The Pacific: what happened to Leckie and Eugene
Despite the heroism portrayed by both Leckie and Eugene in The Pacific, what the show doesn’t tell the viewer is the lives they lived after the war.
HBO The pacific introduced viewers Robert Leckie (James Badge Dale) and Eugene Sledge (Joseph Mazzello), two veterans of the Pacific theater, and both lived long and interesting lives well beyond their wartime exploits. While the show makes an effort to show the aftermath of their combat experience, it still doesn’t do them justice. The dehumanizing nature of the war against the Japanese Empire is explored in depth throughout the show through the eyes of Leckie and Sledge respectively, showing viewers that The pacific is undeniably many more brutal than Band of brothers, the show’s counterpart on the Western Front.
Leckie and Sledge enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, the former serving in the Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, and Peleliu campaigns, and the latter in the Battles of Peleliu and Okinawa. Their journeys across the battlefield are poignantly displayed throughout all ten episodes of this HBO miniseries, and it’s crafted as close to the true story as possible thanks to the books and memoirs of both individuals. The show ends with Leckie searching for his sweetheart, Vera, whom he will marry, as Eugene struggles with PTSD, struggling to reintegrate into the civilian life he left behind and applying to college. Auburn (then Alabama Polytechnic Institut). That being said, the fact remains that there are a lot of things that The pacific leave out the true story.
The series itself aptly describes Leckie’s true love for writing. Before and after the war, Leckie’s career revolved around writing, eventually writing his most successful book, Headphones for my pillow. In fact, Leckie’s life would become devoted to American military history, with over 40 books to his name. Unlike Leckie, Sledge had less of a deep love for writing, but still kept note of his experiences in the Pacific, eventually compiled in his memoir published in 1981, With the Old Race: In Peleliu and Okinawa. After the war, Sledge spent much of his life at university – in Auburn and Florida – so much so that he not only earned a doctorate, but became a professor in Montevallo until his retirement. Throughout the show, the narrower emphasis on its protagonists is something The pacific does better than Band of brothers, allowing the viewer to relate better to Leckie and Sledge, so it’s only natural that many ended the series wondering how the couple fared after the events of the series itself.
Although Leckie and Sledge have a mutual friend, Sidney Phillips, it is not confirmed if the two have ever met. Any meeting between the two remains unconfirmed by their written histories and most likely will remain so since Robert Leckie and Eugene Sledge sadly passed away in 2001. Leckie died at the age of 81 after battling Alzheimer’s disease, while that Euegene died at the age of 77 after a long battle with stomach cancer.
For many, both Band of brothers and The pacific sparked a love for realistic and lifelike WWII action dramas, not only because of their loyalty to the equipment and aesthetics of the era, but also in terms of understanding and learning individuals who fought. These same people are also lucky, for another Band of brothers following has been revealed, Masters of the Air. Kind of the same as The pacific sought to stay true to the real characters of Leckie and Sledge, Masters of the Air will seek to bring this objective to the air combat of the time, which is often overlooked.
The pacific is itself often overlooked in favor of its European theater counterpart, but there’s no denying that both shows do something expert. The lives and heroic deeds of these individuals have been faithfully brought to life for the viewer. While the stories of Leckie and Sledge represent only a tiny fraction of those who fought, the series humanizes a conflict that has become popular, allowing the viewer to appreciate the lives and sacrifices of individuals such as Leckie. and Sledge from a whole new perspective.
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