Against the advice of his father, Mario Machi dropped out of college and enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 17, 1941. War in the Pacific seemed imminent and he believed it was best for him to enlist early and get himself into something he liked. He’d had three years of college behind him at San Francisco State. With a major in physical education, he’d studied anatomy and biology, and some medicine, and decided the medical corps was the place for him. However, he’d received very little training and in September he asked to be transferred to the infantry.
Like all soldiers readying themselves to go overseas, Mario Machi had a dinner with his family and friends on Fisherman’s Wharf, made wishes, tossed pennies into the water, began a diary and naively entered into his diary that he hoped this would be an “experience of value” and that he and all his friends would return safely. Two months later, they were thrown into a world they had not thought humanly possible.
After his first air raid at the hands of Japanese bombers, Machi spent the day picking up bodies and pieces of bodies. He wrote in his diary: “I have always wanted action and experience. I think I have had enough now.”
But the air raid was just the beginning. Between his first air raid and his return to San Francisco on the troop ship USS Monterrey, Mario Machi and his comrades and buddies would endure more than four years of insane war, killing and blood; the hopeless campaign to save the Philippines: the infamous Bataan Death March, starvation, cruelty, and deaths in the middle of the night of people — friends — sleeping next to him.
Machi’s book retells the horrors, the inhumanity, the courage and — yes, also, in the midst of it all, the humanity, the love and the humor — of Mario Machi and the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and Filipino natives that endured the War in the Pacific.
To the text of Under the Rising Sun, editor and journalist Harold Stephens adds fascinating historical anecdotes and footnotes, photographs of bombed-out Manila, the Bataan Death March, and inmates of prison camps, to bring together a historical account so vivid the person who has never been through the hell of war can almost feel, hear and smell the sounds and fury of one of the most infamous military episodes in this century.