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|Andrew "Ack Ack" Haldane|
Ack Ack just prior to Peleliu
Battle of Cape Gloucester
Battle of Peleliu
KIA, Peleliu Bloody Nose Ridge
Captain Andrew "Ack Ack" Haldane was the commanding officer of King Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines AKA K/3/5 at the time of the Battle of Peleliu.
History and DescriptionEdit
Ack Ack was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts on Aug. 22, 1917, the son of Scottish immigrants Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Haldane. Ack Ack was just three years out of college at the time of the Peleliu Operation. It was at Bowdoin College in Maine where he developed leadership skills as captain of the football and baseball teams. He served as president of the student council and was also well-liked by classmates, winning the Wooden Spoon — an honor bestowed upon the most popular student on campus.
PavuvuEditEugene Sledge met him just after reuniting with his friend Sidney Phillips. Thinking that they were fighting, Ack Ack and his friend Lt. Edward "Hillbilly" Jones came over to break them up. Sid explained that they were great friends, so Ack Ack and Hillbilly left them alone.
Ack Ack briefed the 5th Marines just before they went onto the LVTs heading for Peleliu. Whilst the marines were fighting, Sledge had to exercise great effort to get off the beach. He froze at one time, but then Ack Ack came by and got Sledge on his feet. Ack Ack then put Sgt. Elmo "Gunny" Haney in charge of the squad while he tries to find the others. Soon, Ack Ack returns and the Marines move on towards the airfield.
Ack Ack is later seen leading the other Marines through the airfield where Sledge witnesses the death of fellow replacement, Pfc. Robert Oswalt. Ack Ack is later seen leading Sledge and other motarmen in the squad to clear out a partially destroyed building. That night, Sledge confides his fear to Ack Ack in a heartfelt talk with the Skipper, who tells him that every day, he tries to think of a good cause for the war that they were currently fighting, before he leaves.
Bloody Nose RidgeEditAck Ack later leads the Marines in his unit through the Bloody Nose Ridge. He comes across a machine gun bamboo nest among the opposing hills that open fire. He later receives orders to take them out, but Haldane knew that it would lead to unnessecary casualties, so he went back to try to get his commanders to change the order, temporarily giving command to Hillbilly. Haldane later returns with new orders and the Marines later go back to rest for a while.
While there the Marines encounter the 1st Marines with LtCol. Lewis "Chesty" Puller leading. Haldane then leads the 5th Marines towards the Bloody Nose Ridge, where Pfc. Bill Leyden is wounded and Hillbilly is killed.
DeathEditAs K/3/5 began to assess its new situation, several of the Marines belly-crawled to within inches of the summit. Their job, dangerous as it was, was to peek over that ridge and get an idea of what lay before them. It would involve raising their heads a couple of inches, making a one- or two-second lay of the land, then quickly lowering it again. Haldane, the only commissioned officer left, very carefully lifted his head 4 or 5 inches above the rocky parapets, took a quick look, and began to speak…
…and then stopped as the smack of a sniper’s bullet hit him square in the forehead. The Marine Captain probably never even knew he got hit, and was dead before gravity had fully reversed Haldane’s five-inch head lift. Somewhere, a Japanese sniper must have sighted that precise piece of real estate just as Haldane raised his head for that brief instant.
More than sixty years later, Sergeant Dick Higgins, Haldane’s aide and runner, still wrestled with the anguish that swept through K/3/5 that day. “It was the kind of thing that never gets out your mind completely, and it still hurts to think about it. I’ve wondered a thousand times why I lived and he died, but I guess it’s true that only the good die young. Andy Haldane was as good a man – and as good a Marine – as you’ll ever find.”
R.V. Burgin, who was right next to him when he was killed, said that to this day, he still wishes it was he who died instead of Capt. Haldane.
Sergeant Jim McEnery, the higest ranking man on the ridge, shorty took command of K/3/5 after Haldane's death. Soon Lieutenant Thomas "Stumpy" Stanley took over and lead the company through the rest of the battle and later on Okinawa until he came down with malaria.
Personality and TraitsEditDuring the war, Ack Ack was well known for being a strong and respectful leader, as well as a great friend to the Marines. He was loved by his men. As company commander of the K/3/5 Marines, he had begun showing his leadership abilities as a Lieutenant way back on Guadalcanal. He lacked many of the traits of a stereotypical “Drill-Instructor”. He was hard-nosed, but not a brute. He never raised his voice, but no one doubted when Capt. Haldane was chastising a subordinate Marine. He was as much a member of the K/3/5 as he was its leader, and he was popular for it. "He was the finest Marine officer I ever knew," Sledge wrote in his book, which he dedicated to Haldane. "The loss of many close friends grieved me deeply on Peleliu and Okinawa. But to all of us, the loss of our company commander at Peleliu was like losing a parent we depended upon for security — not our physical security, because we knew that was a commodity beyond our reach in combat, but our mental security." Sledge also adds; "He was able to put enough of himself aside to address the concerns of his men. Yet, he had such a strong sense of himself that he was somebody who other men would follow into combat devotedly," he said. "Aren't we lucky that we had Captain Haldane? I don't want to sound cliche, but I think he's the best that we produced. And who knows what he could have become? How tragic that we never got the benefit of the man. You can't help but wonder what he would have been had he lived out his life."
- In Methuen, there's a ball field dedicated to Haldane's memory, and a memorial trophy handed out to the top senior on the Methuen High School football team.
- Surprisingly, the real Haldane, while still resembling his actor, Scott Gibson, also resembles Joe Mazzello to an extent.