Eugene Sledge
* screen colors may vary from print colors

All prints are sold unframed

Print Size: 31" x 19"
(same size as First Boots on the Ground)
Off the Beach!
- With The Old Breed on Peleliu -
a fine art print by Matt Hall
The first release in our Marines of the Pacific series, which will feature future works by Matt Hall, John D. Shaw, and Gil Cohen!
It is 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 15, 1944 as the Marines of King Company churn onto Peleliu. Vehicle exhaust, gun smoke, and burning vegetation choke the air as Japanese artillery and mortars pound the pre-sighted beaches. Machine gun bullets rip across the sand as Eugene Sledge, in his baptism of fire, trails veteran R.V. Burgin. Sent to capture Peleliu’s airfield from an enemy of unknown strength, the men of K-3-5 and their brothers of the 1st Marine Division know they are in the fight of their lives. But, for now, only one thought echoes through their minds: Get off the beach!
Peleliu Landing

Only 500 prints, signed and numbered
by artist Matt Hall & 2 veterans including:

R.V. Burgin, the squad leader of Sledge & SNAFU Shelton!

Jim Young
, who served with Leckie & Phillips in H-Co.!

COA with "History Behind the Art" stories/trivia

(Prints are sold unframed.)
USA: $175 + $20 SH
(CO residents add 4% tax)
$175 + $55 express airmail

Contact us for re-sale availability

Only 160 prints, signed and numbered by
artist Matt Hall & at least 6 veterans including:

R.V. Burgin
, the squad leader of Eugene Sledge & SNAFU Shelton!
Jim McEnery, a K-Company sergeant who fought
on Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, & Peleliu!
Jim Young, H-Company (H-2-1), who fought alongside fellow H-Co. Marine Robert Leckie on Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, & Peleliu!
Plus 3 distinguished Marine signers from our list below!

Photos of Eugene Sledge and R.V. Burgin to frame with your print!
1st Marine Division pin to frame with your print!

Color COA with "History Behind the Art" stories and trivia

(Prints are sold unframed.)

Contact us for re-sale availability

Only 140 prints signed and numbered by
artist Matt Hall & at least 9 veterans including:

R.V. Burgin, the squad leader of Eugene Sledge & SNAFU Shelton!
"Red" Womack, the flamethrower operator depicted in the mini-series
__and With the Old Breed book!
Jim Young, H-Company (H-2-1), who fought alongside fellow H-Co. Marine Robert Leckie on Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, & Peleliu!
Plus 6 distinguished Marine signers from our list below!

Photos of Eugene Sledge and R.V. Burgin to frame with your print!
1st Marine Division pin to frame with your print!

Color COA with "History Behind the Art" stories and trivia

Battle of Peleliu
(Prints are sold unframed.)
A 100 print Gallery Edition (limited-edition, artist signed) will be available only at special events to fund the veterans' travel. A canvas edition of 44 prints may be made available in the future.

James Anderson
K-Company (K-3-5)
Cape Gloucester,
Peleliu & Okinawa

R.V. Burgin
K-Company (K-3-5)
Cape Gloucester,
Peleliu & Okinawa

James Burke
K-Company (K-3-5)
Cape Gloucester,
Peleliu & Okinawa

Jesse Googe
K-Company (K-3-5)
Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester & Peleliu

Dan Lawler
K-Company (K-3-5)
Peleliu & Okinawa

Sterling Mace
K-Company (K-3-5)
Peleliu & Okinawa

Jim McEnery
K-Company (K-3-5)
Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester & Peleliu

CL "Red" Womack
M-Company (M-3-5)
Cape Gloucester,
Peleliu & Okinawa

Jim Young
H-Company (H-2-1)
Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester & Peleliu
This lineup of heroes represents the most multiple-campaign veterans ever to sign a Valor Studios print. Among these Marines of the Pacific are new, first-time signers:

Jim Anderson, Jim Burke, and R.V. Burgin are on the K-Company "Roll of Honor" as 3 of only 26 Peleliu veterans of K-3-5 still standing by the end of the Okinawa Campaign.

Jim Young was a member of H-2-1, the same Company as Robert Leckie, and he fought with Leckie for the same Peleliu airfield as the men of K-3-5.

"Red" Womack of M-3-5 is the flamethrower operator shown in Episode 7 of HBO's The Pacific, who burns out a bunker under Burgin's direction. Womack floated between units and considers himself as close to K-3-5 as any.

Jesse Googe and Jim McEnery represent an "Old Breed" within K-3-5, as each fought on the 'Canal with men like Capt. Andrew Haldane and Gunney Elmo Haney in the battles where the rock of K-3-5 was formed.

Dan Lawler and Sterling Mace, like Eugene Sledge, famously served with the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa and saw more combat in those two campaigns than any man would ever wish to endure. But endure they did.

Valor Studios is honored to have this distinguished Marine "Band of Brothers" to inaugurate our new print series!
The peleliu invasion
The Landing at Peleliu
-- A briefing by project historical advisor, Henry Sledge --
(Henry is the son of Eugene B. Sledge)

he First Marine Division sailed from Pavuvu in the Russell Islands around 26 August, 1944 aboard 30 LSTs. Their destination was Peleliu, far to the west. They would arrive around 14 September. D-Day was set for 15 September, 1944.

Sometime during the night of 14 September 1944, LST 661 and the rest of the invasion convoy glided to a stop in the dark waters near Peleliu. Anyone still awake might have felt a change in vibration through the deck plates as the vessels’ engines shut down, but Eugene "Sledgehammer" Sledge, R.V. Burgin, Merrill "Snafu" Shelton, and the rest of the marines of K/3/5 were still in their racks. Before dawn an NCO came into their compartment and said, “OK you guys, hit the deck.” The sea was calm and there was a light breeze.

After eating what they could stomach of the traditional Marine Corps pre-invasion meal of steak and eggs, they went topside. The men who would soon be churning toward the smoke shrouded beach in their amphibian tractors gathered in small groups on the decks of their respective LSTs, smoking and talking quietly – and looking toward Peleliu. Dawn was just beginning to break, and the sky was cloudless.

Historical adviser Henry Sledge with actor Joe Mazzello (Eugene Sledge in The Pacific).
Eugene Sledge wartime photos

Looking out at them, hidden within the honeycomb of caves in the high ground of the island, and from concrete pillboxes positioned elsewhere on the island, were some 10,000 Japanese. With machine guns, heavy weapons, and mortars already pre-sited on the landing beaches they would deliver a firestorm on the attacking marines.

On LST 661 a ship’s bell rang in the early morning gloom and a voice came over the squawk box, “Get your gear on and stand by.” The same scene repeated itself on the other vessels as the men hurried below and into their compartments. In the cramped space Snafu and Sledge helped each other on with their gear – straightening shoulder straps and buckling on cartridge belts. Sledge would say, “Generals and admirals might worry about maps and tons of supplies, but my main concern at the moment was how my pack straps felt and whether my boondockers were comfortable.”

Sledge would be in closest proximity to Snafu. Snafu was a veteran and had been through Cape Gloucester, and he was the gunner on their mortar. Small and wiry at 5’5” or 5’6” and no more than 125 pounds, he cursed regularly and smoked profusely.
Sledge was 5’9” and about 150-155 pounds – not a big man by any measure but about average by the standards of the day.

The first three waves of tractors were called the assault waves. Each LVT carried about 20-25 marines. Sledge, Snafu, and Burgin were in the same one in the second wave. By Sledge’s recollection they landed about 15 yards behind the first wave. Their tractor was the older LVT (2) – with no rear drop tailgate for quicker egress. Many of the amphibian tractors at Peleliu would be the newer LVT (4) model with the drop tailgate, but there were not enough of them to go around.

As the assault waves churned toward the island the battleships and cruisers began moving their bombardment further inland. In Sledge’s words, “huge geysers of water rose around the amtracs ahead of us as they approached the reef. The beach was marked along its entire length by a continuous sheet of flame backed by a thick wall of smoke. It seemed as though a huge volcano had erupted from the sea, and rather than heading for an island we were being drawn into the vortex of a flaming abyss. For many it was to be oblivion.”

Shrapnel ripped through the air. Overhead, Navy F6F Hellcats and dive bombers roared in on strafing runs. The salty air hung heavy with the smell of diesel fuel and cordite. Japanese mortar rounds splashed all around the closer they got to the beach. A man yelled, “Stand by.” Sledge buckled
his helmet chin strap and adjusted his carbine over his right shoulder. Snafu had the 45 pound mortar. The amtrac was still moving and the men struggled to keep their balance. The LVTs from the first wave had made landfall, disgorged their marines and were spinning around to head back out to the reef line. Many of the tracked vehicles were getting hit and were smoking hulks. As more and more of them got hit they began to litter the beach and the water.

Small arms fire pinged off the front of their tractor as it emerged from the water, crawled a short distance up the sloping sand, and lurched to a stop. An NCO yelled, “Hit the beach!” Men began piling over the sides as fast as they could amid enemy machine gun bullets and mortar fragments. Snafu went first over the left side with Sledgehammer right behind. He climbed up on the edge, planted both feet firmly so he could leap away onto the beach. Sledgehammer later recalled, “At that instant, a burst of machine gun fire with white hot tracers snapped through the air at eye level, almost grazing my face. I pulled my head back like a turtle, lost my balance, and fell awkwardly forward down onto the sand in a tangle of ammo bag, pack, helmet, carbine, gas mask, cartridge belt, and flopping canteens. ‘Get off the beach, get off the beach!’ raced through my mind.”

A marine thought the machine gun burst had killed him and crawled over. He saw Sledgehammer was OK, spun around, and crawled back up the beach into the smoky scrub growth beyond. Sledge followed him, his legs churning up sand as he moved rapidly. Behind him the LVT he came out of spewed exhaust fumes and kicked up sand as it spun around to head back out to open water.

Watching archival footage of the landing at Peleliu, one is struck by the level and intensity of violence. Bodies of dead marines float partially submerged in the water, which is being churned up by shell hits and small arms fire. Others lie farther up on the beach near the line of scrub growth, dead where they fell. The earth is pock marked and cratered from the naval shelling.

Above: Eugene B. Sledge.
Top: Smoke drifts from the Peleliu
beaches after the pre-assault barrage.
One of the new LVT-4 tractors
Eugene Sledgehammer Sledge and RV Burgin
Sledge (L) and Burgin (R)

Various pieces of equipment lie strewn about, either discarded by marines hurrying on into the jungle beyond the beach, or dropped as men get hit. Black smoke fills the air from burning amtracs as their hulks grow in number. DUKWs and M4 medium tanks are landing; some taking hits. One DUKW is obliterated by a direct shell hit. Trees are stripped of their leaves and look like twisted, gnarled, and blackened stumps. Vegetation of any kind is hard to see from naval gunfire and explosions of Japanese counter fire.

Because of the prediction that Peleliu would be a rough but fast operation, most of the news correspondents who were scheduled to go ashore chose not to, thinking it wouldn’t even be worth the effort. That is just one of several reasons that Peleliu is not one of the better known battles of the Pacific war. It is my intention that this briefing will help to set the tone for what I hope can be a dramatic and iconic picture!

Off the Beach!

1. Older model LVT-2's such as this one supplemented the newer LVT-4's during the assault. One of the major drawbacks of the LVT-2 was the lack of a ramp door, which resulted in the Marines having to go over the side and expose themselves to enemy fire in the process.

2. Pfc. Robert Oswalt, according to Sledge, was an "extremely intelligent and intellectually active young man," who planned on becoming a brain surgeon after the war. Sadly, he would be killed in the ensuing fighting.

3. Eugene Sledge hits the beach bearing 60mm mortar ammo. He would later recall the landing in “With the Old Breed”: "Shells crashed all around. Fragments tore and whirred, slapping on the sand and splashing into the water a few yards behind us. The Japanese were recovering from the shock of our prelanding bombardment. Their machine gun and rifle fire got thicker, snapping viciously overhead in increasing volume."

4. Because the Marine Corps did not have a medical branch, a Navy hospital corpsman would be assigned to each Marine infantry platoon. This corpsman wears no Red Cross armband or other markings following the discovery during the Guadalcanal campaign that the Japanese targeted medical personnel.

5. R.V. Burgin was a veteran of Cape Gloucester and a corporal in charge of a 60mm mortar squad. Here, he carries his M-1 Garand rifle, a weapon he picked up on Cape Gloucester. He recalled the assault: "Number 13 rolled up onto the beach and we bailed over the sides, dropped to the sand and took off running. That's Marine doctrine. Get off the beach. You're a target. You're cluttering things up. Move out!"

6. Cpl. "Red" Womack of Mississippi, whom Sledge recalled as, "a brave, good-natured guy . . . but he was one of the fiercest looking Marines I ever saw. He was big and husky with a fiery red beard well powdered with white coral dust. He reminded me of some wild Viking. I was glad we were on the same side."

7. K-Company riflemen like this Marine, landed just prior to the unit’s heavy weapons squads. One such rifleman, Pfc. Bill Leyden of New York, would later be wounded on Peleliu and hospitalized for three months.

8. Cpl. Merriell "Snafu" Shelton of Louisiana carried his squad's 60mm mortar during the beach assault. Sledge remembered Snafu as, "a good Marine and an expert mortarman. His performance of his duties bore absolutely no resemblance to his nickname, "Situation Normal All Fouled Up."

9. K-Company rifleman Sterling Mace remembered the assault beach as: "a little stretch of white sand with a backdrop of solid black smoke hiding the silhouette of tropical terrain . . ." The smoke was the result of bombardment from naval guns and attack aircraft which had been ongoing since 5:30AM.

10. Sgt. Jim McEnery represent an "Old Breed" within K-3-5, as he fought on the 'Canal with men like Capt. Andrew Haldane and Gunney Elmo Haney in the battles where the rock of K-3-5 was formed.

11. This LVT amtrac, the newer LVT(4) model, featured a rear ramp that lowered for quick egress of the Marines within. This LVT has survived the ride into the beach but its fate is still uncertain as 26 LVTs were destroyed on Peleliu’s D-Day alone.

12. LVT(A)4 amtracs such as this one preceded the first assault wave to provide fire suppression from their 75mm howitzers.

13. F6F Hellcats from the USS Princeton provide close air support to the Marines. In all, three fleet carriers, five light carriers, and 11 escort carriers would supply air assets during the Peleliu campaign.

Artist Matt Hall

Now acknowledged as the rising talent in military art, Matt Hall worked for years under master visionary, Steven Spielberg, at Spielberg’s DreamWorks company! These days, however, Matt no longer paints to serve the icons of Hollywood—he paints to pay tribute to America’s military heroes.

Matt’s artistic training began as a boy in Missouri, when he met an old-time western artist named Bob Tommy, who just moved from Texas. Tommy encouraged Matt to try his hand at painting. When Tommy saw Matt’s “natural talent,” he became Matt’s mentor and taught him the technique he had amassed in his lifetime of work.

In college, Matt studied painting. After graduation, he broadened his skills, painting everything from greeting cards to animation backgrounds. His career changed forever when Spielberg’s DreamWorks company found and hired him. Matt brought and his new bride, Michele, a Texas small-town girl, with him to Hollywood.

At DreamWorks, Matt rose through the ranks, painting concept art. When Steven Spielberg had an idea brewing about the Battle for Iwo Jima, Matt painted an “epic concept” for him that Spielberg used to pitch the film, Flags of Our Fathers. Soon, Matt was named Franchise Art Director for DreamWorks’ Medal of Honor video games series, one credited with generating interest in WWII history among young people.

Matt Hall was requested to do a painting for President George W. Bush, showing the F-102s of the Texas ANG.
Photo courtesy of the White House.

Matt grew as an artist through Spielberg’s critiques. “I learned from Steven Spielberg the value of listening to my ‘creative instincts’” Matt explained. “A lot of times, marketing dictates if an idea will be well-received, but Spielberg would often fly against the grain, if he believed in an idea. There was a time when the marketing guys said ‘WWII is done and dead,” but Spielberg followed his instincts and passion and made Saving Private Ryan!”

There, Matt discovered that he, too, possessed a passion to tell the stories of America’s war heroes when DreamWorks had him create paintings for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Working from just a citation and a portrait of a long-deceased MOH recipient, Matt brought their stories back to life. There, he discovered his calling.

Then, in summer 2008, Matt underwent brain surgery to remove a growth behind his eye. “It was a wake-up call,” Matt explained. “It got me thinking, ‘What kind of legacy will my art leave? Will it tell a story of something important? Will it be something people will appreciate 50 or 100 years from now? It was tough to look in mirror and say ‘maybe not’ since the art I was doing would be locked away in a vault once it served its purpose.”

Don Malarkey explains to Prince Charles the details in Matt Hall's "Brothers in Arms" painting.
After Matt’s surgery, Valor Studios, a prominent publisher of military art came to Matt when an offer to publish him. Valor Studios had seen Matt’s work for DreamWorks and asked if he wanted to paint full time to the heroes of military past and present?

Matt heartily agreed. “It was an epiphany on a lot of levels,“ he explained, “Spiritually, artistically, and career-wise. Like that leap of faith when I went to paint for Hollywood, I’ve now decided to follow my passion and paint the stories of men and women whose legacies need to be preserved.” _

Valor Studios and Matt Hall wish to thank the Sledge family, Henry, Jeanne, and John, for their support of this project.

We also wish to thank Marvin Schroeder and the National Museum of the Pacific War for their gear/uniform consultation, and Miss Audrey Phillips for this photo from The Pacific premiere.

Left: Henry and Jeanne Sledge with Sid Phillips and Kathy Singer at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in LA for the premiere of The Pacific mini-series in February 2010.