Academic journal article Military Review

The Long Road of War: A Marine's Story of Pacific Combat

Academic journal article Military Review

The Long Road of War: A Marine's Story of Pacific Combat

Article excerpt

THE LONG ROAD OF WAR: A Marine's Story of Pacific Combat, James W. Johnston, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1998, 174 pages, $29.95.

When James W. Johnston joined the US Marine Corps in early 1943 he was 20 years old and thought of war as a grand adventure. As a patriotic youth from a small Nebraska town, he never dreamed that the war would prove to be a profound spiritual and emotional experience.

Johnston's World War II memoir, The Long Road of War, is not the typical hand-wringing or rah-rah yam of battles won and lost. Instead, it is a colorful, rather bitter recollection of a combat veteran who holds his fellow enlisted Marines in high regard. He reserves his disdain for the enemy, most officers and even the corps as an organization.

Johnston spent two and a half years in the Pacific, seeing action at New Guinea, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa, so he has earned the right to speak strongly about his experiences and feelings. As a private first class he was a machine gunner in Company E, 2d Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. He is proud to be "a flat trajectory Marine"-a front-line infantryman.

Johnson knew little of grand strategy or operational art, but he was an expert on squad tactics and machinegun employment. In his words, enlisted Marines "just win the wars, they don't have to figure them out. …

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