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Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone
Played by: John Seda
"You wanna live? Get off the beach!"
An Italian American NCO who becomes a living legend during the Battle of Guadalcanal (see below for details). From then on, his war experience includes not only combat, but also selling war bonds, training troops
and sleeping with beautiful actresses
He's the only enlisted Marine in WWII to have received both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross. He is also the only one of the three men listed here to not survive the war; rather than personal memoirs, Basilone's story is based off the recollections of others, particularly his wife and the official Marine records.
- Badass: The most clear-cut example in the series. Badass of the Week even had an article on the real man.
- BFG: The machine gun he uses as a melee weapon at Guadalcanal.
- Massive Numbered Siblings: He has 9 brothers and sisters.
- One-Man Army: In episode 2, he holds off 3,000 Japanese troops after his 15-men unit dwindles to just 2 other men. And note that the real man's actions are severely underplayed, as it would be impossible to tell them in just an hour (he really held his position for three days, on no food or sleep).
- Sergeant Rock: He is this to his men, especially at Camp Pendleton. Yet he only does it because he wants his men to survive.
Private First Class Robert "Lucky" Leckie
Played by: James Badge Dale
"I believe in ammunition".
native who puts his career as a sports writer on hold in order to to enlist in the Marines. He's The Everyman
of the series - just your average American guy who likes beer and girls, fits in well with similarly fun-loving comrades, and tries to survive the war without losing his sanity. He does ultimately survive, and the first half or so of the series is based on the memoir he wrote.
- Back for the Finale: He's absent for 3 episodes after being wounded at Peleliu, and reappears only in episode 10.
- Cultured Warrior: He may not look the part (or act it, for that matter), but he's very well-read and intelligent, especially when compared to most other Marines.
- Drinking On Duty: One of the reasons he gets sent to the brig.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: He survives the war, comes home and marries the girl next door that he has crushed on for a long time.
- Fight Magnet: He has a bit of this going on for him; not only is he Hot-Blooded, but also somewhat subversive to authority. It's more noticeable in his memoir than in the series, however.
- Heroic BSOD: This, coupled with nighttime enuresis, gets him taken to a hospital in episode 4.
- Lovable Rogue: He's intelligent and charming (not to mention competent in combat), but repeatedly gets demoted for fighting, drinking, going AWOL, etc - and is proud of the fact.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: To a lesser extent than Sledge, but it's there (he had nightmares for the rest of his life and, according to his wife and children, would often wake up screaming).
- The Unfavorite: As the youngest of 8 children, he claims he is this. It doesn't help that when he first enlist, and is heading on the bus to Parris Island, his father seemingly doesn't know how to address him leaving and shows somewhat more concern over his faulty car than his youngest child heading off to war. Once the war is over and he returns home, his parents already turned his old room into a storage room.
- Warrior Poet: He worked as a journalist before and after the war. In a more literal vein, he's seen penning a poem during some R&R at the beach in between battles.
Corporal Eugene "Sledgehammer" Sledge
Played by: Joe Mazzello
"We're all sent here to kill Japs, weren't we? So what the hell difference does it make what weapon we use?".
A sensitive and idealistic
young man from a wealthy southern family who enlists despite his father's pleas. His character best exemplifies the horrific effects of wars on the human psyche, and despite being Out of Focus
for the first few episodes, he is arguably the show's "true" main character. Which makes sense, given that his is the other memoir the series' narrative is based on.
Has the largest episode count of all the characters.
- Badass Bookworm: Highly educated, and according Leckie, Sledge is one of the few Marines who visits his "library" to read books.
Lieutenant Colonel Lewis "Chesty" Puller
Played by: William Sadler
"The Pacific will be our theater of war".
An officer in the US Marine Corps and the most decorated US Marine in history. Commanded the 1st Battalion of the 7th Marines (Basilone's unit) on Guadalcanal and the 1st Marine Regiment (Leckie's unit) on Peleliu.
- Deadpan Snarker: Has his moments.
- Demoted to Extra: Following Episode Three, he makes a sole appearance when the 1st Marines is relieved by the 5th after the disastrous attack at Bloody Nose Ridge.
- Memetic Badass: Part of USMC lore. Just about every Marine outside of his regiment recognizes him.
- Rousing Speech: Gives one to his Non-Commissioned Officers following Pearl Harbor.
Captain Andrew "Ack Ack" Haldane
Played by: Scott Gibson
"History is full of wars that were fought for a hundred different reasons.".
King Company's CO during Peleliu. Cares deeply for his men and commands their total respect and love in return.
First Lieutenant Edward "Hillbilly" Jones
Played by: Leon Ford
"Hold here 'till we load our wounded, and then you can move your ass wherever you want.".
A platoon leader in King Company, and a former enlisted man who became an officer on Ack-Ack's recommendation. Never seen without his CO.
Sergeant Manuel "Manny" Rodriguez
Played by: Jon Berthal
An NCO within Dog Company and Basilone's best friend (along with JP Morgan).
Sergeant Elmo "Gunny" Haney
Played by: Gary Sweet
An NCO within K Company, noticeably older than the other Marines. Fought in the First World War.
- Heroic BSOD: After Hillbilly's death.
- Large Ham: His introduction on Peleliu. In real life too. Sledge notes he had a habit of washing himself with a brush designed to clean an M1 rifle.
- Old Soldier: He is well into his 50s and is a veteran of World War One.
- Sergeant Rock: Berates an officer for improper gun safety and hammers in the lessons of war for his men.
Sergeant James "JP" Morgan
Played by: Joshua Biton
Sgt Lena Mae Riggi Basilone
Played by: Annie Parisse
"I'm Italian. You're Italian. Hey, we're probably both related to Joe DiMaggio".
A tough, no-nonsense NCO serving as field cook at Camp Pendleton, where she catches the fancy of Veteran Instructor
- Birds of a Feather: Basilone and Lena are both no-nonsense Italian American Marines who love their chosen field of work.
- Christmas Cake: A 30 years old single woman is quite old by 1940s standards.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: At the age of 30, she feels cynical of the advances of yet another man in the uniform - especially a celebrity like John Basilone.
- Prim and Proper Bun: Appropriate for a Marine.
Sgt Romus "RV" Burgin
Played by: Martin McCann
"Sledgehammer. I like that".
A Texan mortarman in K Company and one of Sledge's friends.
- A Father to His Men: The Non-Com type. Specifically invoked by Snafu and Sledge during the farewell.
- Boy Meets Girl: He meets his future wife while on a leave in Melbourne.
- The Men First: Discussed. When his squad start complaining about being sent on patrol in Okinawa, he points out that he plans on going with them. Throughout the series, he's always with his comrades during battle.
- Sergeant Rock: An aversion; while competent, he's no tougher, smarter or braver than the lower-ranked Marines in his squad, and he doesn't exercise that much authority during the course of the series.
- Southern-Fried Private: A subversion, since he's intelligent and well-spoken.
Corporal Merriell "Snafu" Shelton
"I like to watch the new guys sweat".
A member of K Company's mortar squad along with Sledge. He's a seasoned veteran by the time the latter gets into combat and is thus able to show Sledge the ropes
On a side note, he's Cajun, and it shows
- Beneath the Mask: The nightmare that is Okinawa shows that he is Not So Stoic after all.
- Creepy Monotone: His default manner of speaking.
- Dissonant Serenity: He's casual and nonchalant whether he's fighting, vomiting from seasickness, or hunting for war trophies.
- Dysfunction Junction: It's implied that his family (if he even has any left) is not particularly loving.
- The Fellowship Has Ended: After getting discharged,he departs the train to Mobile without saying goodbye to Eugene and doesn't contact any veterans for some forty years.
Corporal Sidney "Sid" Phillips
Played by: Ashton Holmes
Sledge's childhood friend who enlists way earlier than Eugene and finds himself a mortarman with the H Company.
PFCs Lew "Chuckler" Juergens, Wilbur ("Bud") "Runner" Conley and Bill "Hoosier" Smith
Played by: John Helman, Keith Nobbs and Jacob Pitts (respectively)
Members of H Company who comprise Leckie's group of friends.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Runner, in a good-humored way.
- Hoosier has his moments as well.
- Four Philosophy Ensemble: With Runner as the Apathetic, Chuckler as the Optimist, Hoosier as the Cynic and Leckie as the Realist.
- Hot-Blooded: Hoosier is the most irritable of the four friends.
- Meaningful Name: Runner gets the runs in Guadalcanal. (He got the nickname for having been a track star in high school though).
PFC Jay De L'Eau
Played by: Dylan Young
- Bring Me My Brown Pants: In a memorable scene, he goes into a cave to take a crap...only to find two Japanese soldiers hiding there.
- Manly Tears: Averted; he cries uncontrollably after confessing how tired and scared he is of war to Sledge.
girl of Greek descent who is Leckie's love interest while the First Marines are stationed in Melbourne
- Canon Immigrant: Her entire story was fabricated by the writers; real-life Leckie dated a number of women while in Melbourne.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: An inversion, since it's Stella using this excuse for a break-up.
- One Name Only: What is her last name? The viewers shall never know.
Vera Keller Leckie
Leckie's neighbor, whom he has a crush on.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: When she was little, her parents advised her against hanging out with Leckie and the likes of him. Oh well.
- First Girl Wins: First girl in the series Leckie meets. And by the conclusion, Leckie and Vera are married.
- Girl Next Door: Is this to Leckie.