quiet kid on Pavuvu, but he wasn’t anywhere close to us during combat so he was not a consideration. When Sledge was writing his book he consulted a few of us riflemen, and you will find my name in the acknowledgements of his book. Whether he took stories from riflemen and made them his own is up for debate. Some riflemen sure thought so. But he’s a dead guy. God bless him and his family. Now the rifleman’s story can be told.
Here Mace is making the distinction clear. If you were not ENTIRELY up front, then how can you really tell the story?
- When asked about downtime in combat: “On Okinawa the only happy memory I have is talking about babies one day in a crap-ass foxhole. I don’t know why we brought it up, but we talked about how sweet babies were. A few minutes later all hell broke loose.”
- On near death experiences: “The most amazing thing I witnessed? Probably the Japanese shell that landed a just a few feet from me and didn’t kill me.”
- On war video games: “I think these war video games are just like when I was a kid going to the move palace and watching the Tom Mix films. Kids will be kids. We walked out of those movies playing shoot ‘em up. It’s the same thing. The times may change, but people don’t.”
The full AMA is here. There are currently 981 comments and the AMA sits at #1281.