The Pacific: The Transformation

Sledge, the gentle boy.

Sledge, the war veteran.

I had recently watched the the mini HBO series "The Pacific" over a serial marathon in the past weekend. Compared to my favorite series "Band of Brothers", "The Pacific" was messy and hard to grasp. However, I guess it reflects well the nature of the Pacific War. It was messy, dirty, cruel and unrelenting.

Being once a trooper in the tropical jungle before, I can understanding the heat and oppressiveness of the jungle. This coupled with the cruelty and unsurrendering nature of the Japanese troops. It must be hell for the Marines.

The nature of Eugene Sledge aka Sledge Hammer struck a chord in my heart. Sledge started off the series seeing his friends go off to war, while he had to stay behind in America because of a heart murmur. He was frail, gentle and protected by his wealthy parents who care so much about him.

He was frustrated and wanted so much to do his bit for the country but couldn't. Overtime, his heart murmur subsided and he jump at the first opportunity to joined the Marines in the Pacific.

Joining the fight, Sledge slowly became an effective soldier and from a gentle boy, he changed into an aggressive soldier. Non-smoker to pipe smoker. Fresh trooper to traumatized war veteran.

He reminded so much of myself when I transited from gentle JC boy to aggressive soldier in the infantry. Till this day I still remember my Dad's shocked look when I challenged a man who shoved me in the street while I was sightseeing with my parents. My Dad told me that the army had changed me and I looked as if I was ready to kill.

The aggressive soldier remained in me, albeit being covered up in layers of civilian commitments. However, at times I wonder where did the gentle boy went to...

I too toss and turn in my sleep, old scenes running in my dreams over and over again. And my wife can attest that I do shout and punched the walls in my sleep.


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