Soldier Eugene Sledge Describing Manliness

To be a man in the military, you need to have courage and strength. Eugene Sledge describes how his time in battle shaped his views on masculinity. It is easy for young boys today to become hormone-filled victims of society’s ills, but when it came down to it he knew what was really important: being tough and having honor.

“Eugene Sledge, a soldier in the United States Army during World War II, wrote a memoir of his experiences. In it he described manliness as “a state of mind that can only be achieved by those who are willing to sacrifice and suffer for what they believe.” Read more in detail here: eugene sledge confirmed kills.

Vintage WWII soldiers in trench.

Editor’s Note: Manliness is difficult to define in isolation — that is, without the flesh-and-blood men who represent it. When you come across it in another person, you intuitively identify and feel it. As a result, one of the finest ways I’ve learned about manliness is via men’s descriptions of other guys they like. I sometimes stumble across them in literature and find them to be incredibly moving and intriguing. These indirect pictures, more than any direct examination of masculinity, remind me of the sort of guy I want to be. So I though I’d share some of my favorite “manliness adjectives” with you from time to time in the hopes that they’ll have the same impact on you.

The first is Private Eugene Sledge’s description of his platoon commander, 1st Lieutenant Edward “Hillbilly” Jones, in With the Old Breed. Jones’ confidence and presence were able to calm the green Marine, who had been profoundly traumatized by the horrors of the fight of Peleliu (1944).

Hillbilly was only second to Ack-Ack in terms of popularity among Company K’s enlisted men. He was a slim, light-complexioned guy with a clean-cut appearance. He wasn’t particularly tall, but he was well-built. Hillbilly informed me that he had been an enlisted soldier for many years before to the war, that he had served with the company in the Pacific, and that he had been commissioned after Guadalcanal. He didn’t specify why he was promoted to officer, but the guys said he had performed well on Guadalcanal.

During the war, it was a running joke among the ranks that an officer was commissioned as an officer and a gentleman by an act of Congress. Hillbilly became an officer because to a law passed by Congress, but he was born a gentleman. Hillbilly’s face was always clean and fresh, no matter how filthy and unclean everyone else was on the battlefield. He was physically robust and rugged, yet he had a solid moral foundation. He sweated like any other guy, yet he appeared to rise beyond our filthy and revolting living circumstances in the field. Even in charge, Hillbilly’s voice was low and polite. His accent was gentle, more like that of the deep South than the hill area, which I was acquainted with.

There was a profound mutual regard and great affection between this guy and all the Marines I knew. He has a remarkable capacity to be sociable while yet being unfamiliar with enlisted soldiers. Bravery, leadership, ability, honesty, dignity, straightforwardness, and compassion were all attributes he had in plenty. Captain Haldane was the only other officer I’d ever met who had all of these attributes.

Hillbilly spoke about his childhood and his home in West Virginia that night. He inquired about my situation. He also discussed his time in the Marine Corps prior to WWII. I don’t recall much of what he said afterwards, but the peaceful manner in which he spoke soothed me. He appeared upbeat about the struggle at hand, and he seemed to understand and accept all of my doubts and concerns. I told him that I had been horrified so many times that I felt humiliated, and that other guys didn’t appear to be as scared. He sneered at my admission that I felt embarrassed, saying that my fear was no larger than anybody else’s, and that I was just honest enough to recognize its size. He said that he was terrified as well, and that the first fight was the most difficult since no one knew what to anticipate. Hillbilly said that fear was present in everyone. Courage means overcoming fear and carrying out one’s responsibilities in the face of danger, not being fearless.


Hillbilly’s talk with me comforted me. I felt almost lighter when the sergeant came over and joined in after grabbing coffee. We drank our coffee in solitude as the talk faded.

  • Philippe Viannay’s Manliness Descriptions
  • Jack London’s Manliness Descriptions



“Eugene Sledge wife” is a book written by Eugene Sledge that describes the experiences of a soldier in World War II. The author, who was part of the 1st Marine Division and fought at Guadalcanal, Okinawa, and Iwo Jima, wrote about his life as he experienced it. Reference: eugene sledge wife.

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