The Marine who helped inspire ‘The Pacific’ has died
For 35 years after his discharge from the Marines, R.V. Burgin kept his war stories to himself. But when he finally broke his silence, he brought World War II to life for thousands of readers in vivid, and often horrific, detail.
“He didn’t hold anything back,” said Bill Marvel, a former reporter for The Dallas Morning News who collaborated with Burgin on his book, Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific.
Burgin, a Lancaster resident, died Saturday at 96. A funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday at First Baptist Church in Lancaster.
Burgin’s unflinching account of several battles he survived during the war helped inspire The Pacific, a miniseries produced by HBO in 2010.
Marvel initially had no interest in ghostwriting the Marine’s memoirs, he said, but that changed five minutes after they met.
“He stood very straight, I mean just as straight as a rifle,” Marvel said. “One of the first things out of his mouth was he didn’t want anything sensationalized. He wanted an honest portrait. It didn’t take long for me to realize I needed to do this.”
Burgin’s book details an unending string of horrors. Ground so thick with bodies that if someone fell down in the mud, his pockets instantly filled with maggots. The constant threat of friendly fire. And in one instance, the intentional killing of a Marine who was uninjured but screaming so loud his companions thought he was sure to attract the Japanese.
There was a time when Burgin didn’t want to talk about the war.
“For the first 35 years after my discharge, I never mentioned the war to anyone,” he said in a 2010 interview with The Dallas Morning News. “Not to my wife, not to my kids, not to my co-workers — not even to any of …read more
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