This book had me hooked from page one, not just for the fascinating story but mainly because at the age of 92 George Peto (our Marine) was working from memory and all his accounts were backed up by facts which were confirmed by the co-author Peter Margaritis who is a respected historian.
- George Peto and Peter Margaritis
Our Old Breed Marine doesn't just describe his time in the USMC, he also describes in great detail the early years of his life, growing up in the depression, moving from house to house when the rent was overdue and the hunting skills acquired to put food onto the table. George loved wandering around in the countryside and as a poor teenager growing up in the rough part of town he got into quite a few first fights and despite of his height of just 5'4” and being underweight he more than held his own against taller and heavier opponents.
The days of George growing up could fill a book in its own right and the description of his time spent working in the civilian conservation corps certainly gave him experience which helped to prepare him for the USMC.
Great detail goes into of his time in boot camp and the postings he had on various guard details along the east coast are interlaced with his luck with the opposite sex and the various brawls that he got involved in, which eventually got him shipped out to the Pacific.
His first taste of combat was the landing at Finschhaven with the 1st Marines, followed by Cape Gloucester. He was then in one of the leading amtracs as a forward observer for the mortars in the battle for Peleliu.
The story tells of the horrific casualties the regiment sustained and of the ferocious fighting that took place on this tiny little island and of the special bond that he had made with his platoon leader. After a week of battle, victory came to the USMC and his regiment was relieved because of the casualties.
Six months later finds George participating in the campaign for Okinawa, his fourth campaign. The fighting for Okinawa was just as heavy as Peleliu and George goes into detail about, not just the enemy, but the civilian population that were forced into combat helping the Japanese and the mopping up that carried on for weeks after the Japanese surrender.
To survive one campaign in the Pacific was good, but to survive four campaigns was exceptional, especially when you take into account that the battle for Okinawa took six months to conclude.
All the time spent reading his book draws you in and George comes across as someone you would like to have as a platoon mate.
This is a well described story coming from a remarkable man and it's a tale that has taught me things about the fighting in the Pacific; it has left me with a bit more knowledge of the fighting that took place and gains my utmost respect for the often humble marines that took part.
I will score this book 10/10.
It is easy reading, informative and riveting.