Dale Maharidge on Bringing Mulligan Home

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dale Maharidge discusses his quest to find surviving members of his father’s WWII Marine Company and uncover their experience fighting in the Pacific. In Bringing Mulligan Home: The Other Side of the Good War, Maharidge tells the stories of men in their 70s and 80s who’d never spoken so openly and emotionally about the war that followed them home. The survivors show that the scars and demons of war remain for decades.


Dale Maharidge

Comments [15]

Curt from West Palm Beach

Dale, Just finished your book "Bringing Mulligan Home" and really enjoyed it. I was wondering if you have published any pictures of your wandering around the battle fields other than the few that were in the book. I am sure they would be most interesting.

Jun. 23 2013 09:01 PM
Jeanette from Camano Island WA

My Dad,E.F.W. Lueckel was a Marine during WWII and in the places mentioned In the Readers Digest article.
I need to buy the book. My Dad went on to serve in Korea also.Then he stayed in for 20+ years.He didn't talk about his service time much.

Jun. 10 2013 11:07 AM
Jackey Shendow from Johnstown, PA

Have read/reread the RD "family history" article. In your writings you briefly brought up something that has been kind of a family mystery y since 1943. (pg 155; 1st pp) My Uncle Nelson, who like many military are, was just a kid when he joined the Army. He was part of a tank battalion that was on the Magineaux Line in Germany. His tank was hit and exploded. His buddy was on foot and saw it happen, knowing that his friend and everyone else in the tank was gone. No remains were ever recovered. Some time later, a body was found in Berlin - with Uncle Nelson's dog tags. The gov't informed my Grandparents that they had found his body and wanted to send him home. Uncle Nelson's buddy had actually stopped to visit my Grandparents on his return to the States & told them what happened. My Grandparents didn't accept the possibility of that body being their youngest son. So - who was the body found in Berlin? That body is buried in St. Avold Cemetery, St. Avold, France under a Star of David stone that reads Herman N. Shendow. Somewhere, someone still wonders from time to time what happened to their loved one.

This is how I remember this story from listening to the adults conversations as I grew up. I distinctly remember sitting in a highchair in the kitchen when Western Union delivered the telegram to my Dad. I was about 3 at the time. Your article is the first time I've ever seen anything about missing dog tags, but upon reflection - it probably happened frequently.

Glad you have had some resolve with what your Father went thru and better understanding of just who your Dad was. and the probable reason for his outbursts.

Thanks for reading this - tried to keep it to a minimum, but tend to get carried away when I write.

May. 21 2013 06:49 PM
Pleasance from New York City

My brother was a Marine on Okinawa. I wish he were still alive so I could share your book with him. Thank you for giving me some understanding of what he endured.

May. 17 2013 04:05 PM
Mike from Ottawa

" the difference culturally between Asian and Western warfare "

What the Allies (including, let's not forget, the Chinese and Fillipinos) faced wasn't a cultural difference between Asian and Western warfare. The fight to the death ethos of the Japanese, and the contempt for their enemies that went with it, was not a feature of Asian culture but a very specifically constructed mindset drummed into the Japanese people by militarist propaganda and repression during the '30s and early '40s, particularly after the Japanese defeat by the Soviets at Nomonhan which drove home to the Japanese, particularly the Army, that they couldn't match their foes in materiel. Their response was to put their faith in will to conquer all (like the Nazis, BTW). It's not widely realized in the West how heavily propagandized Japan was before the war and how thoroughly any dissent from the militarist program was suppressed. For various reasons there was never in Japan the same sort of examination of the nature of the regime that occurred in Germany after the war. It all comes down to the Japanese military mindset of WW2 being specific to its time, place and institutions and not a matter of cultural differences between Asian and Western warfare.

Mar. 22 2013 12:51 PM
Harlan Barnhart from Brooklyn

Thank you for the compelling segment. The cost of war is so much greater than we visualize. I have known broken Vietnam veterans dragging their demons through life with varied success. My father, drafted but refused to serve as a conscious objector, instilled in me a deep respect for veterans with his quiet interest in their lives. God help us for starting this cycle over again...

Mar. 21 2013 09:32 PM
John Hadfield from Canada

I came across this today linked to an article on BBC News. My grandfather served in WW1 in France with the British Army. He was gassed,wounded and suffered from "shell shock". My father served in the British Navy in WW2 and was wounded. I could never understand why he was so angry at seemingly the slightest provocation. When I had children I found myself being angry and I hated it. Through counselling I had an experience that allowed me to forgive my father. Watch it if you like, I believe, like Maharidge,these stories need to be heard. Paste it in.

Mar. 21 2013 11:39 AM
Noach (Independent) from Brooklyn

Interesting segment.

And thank you, "jennifer from New Jersey", for sharing your memories of your father.

Mar. 21 2013 09:39 AM
Mark Mirosevic-Sorgo from Singapore


Mar. 21 2013 07:32 AM
Mark Mirosevic-Sorgo

neither my father (too young) nor my grandfathers fought in the war, but whilst growing up we visited the Normandy beaches and cemetaries regularly, and I have met many heroes who sacrificed their sanity, health and youth to ensure that my generation could grow up in a Brave New World. But clearly the ones most affected were those fighting in the Pacific War. I have nothing but admiration for one and all of them. What I fail to understand is, how? How after WWII could there be a Korea? or a Vietnam? a Bosnia? never mind an Iraq or an Afghanistan? Will the lesson never be learnt? May their souls Rest In Peace.

Mar. 21 2013 07:30 AM

if this story of healing with the pain "The Greatest Generation" felt, I highly recommend the book by WWII fighter pilot Jerry Yellin wrote: "The Blackened Canteen." I am hardly a war buff but I found this story of healing so gripping. Yellin also created Operation Warrior Wellness, a program to help veterans battle PTSD with Transcendental Meditation.

Mar. 19 2013 04:38 PM
jennifer from New Jersey

Susan from Manhattan: I understand what you mean, but I think the author is excited because of the emotional connection to his dad that his research brought him, and the feeling of finally being able to understand his dad.

jgarbuzz from Queens: I know what you mean, and I agree. I think my dad would've felt more connected to his purpose if he had been fighting the Nazis. As it was, he was in the Pacific, basically unsupported by his own army (not allowed to carry a weapon on the battlefield) while fighting an enemy that attacked medical personnel (the belief was that Germans and Italians did not). The type of guerrilla warfare being fought in the Pacific, the nature of the terrain with its caves and tunnels, and the difference culturally between Asian and Western warfare, made his experience difficult in that i think he felt untrained for it and overall disconnected from why we were there in the first place. But I want to clarify that he was anti-Fascist and supported a war against the Nazis.

Mar. 19 2013 01:50 PM
jennifer from New Jersey

Wow. I can't believe the memories of my dad this is bringing up. My dad was a medic on Iwo Jima, carrying out wounded from the battlefield and not allowed to carry a weapon. He never talked about the war, except once, to me, when I was doing a report in 7th grade on WWII. He told me some intense things but overall the thing that remained with me was how much he hated the war. I finally understood why he never took us camping since he'd slept in a tent for 4 years. He told my brother if he was drafted in Vietnam to go to Canada.

My dad refused to join the VFW, threw his kit bag overboard on the troop ship home so that all he came home with was his the clothes on his back and his papers. He wouldn't take money from the GI Bill because he didn't think the government should pay him to do his patriotic duty. He never had army buddies or any souvenirs. When he would see the famous (staged) photos of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, he'd snort and say, "it didn't happen like that. They didn't take that island as fast as they like to say."

Mar. 19 2013 01:29 PM
susan from Manhattan

Why does this author sound like he's enjoying telling these stories so much? It's hard to listen to this.

I do feel this author/reporter has done a service -- the people who head to war today should know... it is dangerous. Not always heroic. But, I feel this authors' tone is very strange.

I understand it's a tone of wonder, in a way... of revelation... but in a way, he seems to be enjoying these sad, awful stories of people (Japanese and American) faced with the worst.

Mar. 19 2013 01:28 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Sure, when you are fighting as a volunteer in an army far from home, an enemy that has no ability to exterminate you or your people, you can have a rather neutral opinion about the conflict you are in.
But when you are a Jew in the Red Army fighting on the most savage front in history, against an enemy that has already murdered most of your family, and will certainly you and the rest if they win, your attitude towards the war you are fighting is wholly different!
How can a soldier take a war too seriously, when the place is far from home,and when the enemy does not directly threaten your homeland and family? It has to be different.

Mar. 19 2013 01:23 PM

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