Brady, James. Hero of the Pacific (Wiley, 2010).
The Pacific island of Guadalcanal was a terrible place to fight a war. Although heaven for mosquitoes, malaria, and infections of all kinds, it combined hellish equatorial temperatures with heavy rains and dense jungle. Yet it was here that a shoeless, shirtless, mud-streaked Marine gunnery sergeant known to his buddies as "ManilaJohn" first displayed the courage, tenacity, and devotion to duty that would define the remainder of his brief life and the manner of his death two years later on another island, Iwo Jima.
In Hero of the Pacific, the late columnist, best selling author, and Marine James Brady examines the life and death of a man who, though now all but forgotten, was one of World War II's most celebrated figures. Medal of Honor winner John Basilone willingly and repeatedly put himself in unthinkable danger to repel a prolonged and determined Japanese attack, reluctantly became a national celebrity and a leading salesman in America's "buy bonds" campaign, then begged his superiors to return him to active duty.
Brady provides a taut and thrilling account of Manila John's extraordinary heroism as more than 3,000 crack Japanese troops stormed his machine-gun positions in a relentless overnight battle in October 1942. He reveals Basilone in action,calmly repairing a jammed machine gun, even as the enemy rushed at him; abandoning the relative safety of the foxhole amid a hail of grenades and mortar shells to replenish diminishing ammo and water supplies; fighting at close quarters with the few attackers who survived his team's withering fire; and more.
If Manila John's sheer courage and stubborn refusalto succumb to exhaustion were on full display at Guadalcanal, his tactical shrewdness and coolness under fire came to the fore on Iwo Jima's Red Beach 2. Brady's account of Basilone's last few hours on earth is among the most awe-inspiring tales of real-life heroism you will ever read.
This powerful biography includes revealing stories of Basilone's youth in the Rockwellian any-town of Raritan, New Jersey, in the 1920s and 1930s; his first cross-country railroad trip with fellow soldiers in 1935; and his decisions to leave the Army and, later, join the Marines.
Brady explains the machine gunner's sly grinwhen legendary Marine commander Chesty Puller threatened to charge him with desertion. He cuts through the amateurish and exaggerated tales of earlier biographers to provide a gripping account of Manila John's extraordinary heroism—the actions that led Puller, just a few days after the"desertion" comment, to recommend Basilone for the Medal of Honor.
Grasso, Joseph. Manila John (Dorrance Publishing, 2010).
Having been awarded the Medal of Honor for combat on Guadalcanal, U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone was the first nationally recognized hero of World War II. The epic October 25 to 26, 1942, battle for Guadalcanal in which Basilone was the central figure was the initial turning point in the South West Pacific island's campaign. Indeed, the battle for Guadalcanal was the first to bring organized U.S. land forces to bear against the Japanese in order to initiate decisive American presence in that area.
At the age of twenty-nine, Basilone was considered one of the ''Old Breed,'' having served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines before the war. A U.S. postal stamp bears Sergeant Basilone's photo. Sergeant Basilone, during his consequent posting at Camp Pendleton, California, found his true love in dark-haired Lena Riggi, herself a Marine mess sergeant. The couple married in July of 1944. But John was to tell Lena, only a few months later, that he had to leave her to be with his men. He was next posted at Hilo, Hawaii, where continued training ensued. From Hilo John wrote letters to Lena, reassuring her that he would return to her. Then it was time for them to leave, not knowing where they were headed in their position among the greatest convoy to take to the sea. For the first time, excerpts from John's letters to Lena during ship transport to Iwo Jima are presented to the reader.
On February 19, 1945, Sergeant Basilone landed on Iwo Jima in the third wave and immediately went forward into those young Marines who had landed with the first and second waves. They were lying prone, having been pinned down on the beach by enemy fire. Sergeant Basilone bravely walked among them. Ignoring enemy mortar and machinegun fire, he prodded them forward, to ''get the hell off the beach.'' With one of the platoons he had trained, Basilone took out an artillery bunker that had been raining heavy fire down on the beach. He then guided a tank to safety as he returned to his platoon with Marine reinforcements. It was during this movement that Sergeant Basilone was killed by Japanese mortar fire. He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.
Proser, Jim. I'm Staying with My Boys (Lightbearer Communications, 2004).
Sgt. John Basilone was lauded by General Douglas MacArthur as "…a one man Army", awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions on Guadalcanal and celebrated by the nation. It was the turning point of the war and Basilone’s foxhole was the site of the turning point in that battle. That was just the beginning of his legend.
Distinctive among military biographies, the story is narrated by Sgt. Basilone himself allowing readers to experience the development of Johnny Basilone, the aimless youth, into Gunnery Sergeant "Manila John" Basilone, the clear-eyed warrior, undefeated light-heavyweight boxer and nationally revered war hero.
This publication is the only family-authorized biography and features many never before published family photographs. Basilone, along with his first commanding officer in actual combat, Chesty Puller, are arguably the two greatest icons in Marine Corps history. The story of "Manila John" is part of every Marine’s boot camp education.
The story is woven with surprising personal details. He clearly foresaw his future three separate times. Each time his visions came to pass - including the last - foretelling his death. But his place was with "…my boys", so he ignored the vision and returned to battle at Iwo Jima. Manila John was killed on the beach defending his boys and earned the Navy Cross for his bravery - an emotional true story.
Tatum, Chuck. Red Blood, Black Sand (Valor, 2011).
Originally penned for his Marine buddies, now, WWII veteran Chuck Tatum's coveted book, Red Blood, Black Sand, is available to audiences worldwide. Red Blood, Black Sand, is Chuck s true story, his first-hand account of Iwo Jima, the Marine Corps most savage battle. Best-selling author/historian Stephen E. Ambrose praised Red Blood, Black Sand, saying, “In my judgment no combat veterans memoir is better . . . and only a handful are equal. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg agreed, and bought the rights to use Red Blood, Black Sand as a credited source for their new, $200-million-dollar HBO mini-series, The Pacific. In addition, they made Chuck Tatum a central character of the series, portrayed by actor Ben Esler. Red Blood, Black Sand, transports the reader back to 1944, when the Marine Corps built a fresh division, the 5th, for an apocalyptic battle: Iwo Jima. This gripping narrative follows Chuck's life-or-death training at Camp Pendleton where Chuck learned machine guns, the tools of his trade, from his new mentor: Medal of Honor recipient John Basilone. Chuck s colorful storytelling takes the reader on his voyage overseas, from the raucous port of Pearl Harbor with its gambling, gals, and tattoos, to the island of death itself, where Chuck hit the black sand beach of Iwo Jima, an 18-year-old Marine machine gunner in the climactic battle of the war. This is the story of Chuck's two weeks in hell, where he fought alongside Basilone and watched his hero fall, where enemy infiltrators stalked the night and snipers haunted the day, and where Chuck would see his friends whittled away in an ear-shattering, earth-shaking, meat grinder of a battle. Before the end, Chuck would find himself, like his hero Basilone, standing alone, blind with rage, firing a machine gun from the hip, while in a personal battle to keep his sanity. This is the island, the heroes, and the tragedy of Iwo Jima, through the eyes of the battle's greatest storyteller, Chuck Tatum.
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