“It was like Native American warriors taking scalps. While I was removing a bayonet and scabbard from a dead Japanese, I noticed a Marine near me. He wasn’t in our mortar section, but had happened by and wanted in on the spoils from the Japanese soldiers we had just killed near the pillbox.
He was dragging what I assumed to be a corpse, but the Japanese wasn’t dead. He had been wounded severely in the back and couldn’t move his arms. Otherwise, he would have resisted to his last breath.
The wounded Japanese’s mouth glowed with huge gold crowned teeth, and his captor wanted them. He put the point of his KA-Bar knife on the foot of a tooth, and hit the handle with the palm of his hand. Because the Japanese was kicking his feet and thrashing about, the knife point glanced off the tooth and sank deeply into the victims mouth.
The Marine cursed him, and with a slash, cut his cheeks open to each ear. He put his foot on the sufferers lower jaw, and tried again. Blood poured out of the soldiers mouth. He made a gurgling noise and thrashed wildly.
I shouted ‘Put the man out of his misery!’, all I got for an answer was a cussing out. Another Marine ran up, put a bullet in the enemy soldiers brain and ended his agony. The scavenger grumbled and continued extracting his prizes undisturbed.
Such was the cruelty that decent men could commit when reduced to a brutish existence in their fight for survival amid the violent death, terror, tension, fatigue, and filth that was the infantryman’s war.”
– Eugene Sledge, US Marines. Pacific Front World War Two
As we always say here at Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.
With The Old Breed, by Eugene Sledge