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With The Old Breed..... E. Sledge "Sledgehammer" QUESTION

Started by usmce4 , Jul 01 2017 02:50 PM

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#1 usmce4

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 02:50 PM

First off......  I mean NO disrespect to Mr. Sledge by the comments I am about to make. As a former Marine and combat vet myself I have nothing but the utmost respect for those WW II combat Marines went went thru the meatgrinders in the Pacific.

 

1- Mr Sledge speaks with respect about most of his comrades but I can't help but notice that in more than one instance he refers to Gunnery Sgt Haney as simply "Haney". This is most unusual among Marines - a Gunnery Sgt is a highly respected rank among field Marines and always referred to as "Gunny" prior to his last name (in the same vein as a Capt is referred to as "Skipper"). Many times he is more respected than a First Sgt or even a Sgt Major since it is the company Gunnery Sgt who looks after the troops in his company and is the one they depend on to get them what they need.

    Gunny Haney was a combat Marine in WW I, went thru Guadalcanal and other campaigns in WW II but withdrew himself from the fighting on the second day of Peleliu citing the heat and exhaustion as the reasons [I won't even begin to ponder if those were the true reasons, from my point of view (and experience) everyone has a point where they have done all they can and will only endanger others if they go any further. VERY often it takes more guts to admit you have had enough than it does to continue on].

    Now I'll finally get to my point/question....   Do you think Mr Sledge is expressing some kind of resentment or disrespect by referring to Gunnery Sgt Haney as simply "Haney" when he refers to everyone else in the proper manner?

    I myself cannot come to a conclusion on the matter. Is it an oversight or an intentional snub? Does he resent the Gunny removing himself from the fight? I would appreciate hearing what you think about it.

2- I just find it odd that Mr Sledge's fellow Marines would change his name from "Sledge" to "Sledgehammer". EVERY Marine I have ever known who had a long (three syllables or more) name IMMEDIATELY picked up a nickname shorter and easier to say than his proper name. I cannot recall a single instance of the opposite occurring (a simple, easy to say, name like "Sledge" lengthened to "Sledgehammer"). ESPECIALLY so in the rush of combat when a life or lives may depend on the second it takes to say a name.

     A small point, true, but one that raises my curiosity about it's legitimacy.

Again, NO disrespect intended to Mr. Sledge. I have the utmost respect for his service, his humanity, his literary skills and may he Rest In Peace.

     I hope some will express their opinions on the above subjects and maybe even "straighten me out" to understand what I don't at the present time.

Art

PS... My last name is three syllables and begins with Pol....  During my entire time in the Marines I was known as "Polly"

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 



#2 USmilitaryMuseum

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 03:27 PM

The only question I can give my opinion is the "sledgehammer" question.  I know the HBO miniseries differed a bit from his memoir but characters in the show called him both "sledge" and "sledgehammer."  In the combat scenes, they always called him just "sledge." 

 

Jacob



#3 Morlok

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 03:32 PM

I am by no means an expert in psychiatry, (I have enough problems of my own to worry about!), and this is simply a quick, shot-in-the-dark guess on my part...

Perhaps referring to Gunnery Sgt Haney simply as "Haney" is an unconscious effort to distance himself mentally from the emotional trauma he sustained during combat? By removing the rank, perhaps he removes some of the horrors, and he sees the Gunnery Sgt as he sees himself...A person living his life outside of combat & searching for a quiet peace.

I think it would be very difficult to learn the reason why. There are probably thousands of possibilities. This one is just my guess, and I am probably way off the mark!!

#4 usmce4

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 04:06 PM

The only question I can give my opinion is the "sledgehammer" question.  I know the HBO miniseries differed a bit from his memoir but characters in the show called him both "sledge" and "sledgehammer."  In the combat scenes, they always called him just "sledge." 

 

Jacob

 

Excellent point. I read the book AFTER I watched the mini-series. Good thing I recorded it, I'll make a point of watching it again

Thanks, Art 



#5 usmce4

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 04:11 PM

I am by no means an expert in psychiatry, (I have enough problems of my own to worry about!), and this is simply a quick, shot-in-the-dark guess on my part...

Perhaps referring to Gunnery Sgt Haney simply as "Haney" is an unconscious effort to distance himself mentally from the emotional trauma he sustained during combat? By removing the rank, perhaps he removes some of the horrors, and he sees the Gunnery Sgt as he sees himself...A person living his life outside of combat & searching for a quiet peace.

I think it would be very difficult to learn the reason why. There are probably thousands of possibilities. This one is just my guess, and I am probably way off the mark!!

 

Not to disagree, maybe you are right, But I have to point out at the time he wrote the book, he still referred to everyone else by their rank. Only Gunny Haney appears without any rank (a few times)

Art



#6 Sgt. BARney

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 08:00 PM

Art,

Semper Fi Brother, and my sincere opinion is you are just reading too much into the whole thing. 

 

Gunny, Haney or Gunny Haney?  I've read Mr. Sledge's book three times - all before the miniseries came out - and never picked up on any plot twist based on how Sledge referred to Gunnery Sergeant Haney in the text. I would say the lack of consistency is probably more an editor's oversight than a coded riddle from Sledge.  Now if it were a fiction novel, there might be the need for subtle differences in the names to help weave a plot, but I sure can't see all that subterfuge going into a non-fiction memoir.  My experience is that when you "work" closely with someone sharing the good, the bad and the ugly, you generally feel pretty sick for them when they stumble, wash-out, fall down or fail.  I cannot help but think that if Mr. Sledge wanted the reader to know that attitudes about Gunny Haney changed after Peleliu, he would have just come right out and said it.

 

Nicknames?  My last name is Barnitz, and over the course of 4 years, the nicknames for me used generally by others within the platoon, included Barney, Bayonet, Barnshitz, Barney Longbone (after an unflattering experience on  liberty in the PI), which lead to "BLB" for short, and also morphed to Mr. Bone.  Yep, there is probably a good Phd. thesis in the assigning and use of nicknames within the Marines, but I think a lot of it is about what the situation calls for and/or allows at the time, with a close second consideration being which nickname will cause the most embarrassment to you at the time.  And you are absolutely right - in a real pinch, the name which gained positive communication in the most direct manner was always used.  Barney was the nickname I was tagged with the earliest, and that was probably used the most for me -  same number of syllables as Barnitz, but easier and quicker to say and less formal.  Most of the other nicknames would come up infrequently and be used when a particular situation lent itself.  Kind of like when the brand new butter bar lieutenant got the platoon lost doing land nav in the jungle on Guam, and the Platoon Sergeant said "What now, LIEUTENANT?"  It's sometimes not so much about the name that is used, as how it is used and what it communicates in that specific situation.

 

And finally, I would go by Mr. Sledge's written word on all this, and not what the script writers put into dialogue for the miniseries.

 

I sure hope I haven't said anything that offends you.  Just giving my opinions on it. 


Edited by Sgt. BARney, 01 July 2017 - 08:01 PM.


#7 Blacksmith

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 02:43 AM

Exactly. One of the most enjoyable parts of Sledge's book is that it's very approachable. No $2 words, no flashing back, forward, and sideways - just a no nonsense account of his experiences. It's the best individual account of a man's combat experience that I've ever read, and I don't know how you do it better. What I think makes it so readable, is that it's entirely devoid of any literary device or pretense. Also, please consider that it was written in 1981, when Sledge was in his mid-to-late 50s. So, I can see a couple of reasons he's refer to the Gunney as simply "Haney": 1) Thirty-five years had passed, and his adherence to military protocol was relaxed; or, more likely, 2) The audience for his story. Had Corporal Sledge been telling a story to a group of Marines - likely even those many years later - he'd have probably called him "Gunny". However, he's telling the story to a largely civilian audience, so military formality (intentionally or otherwise) was relaxed. I spent three years in a combat unit, and when I talk to Army buddies, I use a different vocabulary than when I talk to non-vets. It's vocational, and akin to how doctors talk to each other differently than they talk to patients.

If you haven't read R.V. Burgin's "Islands of the Damned", it's a perfect companion to Sledge's book. As it was written after "...Old Breed", he makes reference to parts of Sledge's book, and even differences in their views on a few things.

Both are fantastic books, and on my 'favorites' shelf.

Art,
Semper Fi Brother, and my sincere opinion is you are just reading too much into the whole thing. 
 
Gunny, Haney or Gunny Haney?  I've read Mr. Sledge's book three times - all before the miniseries came out - and never picked up on any plot twist based on how Sledge referred to Gunnery Sergeant Haney in the text. I would say the lack of consistency is probably more an editor's oversight than a coded riddle from Sledge.  Now if it were a fiction novel, there might be the need for subtle differences in the names to help weave a plot, but I sure can't see all that subterfuge going into a non-fiction memoir.  My experience is that when you "work" closely with someone sharing the good, the bad and the ugly, you generally feel pretty sick for them when they stumble, wash-out, fall down or fail.  I cannot help but think that if Mr. Sledge wanted the reader to know that attitudes about Gunny Haney changed after Peleliu, he would have just come right out and said it.
 
Nicknames?  My last name is Barnitz, and over the course of 4 years, the nicknames for me used generally by others within the platoon, included Barney, Bayonet, Barnshitz, Barney Longbone (after an unflattering experience on  liberty in the PI), which lead to "BLB" for short, and also morphed to Mr. Bone.  Yep, there is probably a good Phd. thesis in the assigning and use of nicknames within the Marines, but I think a lot of it is about what the situation calls for and/or allows at the time, with a close second consideration being which nickname will cause the most embarrassment to you at the time.  And you are absolutely right - in a real pinch, the name which gained positive communication in the most direct manner was always used.  Barney was the nickname I was tagged with the earliest, and that was probably used the most for me -  same number of syllables as Barnitz, but easier and quicker to say and less formal.  Most of the other nicknames would come up infrequently and be used when a particular situation lent itself.  Kind of like when the brand new butter bar lieutenant got the platoon lost doing land nav in the jungle on Guam, and the Platoon Sergeant said "What now, LIEUTENANT?"  It's sometimes not so much about the name that is used, as how it is used and what it communicates in that specific situation.
 
And finally, I would go by Mr. Sledge's written word on all this, and not what the script writers put into dialogue for the miniseries.
 
I sure hope I haven't said anything that offends you.  Just giving my opinions on it. 



#8 usmce4

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 10:21 AM

First off - Thanks to Sgt BARney (Semper Fi) and Blacksmith for their responses.

Second, I hope I'm not harping too much on this, but I have to point out the obvious. Yes, it was written 35 years after the fact. Yes, he may have been trying subconsciously to distance himself from the experience. Yes, he is addressing a civilian audience.

But I still can't help but wonder why, in the same time frame, to the same audience, with the same mindset, barely PARAGRAPHS apart he refers to others using their military rank.

HONESTLY, I like to think I'm wrong and there's nothing there. "Sledgehammer" went thru a hell of a lot worse than I did and I admire him (and ALL the Old Corps combat Marines) for it regardless of HOW he meant it.

But....   PERHAPHS (really digging deep here) there was something between Gunny Haney and Mr Sledge that neither the book or the movie touched on but comes out subconsciously in him referring to the Gunny as merely "Haney".  Possible?

Art



#9 38Driver

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 07:49 PM

Having read the book a number of times I never picked up anything but respect from Sledge regarding Haney. The only contempt I can recall was towards the loud mouth tough talking Lt. who wasn’t so tough once the real shooting started

#10 zsmith

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:14 AM

 

 

Nicknames?  My last name is Barnitz, and over the course of 4 years, the nicknames for me used generally by others within the platoon, included Barney, Bayonet, Barnshitz, Barney Longbone (after an unflattering experience on  liberty in the PI), which lead to "BLB" for short, and also morphed to Mr. Bone.  

 

I'm Smith... I got Smitty, Sh itty, Smithbag (a play on shitbag), and several others. In my experience nicknames were not always given in order to shorten as much as to entertain. 


Edited by zsmith, 12 October 2017 - 07:15 AM.


#11 Blacksmith

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 08:22 AM

And I don't know about your unit, but in mine, the more insulting the nickname, the more they liked you. If they just called you by your last name, it was bad news.

 
I'm Smith... I got Smitty, Sh itty, Smithbag (a play on shitbag), and several others. In my experience nicknames were not always given in order to shorten as much as to entertain. 



#12 usmce4

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 04:23 PM

Having read the book a number of times I never picked up anything but respect from Sledge regarding Haney. The only contempt I can recall was towards the loud mouth tough talking Lt. who wasn’t so tough once the real shooting started

 

Not to harp on the subject, but more than once Sledge refers to Gunny Haney as simply "Haney" and you have to notice, he does not do that with others of rank unless (as the thread has turned to) he uses a nickname. IE: Ack Ack, Hillbilly.

And, speaking purely from my own time in the USMC, that simply is not done with a Gunnery Sgt. 

Our platoon Sgt (Staff Sgt) was "Spiderman" because he was always pointing his finger at something. Our squad leader (Sgt) was "J.C." but the company Gunnery Sgt was ALWAYS "Gunny"

 

On the dual subjects of the Lt. Sledge disliked and nicknames:    The Lt. was Charles Ellington.  Can you guess his nickname?

 

.......Didn't take much thought, did it?   "DUKE"    (Honest, see "Brotherhood Of Heroes" pg. 65) 

(I also intend to start a thread on that book shortly)

 

Art
 




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