"Basilone" redirects here. For the American war hero, see "John Basilone"
John Basilone after an encounter in Guadalcanal
Battle of Guadalcanal
Part Two is the 2nd episode of the HBO series, The Pacific. Like the title implies, the episode is centered around John Basilone, but it also focuses on Robert Leckie, as well.
GuadalcanalEditJohn Basilone, Manny Rodriguez and J.P. Morgan, along with the rest of their squad, move quietly through the jungle to an open area knee-high with brush. Before entering the clearing completely Basilone, who is on point, puts up his hand, giving the sign to stop. Everyone does, then ducks down into the brush.
A second lieutenant moves up and asks Rodriguez if he's seen Briggs, another commanding officer, and his men. "No sir," Rodriguez answers. The officer peeks his head slightly above the brush line, and a shot rings out, slicing him through his jugular and spraying Basilone's face with blood.
The men blindly return fire into the opposite forest area until Basilone gives the sign to stop. The lieutenant bleeds out on the ground with Basilone and his unit unable to save his life. He gives the order to break down the weapons and, throwing the dead man's body over his shoulder, leads the retreat back into the jungle to regroup.
Rodriguez comes over and, noticing the blood on Basilone's face, asks if he's been hit. They both stare at their dead comrade, and Basilone grabs a canteen, pours water in his hands, and furiously tries to wash the blood off of his face. One of the men comes over and relays Lt. Col. Puller's orders: Hang back with Abel company, try to get the Japanese to follow them, then join the rest of the battalion up North. Basilone is dazed, but pulls it together and orders J.P. and the other men into position. They move on.
Robert Leckie and his squad hang out in a foxhole and try, unsuccessfully, to eat Army rations from 1918. They're terrible, but it's all they have. Leckie is busily writing and one of his companions, Private Wilbur 'Runner' Conley, asks who he's writing to. It's Vera, of course...and the boys want him to read the letter. Leckie begins with "Dear Vera,' saying that it's raining and he's reading this letter Runner, and throws in, "can't wait to see you and ever so slowly strip you of your...oh, you don't need to hear that part."
Runner laughs and says that's exactly what he needs to hear, then Chuckler says to "tell her how handsome I am.", then Leckie comes clean. He's not going to write her that stuff. He's going to tell her the truth: that the jungle is swallowing them and there's 5,000 Japanese soldiers who want to kill them. The boys go silent after that and chew on their awful rations and Bill 'Hoosier' Smith looks up at Leckie.
"Hey, thanks for brightening the mood," Hoosier offers.
"Oh, I do what I can," Leckie wisecracks.
At daybreak, Basilone and his squad are in the chow line, where the dinner menu reads "Rice Without Beef, Rice Without Chicken, Rice Without Shrimp..." The mood is so tense that Morgan almost comes to blows with a man over a radio ad for Aunt Jemima pancake mix. Morgan gets in another man's face, saying the only radio that he wants to hear is a report that enemy ships have been sunk. But they'd need the Navy for that, Morgan snips, so fat chance. Basilone pulls him off, saying "hot chow will cheer you up."
Unfortunately, hot chow translates to rice with maggots in it. "Think of it as meat," the cook growls.
- Lt. Col "Chesty" Puller gathers the other men around and brightens the mood by telling them that the Japanese newspapers are describing the Marines as "not ordinary troops but...a special force recruited from jails and insane asylums full of blood lust." The men laugh and cheer. Then Chesty gives them the good news: The Army has landed. He orders every man in his battalion to be shaved and realizes that they can't do much about their uniforms. "I figure, we're just raggedy-assed Marines," he says, proudly pulling on Manny's shirt. "We look this way for a reason."
After they boys wash up they have their first encounter with the Army while walking on a narrow dirt road: a green truck rumbles up behind them and nearly runs them over, giving them no warning. Each side flips off the other and JP yells, "F****n' army. Just you f****n' wait."
Cut to Army basecamp, where the soldiers are unloading crates of fresh supplies. An air raid siren goes off, and the soldiers drop everything and run to the jungle for cover when they see enemy planes overhead. The Marines sit and wait, hiding behind two barrels. They're taking advantage of the Army's ignorance of the fact that the Japanese bomb the airfield, not the beach. Then the Marines run in and raid what supplies they can: Crackers, canned goods, anything, and the marines discover that the Army has a better weapon than they do -- the M1 Garand rifle.
Leckie cracks open a captain's footlocker and sees it's full of personal items.
He grabs a nice looking pair of moccasin slippers and a box of cigars. Phillips and Juergens crack open another crate and see new M1 Garand rifles, but before Phillips can help himself the Army starts trickling back in and the Marines run with their pilfered booty, laughing all the way.
Leckie is still walking with his stash when Lt. Corrigan rides up in a Jeep and stops him. He says that one of the Army Captains is pretty sore about somebody stealing his cigars and his favorite pair of moccasins. They both look down at Leckie's feet, which happen to be sporting the very footwear the Captain's missing. Corrigan tells him to watch where he wears those, "or smoking cigars you might not have." Leckie eyes the stolen box of Johnny Walker Red Label whiskey in Corrigan's lap and grins as the officer drives away.
When Leckie returns to his foxhole, he shows off his cigars and says they're for him. But, he adds, he got something for them -- cans of peaches. He hands them out, and the boys swoon as if they're tasting Heaven, except for Runner, who is living up to his nickname squatting across a log with a bout of diarrhea, and is not so hot on having peaches. Leckie opens a can with his knife and gulps down the syrup inside and chuckles...until, after a moment passes, he retches and throws up right at Runner's feet. Runner informs Leckie that his new nickname will be Peaches, and everyone laughs.
Runner is still squatting on the same log during nightfall, and Leckie jokes that Runner's new nickname is Old Faithful. Before long, the Japanese begin dropping bombs in the distance. With explosions moving closer Leckie pulls Runner into the foxhole as the world explodes around them, and Hoosier grabs and shelters a dog that's made its way in with them. The blasts seem to go on forever and they crouch, shuddering.In the morning, the Marines dig out, shell shocked. Leckie stares at debris that's fallen over his foxhole and watches as his brothers -- and Hoosier with his dog -- emerge, largely unscathed.
They're luckier than another foxhole JP, Basilone and Manny come across that took a direct hit and is filled with nothing but body parts.
Briggs comes up to give orders, but pauses at the sight before passing along that Chesty wants to talk to all the ranking NCOs.
With the NCOs gathered, he tells the men that they've been ordered to guard the South end of the airfield. Apparently intel says that the Japanese are going to run their weapons up the road in an attempt to take the airfield. The Army will be reinforcing another holdout, which will leave the Marines alone in the rear guard position to maintain the airfield. Orders are that if the Japanese succeed in taking it, they're to fall back to the jungle and fight as guerrillas... "But that is not going to happen," Chesty stresses. The officers give him an "aye sir!" and they move out, except for Basilone and Rodriguez, who hang back at Chesty's request.
Chesty informs Basilone that he needs an extra runner and asks if he can spare Manny. The friends exchange a solemn look and Basilone jokes that the squad's sick of him as Manny grins. They watch as the other Marines take position in other sectors and JP says it out loud -- they're on their own. Manny whispers to Basilone that they're being singled out. "Just like Chesty says," Basilone says coolly.
They dig in, and Basilone checks the sight lines on his machine guns.
Elsewhere Corrigan briefs Leckie's crew on what's going on. Leckie asks how thin they are on the line and Corrigan tells him they've put the cooks there, but there aren't even enough cooks. Then he notices the boys are smoking Raleighs, and they explain to him that only the officers get Lucky Strikes. "Can't have my men suffering," Corrigan says. He pulls his pack of Luckys out of his pocket and throws them into the foxhole. "Eyes open, ears up," he finishes, and walks off.
Leckie remarks that was the gesture of a true gentleman to which Hoosier adds, "We must really be f****d."
Darkness falls, and rain along with it. The boys in Basilone's squad eat pilfered crackers and jelly, and talk about life back home. Briggs calls Chesty and quietly tells him over the comm that the entire Japanese army is headed their way. Basilone hears the news and they get ready as Chesty tells them to hold their fire for as long as possible, and orders Briggs's men to join up with Basilone's company as soon as the army passes. Basilone's line isn't just thin, it's low on ammo.
The bombing starts, and mortars rain down on Basilone's trenches, but nobody is hurt. Then a flare goes up, and the first wave of Japanese infantry arrive. Basilone and his men open up with machine gun fire and keep them back, but even with this first wave the gunners are nearly dry on ammo. Then the second wave arrives, and they open fire. One of the men in JP's foxhole comes over to Basilone and tells them they've been overrun -- the machine gunners are out of ammo.Basilone orders everyone to move position and looks down to get his asbestos glove to protect his hand from the heat of the gun, but it's gone. He has no choice but to lift the barrel with his forearm which, at this point, is hot enough to sear into his flesh. He and his men run into the field and encounter the enemy, so he takes down one with the machine gun and drops it, killing the others at close range with his pistol. He picks up the machine gun and tells the other men to keep going. They run to JP's foxhole, where JP and his remaining men are barely holding off the enemy with rifles.
Basilone gets into position and at the moment JP gets winged by a bullet, plows down the enemy with a storm of machine gun fire. When the wave stops, he runs out into the middle of the clearing, where a pile of bodies has amassed. He shoves several of them off the pile. The rest of the company think he's nuts, and JP has to cover him with a grenade lobbed at an enemy gunner that has taken aim on him. Basilone returns to the foxhole and explains that now JP has a clear field of fire. He runs to get more ammo.
Blindly running through the jungle, Basilone crosses paths with Chesty's runners, who give him all the ammo they have. He's running back with bandoliers over his shoulder when a man clotheslines him, knocking him to the ground. It's Manny, who fires at two Japanese soldiers waiting behind him. Manny helps Basilone back up, they exchange a look, and Basilone runs back to JP as Manny hangs back to give him cover.
Basilone survives the shockwaves of a mortar blast, retrieves his ammo and makes it back to JP with reinforcements. After another hailstorm of bullets, they're able to maintain their position.
At daybreak, Basilone grimly surveys the field. Scores upon scores of the enemy are piled up, dead. He sits with JP in the foxhole and asks if Manny's all right. "Haven't seen him," JP says. JP holds up his helmet, which has been creased by a bullet, and says he needs a new one.
Basilone heads over to the medical tent looking for Manny, but the medic says he can't keep track of who comes in. He also notices that Basilone has third degree burns on his wrist and forearm, and tells him to wait for help. But Basilone heads back out with his men... and JP has to help him open his canteen, because his arm and hand are so badly burned. Chesty comes over and commends Basilone, saying he's putting him in for a medal. They troop is also heading West so another can take that position.Basilone heads alone into the jungle, trying to retrace his path through the trees, and he comes across a body, face down. He turns the man over. It's Manny, dead.
Basilone takes Manny's body back to camp with JP, and they sit with him.
Leckie writes a poem to commemorate the battle and Runner observes that it must be difficult, because not many things rhyme with Guadalcanal. Hoosier offers, "How f****d are we now on Guadalcanal?" Corrigan interrupts them with the good news -- they're leaving.
Basilone sits quietly, and JP tells him to out with it. Basilone reveals that he can't get over how fast a bullet goes. What if Manny had stepped to the left? To the right? JP tells him to stop thinking about that, that Manny was where he was, and what happened happened. Basilone asks if he ever thinks about it.
"You know me, John," JP says, "I try not to think."
"If it happens, it happens," Basilone finishes. JP is silent, then tells him that they should get moving.
Sledge's Storyline Edit
The doctor listens to his son's heart again, and Eugene Sledge asks if the murmur is gone. When he gets no answer, he tells his father it doesn't matter -- he's going to enlist anyway.
Eugene's father tells him that the worst thing about treating men at war wasn't that they had their flesh torn, it was that their souls had been torn out. He tells his boy that he doesn't want to look in his eyes one day and see that the light is gone. He asks Eugene to give him time to tell his mother, and Eugene offers to walk the dog after dinner. He extends his hand to his father and thanks him. The doctor slumps in his chair, defeated.
The Marines head back to the landing craft and climb back up the ropes to the ship. Inside, Juergens, Hoosier, Runner and Leckie head to the mess hall, but the cook tells them that dinner won't be for a while. They ask for coffee and the cook says yes, that he can get them coffee. He pours a cup for Leckie, who swipes the cup like a starving man, then cradles it as if it's gold. The cook looks at them sympathetically and asks how bad it was, because he heard it was bad. They don't answer at first, and then as the cook walks off, Runner bitterly asks what he'd heard, if he'd ever even heard of this place.
The cooks looks astonished, and replies, "Guadalcanal? Everybody's heard of Guadalcanal and the 1st Marine division. You guys are on the front page of every newspaper in America. You're heroes back home."
Leckie takes a moment to process that, then slowly rolls the hot cup of coffee across his lips and, closing his eyes, takes a sip.
- The dinner menu reads "Rice Without Beef, Rice Without Chicken, Rice Without Shrimp..." an obvious joke by the cooks.