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Of old breed - Kyle Fleming American Military With the Old...

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Kyle Fleming American Military 12/11/07 With the Old Breed With The Old Breed by Eugene Sledge is a vivid memoir of World War II. The memoir was based on Sledge’s personal experiences as he served as a mortar man with K Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines on Peleliu and Okinawa. These battles were known for their bloody and savage fighting. Private First Class Sledge provides an objective description of the life of a Marine in Pacific Theatre of WWII. Sledge was born in 1923 in Alabama only a few years after WWI. Not more than twenty years Sledge found himself in a two year military school, and in the middle of a second World War. The U.S. was already fighting vigorously on the European front and on December 7 th 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked basically opening the doors to the Pacific front. Sledge worried that with the war reaching a climactic point resolution would soon follow. Being a young man completely naïve to the reality of war, Sledge was eager for a taste of combat. Sledge himself stated that he was, "prompted by a deep feeling of uneasiness that the war might be over before I could get overseas into combat..."( Sledge 5). In 1942 He quickly attempted to join the Marines as an officer, but he failed an entry test, he was then sent to San Diego for Marine Corps. basic training. This did not detour Sledge’s dedication in the least he was still ever so eager and excited to serve his country. So much so as he and others rode the train to California, “we sang
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and cheered the whole way.”(Sledge 5) Unfortunately Sledge and the other had no idea the gruesome reality that lay ahead of them. For the following year and a half of basic training Sledge was transformed into a man, and most importantly a Marine . His drill instructor was very harsh and degrading, however he instilled many values of discipline and weapons handling that Sledge would need to survive through the intense combat of WWII. As Sledge left training camp he admits his sentiments for his drill instructor, “I disliked him, but I respected him. He made up Marines.” (Sledge 14). This was very significant because one of the most prevalent themes of the book is Sledge representatoin of being a Marine, or as he refers to it as the “esprit de corps”. Sledge took those same values with him into Camp Elliot where combat and survival were the key training points. At Camp Elliot Sledge was given the choice of which weapon he would command within his infantry division. He chose the 60mm Mortar, and to no surprise. Sledge had been given the nickname “Sledgehammer” and it was fitting he utilized a weapon that packed some serious punch. He quickly mastered the Mortar, not only how to use it but also the destructive capability of it. Sledge was physical prepared for combat; however no level of training could ever mentally prepare him for treacherous experience he was embarking on.
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