By Dammit, We're Marines by Gail Chatfield

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

The veterans Gail Chatfield interviewed spoke for themselves in their own words in this wonderful, compelling and personal history of war.  I loved the book.  I learned about the 'Iwo Jima experience' in a way I could never have imagined before reading it.  I learned about being a Marine from old-timers.  Ms. Chatfield provides a glossary of terms at the end of the book that educates about the terms and equipment used in WW2 by the soldiers of that era. The soldiers interviewed included a spectrum of veterans from combatants to all kinds of support personal, with a spattering of non-Marines, although the latter were at the minimum.  Ms. Chatfield's father was a veteran of this island battle, but she, like most of us, never learned enough from her parent.  She later sought to tell his story by telling the stories of others.  She has done it well.  

I highly recommend the book, but caution it is for mature audiences. Not because of the language--that is really pretty mild considering the topic--but because of vivid ima

Reviewed by: Mike Mullins (2009)

Author's Synopsis

Technology changes with every war, but the universal human experience of combat remains the same. Marines and soldiers from the battlefields of Valley Forge to the streets of Fallujah understand patriotism, fear, death, loneliness, and the humor that helps them through the rough times. By Dammit, We're Marines! is a collection of eye witness accounts by 52 veterans who served on the Pacific Front during World War II. When ordered to secure another Japanese-held island, these Marines grabbed their M-1 rifles, climbed down rope ladders into the waiting landing craft, and hit the beaches. They faced not only an embedded, well-equipped enemy, but also flesh shredding coral reefs, malarial and dengue fever-ridden jungles, mosquito and crocodile-infested swamps, and a noxious moonscape sulfur island. The author's father was one of those Marines who fought on Bougainville, Guam, and Iwo Jima. He died when she was 15 and never shared his wartime stories. Wanting to learn more, Chatfield sought out veterans of those conflicts. Their stories offer a literary archeological dig of sorts into 1940's culture and technology. Body armor was a canvas shirt with a metal covered copy of the Bible in the breast pocket. Camouflage clothing was do-it-yourself burlap suits stippled with Max Factor women's make-up. Cutting edge medicine was sulfa tablets to treat infection and blood plasma shipped in glass bottles to field hospitals. Canvas hammocks stacked 8-10 high served as bunks aboard overcrowded ships. They used salt water soap for salt water baths and were issued OPA tickets, V-mail, C-rations, K-rations, and helmets that served as sinks and saucepans. Creating the safest foxhole took some ingenuity and a few discarded tank parts. Most of the veterans interviewed in this book are Marines, but war is a collaborative effort. Marines were transported by the Navy, relieved by the Army, and most of the time their job was to secure airfields for the Army Air Corps. No story of the Marines would be complete without hearing from those branches of service. Chaplains, corpsmen, sailors, soldiers, and B-29 bomb crews share their stories of serving with the Marines. These veterans offer their stores as a part of our historical record with the hope that battles like Saipan, Bougainville, and Iwo Jima will never happen again.