With the Old Breed


E.B. Sledge

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Eugene “Sledgehammer” Sledge

The narrator and protagonist of With the Old Breed, Sledge undergoes a personal transformation over the course of the years and his combat experience. Sledge’s innocence and enthusiasm for the war as a nineteen-year-old… read analysis of Eugene “Sledgehammer” Sledge

Cpl. Merriell “Snafu” Shelton

A veteran of the famous battle of Cape Gloucester, Snafu is one of Sledge’s fellow 60 mm mortarmen in Company K. Thanks to his knowledge and experience as a veteran fighter, as well as… read analysis of Cpl. Merriell “Snafu” Shelton

Capt. Andrew “Ack Ack” Haldane

A veteran of the illustrious battles of Guadalcanal and Gloucester, Company K’s commanding officer on Peleliu is deeply beloved. Sledge describes Haldane as “the finest and most popular officer [he] ever knew,” capable of inspiring… read analysis of Capt. Andrew “Ack Ack” Haldane

1st Lt. Edward “Hillbilly” Jones

Company K’s machine-gun platoon leader, whose outstanding behavior on Guadalcanal allowed him to become an officer, is the second most popular officer after Haldane. Similar to Haldane in competence, intelligence and integrity, Hillbilly also… read analysis of 1st Lt. Edward “Hillbilly” Jones

John Redifer

Although Sledge does not describe his personal relationship with veteran infantryman Redifer, he considers him one of the most reliable, courageous companions in Company K. On various occasions, Redifer demonstrates his capacity to reason on… read analysis of John Redifer
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Company K’s mortar section leader on Okinawa is a young man who has recently graduated from an Ivy League college and officer training. Although Sledge recognizes this as evidence of Mac’s intelligence, Mac ultimately proves… read analysis of Mac

Cpl. R. V. Burgin

A Gloucester veteran, Burgin is Sledge’s patrol sergeant on Peleliu and Okinawa, and Sledge respects him immensely for his competence and courage. Burgin is wounded on Okinawa but returns to the war after three… read analysis of Cpl. R. V. Burgin

Ken “Doc” Caswell

A Navy corpsman, Doc distinguishes himself through his generosity, bravery, and self-sacrifice. He plays a crucial role in helping Sledge retain his sanity when he tells him not to collect a dead Japanese soldier’s goldread analysis of Ken “Doc” Caswell

Gunnery Sgt. Elmo Haney

A member of the “Old Corps,” part of the Marines since World War I in France, Sergeant Haney is an inspirational model to young Marines such as Sledge. Although characterized by idiosyncrasies such as… read analysis of Gunnery Sgt. Elmo Haney

Gunnery Sgt. Henry “Hank” Boyes

Company K’s gunnery sergeant and the senior NCO in Sledge’s combat patrol on Peleliu, Boyes is a fighter formidably devoted to the war and his companions in Company K. He distinguishes himself through multiple… read analysis of Gunnery Sgt. Henry “Hank” Boyes

Cpl. Doherty

Sledge’s drill officer (DI) in boot camp is a cold, mean man whom Sledge initially hates. He behaves condescendingly toward the recruits in his platoon, humiliating them publicly when they make a mistake and… read analysis of Cpl. Doherty

Lt. Duke

Sledge’s section leader on Peleliu and 81 mm mortar platoon leader on Okinawa, Duke is a kind, fair, and generous man. He reassures Sledge when he sees him crying out of despair on Peleliu… read analysis of Lt. Duke

Jay de l’Eau

Although Sledge calls Jay one of his closest friends in the war, this fellow infantryman is only mentioned by name a few times during Sledge’s narrative. Despite being a Gloucester veteran, Jay proves extremely clumsy… read analysis of Jay de l’Eau

Robert Oswalt

Before the assault on Peleliu, Sledge chats with fellow Marine Oswalt about life after the war. Oswalt plans to be a neurosurgeon, because of his fascination with the human brain. However, he dies on Peleliu… read analysis of Robert Oswalt

Capt. Paul Douglas

This fifty-three-year-old enlisted Marine helps Sledge and other members of Company K carry supplies across the beach on Peleliu. The young Marines watch him in disbelief, unable to understand why an old man would submit… read analysis of Capt. Paul Douglas


A beloved Company K Marine, Bill is killed one night when a Japanese soldier infiltrates the foxhole he shares with Sam. When Bill runs out of his foxhole to escape the Japanese infiltrator, a… read analysis of Bill


Bill’s foxhole buddy proves negligent when he falls asleep while on watch duty. This keeps him from seeing the Japanese infiltrator who is about to enter his foxhole—and from realizing that his buddy Bill… read analysis of Sam

Howard Nease

A modest, playful, yet deeply experienced Gloucester veteran, Howard steals turkey from chow on New Year’s Eve on Pavuvu so that he can share an intimate celebration with his companions. Beloved by his companions in… read analysis of Howard Nease


Sledge never names this first lieutenant, whom the Marines in Company K hate and despise. The Marines look down on this officer for being both careless with his appearance and irascible, often throwing a tantrum… read analysis of “Shadow”


A machine-gunner who joins Company K as a replacement after Peleliu, this Marine is nicknamed “Kathy” because, despite apparently being in love with his wife, he had an affair with a girl called Kathy before… read analysis of “Kathy”

Gen. Douglas MacArthur

Mentioned in With the Old Breed as the most prominent military actor in the Pacific theater in World War II, General MacArthur is in charge of re-entering the Philippines after Japanese invasion in 1941-1942. The… read analysis of Gen. Douglas MacArthur
Minor Characters
Sgt. Johnny Marmet
A sergeant who leads Sledge’s amtrac on Peleliu. Although usually straightforward and confident, Marmet appears utterly crushed on the day of Capt. Haldane’s death, which he is forced to announce to Sledge and other members of Company K.
George Sarrett
A fellow 60 mm mortarman, Sarrett often shares a foxhole with Sledge on Peleliu and Okinawa. He is one of the twenty-six members of Company K to survive the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa.