Hi Reddit. My name is Sterling Mace. I served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942-1945. I am 88 years old. I am also an author. http://us.macmillan.com/author/sterlingmace . My book came out on May 8th, 2012: Battleground Pacific: A Marine Rifleman's Combat Odyssey with K/3/5, from St. Martin's Press. http://us.macmillan.com/battlegroundpacific/SterlingMace.

I would like to focus primarily on the battle of Peleliu, but other topics are free game, such as the Great Depression, growing up in Queens, New York in the 1930s...or anything Marine Corps related.

Ask me anything; I'm not shy. I suppose almost anything, except for questions about Gene Sledge, who I didn't know very well since he was in the mortars and I was a rifleman at the front of the line. I'm sure he was a swell marine, but I didn't even have a chance to know him because the mortars were about 75-100 yards behind us on the line (a few other riflemen and I were consultants on his book, though, and you can find my name in the acknowledgment, for what it's worth – which isn't much).

Otherwise, I'm here for you. Not for me. It is my honor to be among you today. If by educating, you somehow find in your hearts to honor those who never made it back, then my mission is complete.

Edits: Okay, I've been going a long time and I'm about half loopy on martinis. I'm going to take a break and come back later if anybody is still interested. Hell, you think you might be interested in another one of these a few months from now? I really want to answer everyone's questions, so if I haven't, please keep your shirt on and I'll get around to you.

Verification: http://imgur.com/a/iMsxi

Comments: 1306 • Responses: 78  • Date: 

Sterling_Mace460 karma

The moment I realized I had made it back to The States alive. It didn't even happen when we sailed into to California. It happened when I reached New York again. It was the most unreal feeling I've ever felt.

The battles? They were real. Too real. Being back was as if I were a ghost in flesh clothing, like I didn't belong and somebody else did.

, Sterling G Mace

Nassive112 karma

Was it hard getting back into a normal life, and a normal routine, after it?

Sterling_Mace373 karma

Sure it was. I never had nightmares or what they call "flashbacks" or anything like that, still, imagine leaving you home for vacation and then coming back and somebody has rearranged all your funiture and belongings in your house and you can't find a way to put them back, so you just leave them like that forever.

, Sterling G Mace

Lookmanospaces205 karma

A good friend did two tours in Afghanistan with the Canadian Forces, and when he came back from the first, his wife had rearranged the living room furniture. This freaked the hell out of him.

Sterling_Mace195 karma

Ha! I imagine!

, Sterling G Mace

Flyingchairs168 karma

Did you ever find that video you were looking for of yourself dancing?

Sterling_Mace294 karma

No. Thank you for asking. The plan now is to contact my congressman and get their butts on it. I would think it would be great for them in an election year, don't you?

, Sterling G Mace

cedargrove61 karma

Who is your Congressman? I'm sure a few letters from Reddit could help light a fire under them...

Sterling_Mace78 karma

CW Bill Young, 10th Florida district.

, Sterling G Mace

vertstang8615 karma

I'll be damned your less than an hour north of me!

Thank you for your service Mr. Mace, I have the utmost respect for our service men and women!

Sterling_Mace46 karma

Well, come on over sometime. I'm never opposed to having guests.

, Sterling G Mace

Dave_Isnt_Here41 karma

I'm disappointed this wasn't successful, it seemed a remarkable amount of people tried to help out.

Sterling_Mace108 karma

Not giving up yet. Maybe we'll get Larry King on the job, huh?

, Sterling G Mace

rawdoggingisawesome141 karma

First off, as a current naval officer, let me thank you for your remarkable service in our country's time of need. Couple questions. First, what do you think of allowing women to serve in combat arms? Next, what was/is your opinion of the Japanese internment camps instituted by our country? A necessary evil? Uncalled for? Thanks again sir, you are truly a great American.

Sterling_Mace306 karma

haha. It's funny you ask the question about women, because I've been asked this before. Really, I'm all for having women in the service, but not so much in a combat situation, because you have to keep the most intelligent of our species alive, otherwise we'd be sunk! (pardon the navy pun). Do I think that most would do fine in combat, though? You bet!

Now, those camps, at the time I didn't think much of them. You know, you look around and seeing your Japanese neighbors being moved (and yes, we had Japanese people living in our neighborhood in Queens, NY), and you shake your head like it's a shame...and it was! But more like a matter of fact sort of shame, if that makes sense?

You felt bad for them, sure. On the other hand, there was a tremendous amount of faith in our country back then, especially in a time of war, so as a young kid, like I was, I didn't question the motives. I knew we were at war, I had a feeling my neighbors were no threat, but if wiser heads then mine said they had to go to a camp, then I guess it was the right thing to do.

, Sterling G Mace

bockrocker44 karma

Did you have any interaction with Japanese Americans during the war? Surely there were a few in the Pacific theater for interpretation duties or such?

Sterling_Mace147 karma

No, I didn't, actually. I was pretty much on the frontline the whole time and any of that interogation would have happened behind the lines aways. In fact, I only saw one live Nip who wasn't trying to kill me, in both battles, and he wasn't in any real shape to do any talking. He could sure smoke cigarettes, though! haha

, Sterling G Mace

im_friENTly18 karma

Do you care to tell what was wrong with him?

Sterling_Mace64 karma

One of the rare times that I will say read the book.

, Sterling G Mace

MasterGolbez122 karma

as a current naval officer,



rawdoggingisawesome124 karma

Yes, naval officers like to get drunk and have sex with lots of people. Sorry if that offends your sensibilities.

Sterling_Mace545 karma

I knew I should have joined the friggin navy! Too bad I failed their eye exam. I guess that was from all my pre-war practice at being a naval officer. You'll go blind, doing that you know!

, Sterling G Mace

garandguy131 karma

Mr. Mace,

I know how heavy the BAR was that you carried on Peleliu. Were you ever able to "get used to it" or did the weight of that rifle start to bog you down especially as the campaign went on?

Sterling_Mace305 karma

That BAR weighed 19lbs and it didn't effect me at all. As the battle went on your shoulder would get raw from the sling, but as far as the weight I was in very good shape. I played sports growing up, I was thin and wirey, so the BAR was nothing...not even all the extra ammunition and gear I had to carry as a BAR man. I'm not a tough guy. That's just the way it was.

, Sterling G Mace

thatoneguystephen76 karma

My grandad was a BAR man and a fireteam leader (E4) in the 6th marines in 44-45. Once they handed it to him he never gave it up because he liked it so well. He used to talk about how he would never completely fill a magazine up, he would only put 16-18 rounds in to save the spring in the magazine itself and keep it from jamming, was this common? What were some of the other habit's adaptations that came from experience in the field and in combat?

Sterling_Mace192 karma

No, we would fill them up all the way, because I don't recall a shortage on magazines. It makes plenty of sense, but I didn't ever do that. Hell, I probably left plenty of good magazines right where I tossed. See, I had an assistant BAR man who wasn't worth a damn, so I was pretty much on my own.

I'll tell you a simple but good habit. Don't get killed!

, Sterling G Mace

krikit38622 karma

What was so useless about him? Did he just not do anything, or was he a screwup?

Sterling_Mace89 karma

Charlie Allmann just didn't do anything. I don't even think he fired his weapon the whole time he was on Peleliu.

Also, I've often thought about Allmann like this: here he was a veteran of Cape Gloucester and I had just gotten there. He was a few years older than me, so now I'm the BAR man and he's the assitant, and maybe he didn't like that too much. Or maybe he was just content to let me do all the fighting since I had the heavy weapon.

, Sterling G Mace

bleepbloop47406113 karma

Good morning Sterling. I don't know how much you keep up with modern veterans' affairs, but what's your opinion on the Stolen Valor ruling? And going off that, were there any fakers that you or people you knew encountered after the war?

Sterling_Mace289 karma

This is a very good question. To make a long story short, after the war and pal and I decided to wear our uniforms to the Aquiduct Racetrack to bet on the ponies. I don't know why we wore our uniforms, but we were stopped by the police. I had forgotten my ID at home, so they hauled me into jail. I stayed in jail the whole day, and when they released me, they said they were sorry, but that there were a lot of people going around faking being in the military and if I hadn't checked out I would have been screwed.

4Fs were going down all the time and buying uniforms to pick up tail or whatever. They said it was an epidemic. Which leads into today. What are you going to do about nutjobs out there? I don't care. Hell, they never even gave me the purple heart for being wounded on Okinawa, even though I'm in the official marine records as being WIA. What are you going to do?

, Sterling G Mace

PiGaKiLa142 karma

never even gave me the purple heart for being wounded on Okinawa, even though I'm in the official marine records as being WIA. What are you going to do?

Contact your local district Congressman. My mother's neighbor noticed how decorated his friend was at a reunion 50 years later and found out he should have received those as well. After contacting his rep, there was a ceremony held where he received 16 medals. It can't hurt to try - and you might get a free meal or two out of it.

Sterling_Mace727 karma

Thank you for the thought, but those medals, I don't need them. There had even been people who have said over the years that I should have gotten something for saving about 6 marines on Okinawa, maybe the Silver Star or something. But that was a long time ago. I made it out with my ass intact...and that's good enough.

, Sterling G Mace

Lavarocked37 karma

If you haven't heard, the Stolen Valor law was declared unconstitutional recently. I think neither me nor the Supreme Court are particularly fond of jackasses pinning fake medals on themselves, but at the same time don't think hauling them off to jail for 6-12 months is a sane or appropriate response.

Any substantial fraud committed in a fake uniform is still as illegal as it's always been.

Sterling_Mace74 karma

Someone asked this question earlier and this is what I said.

Aw, shit, I can't find it in here, but it's here somewhere.

Oh yes, right here:

This is a very good question. To make a long story short, after the war and pal and I decided to wear our uniforms to the Aquiduct Racetrack to bet on the ponies. I don't know why we wore our uniforms, but we were stopped by the police. I had forgotten my ID at home, so they hauled me into jail. I stayed in jail the whole day, and when they released me, they said they were sorry, but that there were a lot of people going around faking being in the military and if I hadn't checked out I would have been screwed.

4Fs were going down all the time and buying uniforms to pick up tail or whatever. They said it was an epidemic. Which leads into today. What are you going to do about nutjobs out there? I don't care. Hell, they never even gave me the purple heart for being wounded on Okinawa, even though I'm in the official marine records as being WIA. What are you going to do?

, Sterling G Mace

KJP1990104 karma

First of all thank you for your service. I come from a line of family members in all branches of the military. That being said, I am currently a history major at a state school in Massachusetts who's goal is to become a high school history teacher. What would you like future generations to know about World War II and how could I bring an experience such as yours to the forefront and present 60 years later?

Sterling_Mace308 karma

Give them knowledge of first hand accounts to go along with all the text book stuff. They need to know that there were real people like them and not just black and white images that lived and died out there...and drive home the fact that what we did over there - regardless of how many wars the US has been in since - that what we did, there never has been a 3rd World War. We secured that for the rest of the world.

, Sterling G Mace

b-radly91 karma

Were you satisfied with the weaponry available at the time? I'm guessing you had an M-1 rifle or BAR, correct? How did it compare to the Japanese equipment? Also, I have read the Japanese soldiers were very brave but poor marksman. Is this correct? Thanks from a former Marine.

Sterling_Mace183 karma

I carried the BAR as a PFC on Peleliu and later the M1 rifle as a fire team leader on Okinawa. I was extremely satisfied with the BAR, as it served a left handed rifleman, like myself, better than the M1. I wasn't very happy when I went to the M1, although it was a fine weapon, too.

Now, as far as I could tell the Japanese weren't poor marksmen. They were very swift, to be honest. They could hid and snipe a marine at who knows how far away. It was terrible, especially on Peleliu where you'd walk in an area that was supposed to be cleared out and then a marine would take a bullet. But I don't know how well there equipment was made. Only stuff I've read after the war.

Oh, I know their mortars were better than ours, though...and they were real good with them!

, Sterling G Mace

whslaxattack62 karma

Could you elaborate on that last paragraph. Was it the training? Positioning? Or the actual mortar?

And thank you

Sterling_Mace185 karma

The Nip mortars, they called them "knee mortars," the Nips didn't have to set them up like ours. Ours, from what I understand were slow to set up. You had the base plate, guages, the tube, etc. The Jap mortars, on the other hand, one person could carry it, stick it in the ground, fire, and then take off before you could get a bead on him. Just imagine, one person with that much fire power, and they made quick work of it in the process!

We got hit by them many times. You have to respect a weapon like that.

, Sterling G Mace

Psyqlone61 karma

"The Nip mortars, they called them "knee mortars," ..."

...and were a good way to fracture a femur if you actually launched a round with one of those things on a limb.

Sterling_Mace118 karma

Yeah, yeah, we heard stories about jackasses trying to fire them off their thighs on Guadalcanal. These were the first marines to find them.

, Sterling G MAce

too_lazy_2_punctuate59 karma

as a former marine ii gotta say it is not hard to imagine my fellow marines finding a enemy mortar system like that and trying something so stupid. the dumbest thing i heard of during my time was when one of our guys in the motor pool decided to see if iraqi helmets were as good as ours so he put it on and told his buddy to "graze" him to test out its durability.

Sterling_Mace107 karma

Christ! Some fucking people, huh?

I'll tell you the reality of war. I saw more marines killed doing something stupid, or not thinking, or by some weird twist of fate, then I saw someone die by being heroic or brave.

And sometimes...sometimes bravery equals stupidity. That's just a fact. I know, because I've done some stupid things on the battlefield, too.

, Sterling G Mace

tkirby312 karma

Why is the BAR more suitable to lefties compared to the M1? Does it have to do with the way the empty casings come out?

Sterling_Mace52 karma

No, the BAR is was the only infantry weapon with the bolt on the left side of the receiver. The simple answer is that you didn't have to take it off your shoulder to opperate the bolt. Everything was there for a lefty. It's more complicated than that, but that's it in a nutshell.

, Sterling G Mace

nygreenmachine71 karma

Do you think times are better now or back in the 50's?

Sterling_Mace230 karma

Honestly, I hate to say this, but I think times were better in the 1950s. The 30s weren't so hot because most of us had it bad during The Depression (although I was a kid at the time and felt great growing up). The 40s we had a big war on, so that kind of stunk. Besides that, the 1950s were really nice and easy going. The volume had turned down on the world and wound't be raised again until the 60s. It's been up every since. It was a nice reprieve.

, Sterling G Mace

Lavarocked32 karma

There sure are a lot of new things wrong with the world, but as far as I know, the numbers for crime and poverty and such, have come down since the 50's. At least, in most parts of the country.

Sterling_Mace142 karma

This is just my perspective. I can't speak for the rest of the world. Yet I do think that sigh of relief was universal. I mean, we could go on and on about how equal rights for all people are better today, or even how something as silly as television is much better than the 1950s, still, I'm pretty sure that even the criminals and impoverished were glad not to carry a rifle in some foreign land. Then again, don't forget Korea. That was a very bad war!

, Sterling G Mace

tattedspyder70 karma

Sir, no question for you but I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you. If we were face to face I'd certainly pop a smart salute and tell you what an honor it is to meet you, one veteran to another.

Sterling_Mace112 karma

Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

, Sterling G Mace

bockrocker57 karma

Did you know my grandpa? :p

It's great that you are writing and talking about your experience. Both of my grandfathers were in the war, but one of them died before I was born and the other one got Alzheimer's when I was young, so I never got to hear anything about his experiences firsthand. It wasn't until his funeral that I got to see the photos of him in training camp and in occupied Japan.

Sterling_Mace106 karma

That's a good looking marine. No, I did not know him. You're kind of insular to your own company, platoons and squads.

Sterling G Mace

rtkjjm54 karma

Good Morning! Thank you for being here today and answering questions. My father was with K/3/1 during WWII (George D'Amore). Do you remember what you were thinking when you were on the landing craft heading toward Peleliu?

Sterling_Mace152 karma

I remember like it was yesterday...and it wasn't one particular thought. It was a mash of 100 thoughts at once. Certainly there was this small nagging voice that said I could die at any moment, yet it was more of a fear of the unknown, even though I had imagined that moment a thousand times in my head before.

There was just too much to take in and my thoughts reflected that. All around was chaos and I recall right before the ramp went down thinking, "This is it." What "this" was or what "it" was, I don't know. Still, that was the thought.

, Sterling G Mace

Nassive46 karma

Was there a point where you thought you were going to die, almost as an absolute?

Sterling_Mace116 karma

There was one time on Ngesebus that I thought I would die for sure. Charlie Allmann and I were literally surrounded by Japanese on Ngesebus and the rest of our platoon had left us behind.

On Okinawa a Nip shell landed 10 feet away from me. That should have killed me. It wasn't a dud either.

, Sterling G Mace

Nassive47 karma

What happened at Ngesebus?

Sterling_Mace122 karma

Cpl. Van Trump ordered Charlie and I to move up ahead, alone, 20 yards and cover our rear. It should have never been just two marines in the first place. We found a little spot to cover and the Japanese were swarming everywhere. It was a miracle they didn't find us. The truth is, the rest of the guys forgot about us. When we made it back I was pissed. We almost missed getting on the amtracs to take us back to Peleliu, too.

Sterling G Mace

n1zm030 karma

Sending 2 men or even just one, was that necessary often to scout or do whatever?

Also dis you think the movie thin red line and the miniseries the Pacific did any good at trying to display what it was like there?

Sterling_Mace71 karma

Maybe in some cases, but in this case maybe there was 40 yards left on the island to go, and we would have been on the other side. It was a bad idea since they were pulling us back anyway, for the army to take over.

The truth was, Van Trump was pissed that his pal got taken out by our own 81mm mortars and he wasn't thinking straight.]

, Sterling G Mace

Hill-Zero30 karma


Sterling_Mace49 karma

I suppose in the case of Sledge and some of the other that got to hang back by the CP you could have a love affair with Captain Haldane. As for me, I only met him one time, the night before we hit Ngesebus. He took my advice, just a lowly PFC, and it was good advice because it lit of the area on some Japs that were about to come into out lines.

When he died, sure it was a shame, but no more of a shame than anyone getting killed, a PFC or a general. I didn't have time to moan about it, unlike some others.

, Sterling G Mace

rtkjjm38 karma

I can't even imagine the rush of thoughts and emotions that were running through your mind. Daddy said that Peleliu was worse than Okinawa and said that he didn't have time to be scared he just had time to act so he didn't get killed.

Sterling_Mace80 karma

There is a lot of truth to that. You just act, yes. If you think about it too much you just might wind up dead. Now, Okinawa was it's own animal, because it was so depression. Too much time to think. That's what hurt so bad about Okinawa, but Peleliu kept you hopping the whole time. Even when you weren't on the line, just the notion that you'd be back kept you on your toes.

Sterling G Mace

rtkjjm30 karma

When the battle of Peleliu was over, did the island actually get used for anything?

Sterling_Mace139 karma

Something that God used to wipe his ass with?

I don't think it was used for anything. It wasn't fit for anything.

, Sterling G Mace

Lookmanospaces52 karma

One of my drinking buddies was a rifleman during the siege of Khe Sanh, and he knew an older gunny in the supply company who told him one morning after a particularly rough night, "Shit, son, this ain't nothing compared to Peleliu."

I've read Eugene Sledge's book a few times over the years, and look forward to reading yours.

As for a question, what are your thoughts on HBO's "The Pacific"?

Sterling_Mace83 karma

I thought it was a well meaning, but totally inaccurate television program. I am thankful that they made it, because it brought our war into people living rooms...and it is my goal that they remember. Here's an interview I did about the TV show. They misquoted me a little, but you'll get the gist. http://www.tampabay.com/features/media/article1079385.ece

, Sterling G Mace

baggyizzle52 karma

What do you think of the soldiers of today and the wars that there involved in?

Edit: I have another question, I don't mean to sound rude but my mum works in a nursing home and she says some war vets refuse to eat rice and are very racist. Do you still feel any animosity towards them?

Sterling_Mace159 karma

No. I never hated the Japanese person. I didn't like the son of a bitch very much, but I didn't hate them. I mean, look what a wonderful country they are today!

Sometimes I joke around about the Japanese, but there is no hatred in my heart.

, Sterling G Mace

Sterling_Mace111 karma

Thankfully, i believe they are much better trained and equipped than we were. That keeps more of them alive.

The times may change, but people don't. Our fightinging forces today are just as good or better than in my day.

, Sterling G Mace

Nassive52 karma

In your verification, you have some drawings. Do you draw often about that time, were they done at that time, or can you clearly recall moments when you draw?

Sterling_Mace123 karma

Those drawings were done on Pavuvu after the battles, back in 1944. I've been blessed with very good recall, so I'd like to think those skecthes represent something that a camera could not have captured.

Sterling G Mace

Nassive24 karma

Was there anything you had to draw, or anything you were hesitant to recall?

Sterling_Mace84 karma

No, nothing really. Remember, I was just doodling to pass the time on Pavuvu, before Okinawa; or in the case of Okinawa, I drew in the hospital to pass the time, after I was evacuated. I don't know what the psychology of these drawings says about me at the time. It was just something to do. I even drew a sketch of me killing some Japanese at the base of the Five Sisters on Peleliu.

, Sterling G Mace

ecancil51 karma

Can you give us a description of a regular day on Peleliu. Basically, from what you did in the morning until when you bunked up at the end of the day.

Sterling_Mace179 karma

Well, most of the time there was no bunking up at the end of the day. In fact, I only recall a couple of days where we were far enough behind the lines to be considered "safe." You lived on the ground and in holes, but mostly on the hard coral ground. You didn't get much sleep, so morning meshed in with the night.

It was up early and marching to a spot where you would attack some ridge, or set of caves, so there was mostly fighting or moving up to fight. Blazing heat all the time. Eating was a luxury not a necessity, so concepts like breakfast, lunch and supper did not exist. You catch a break and you don't fuck around. You make sure your weapon is in good order and then it's on to the next march or attack.

That's a day on Peleliu. All 30 of them.

, Sterling G Mace

ecancil50 karma

It sounds absolutely miserable. Were there times when you felt that you were actually going mad a bit? Did you ever see anyone just completely lose it?

Sterling_Mace123 karma

I saw a few marines on Peleliu that looked like they were about to be evacuated for going nuts or something. It was only on Okinawa, however, that I thought I would lose it. Peleliu was terrible, but I was too green and stupid to go crackers. On Okinawa I was so depressed, and then later concussed, that I thought my mind would go. Maybe to an extent it did. There were some things I did that weren't too nice.

, Sterling G Mace

cedargrove19 karma

The officers on Okinawa, on the other hand, were green and full of shit.

Along this line of thinking, what percentage of your experiences have you never, or will you never, speak about?

Sterling_Mace43 karma

Everything is an open book these days, regarding the war. I'm an open book.

, Sterling G Mace

anttonoo51 karma

What was/is your opinion of the officers. Were you satisfied with who led you and made the decisions and do you think they did a good job?

Sterling_Mace137 karma

The officers we had on Peleliu were tops! They really did a great job, and that's mostly because they were vets of Cape Gloucester. They lead by example, they palled around with you a little, and that made you respect them. Some died doing what a PFC should have done. Bless them.

The officers on Okinawa, on the other hand, were green and full of shit. What they thought they were, they weren't, and it showed to marines who had been there and done that.

I never disrespected an officer, yet there were times I felt like kicking the hell out of a couple of them. One Major in particular who was just there for political reasons was a boil on my ass.

, Sterling G Mace

cedargrove30 karma

The officers on Okinawa, on the other hand, were green and full of shit.

Why was that? Were we running out of experienced officers or just bad timing?

Sterling_Mace51 karma

It was both, I'm sure. Yeah, both.

, Sterling G Mace

Oatsoap44 karma

How do you feel about the use of atomic weaponry in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Sterling_Mace143 karma

In a nutshell: us or them. You drop the bombs and it ends up saving more lives on both sides. You usher in the atomic age, right? Okay. It would have happpened, anyway, I think, so better then than later.

, Sterling G Mace

PHeNiXDoVe40 karma

Semper Fi Brother. My 7 years will, Fallujah included, will never compare to the hell you went through in just Peleliu alone. Its always nice to see your generation reach out to us, because we don't reach out to you enough. You are a Great author, Great American, and Great Marine.

How did you learn to cope with the silence? It has been over 6 years now for me, and I cant stand the silence of peace.

Sterling_Mace38 karma

This is a very interesting question. Thank you for your service.

In my case I think that the silence was golden. When I first got home I wanted to talk about it, but I ran into resistance. When I got married I wanted to tell my wife about it, because all I had was my blowhard friends, and she didn't want to hear about it, so I just stopped talking about it. Even on job applications, if I could, I would skip over the Marine Corps part, despite the fact that I was so glad to have been a part of the marines.

When I clammed up, I think I really became whole again. I don't know why.

, Sterling G Mace

xmatcha34 karma

Hey Mace, thanks for doing this.

Which neighborhoods in Queens were dangerous when you were growing up, but today are highly developed and safe? In other words, which neighborhoods made the most drastic changes over the years? Did you know what Astoria was like back then?

Sterling_Mace78 karma

Astoria is about the same as it's always been. Back in my day Jamaica was a nice and safe place, but now it has gone to the dogs. In my day Kews Garden wasn't a place you wanted to go, but now it's a nice place. South Ozone Park, where I grew up was a real mix of houses and open land, now of course it's all houses. Where JFK airport is now was once shanty towns, with dirt roads and the real poor familys: places like Richmond Hill Circle, etc. Now, It's swell I suppose, because of the airport.

, Sterling G Mace

TheWolfbat28 karma

Apart from combat, what do you personally think is the most terrifying or horrible part of war, specifically during the fight in the Pacific? (When I say this, I mean things like surviving in the jungle, ect.)

Sterling_Mace75 karma

It would probably be that jungle, the heat, and the anticipation of combat was often worse than the real thing, because you had the chance to dwell on what could happen, as opposed to no time to think in an actual situation.

Yes, the anticipation was the worse. Thankfully, a place like Peleliu didn't give you that many chances to dwell on it because something would happen soon to break you out of it.'

, Sterling G Mace

threesixzero28 karma

hey i remembering going through your facebook page, and i found this status you posted:

This guy, Albert Einstein? He put together all these special figures and formulas to tell us that time is relative. He could have saved himself the trouble and spent fifteen seconds with the Marines on Okinawa. Then we’d see how fuckin’ smart he was.

what exactly did you mean by that

Sterling_Mace100 karma

Read this in context and I think it will make sense.


The whole run takes only fifteen seconds, but a lot can happen in fifteen seconds, on Okinawa. It takes one-point-five seconds for Spud Dunlop to get hit and fall like a sack of potatoes. Tick! In one second PFC Westbrook is eaten up by shell fragments (he’s not going to make it). Tick! Just a few feet over, in all this shit, Lieutenant Sam Menselos falls. Tick! Tick! I sent Mom the wristwatch I took off of the dead Nip on Peleliu. In Queens the watch ticks off the seconds as if they mean something special, but time don’t mean shit on Okinawa. Not right now, anyway. Not with Jap knee mortars coming right up our asses like clockwork.

This guy, Albert Einstein? He put together all these special figures and formulas to tell us that time is relative. He could have saved himself the trouble and spent fifteen seconds with the marines on Okinawa. Then we’d see how fuckin’ smart he is.

PiGaKiLa58 karma

Sounds like he is saying 15 seconds on Okinawa goes by much slower/faster than say sitting at home in your living room. Relative theory of time = time is relative.

Sterling_Mace65 karma


, Mace

mnixxon27 karma

Did you watch the HBO series "The Pacific"? What were your thoughts and feelings about the series? Do you feel the series did portrayed an accurate description of what combat was like?

Also, I saw a documentary one time that said that Japanese women were so brainwashed and scared of the Americans that they killed their babies and leapt to their deaths to avoid capture. Do you have any first hand knowledge about such matters?

Sterling_Mace56 karma

http://www.tampabay.com/features/media/article1079385.ece - Here's some of my thoughts on the Pacific TV show. It was a well meaning show with too much Hollywood, based on the books of three dead guys, with no veterans consulting in the making of the show.

No, I never had first hand knowldge of scared Japanese women, but I certainly saw a lot of scared Okinawan civilians. We rounded them up like cattle.

, Sterling G Mace

Surf50026 karma

First off, I wanted to say thank you for your service. Second, what is your favorite technological advancement that has taken place in your lifetime? And what do you think is the most important?

Sterling_Mace86 karma

I know it might sound pretty droll, but I really like what they've done with television over the years. Watching a ball game in fantastic! haha. I think the most important thing is computers. I've become addicted. I even need to get a new one, but the damn things are so expensive! What they've done medically boggles the mind. I've heard that if it wasn't for the Nazis we wouldn't have many of the medical advancements we have today. Strange, isn't it?

, Sterling G Mace

therealandrew26 karma

what do you think would have happened if the US had to invade the Japanese mainland?

Sterling_Mace109 karma

Much more death than any of us could comprehend. Moreso than what the bombs caused. I probably wouldn't be here today. Maybe you, too.

, Sterling G Mace

Exchequer_Eduoth21 karma

Maybe you, too.

My grandfather was in training when they dropped the bombs, for the invasion of the home islands. I've always had this thought that if they didn't drop those bombs, would I be here now? And who else wouldn't be here now? It's not a thought I like to dwell on. Sucks that it had to happen, but the alternatives would have been a lot worse.

cdoty1510 karma

My grandfather was waiting in panama to go up to the Aleutian Islands when the war ended, its weird thinking about the fact my Mom, me, and my brothers might not be here if the bombs weren't dropped.

foursecondpin6 karma


Sterling_Mace16 karma

See? Ask not what you can do for your country, but what Truman can do for you!

Most of us really hated to hear when Roosevelt died (he died while we were on Okinawa), but we became fast friends with Truman, in the end.

, Sterling G Mace

JohnnyFreakingDanger26 karma


First off, from one Marine to another, thank you for your service! I'm a former 0351, and there's something i've always been curious about but never had the opportunity to factually confirm. Flamethrowers are a big part of 51 lore, and we were always told it was the assaultmen who got to carry them back in the day. Was this true? As an aside, did you ever get to shoot one?

S/F Johnny F. Danger

(P.S., you last AMA resulted in me buying your book. I work outside the US with spotty mail service, but i can't wait to get home and dig into it!)

Sterling_Mace60 karma

I never fired a flamethrower. I guess I didn't rate. Now, "assaultman?" Sure, these guys had rough duty. Damn, they had to be brave! The nature of their job, as I remember, is that they didn't come in with us riflemen at the front of the attack, let's say. They were more of a group that was called up as needed. Close by, yes, but they would sort of get in the way if they were up at the front scattering out flame. They were damned good at their jobs, though. I witnessed some torchings firsthand.

, Sterling G Mace

Krywiggles13 karma

this might be a personal question, but did you ever kill a Japanese soldier with hand-to-hand-combat? you know, without a rifle, but perhaps with a knife or your bare hands?

second question: were you ever the cause of friendly fire?

Sterling_Mace36 karma

The closest a Japanese soldier was away from me when I killed him was about 2 to 3 feet away. I shot him with my BAR. In fact, I unloaded a full magazine into his midsection.

Now, friendly fire, I was never the cause of, but I saw a few cases of that. I saw 81mm mortars come in and take out a marine right next to me, and on Okinawa I could see some 60mm mortars come wafting in and they landed right atop a marine I knew. It blew him completely up.

, Sterling G Mace

iphonephotog24 karma


Not necessarily about Peleliu but what do you think about the evolution of combat overall and what it is today, as compared to the 40s?

Sterling_Mace50 karma

Sort of like a question I answered earlier. The troops today are better trained and equipped. They learned a lot from our previous wars and I think they put that into action. Today they focus on how to operate as fire teams, squads and platoons. In my day, they simply divvied us up and put us in these groups, and any real tactical moves they left on the chalkboard. Nothing was put into practice in the field. We simply adapated and fought for each other, which got us through, but it was rough duty because we had to practical training on how to do it. We'd lose a fire team member (I lost two on Ngesebus) and then we'd just pick a couple of guys from other fire teams to replace them, even if it shortened up another fire team. We still made it work, though.

, Sterling G Mace

Nassive22 karma

First off, thank you very much for doing this.

What is the event that sticks with you the most throughout your service history?

Recall_Coordinator18 karma

This is the second time he's done it. He's like Lillard already.

Sterling_Mace109 karma

What's that Lillard? Sounds like a goddamn lizard, doesn't it?

, Sterling G Mace

Lookmanospaces38 karma

Matthew Lillard is an actor who's done a couple of particularly engaging AMAs in the past. And yeah, he kind of looks like a goddamn lizard.

Sterling_Mace15 karma

Jesus! With a mug like that!

Now I'm going to get all sort of hate mail.

, Sterling G Mace

mauceri20 karma

Firstly, you have my admiration and respect. At 88 years old, you continue to have an incredible memory and seemingly great energy/interest in life/current affairs/the internet/learning new things ect. Is there anything in particular you owe for this or can suggestion for others be i diet, mindset or just plain lucky genetics? I've seen many of our posts and i am always impressed.

Bonus question. How do you feel about the japanese people today and could you return to visit/vacation there?

Sterling_Mace38 karma

I guess it's luck. Someone suggeted to me that because I had a sister who died when she was twelve, and both my mother and father died pretty young that I somehow gained their years. I'm not sure what to think about that concept. haha.

I think you just adapt and go with the times. The Marine Corps taught me a lot about adapting.

To your other question, I think the Japanese are fine people. I don't plan on visiting Japan, but next year I'd like to go back to Peleliu.

, Sterling G Mace

bitparity19 karma

How often did you actually see a Japanese soldier to shoot at?

I heard most 20th century warfare consisted of "shooting that-a-way" in the general direction of an enemy because if you could see an enemy, they were probably about to kill you, and that combat was mostly a game of flanking and suppressing fire.

Sterling_Mace41 karma

On Peleliu, yes, no more than 3 feet in front of me; you couldn't help but see them, shoot them, kill them. On Okinawa it was more shooting in a direction because the Nips were so concealed.

Combat for us, on Peleliu and Okinawa was more frontal assault, as opposed to flanking. Suppressing fire usually meant you were trying to get someone the hell out of a bad situation, so you laid down the steady so they could make it out.

, Sterling G Mace

whuppinstick14 karma

Thank you for doing this, Mr. Mace. I served in the Peace Corps for two years on the island of Angaur, which is just south of Peleliu by a few miles. There were lots of war relics, including some planes, scattered over our island. I stayed on Peleliu a few times and was able to see the tanks, the caves, and get the stories of how the battle went down from a local perspective.

I'd love a quick synopsis of your story from Peleliu, with particular emphasis on your interactions with Palauans, how you dealt with the thick vegetation, and what you did for water?

Peleliu is such a beautiful place - were you ever able to see it as such during or after the war? Have you ever been back?

edit: I just read that you also served in Okinawa. I just returned this week from living on Zamami for the last five years. That was the island where the U.S. first landed and used as a base for their attack on the Okinawan mainland. I'd love to ask you questions about that, too, if you don't mind.

Sterling_Mace18 karma

Well, this will be very quick because the only Palauans were the ones in Nip clothing. Meaning there were none!

As far as the vegetation, you just dealt with, the same as the lack of water. The lack of water nearly killed us.

But yes, I thought the place could have been beautiful once. I have plans to go back next year.

, Sterling G Mace

[deleted]12 karma

Would you ever be inclined to take a guy like me out for a drink? Not the traditional type of drink but the type of drink where I can't breathe because a guy your age is holding my head under the water while he flushes the toilet?

Sterling_Mace39 karma

That could be arranged if that is your true desire.

, Sterling G Mace

[deleted]12 karma

Did you find your video in the end?

Sterling_Mace23 karma

No, but I'm still looking for leads. Thanks for asking. Any luck on your end. haha.

, Sterling G Mace

jayfallon12 karma

Hello Mr. Mace! As a former Marine rifleman I salute you and thank you for your service.

Given what you know now about the warfare capabilities in the modern era, do you have any regrets about Peleliu and the sacrifices made for such an objective?

How was the chow?

Sterling_Mace40 karma

No regrets. They told us to take it and we did. End of story.

Those men who gave their lives there gave it for every right and wrong reason in this world, but not in vain. No, never that.

The chow was shit. It was in little greasy green cans, full of shit. I must have ate, but I don't remember doing it on Peleliu.

, Sterling G Mace

SecularMantis11 karma

My grandpa served in the Pacific in WWII as a naval aviator. He had a hell of a lot of respect for the riflemen; I recall him saying many times that he felt disgusting flying back and eating off of silver platters while men like you could hardly find time to eat MREs between firefights. I miss that man more than I can express, so it's doing me some good to hear from one of the men he so respected. Thank you.

Sterling_Mace36 karma

You know, funny you should mention that, because as a rifleman, at first we thought the pilots had the good life, but it didn't take us long to see how dangerous they had it, as well. We would see them go down in balls of flames, fly against the enemy in the sky, and hit all kinds of flak, and then we were glad we weren't in a flying coffin.

Still, I would have liked eating their chow. haha. In fact, we ran across a very young pilot on Peleliu, after the battle was over, and he shared his chicken with us. I'll never forget that nice kid.

, Sterling G Mace

Oh_stop_it_you9 karma

Hey a good friend of mine is in Kilo 3/5 at the moment. What are your thoughts on the current generation of Marines compared to yours?

Sterling_Mace24 karma

They are better trained and equiped than we were. This is a good thing.

, Sterling G Mace

Teridax9 karma

What is your opinion on /r/GameofTrolls8?

Sterling_Mace22 karma

You know, when I got on here there were these "trolls" who did this pretty great chisel on a reddit where I thought I was talking to another author and an old marine like myself. It ended up being a fake. However, they are not all bad guys. I was angry at first, sure. The funny thing is, they nw have my name in there that reads, "Sterling Mace: Hates Trolls more than Japs." Haha.

, Sterling G Mace

CountNoAccount9 karma

Mr. Mace,

I am in the process of reading your book. I'm having trouble putting it down. It's very engaging, and I really like your style of writing.

Can you tell us a little about the process of writing the book? Did you keep a journal during the war?

Thanks again,


Sterling_Mace19 karma

Gee, Kevin, that's a long story. Let's just say for brevity's sake that if my co-author, Nick Allen, had not forced me to write the book, not as an old man looking back, but instead, what I felt and thought back then as a 19 and 20 year old, then it would not be the same. Indeed, the book would be less truthful and not as accurate. As it stands, the book is probably the most honest one you'll find out there. We used no notes or very little outside resources, so it really is a memoir in the truest sense, as if it were written in 1946 and not today.

, Sterling G MAce

Stewie638 karma

Thank you, Sir, for your service. My father's cousin was killed on Peleliu by what is believed to have been friendly fire. His name was Middlebrook. Did you know him, sir?

Sterling_Mace11 karma

PFC. William S. Middlebrook from Houston, Texas?

, Sterling G Mace

Hermish948 karma

K/3/5? Holy shit did you serve with Eugene Seldge, Merriell Shelton, Billie Leyden and those guys from The Pacific mini-series if you have seen it? If not do any of these names sound familiar? I know at least Eguene and Merriell were in K/3/5. Shelton served at Cape Gloucester, Peleliu and Okinawa. Sledge at Peleliu and Okinawa. I read his book: With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Heard of it? Not sure if you will see this so late, but this post made me really excited as I'm a big admirer of your generation and the actions at the Pacific theatre of war. I'd love to talk to you if you ever see this. Lots of respect from Norway.

Sterling_Mace6 karma


I did not know Sledge or that little shit SNAFU too well. Billy Leyden, on the other hand, was a good friend of mine, who would turn in his grave if he were alive to see that TV show. Billy and I were riflemen, while Sledge and that Snafu character were mortermen about 100 yards behind us on the front line. You can find my name in Sledge's book, as I was a consultant whern he wrote it.

Thank you for your kind email.

Sterling G Mace

fidelity7 karma

Semper Fi. I served 4 years as a Mortarman and a Designated Marksman from 2006-2010. I have read a book about the Battle of Peleliu, titled Brotherhood of Heroes. I am sure you have read it or heard of it.

I have no questions for you, just letting you know the new generation of Marines are still kicking ass! I will purchase your book when I return to the States next month, I'm currently teaching English abroad in China. It was an honor to serve in your Marine Corps, although I probably wouldn't do it again! Haha.

Sterling_Mace7 karma

Brotherhood of Heroes? I'm in it! Sloan is a good writer. He got a number of things wrong, but still it's the thought that counts. Thank you.'

, Sterling G Mace

hypoppa6 karma

When I was growing up my dad was active in the VFW. I don't remember why, but at a pot-luck or something he was sitting with his best friend at the bar and I asked him what some guy's job was in the war. They got unusually serious and told me never to ask the guy about it because he was in the Pacific. Was service in that region considered especially bad?

Sterling_Mace16 karma

I didn't fight in Europe so I can't compare, but it was pretty bad. Very bad, in fact. We had to fight a lot of other crap that they didn't have in Europe. There were all kinds of bugs and diseases, snakes and friggin frogs with poison on them. We had ants that would attach to your nuts, and the only thing you could do was drop your pants and pick them off one at a time. It was the envirnoment, plus an enemy that didn't know how to "fight fair" like the Germans.

I can't say what was rougher, but the Pacific was rough duty.

, Sterling G Mace

that0231guy6 karma

I think I've already told you this, but from a Marine of today to a Marine of the greatest generation: thank you. For us it's the history we live, you actually lived it. It's awesome to see that you've kept up with the times and started using Reddit.

So my question is this: looking back on all of it, would you have done it again? Even through all of the trauma, the pain, the fear, the loss of your buddies, was it worth it? I don't really mean it in a political sense, but was it something you would do again if you got the chance to start over.

Sterling_Mace29 karma

Good question!

I am very glad I did what I did. I wouldn't give up the experience for all the money in the world. But would I do it again? Christ no!

, Sterling G Mace

TrogdorLLC6 karma

Did you ever find that video of you dancing? Have you thought about contacting History Detectives to help find it?

Sterling_Mace15 karma

No, I have not. Thank you for asking. Email me about these detectives if it's not too much trouble.

, Sterling G Mace

LordXenuActual6 karma

I bought your book after reading one of the previous AMAs you did. I've been hooked since the first sentence. Is there any way i could go about getting it signed?

Sterling_Mace18 karma

Sure you can get it signed. Send me an email, and I'll send you my address. You just have to supply return postage and we're all set.

, Sterling G Mace

MakeEmSayAyy5 karma

As someone who's fascinating by the whole WWII theatre, I'd like to ask, what did it feel like the first time you realized there were men out there that would go to such lengths to kill you?

What was your first encounter with the enemy like? Much appreciation sir.

Sterling_Mace28 karma

It was stressful, that's for sure. The moment was as soon as we hit the beach, really.

That first encounter with the enemy up close was actually a big nothing. I put rounds in the back of one of them as he tried to act like he was dead. It was my second encounter that really made an impression, as just as I was about to shoot the Nip he looked up at me with this moon face of his, and I knew that he knew it was the end for him. His face was an emotionless as you can get.

, Sterling G Mace

Dam_Kids5 karma

I remember a post on Reddit a month or so back. You mentioned that as a youngster the kids from your neighborhood had fights in an abandoned soap factory. Any stories about that you could share with us?

Sterling_Mace11 karma

No real stories. We just beat the holy hell out of each other until one of us called "give!" Sometimes we had gloves, sometimes not. It was just something to pass the time. The adults would come around to watch and place bets. I'm sure they had a good time. I would have liked to see some of the adults go at it. Fat chance!

, Sterling G Mace