This is the story of a United States Marine Corps 12 man Rifle Squad plus the Squad Leader. It places the reader in landing craft racing toward a hostile beach being pounded by enemy gunfire, viewing the beaches as they are engulfed in a maelstrom of steel and fire. They are joined aboard troop ships, and on land in craters created by naval gunfire. The squad's liberty in Honolulu, Hawaii is hilarious.
Each island introduces its own unique horror, Guadalcanal with its malaria infested jungles and being heavily outnumbered by the enemy. Tarawa and marines wading in waist deep water into murderous machine gun fire. Also Saipan with one thousand five hundred Japanese soldiers in a suicidal Banzai Charge and the desperate hand to hand combat that takes place. Tinian's calculated gamble on the landing beaches. Iwo Jima's caves leading to the two flags raised on Mount Suribachi is an introduction into hell. Finally, the Japanese decision to defend Okinawa not on the beaches but in depth with heavily fortified positions taking a very heavy toll in men and equipment.
Thirteen men whose friendship is forged in steel and tempered in blood.
The spirit of comradeship is not killed in combat, but the individual members of the original squad are. The squad takes it losses and in the process reveals their innermost thoughts.
In one of the final chapters, Sgt. Louis Rossi leads a patrol into the atom-bombed city of Nagasaki. In another at Sasebo he meets the lovely Geisha, 'Keiko.' With tears in her eyes she tells him 'My mother, father and two brothers died in the firestorms your bombers caused. Yet I cannot hate you. I wish you only peace and happiness.'
Finally the return home to try healing shattered bodies, tortured minds and frayed nerves. However, some could no longer return to the society and family they had left behind. Intolerance and demons of war came into their rooms each night to haunt them.
The decision to reenlist was made with difficulty and for different reasons; however, in the final analysis the thoughts were similar. The Marine Corps understands me.