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Episode Synopses
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EPISODE ONE: “A Necessary War”
EPISODE TWO: “When Things Get Tough”
EPISODE THREE: “A Deadly Calling”
EPISODE FOUR: “Pride of Our Nation”
EPISODE FIVE: “FUBAR”
EPISODE SIX: “The Ghost Front”
EPISODE SEVEN: “A World Without War”
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Episode Five
“FUBAR”
September 1944-December 1944

By September 1944, in Europe at least, the Allies seem to be moving steadily toward victory. “Militarily,” General Dwight Eisenhower’s chief of staff tells the press, “this war is over.” But in the coming months, on both sides of the world, a generation of young men will learn a lesson as old as war itself — that generals make plans, plans go wrong and soldiers die.

On the Western Front, American and British troops massed on the German border are desperately short of fuel, having outrun their supply lines. Allied commanders gamble on a risky scheme to drop thousands of airborne troops, including Dwain Luce of Mobile and Harry Schmid of Sacramento, behind enemy lines in Holland, but nothing goes according to plan, and it becomes painfully clear that the war in Europe will not end before winter.

Over the next three months, American soldiers are ordered into some of Germany’s most forbidding and most fiercely defended terrain. In the Hurtgen Forest, tens of thousands of GIs, including Tom Galloway of Mobile, fight an unwinnable battle in which the only victory to be had is survival. During his missions over Germany, fighter pilot Quentin Aanenson of Luverne loses so many friends and sees so much death that he comes close to collapsing from despair. In the Vosges Mountains, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, including Robert Kashiwagi, Susumu Satow and Tim Tokuno of Sacramento, is assigned to an overly ambitious general and endures weeks of brutal combat. At the end of October, they are ordered to break through to a battalion of Texas soldiers caught behind the lines — no matter the cost.

In the Pacific, General MacArthur is poised to invade the Philippines at Leyte. Although the nearby island of Peleliu holds little tactical value for his campaign, the 1st Marine Division, including Eugene Sledge and Willie Rushton of Mobile, is ordered to take it anyway. The battle is expected to last four days, but the fighting drags on for more than two months in one of the most brutal and unnecessary campaigns in the Pacific.

In October, with their food supplies dangerously low, Sascha Weinzheimer of Sacramento and the other internees at Santo Tomas camp in Manila thrill to the sight and sound of American carrier-based planes bombing Japanese ships in the nearby bay, and a few weeks later, American troops land on the island of Leyte, 350 miles away. In the movie theaters back home, as Katharine Phillips of Mobile recalls, Americans cheer the newsreels of General MacArthur “returning.” But months of bloody fighting lie ahead before the Philippine Islands — and the people imprisoned on them — can be liberated.

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NEXT EPISODE: "The Ghost Front"
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