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Sterling Mace at Peleliu and Okinawa

Discussion in 'Honor, Service and Valor' started by Sterling Mace, Jun 7, 2010.

  1. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    You can really feel the heat coming off those pictures. They just "feel" hot looking at them.

    And that's the way it was. Japanese dead everywhere. The whole island just stunk. Everywhere you went there was a stink that's hard to describe.

    I don't even know what to say looking at all those photos.

    sm
     
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  2. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Mr. Mace,

    Was drinkable water a major issue for the you and the 5th Marines?
     
  3. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Water was a BIG problem until about D-day+2. After that water was fairly plentiful, yet as we moved across the island, on September 17th-18th, what we brought with us was all we had. Now this was the most densely foliated part of Peleliu, moving west to east in the center of the island. What amounted to a jungle, before they scorched most of it down. Very early in the invasion. We were headed towards Purple Beach.

    So, all we had with us were two canteens and some extra jerry cans of water they brought up, after that fiasco with the water being shipped to us in drums that had previously been used to carry aviation fuel and oil.

    We were nearly out of water in that whole two day, stop and start, treck across the island, in the jungle. When we got to Purple Beach, on the extreme east of the island, an LST eventually pulled up and we had good water again.

    sm
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I'll bet that water tasted deelish!

    Did you ride in on a LVT or landing craft?

    You said you carried a BAR. What was your impression of the weapon?
     
  5. texson66

    texson66 Ace

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    In reading Sledge's book, I got the distinct impression that while the fighting everywhere on Peleliu was intense, it seems that the ridge to ridge fighting was just plain gawd awful! I tried looking at that area north of the airfield with Google earth, but everything is now overgrown so those photos with the hills/ridges really made Sledge's comments come to life. thanks for posting.
     
  6. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    We came in on amtracs or amphibs. We didn't know them as LVTs back then. In fact, we were one of the first to hit the beach. When I got on the beach there were barely any Marines going in.

    The BAR was a fine weapon. I chose it because I figured that being able to shoot 20 rounds at a time was much better than 8 rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger. I never once took my BAR off of full automatic fire; however, if the BAR man was really good he knew how to use the trigger on that thing. It was a fine, fine trigger. Depending on the amount of pressure I put on it, I could squeeze off one round at a time, two or three rounds at a time. Then it was just as affective as an M1 rifle for long distance, with that long barrel. Of course, this was without the bi-pod. That was the first thing to go.

    And this might shock you, but I didn't even get my weapon until I arrived on Pavuvu and I had a friend, George McNevin, who recommended that I chose the BAR - so I did.
     
  7. theblackalchemist

    theblackalchemist Member

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    Mr Mace,

    Did you / How often did you have the deep seated feeling of What the hell is Happening?
    And i know this is sensitive, but did you ever have a feeling that you are going to get it?

    From the many books i have read, Everybody know that there were gonna be many casualties, but not many thought that they themselves were going to cop it.

    How much truth is in that?

    Regards,
    TBA
     
  8. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    You know, it's like two conflicting sides within you. That I'd actually get killed was something my mind couldn't register. I never thought I'd die, despite seeing other dead Marines. Yet at the same time there is a fear of being...something...you can't put your finger on it: killed, maimed, go crazy, let down a Marine. But you don't even want to try putting your finger on it, because that means you'd have to think about it - and when you dwell too much away from the task at hand, that's when bad things happen.

    I was very aware of what was happening. Every second. Oh, I would forget some things, like eating or sleeping, or the last time I took a crap...but I think I was in a constant state of awareness, like having a constant low amount of electricty wired to me.

    sm
     
  9. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Mr. Mace,
    What did the veterans of Guadalcanal tell you about that campaign? Did they talk much about, or focus their time trying to teach how to fight them?
     
  10. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    They didn't say much to us about the Nips or how to fight them. When I first got to Pavuvu they came around trying to scare us, showing us their souvenirs, making up bullshit stories so that they'd sound salty, really laying it on thick, you know? Some of the replacements fell for that crap, but I wasn't having any of it. I was more wondering what kind of fellas I fell in with in the Marines, more than anything! haha.

    After Peleliu, the running gag was that we had to show the Canal vets what a real war was like by taking them to Peleliu with us. The truth is, none of the Canal vets really protested....they just went along with the ribbing, good naturedly. There was more truth to the joke than anyone wanted to let on. Most of them were rotating stateside after that.

    I hope that answers your question. No words of wisdom from the vets.

    sm
     
  11. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Mr Mace, were you able to see Bob Hope and the USO show on Pavuvu?

    Would mind telling us a bit more of Pavuvu. Was it a bit drier and less muddy when you got arrived there, or was it still the swampy mess that many instinctively remember from there days there?
     
  12. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    It does. Thank you.

    Do you remember what your opinion of Gens Rupertus and O.P. Smith was before the assault of Pelelui? And did it change afterward?

    Were you aware at the time of heavy losses of the landing vehicles & men as you headed to the beach?
     
  13. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Yes, I saw the USO show with Bob Hope, at the division theater. We stayed up on the outer rim, up high where we could see well. There was Bob Hope, Jerry Colonna, Francis Langford, Cliff Peabody, the banjo player, and the dancer was Patty Davis, who danced with some of the Marines. There's a picture of her dancing with a fellow from HQ company. He was killed on Peleliu.

    When I got to Pavuvu it was still in development. Our company street was pretty dry, but it was still full of coconuts, and it rained almost every day and every night.
     
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  14. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Oh, Rupertus, we didn't really hear anything about him before Peleliu. After Peleliu, however, we didn't think much of him because he told us it would be three days; but as you know that was a bunch of crap.

    No, we were not aware of heavy losses. Nobody told us we would get heavy losses before we headed in. Now, I was in the first wave going onto the beach, so there was nothing to compare it to. I tell you, I didn't know anything as I hit the beach but maybe the people right beside me...if that! I sure knew if someone got hit next to me. Otherwise, I was already into the mangrove before the second wave even touched the shore.

    That's the thing a lot of people don't understand. They see these films with Marines bunched up and wallowing around on the beach; but that's not the way it was. If you stay on the beach you're dead...and you're dead because you didn't do as you were told and get off the beach as fast as you can. Those photos you see of the Peleliu landing, with the Marines on the beach? Those are the last waves hitting the shore, because there was no action on the beach after that. And there sure as hell wasn't photographers snapping pictures of the first wave. Those shutterbugs would come in when "the coast was clear" as the saying goes.

    sm
     
  15. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Did your company CO survive the fight?
     
  16. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Thanks for sharing your insights and thoughts Mr. Mace. While reading books on the subject is helpful, having you here to answer our questions directly gives us the opportunity to reflect on your answer and prompts us to think of new questions, something that a book can never do. Your presence here is just one more example of why this site is so amazing.
     
  17. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Yeah, yeah, you can ask away. The ony thing is, some questions I just won't answer because you'll have to wait for the book. haha. I do think, however, that the book will be so different from most memoirs that you'll really like. At least I hope so.

    sm
     
  18. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Well, I don't know there, Jeff. If Haldane wasn't killed on Peleliu then he's probably hanging around with Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa, riding the loch ness monster together.

    Captain Andrew Haldane was killed very close to us getting pulled off the line for the last time. Near the end of the whole mess. He was replaced by Thomas Stanley for Okinawa.

    I didn't know Haldane that well. We had a brief conversation before Ngesebus. But from all accounts he was a really swell guy. A standup Marine.

    sm
     
  19. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    That is why I have been a bit hesitant to ask you much.

    We'll make deal with you. If we ask a question that you are planning on addressing in your book, say so. We'll understand and move on.

    If you want to answer it just partially, that is okay also.

    I think that I will later on tonight, move part of this thread to here Honor, Service and Valor - World War II Forums We prefer to have our Veterans where they can be easily found.
     
  20. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I appreciate and understand that sentiment. I can live with unanswered questions for now. I am looking forward to the publication of your book.

    Are there episodes in your service that you either have difficulty (emotionally) with or have otherwise submerged? I don't mean to bring them up, but my father (who passed away 20 years ago) never really spoke of his time in combat, so any information I have comes mainly from reading, and I'm curious about the psychology of combat.

    Thanks again.
     

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