Part One is the first episode of the HBO minseries, The Pacific, centering mostly on Robert Leckie and his experiences on the Battle on the Tenaru of the Guadalcanal Campaign
The story focuses mostly on Leckie, but it also has side stories focusing on the other main characters, making this one of the only episodes to focus on all three main characters. It is just a few weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Leckie's StorylineEditRobert Leckie is first seen in St. Mary's church. When he goes out, he bumps into his neighbor, Vera Keller. He tells her that he's joined the Marine Corps and promises to write to her after a brief conversation.
That night, Leckie's father drives Leckie to boot camp where they talk briefly before Leckie catches his bus ride.
Guadalcanal, August 1942EditJust before they arrive at Guadalcanal, Leckie and his friends Runner, Chuckler, Hoosier, Sid and Gibson have a brief chat. The marines then go into the Higgins boats and arrive at the beach opposed by absolutely nothing. There is already a group of marines from the 5th Marine Regiment there, with Leckie and his friends feeling euphoric over the fact that the Japanese will apparently be easy to beat. The unit then trudges through the jungles to the Tenaru River. Along the way they find some brutally maimed Marines that are dead. Leckie says, "Goddamn bastards" in disgust. That night, a medical corpsman named Lewis is killed by a jumpy Marine. They reach the end of the jungle where they set up machine gun nests to fend off any opposition. The Japanese come by soon enough and Leckie and Chuckler shoot away, with the next day seeing the Tenaru shores littered with dead Japanese soldiers. One of the soldiers in the pile was still alive and a couple of medics go to help him, however, the soldier detonates a hidden grenade, ending his life as well as the medics', apparently signaling another Japanese raid. One soldier remained, and the marines continually taunt him with gunfire, bringing him to his breaking point. Leckie decides that he has seen enough and he shoots the soldier himself with a .45 pistol, much to the displeasure of the other marines. After the battle, the marines' commanding officer, Capt. Jameson, is relieved of his duties due to cowardice, and Chuckler is promoted to Corporal for his actions on the battlefield.
Some time later, the 7th Marines show up, greeting the 1st Marines as they pass with Leckie staring on as a wound is being treated by a corpsman named Stern. Leckie's unit then moves out, all the while having a letter from home read to them by Leckie's friend, Pfc. Sidney "Sid" Phillips (who is also the best friend of Eugene Sledge, another one of the main characters). They then celebrate Sid's birthday by giving him a grenade and singing the birthday song two times, with the f-word inserted many times in the latter version.
Sgt. John Basilone and his friends Sgts J.P Morgan and Manuel "Manny" Rodriguez along with many other NCOs are given a motivational speech by LtCol. Lewis "Chesty" Puller. Puller tells the NCOs that the Marine Corps efforts will be in concentrated in the Pacific Theater of Operations and they'll be fighting on small islands that most of the rest of the world is unaware of. Puller goes on to say that Hitler and the European Theater will be handled by the Army -- at least "until they can't whip 'em without us."
That night, Basilone, Manny, and J.P have dinner with Basilone's family. One of Basilone's brothers named Angelo gives a speech then they all eat their food.
Guadalcanal, August 1942Edit
After the Battle of the Tenaru, the 7th Marines land on Guadalcanal and greet the 1st Marines, including Leckie's unit -- marking the only time Basilone has an interaction with one of the two other main characters. Once they passed by, Manny remarks that the 1st Marines looked like "they were through the wringer", to which J.P replies, "That's one way of putting it." thus serving as a prelude to the second episode.
Sledge's StorylineEditEugene Sledge has a checkup with his father in Mobile, Alabama. Unfortunately, a heart murmur prevents Sledge from enlisting in the Marines. Eugene is quite upset.
His friend, Sid, is due to leave for boot camp, so Sledge comes by and gives Sid a copy of a book by Rudyard Kipling before going back home.
- The Battle of the Tenaru was the Baptism by Fire for Leckie's unit.
- This is the only time that John Basilone meets one of the other main characters (Robert Leckie).
- Early on the marines get a briefing about why they're fighting the war, before being sent home to enjoy a last Christmas with family. There's a world map behind the speaker on the stage which clearly shows Iceland as dark red - occupied by the Nazis, but in reality the British occupied Iceland early in the war to keep control of the North Atlantic, and although a plan to invade Iceland was drawn up during WWII, the island was never invaded or occupied by Germany..
- During the nighttime shootout on the river bank, the usual Browning M1917 water-cooled machine gun manned by Robert Leckie suddenly alternates with the M2 Browning .50 cal machine gun. There was one shot when the muzzle flash lit up the scene that you see the long barrel of M2 .50 cal, not the M1917 with the cylindrical water-cooled jacket.
- During the battle of Tenaru, you can clearly see the blank rounds in the belt magazine in a close-up shot of the machine gun team.