Sidney Phillips, American Marine, died at 91

  Dead Famous

Sidney C. Phillips, Jr., born on September 2, 1924 and died September 26, 2015.

Sidney was a family practice physician from Mobile, Alabama, who provided source material and interviews for the making of Ken Burns’ PBS documentary film The War and the HBO miniseries The Pacific.

His recollections revolve around his time as a young man fighting in the Pacific War as a United States Marine.

Sidney was born in Mobile, Alabama, the second child after his sister Katharine.

A younger brother, John, followed. Their father, Sidney, was a US Army veteran of the Battle of Argonne Forest and became a teacher, then the principal of Murphy High School.

Sidney , a 1941 Murphy High School graduate, volunteered to enlist in the US Marines at age seventeen on December 8, 1941, then was inducted later that month after gaining parental permission.

He served with How Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division and saw combat as an 81mm mortarman in a number of battles including the Battle of the Tenaru during the Guadalcanal Campaign and the Battle of Cape Gloucester.

He reported that his mortar crew observed effective fire control discipline with one example being a firefight on Cape Gloucester where they were able to provide light high explosive rounds through the jungle canopy only fifteen yards in front of their own lines.

Sidney reported that after his overseas duty he enrolled in V12, a program designed to educate young men so they could become US Navy officers.

However his four-year US Marine Corps enlistment expired on December 31, 1945, freeing him to return to Mobile.

Sidney had decided while at Cape Gloucester to become a physician so he followed by enrolling in Spring Hill College, then went to medical school to become a family physician.

In April 1946 he married the former Mary Houston; his best man was Eugene Sledge.

He enlisted in the reserves while at Spring Hill, then was finally discharged in April 1948.

In 2015 Sidney lived in Alabama, after completing a long career and finally retiring.

He reports that Sledge’s widow and sons introduced him to Ken Burns’ writing team, then later the HBO writers, so that he was able to provide needed information about the lives of Marines in combat for the making of The Pacific.

Sidney is the author of the book You’ll be Sor-ree, an accounting of his experiences in the US Marines.

As a surviving veteran of World War II battles including the Guadalcanal Campaign and the Battle of Cape Gloucester he has provided valuable documentary interviews describing his recollections of the Pacific Theater of Operations. (See oral history preservation.)

His character was played by actor Ashton Holmes in the HBO miniseries The Pacific.

Sidney Phillips died on September 26, 2015.