THE ART OF WAR FROM D-DAY TO SAIPAN

From D-Day to Saipan, June is an amazing month for U.S. military and history buffs. Most Baby Boomers, such as myself, grew up learning about the incredible effort of the D-Day invasion both in school and in our homes, often firsthand from family members (my uncle Dave landed on D-Day + 3). Less known was the equally impressive effort and sacrifice in the Pacific made by the USMC during their island-hopping campaign against the Japanese.

USMC Private First Class Lee Marvin toward the end of his duty in the Pacific during WWII.

I gave myself a crash course in some of these events while researching and writing Lee Marvin Point Blank. My acquisition of information was limited of course to that which applied to Marvin’s involvement, which was considerable. His 21-landings included the likes of Eniwetok, Tinian, Kwajalein, and ended on Saipan before his regiment moved on to the bloody battle of Iwo Jima.
The statistics of these landings are of course available online and elsewhere and are quite staggering. From D-Day to Saipan, June 6th to June 15th 1944, the Allied losses were heavy in both theaters of operation but, lucky for us, they were ultimately successful.
Having never been in the military, let alone combat, I can’t begin to imagine what those experiences must have been like. Statistics, photos, and the like hardly do justice. So, being a believer in the creative image being superior in driving the point home, I thought the following graphics, depicted in real time, might serve the purpose best, at least it did for me. I have done so previously on this blog with the entries concerning The Art of War and they both garnered great responses. Here again, are more specific works of art. For the stories behind Lee Marvin’s firsthand account of those harrowing days and nights, read Lee Marvin Point Blank. Until then, these powerful images may help….
-Dwayne Epstein

A Marine, lost in thought as he approaches the beach landing, is depicted by artist Thomas Lea.

Marines landing and wading thru the surf as rendered by artist Tom Lovell.

Entitled “Flotsam and Jetsam,” USMC’s Charles Waterhouse depicts the death of his sergeant, killed on D-Day.

“Raider Fire Team” by Charles Waterhouse displays the Marines gun ho spirit in battle after landing and pushing on from the beach. Waterhouse retired as Lt. Colonel.

Marines fend off a surprise attack by the Japanese in Donald Dickson’s “Night Attack on Guadalcanal,” not unlike what Lee Marvin experienced himself and wrote about in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Wounded Marines are transported through nearly impenetrable jungle, in “Jeep Turns Ambulance,” by Kerr Erby.

Again, artist Kerr Erby depicts a poignant moment in battle. Marines bow their heads over their fallen comrade in, “Last Rites for the Sergeant.”

 

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LEE MARVIN, STAR TREK & SCOTTY

It isn’t widely known but in Lee Marvin’s long and varied career he worked with almost every member of the original cast of “Star Trek” in one medium or another. In the early days of live TV, William Shatner played his hotheaded younger brother in a “Playhouse 90” western titled “Time of the Hanging.” During the run of Marvin’s series “M Squad,” Leonard Nimoy appeared twice as a criminal who tangles with Marvin’s Lt. Ballinger. An early 60s anthology show called “The Great Adventure” had Marvin playing an unlikely Armenian grape grower with young Walter Koenig playing his son. He also had a great scene in the film Raintree County as a maverick Union soldier who captures a gentlemanly Confederate officer played by DeForest Kelley.
But of all the “Star Trek” cast members he worked with, none were able to say they knew Lee Marvin nearly as well as James ‘Scotty’ Doohan. The two actors started out together in Woodstock New York’s Maverick Theater after the war and appeared in several plays together, including Marvin’s professional debut in “Roadside” (see picture below with Doohan on the right).
I was lucky enough to interview Doohan for my book Lee Marvin: Point Blank back in the 90s and worked most of what he told me into the text. However, for various reasons, not all of what he had to say made the final cut so below is the unpublished transcript of that conversation. The words are his own with elliptical dots replacing my questions. Enjoy, Trekkies:

James Doohan: He was a very, very impressive guy. I loved him immediately. He was just terrific. We got along like a house on fire. Always were good friends. No if, ands, or buts, fights, or anything else. He was just terrific. …He was never a phony and we got a lot of phonies in this business. He was as true to himself as he could possibly be…. He was the characters that he played. He would actually be perfect for them. He was just a great guy. Became a great self-actor….At The Maverick Theatre, yeah. It was really a nice theater. We got pretty darn good crowds. We were just a bunch of actor/students. Somebody said, “I saw this guy. He’s friends of the Ballantines. I saw this guy and geez, he’d be perfect for one of the parts that we have,” Tex in “Roadside.” (Does voice) I played old Pap Rader. Anyway… We did about 10 plays. … It was a very exciting thing. The most specific thing that I remember about Lee is that of course that he was a Marine and I was and officer in the Royal Canadian Artillery and had taken some commando training and also infantry training. One day, we were fiddling around outside in the beautiful sunshine and everything else. Lee said, “Hey Jimmy, catch!” There was a rifle coming at me (laughs). I thought “Oh wow-wee!” I caught it, and I don’t have the best hand equipment in the world because I had three bullets hit this one finger….machine gun on D-Day. I was number one off of our beach on D-Day…. That’s why he would like throw the rifle at me. “Hey, catch this!” He said it after it was in the air (laughs) I had to look up and there was a a goddamneROADSIDE W DOOHAN-1d rifle coming at me, perfectly thrown ,though. So you have chance to grab it perpendicular… I just said, “Oh, okay.” He was just, “You know what you’re doing,” except I didn’t know as much as he knew.

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