Monday, March 29, 2010

The Pacific Miniseries, Part Two Review

Yeah, I'm more than a little late on this one. I haven't seen part three yet (it aired last night), but I hope to get to it last night.

Part Two had more pure action scenes than the first episode, which isn't very surprising. A setup episode was needed, and that happened more or less in Part One. Eugene Sledge finally is allowed to join the Marines, even with his father's disapproval. He'll be trained and ready for the Peleliu invasion (September 1944) and for Okinawa.

This episode concentrates on our in-country Marines, Leckie and Baslione. Leckie's beleaguered unit is in a defensive position on the outskirts of Henderson Field. The supply issue becomes a major problem for everyone on Guadalcanal, including the Japanese. The Marines take to looting the newly arrived U.S. Army unit, helping themselves to the food and other goodies that their own quartermasters lack.

Leckie even gets sick from canned peaches, probably due to some bug or virus picked up on the island. Other members of his platoon have dysentery or malaria on top of the mental scars of seeing friends and comrades masticated by the gears of war.

It was interesting that both Leckie and Basilone's units use an air raid as a diversion to raid the Army's supply depot. For the most part, the Japanese had air superiority over the skies of Guadalcanal until the island fell completely under U.S. and Allied control. The newly landed Army units didn't know that the Japanese attacked the airfield and not the supply dump, which allowed the Marines free access to the unguarded dump. However, after Midway, the Marianas "Turkey Shoot", Battle of the Bismarck Sea, and other battles across the Pacific ocean, the Japanese would relinquish air superiority. The IJA and Navy would no longer have enough trained pilots or aircraft to mount raids or attack Allied shipping. This was true for invasion of Normandy and the fall of Germany -- not enough planes, pilots and fuel to attack the Allied forces. It is a great morale boost not having to look above the battlefield for threats, like the German and Japanese soldiers had to do for most of the war.

The rest of the episode centered around Sgt. Basilone's epic defense of Henderson Field, which won him the Medal of Honor. He essentially was the lynch pin of the airfield's defense against a massive Japanese attack. At one point, he had to clear a mound of dead and wounded Japanese soldiers from his field of fire -- quite dangerous indeed. During the battle, he loses a close friend and one of the central characters in his platoon.

A very good episode, and I can't wait to see the next one!

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