When a Good Man Gets Kicked in the Groin

New York Times bestselling author Adam Makos and I released a new book recently. It’s titled VOICES OF THE PACIFIC—the long awaited oral-history project featuring untold stories from the Marine heroes of WWII.

 

Over the past few weeks I’ve been giving you glimpses inside the book.

 

Jesse Googe

Today here’s Jesse Googe, a runner for Captain Andrew “Ack-Ack” Haldane, (the commander of K-3-5), remembering his beloved and widely-respected leader.

 

Googe tells a story that will make you wince, but it offers a strong example of effective leadership in action.

 

Any Marine has seen his share of good leaders and bad ones. God saw fit to give K-3-5 Captain Andy “Ack Ack” Haldane. You’ll never meet anyone like him. I haven’t in all the years since. I was his runner, so I operated by his side, running his orders to the lines and behind the lines.

 

He was always fair. Always selfless. Modest. I never saw him curse or lose his cool and get angry. He only spoke good of others and was never critical—and war gives a man lots to be critical of. That’s the thing—we were in awe of him.

 

On Peleliu, day after day of combat began to wear down our nerves. You could never predict when the guy next to you might flip out. Ack Ack would come to the front and talk to us, trying to spot a guy on the edge to try and talk him down.

 

But one day, a guy that he was trying to help just snapped. He started flailing and screaming. Ack Ack reached out to grab his shoulders and calm him down, and the guy kicked the Skipper in the groin—hard.

 

Ack Ack fell to the ground, rolling in agony. We looked on helpless; we couldn’t do anything to help him. He didn’t scream. He didn’t curse. He didn’t get angry at the guy who kicked him. He just took it. You bet someone “secured” the offender and dragged him away.

 

Captain Andrew Haldane

 

After the war, Paul Douglas, a decorated Marine who served with our regiment said this about Ack Ack: “He was a tiger on attack. His company always suffered fewer casualties than any other company, but in every engagement Andy was always wounded—always wounded and always wound up each engagement 20 or 30 pounds less than when he began because he would give his rations away. He would give his blankets away, he would give his shirts away; and we always had to protect him at Peleliu to see that he got enough food.”

 

That was Ack Ack. In my kitchen, these days, I have a corkboard where I pin photos of my family and grandkids. The board is full of them, all colorful pictures except for one photo in the center, in black and white: my only picture of Ack Ack.

 

Sixty-seven years after the sniper took him from us, his loss still hurts. But his example lives on.

 

VOICES OF THE PACIFIC

By Adam Makos with Marcus Brotherton

Ask for it at a bookstore near you, or order your copy HERE.

 


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