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Sterling Mace at Peleliu and Okinawa

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

  1. MarionO

    MarionO recruit

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    I happen to be about 30% of the way into Eugene Sledge's "With The Old Breed". Those photos really brought what I've read so far to life. Thank you for posting this. And thank you, Mr. Mace, for sharing your experiences. I can't imagine what you and the others there have gone through .... well, I can imagine, but I'm sure it's not even a fraction of what it must have been like to actually be there. I would also be most interested in reading your book when it's published.

    Marion
     
  2. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    There were things that happened on those islands...

    Some things I didn't talk about for a long time, but they don't bother me anymore.

    After the war, we formed a NY chapter of the 1st Marine Division, but we did more drinking and shooting craps, as opposed to talking about the war. It was more like, "Oh my wife, this and that..." and "Hey, Gene, you remember that time on Pavuvu?" Rarely combat related conversations. I was glad.

    The psychology of combat? You'll probably get more of that than you want in my book. I don't pull any punches and I don't make stuff up. But I will tell you this, those guys who thought too much about the future or the past, they ended up with some soft of post traumtic mumbo jumbo after the war. For some reason I was able to stay in the present and it helped me cope. That doesn't make me better than any other Marine, or somehow special, but it did keep me sane when I was in danger.

    But scared? You bet. Nothing can describe the fear of the moment.
     
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  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    This is very reminiscent of my father. He and some of his army buddies from his company began a reunion that lasted into the 1970s. They used to joke that every time they got together, they won the war bigger and easier. I was only a kid, but I still remember many of those guys and the honor I felt listening to them talk. I only wish I had thought to record what they said.
     
  4. sunny971

    sunny971 Ace

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    IF I may, I like to slightly get off topic and send a message to a special someone...


    Hello Mr Sterling Mace..

    i have always been so interested to meet and ask lots of questions to a WW2 veteran.. But I'm drawing a blank and I can't think of anything to ask you!!

    but I do have something to say

    thanks for being an inspiration to the younger generation like myself. You and all the other great veterans stand as a reminder that we are so lucky. Sometimes we forget. We get trapped in the world under technology and live life in high speed. We forget to stop for a moment and think about how different it could have all been if our grandfathers , fathers, friends or neighbours had refused to fight, had given up or surrendered. How different could it had been if you had chosen not to land on the foreign beaches thousands of miles away from home.

    A few years back I was lucky enough to visit Arlington cemetary. It was quite an expierence for me. I remember going by graves of WW2 soldiers killed at sea. Their graves were empty, their bodies never found. It was difficult to see. And even though my visit was short, It changed the way i view life. i know know what it means to be a hero. Someone who chooses to fight for what's right. One who takes the leap and moves forward knowing the dangers of what lies ahead. Someone who leaves the comfort of his family to risk death in foreign lands. To die for his nation and for future generations. He knows they will never know his name and the sacrifices he made for his country, but he will do it anyway. A hero is a soldier.

    And thank you sir for freedom.

    Sorry I don't want to sound quacky.. but I never really got this oppertunity to thank a veteran. Even though I am a Canadian, but back then the allies fought together as one nation, one power for one purpose.. to kick some enemy ass! :D
    A job well done!!

    thanks again,
    Suzie.
     
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  5. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Suzie,
    Your words are both beautiful and poignant. I'm really at a loss for words. Thank you for taking the time to write. It is important to me that people never forget. Not because my generation was truly that great; but because, greatness is achieved by those who remember and attach an importance to something. What we did on those islands were important to us. Every Marine attached some importance to it all.
    Now, you've become important to me...and everyone on this web site.

    Thank you.

    Sterling G. Mace
     
  6. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    I went ahead and split the thread these were in to keep Mr. Mace's memories in a location with better traffic. Mr. Mace, If you would like a different title for the thread please let us know.


    I would like to ask about your thoughts when you heard the first marines were to be relieved? My understanding is that your unit had not been hit as bad (not that you had it easy) as the first or seventh. Did you see them on thier way out? What where your impressions?
     
  7. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Well, early on we did not get hit as bad. As it turned out, however, we were the 3/5 was the last on the line, not being pulled off until Oct. 15th, 1944. So the 5th Marines spent the longest on the line, plus making an additional assault on Ngesebus.

    * A note on Ngesebus * - The way it looks on paper, Ngesebus was a walk in the park. In Sledge's book he doesn't devote that much time to it, because, to tell you the truth, the island was so small that the 61mm mortar's effective range of 40 yards, minimum, was cut very short. The mortars didn't really have that much of a job. But we riflemen destroyed the Japanese on that island.

    Yes, we saw the 1st Marines come down to Purple Beach, as they were on their way out. My 5th Marines had cut across the island, through swamps and jungle, to secure Purple Beach and seal off the Japanese landing there. The 1st Marines looked like hell. They were done as a fighting unit by September 21st. That was 6 days into the fight!

    Somehow I just knew we would end up looking like them...and we did! I remember that some Marines went up and spoke with them, but I didn't want any part in that. I didn't want to have any expectations in my mind that might impede me from doing my job. I didn't want any extra fear.

    I don't know what the total casualties were for the 5th Marines, but to give you an idea, out of 39 riflemen in my 3rd platoon, only 9 of us were left at the end of the battle.
     
  8. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Mike - Maybe you could call it "Sterling Mace at Peleliu and Okinawa." Okinawa was a rough one too as I recall. That's where I should have been killed. Knock wood.
     
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  9. Laurie House

    Laurie House Member

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    I hope this isn't a dumb question. (I have been told that there is no such thing as a stupid question) On the Pacific show the Marines were told to eat/suck on salt licks. I know water was in dire need, but what was the purpose of the salt? Doesn't that dry out the body?

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you've done,
    Jackie
     
  10. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Jackie, Well you lose salt in your sweat and that's not good. They gave us salt tablets and told us to take them to prevent dehydration. But here's the rub: the tablets had to be downed with lots of water for the tablets to work. Well, we didn't always have lots of water; so Marines would take these tablets and they'd get sick.

    sm
     
  11. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Mr. Mace did you experience any problems with rear area guys wandering toward the front looking for souvenirs while combat was still ongoing? Where there any actions taken to prevent this sort of thing?
     
  12. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Sorry I just saw this, Mike.

    You bet there was. I reallty hate moments like this when I want to speak freely about a topic, but I can't because there is a certain part in my book that touches this topic...and for the first time exposes something, that to this day, I've never heard anybody speak about.

    What's sad is that the actions taken to prevent such things were the reverse of what you'd expect...or maybe "irony" is the better word.
     
  13. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    Ah, then I shall await your book. If I may go in another direction, How did your experiances on Peleliu effect how you went about your job on Okinawa?
     
  14. Laurie House

    Laurie House Member

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    I see, returning the salt to your body.

    Thank you for answering my question. ^_^
     
  15. DCBGSU

    DCBGSU Member

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    Mr. Mace,

    First of all i wanted to thank you and your comrades for your contribution to the America i know and love as a 21 year old today. I have been busy with school but i just happened to have some time off and come across the ww2f.com again, and was absolutely thrilled to see a veteran of peleliu and the pacific campaign on here posting and answering questions. Having a fanatical interest in world war 2 i was hoping i could ask you some questions about your experience, that may prove to be helpful in your biography/ documentary of your war time experience. That being said what i was wondering most, and hoping you could address, are:

    - What was the overall feeling of you and the other men who enlisted, and participated in the war? What i mean, more exactly is, how did you feel while in formation seeing the thousands upon thousands of other men like yourself come together for a common cause? Was there a feeling of immense national pride, similar to what one would feel while representing their hometown or school in an athletic competition (albeit, a more significant and much more important cause with your way of life, and your nations way of life resting in your hands)? I have watched countless documentaries on world war 2 and often see the young men like myself in formation, marching, beaming with a national pride unbeknown to anyone who has not participated in an actual war of this magnitude, and i often sit and think about the sentiments and thoughts that must be flowing through their (your) mind(s). It seems to me that these men and womens faces are etched with determination, pride, and solidarity despite the adverse conditions of the time. If you could, would you please further elaborate upon these feelings. It is just unconceivable to me, i cannot even imagine being my age and having the weight of the United States resting on my young shoulders.

    Also,

    - What does war sound like? Ive often times sat watching documentaries trying to figure out what exactly it is like, and although i understand that you truly have to be there to understand it, i just cannot comprehend how war would even sound, let alone look.

    If you feel uncomfortable, or have planned for these descriptions to be in your book i completely understand your sentiments with not answering. Thank you once again Mr. Mace, i hope someday my generation can live up to our expectations and obligations based upon the sacrificies of yours.


    - Dustin
     
  16. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    Dustin,
    Pride. Yes, the most of us had a great deal of pride; but I don’t think it is the pride that is known today. If I may be so bold, I think today’s national pride takes a great deal from what was perceived to be “our” pride in the 1940s. My generation’s pride is not a bad thing to take from, however. It’s just that back then it was very simple. Nobody had to ask, nobody had to question themselves too much. We just did. We came out of the Great Depression and just did. It wasn’t as if it was even expected of us. You do it because it was the thing to do. Very few people felt forced. I’m not sure if I’m oversimplifying your answer, or if even if I do my generation justice. Even looking back today, on what we did—on what I did—I still feel that pride. I call it “the roar of the crowd.”

    Now, sounds in combat? I was watching the Green Bay/Atlanta game the other day, and in Atlanta they said they were trying to break a record. The announcer said that 115 decibels(?) causes pain to the listener. I can tell you that combat was a lot louder than a football stadium. So loud, in fact, that almost all sound gets sucked out of the air because of the competing sounds. If you have artillery, machineguns, rifle fire, your own heartbeat, and the sound of your breath going on at one time, it is a suffocating pressure that not only is felt by your ears, but by your whole body.

    These are a few things touched upon in my book. But in my book it goes into more depth.

    I hope this answered your questions.
    Regards,
    Sterling G. Mace, K/3/5
     
  17. Emerson_Bigguns

    Emerson_Bigguns Member

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    Greetings Mr. Mace. I'm mostly a 'lurker' on the forum and I stumbled into this thread today. I wanted to say thank you for your service and sacrifice and for offering you insights here on the forum. From what I've read thus far that book is going to be quite the read and I look forward to the opportunity.
     
  18. mikebatzel

    mikebatzel Dreadnaught

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    It's good to see you about Mr. Mace. Is there any new info on your Book? Have you decided on a title? release date?
     
  19. Sterling Mace

    Sterling Mace WWII Veteran

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    I don't have a date, but the book is finished and we have some of the best people in the business working on getting it our there. I was amazed at how many people believe in this book and want to see it work in a big way. It will be in all the stores.

    The title has flip-flopped. It will either be "The Real Pacific War: A Marine Rifleman's Trip Through Hell." Or "The Real Pacific War: True Confessions of a Marine Rifleman."

    Which do you prefer?
     
  20. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    Both titles work, but I kind of lean toward the second one. I'm not sure why, but it resonates better with me.

    As with the others here, I can't wait to know when the release will be. Again, thanks for spending some time here with us and sharing your story.
     

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