The Things Our Fathers Saw: The Untold Stories of the World War II Generation from Hometown, USA-Voices of the Pacific Theater

Written by Matthew Rozell
Category: · History

How soon we forget. Or perhaps, we were never told. That is understandable, given what they saw. But, it happened. From the book:
— ‘I was talking to a shipmate of mine waiting for the motor launch, and all at once I saw a plane go over our ship. I did not know what it was, but the fellow with me said, ‘That’s a Jap plane, Jesus!’ It went down and dropped a torpedo. Then I saw the Utah turn over.’ ~U.S. Navy seaman, Pearl Harbor
— ‘Rage is instantaneous. He’s looking at me from a crawling position. I didn’t shoot him; I went and kicked him in the head. Rage does funny things. After I kicked him, I shot and killed him.’ ~Marine veteran, Battle of Guadalcanal
— ‘Marched to Camp I at Cabanatuan, a distance of six miles, which is the main prison camp here in the Philippines. Food is scarcer now than anytime so far. Fifty men to a bucket of rice!’ ~U.S. Army prisoner of war, Corregidor
— ‘They were firing pretty heavily at us…it’s rather difficult to fly when you have a rosary in each hand. I took more fellas in with me than I brought home that day, unfortunately.’ ~U.S. Navy torpedo bomber pilot, Guadalcanal
— ‘I remember it rained like hell that night, and the water was running down the slope into our foxholes. I had to use my helmet to keep bailing out, you know. Lt. Gower called us together. He said, ‘I think we’re getting hit with a banzai. We’re going to have to pull back.’ Holy Jesus, there was howling and screaming! They had naked women, with spears, stark naked!’ ~U.S. Army veteran, Saipan
— ‘So I had a hard… two months, I guess. I kept mostly to myself. I wouldn’t talk to people. I tried to figure out what the hell I was going to do when I got home. How was I going to tell my mother this? You know what I mean?’ ~Marine veteran, Battle of Okinawa, on finding out he would be blind for life
— ‘After 3½ years of starvation and brutal treatment, that beautiful symbol of freedom once more flies over our head! Our camp tailor worked all night and finished our first American flag! The blue came from a GI barracks bag, red from a Jap comforter and the white from an Australian bed sheet. When I came out of the barracks and saw those beautiful colors for the first time I felt like crying!’ ~U.S. Army prisoner of war, Japan, at war’s end
— ‘There was a family that lost two sons in World War II. The family got a telegram on a Monday that one of the boys was killed, and that Thursday they got another telegram saying that his brother had been killed. There were about 35 young men from our town who were killed in World War II, and I knew every one of them; most were good friends of mine.’ ~U.S. Navy seaman, Tokyo Bay
— ‘I hope you’ll never have to tell a story like this, when you get to be 87. I hope you’ll never have to do it.’ ~Marine veteran, Iwo Jima

At the height of World War II, LOOK Magazine profiled a small American community for a series of articles portraying it as the wholesome, patriotic model of life on the home front. Decades later, author Matthew Rozell tracks down over thirty survivors who fought the war in the Pacific, from Pearl Harbor to the surrender at Tokyo Bay. The book resurrects firsthand accounts of combat and brotherhood, of captivity and redemption, and the aftermath of a war that left no American community unscathed. Here are the stories that the magazine could not tell, from a vanishing generation speaking to America today. It is up to us to remember–for own sakes, as much as theirs.

-Featuring over a dozen custom maps and 35 photographs, including never-before published portraits. Extended notes and companion website.

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