Voices Of The Pacific Essay

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Rachel Schipper
Voices of the Pacific
American Military History

Voices of the Pacific While the United States of America may have been involved in many battles, wars, conflicts, and skirmishes up to the point of WWII, it is my opinion that WWII presented a unique set of challenges that the country was not expecting. This war was also the first opportunity America had to feel personally attacked by another country. Sure, America had fought the revolutionary war, had resolved its bloody civil war, and had helped to end the first World War, but the challenges of WWII brought civilians and soldiers alike face to face with an ugliness that, I believe, was not yet known in American military history. As Sid Phillips said in an excerpt in Voices of the Pacific, “Parris Island (a Marine training camp) was rough, and still is, and should be. And I’m glad it was” (7). A rough time required a rough people, and to make that happen soldiers had to experience very difficult training that the military wasn’t necessarily experienced in. Many of the recruits the Marines received, based on what was told in the book, were a direct result of the lines for the Navy or other branches of the military being too long. These men did not know what they were getting into but they were willing to go through it anyway. There was a need for trained soldiers, and while the government and the military may not have gone about the perfect way of getting them, the need was filled somehow. The situation is akin to making a cake without all the necessary ingredients; you just somehow find a way to make it work. This did not work out well for the people on the ground, however. Fighting in the Pacific Theater was nasty and unprecedented. Soldiers were expected to fight against an enemy they were not familiar with and kill them with weapons they were not well trained to use. Throughout the war the weapons and equipment that the men were supposed to use kept changing, but no one was really trained on how to use them. Protocol sometimes was thrown to the wind and soldiers had to carry on the best they could using their own judgment. People were getting sick from the elements and did not always have the medicine or knowhow to combat local disease or infections from wounds. This was not a good situation for anyone involved. This lack of skill and experience from the military and the government also carried over into taking care of soldiers and military personnel when they were in the Pacific Theater. It had to have been a logistics nightmare for sure, and while it’s easy to be outraged by the poor treatment of the soldiers (seemingly on purpose sometimes) I can also try to imagine what it was like to coordinate resources and efforts with only poor communication and undependable transportation. It was impossible to keep all the soldiers properly supplied and fed! At one point some the Marines were surviving on water that had been stored in oil barrels, which made everyone ill. This practice kept on happening even though it could kill people because the Marines needed water more than they needed to be correct. From the accounts told in the book, there was a lot of improvisation. Other challenges that were unique of WWII must include the fighting style of the Japanese and Japan’s general culture of warfare. While the United States had experienced some fighting in WWI, this war took the experience to another level. Not only were Japanese fighters well-trained and armed, they were entrenched deeply