China Marine

Last fall I read a book written by a World War II veteran, how told the world his story about fighting with the Marines in the Pacific. After a little searching on my part, I found out that he actually had written a second book on the same topic, this book, however, China Marine, is his story about what happened after the war was over. Most tropes in Europe went home pretty fast after the war ended, but in the Pacific, the soldiers had to go over to China and stay there to calm down the country, where a civil war was about to start. The author, Eugene. B. Sledge, was in China for four months, right before the Communists took over. In this book, China Marine, he tells the reader about how it was to leave the Pacific islands and step in to a city like Peiping (now Beijing) and for the first time in nearly two years, sleep indoors, on a real bed and eat good food instead of the Marines C rations.

As a reader you get to follow Sledge throughout the book, from being a solider that fought and won over the Japanese and was moved to China, where he was put in actually danger once again. There was never a real risk for his life in China, but all too many American soldiers had to give up their lives in the civil war between the Communists and the Nationalists. Sledge continues to talk about the city Peiping and a few really good friends he made there. In the end though, he was sent home and he was happy to finally be back in America again, after over two years abroad. But he was not prepared for how it would feel to not only leave the Marines and his buddies, but to be back in the real life, surrounded by civilians that couldn’t even dream about all the horrors he had seen even in their worst nightmares. He was shocked by how all the Americans took their freedom for granted and he had big trouble adjusting himself to the normal life while trying to forget all the horrible things he had seen and done far away in the Pacific.

I think both Sledge’s books are very important, the go hand in hand and tells a two different tales to the readers, about something most of us can’t even imagine. For it to never be a World War III, I think people have to read books written by war veterans, like China Marine, but also Sledge’s first book, With the old breed. You can never understand how horrible it was to fight in the Pacific, not even by reading books like these, but you get a better perspective when reading something like this. Most people fighting in World War II was young men with their future just around the next corner. There were far too many that never made it back home again, men who never got to see what the future held for them, never got to marry or be a dad or do any of the things they dreamed of doing. Instead, they gave away their lives for other people, for strangers, to carry on their lives. It’s admirable and I can’t even begin to thank all the people that, in one way or another, was involved on the Allies side in World War II. I can’t help but wonder; how many people would just give up their lives today, to save a stranger, to save their country? Not too many, I recon. However, for someone like Sledge and he’s comrades, who just gave up everything to help win the war, where so many died and the survivors carried scars in their souls for the rest of their lives… it’s truly admirable and something that no one should forget. No one should ever take their freedom for granted and Sledge has, with his two books, told a story that will live on long after the last remaining soldier from World War II is gone.