The Old Breed by E.B.Sledge.


He writes that, this war was very brutal. Both of the groups, the Americans and Japanese, hated each other, and instances of abuse of prisoners of war were rampant. He mentions of instances where Japanese soldiers would mutilate dead American soldiers and also one instance where an American soldier removed a gold tooth from a Japanese who was still alive. He was wounded and critically ill, therefore could not give a decent struggle. “As the Marine drove his knife into the still live soldier, he was promptly shouted down by Sledge and others in Company K, and another Marine ran over and shot the Japanese soldier, then the Marine took his prize and drifted away” (Sledge, 120).

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Sledge tried to refrain from extracting gold teeth from Japanese soldiers, but he mentions that there were instances that his curiosity and peer pressure won the day. He recounts an instance where his curiosity got the best of him. He was kneeling down to extract a gold tooth when an arm touched his shoulder and pulled him back. “What are you going to do, Sledgehammer? asked Doc Caswell. His expression was a mix of sadness and reproach as he looked intently at me.” (123) Caswell then told him that removing gold teeth can lead him to get infections.

“Reflecting on this episode after the war, I realized that Doc Caswell didnt really have germs in mind, he was a good friend and a fine, genuine person whose sensitivity hadnt been crushed out by the war. He was merely trying to help me retain some of mine and not become completely callous and harsh.” (124) These are some of the harsh realities of war that they had to face on a constant basis. He mentions that a Marine is constantly faced with two things, fear and filth. It was hard for a Marine to stay dry because most of the battles were fought in muddy places, and rain was a regular visitor.

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