The Pacific – An Interim Review

My initial impressions of Pacific are positive.

 First, I don’t have HBO so I didn’t plan on seeing the series until after it came out on DVD.  However, because of a business trip I spent three days in a hotel that had HBO and I was able to catch  episodes 1-3 and 5.  So my observations are based on about 4 hours of the series.  I suspect I won’t see any more until the DVDs come out.  If so, I will try to remember to come back and update this post.

Like the Band of Brothers (BOB) series, Pacific is hyper realistic in terms of sets, equipment and uniforms.  So an A+ on those important traits.  I think, after Saving Private Ryan and BOB, however, the big battle scenes, such as the attack across the airfield in episode 5, were somewhat predictable.  I counted five arms or legs being blown off, at least one maybe two medics killed while treating wounded, and overall you knew that some of the most engaging of the characters weren’t going to survive.  The only question was who wasn’t going to make it.  I also am not impressed with modern  battle scenes were hundreds of troops mass for an attack.  That’s just not realistic for anything other than the beach landings (where, unfortunately, massing was a necessary evil).  Since I saw episode 5 first, and that’s where Marines storm the airfield on Peleliu, my initial impression of the series was not so hot, however, that changed as I viewed episodes 1-3.

Pacific is not BOB and that’s a good thing.  It is different because the war in the Pacific was very different from the war in Europe, and it is different because the source material is very different.  BOB is based on the Steven Ambrose book which is based on his interviews with the soldiers.  Pacific is mostly based on the written memoirs of the men of the 1st Marine Division.  In particular, it relies on Robert Leckie’s Helmet for my Pillow and With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge.  Because it is based on memoirs, Pacific is much more personal than BOB.  It includes a significant story line that focuses on the personal lives and loves of the men.  This gives the series greater weight and makes you care even more than in BOB about the individual marines.

I didn’t see episode 4, and that is where the Marines land on Peleliu.  From what I’ve seen in the trailers and in the above documentary, the landing scene using AMTRACs is probably the most realistic ever filmed.

So, overall I’m very happy with Pacific.  Without seeing the next five episodes, I am guessing it is on its way to be a classic similar to BOB.  If you have HBO I strongly recommend that you catch up with the past episodes and invest in the next five.  If you don’t have HBO (like me) than, enjoy the making of the movie above, tease yourself with the trailers on youtube, and look forward to that boxed set that I’m guessing will be in stores just in time for Christmas 🙂

Here are the books I recommend to go with the series:

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Published in: on April 21, 2010 at 11:26 pm  Comments (2)  
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British Army Horses Traveling

The Army have decided to reward their loyal horses with an off-duty trip to Blackpool.

Read Complete Article Here.

Another article Here.

Household Cavalry arrives in the Middle East.  Read Article Here.

German Riding Badge: Das Reiterabzeichen

reitabzeichen

reitabzeichen

In 1930 the German Warmblood Association created a bronze, silver, and gold rider’s badge, Das Reiterabzeichen,  to encourage increased equestrian knowledge and horsemanship.  The bronze and sliver levels were awarded after demonstrated horsemanship and knowledge of riding theory, anatomy, and horsemastership.  Since the Army was the largest equestrian organization in the country, Rittmeisters (cavalry captains) and artillery captains who were squadron or battery commanders were authorized to administer the tests and award the badges to civilians and to soldiers.

According to German cavalry historian Klaus Richter, the army made little use of the badges.  This may have been because during the same period the army was in the midst of a dramatic increase in size and modernization program encouraged by the Nazis.  It also may have been because military riders, as professionals, did not see a need for a badge to represent what was already represented by their rank and branch of service.  It may have been that the testing for and wearing the badges was beneath the dignity of cavalrymen and horse artillerymen.

Since it was originally conceived as a civilian sports award before the Nazis came to power, it was one of the few German military qualification badges of the Nazi era that did not have a military design or include the swastika insignia.

Riding Badge Certificate

Riding Badge Certificate

The modern Riding Badge is still issued by the German Equestrian Association (Deutsche Reiterliche Vereinigung) and still must be earned by meeting strict criteria judged by a certified official.  It looks exactly the same as the World War II and earlier version.  At the copper level, level IV, the modern badge is awarded to beginner riders and is used primarily as a motivational tool to encourage a continued interest in horses.  The bronze and higher requirements are more stringent.  For example, a bronze level award requires successfully completing the equivalent of a USDFlevel 2 dressage test and jump course with jumps and jump combinations ranging up to 4 feet in height.  There is also a written and oral test on horsemastership. 

The degree of control of all horse activity in Germany has no parallel in the United States.  Certainly much of that control, especially in the area of stock management and breeding, goes against the grain of American principles of free markets and individual choice.  However, the ability to establish national standards in horsemanship and horsemastership creates industry standards by which one can judge riding instructors, individual ability, and stable and training facilities.  It also provides a national standard against which amateur horseman can measure themselves and towards which they can work improve their horsemanship.  The U.S. Pony Club standards are probably the only U.S. measure which is similar.

German Luftwaffe Officer Wearing the Riding Badge
World War II Luftwaffe Officer Wearing the Riding Badge

 

Horse Soldier Theme Song

Corb Lund, Canadian Country Western singer who I just discovered, sings the perfect theme song for this blog.  See the video here:

The song is from his album, Horse Soldier!  Horse Soldier! and includes several cavalry oriented tunes including I wanna Be in the Calvary.

See a review of the album here.