A Combat Historian's Story
At American Heritage magazine, the extraordinary recollections of historian James MacGregor Burns on his experiences with American troops in the Pacific during World War II. An excerpt:
It was late that afternoon when I left Love’s outfit to return to my own command post. No jeeps were negotiating that road, so I had to walk. The enemy often operated effectively behind our front lines at night, so after dark most soldiers hunkered down. An eerie twilight descended as I trudged along. Shortly I spied the corpses of hundreds of Japanese killed by our naval gunfire on this open ridge. A sudden movement caught my eye. I swung my gun around and then stopped short. It was the flies. Many thousands of insects boiled up in unison: they had been so congested that they replicated what they had covered. Outlines of helmets, guns, bayonets, and boots shot into the air as if in an animated horror cartoon.