Pogiebait’s War

Sandra ClarkOur Town Readers

A second edition of Pogiebait’s War by Jack H. “Nick” McCall Jr. has been released by University of Tennessee Press. Subtitled “A Son’s Quest for His Father’s Wartime Life,” the book follows Jack H. McCall Sr.’s trek from then-small-town Franklin, Tennessee, to the Pacific Theater as a U.S. Marine. It was initially published in December 2022 and is priced at $34.95 in print or PDF format.

Jack H. McCall Jr.

From the UT Press: Jack H. McCall Sr. was a born storyteller, an inveterate practical joker and a proud Tennessean whose flaws included a considerable taste for candy, or “pogiebait” in Marine parlance.

Like so many other able-bodied young people on the eve of World War II, he decided to enlist in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Much more than a family memoir or nostalgic wartime reminiscence, this painstakingly researched biography presents a rich, engaging study of the U.S. Marine Corps, particularly McCall’s understudied unit, the Ninth Defense Battalion – the “Fighting Ninth.”

The author provides a window into the day-to-day service of a Marine during World War II, with important coverage of fighting in the Pacific Theater. McCall also depicts life in wartime Franklin, Tennessee, and offers a poignant and personal tribute to his father.

McCall dramatizes some of the classic themes of the war memoir genre (war is hell, but memories fade!), but he sets riveting descriptions of decisive action against rarely seen views of mundane work and daily life, supported with maps, photographs and fresh interpretations.

Another distinction of this work is its attention to the action on Guam, a very unpleasant late-war “mopping up” that has received relatively little scholarly attention.

In his portrait of the bitter island-hopping war in the Pacific, the author shows how both U.S. and Japanese soldiers were often eager innocents drawn to the cauldron of conflict and indoctrinated and trained by their respective governments. Reflecting on the action late in life, Jack (as well as several other Ninth veterans) came to a begrudging respect for the enemy.

Nick McCall is a retired attorney from the Office of General Counsel at the Tennessee Valley Authority. He edited Pacific Time on Target: Memoirs of a Marine Artillery Officer, 1943-1945 and coauthored The East Tennessee Veterans Memorial: A Pictorial History of the Names on the Wall, Their Lives, Their Service, Their Sacrifice.

Reviewers’ comments

“(The book) is not only a wonderful testimony of a son’s amazing love for his father, but a reminder of what we as a nation owe to the incredible veterans of the Greatest Generation.” James M. Scott, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author

“More than a family memoir or nostalgic wartime reminiscence, Pogiebait’s War … will have you on the edge of your seat.” Lisa M. Budreau, PhD

“This book shows the impact of war across the generations down to our own time.” Michael Neiberg, professor of history, chair of war studies, US Army War College

“We will always be indebted to Nick McCall for interviewing Jack “Pogiebait” McCall and his comrades to make sure their stories got into history books before it was too late.”  G. Kurt Piehler, teacher at Florida State University and author.

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