Sidney Phillips

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Sidney Clarke Phillips, Jr.
BornSeptember 2, 1924
Mobile, Alabama
DiedSeptember 26, 2015 (aged 91)
Mobile, Alabama
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1941–1945
RankUSMC-E4.svg Corporal
UnitHow Company, 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division
Battles/warsWorld War II
Other workPhysician, writer

Sidney Clarke Phillips, Jr. (September 2, 1924 – September 26, 2015) 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.[1][2]


Early life[edit]

Phillips 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 who became a teacher, then the principal of Murphy High School, where Phillips graduated in 1941.

Career and higher education[edit]

After graduating from high school, Phillips enlisted in the US Marine Corps at age 17, on December 8, 1941. He was inducted later that month after obtaining parental permission.

He served with How Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 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.[1][2][3] He reported that his mortar crew observed effective fire control discipline; one example was a firefight on Cape Gloucester where they were able to provide light high explosive rounds through the jungle canopy only 15 yards in front of their own lines.[4]

Phillips 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.

He had decided while at Cape Gloucester to become a physician, so he enrolled in Spring Hill College, then went to medical school to become a family physician. He enlisted in the USMC Reserves while at Spring Hill, then was finally discharged in April 1948.[5]

Phillips reported 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.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In April 1946, he married the former Mary Houston; his best man was Eugene Sledge.[5]


Phillips died in Alabama, after completing a long career and finally retiring. He died on September 26, 2015.[7]

In media[edit]

Phillips wrote the memoir You'll be Sor-ree, an accounting of his experiences in the US Marines.[8] 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.[9][10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b The War (PBS)
  2. ^ a b Ambrose, Hugh (March 14, 2010). "A Fight to the Death". Parade Magazine. Retrieved March 20, 2010.
  3. ^ Phillips, Sidney (March 2010). You'll be Sor-ree. Valor Studios. ISBN 0-615-33683-3.
  4. ^ Phillips, pages 157–158
  5. ^ a b Phillips, pages 170, 185–195
  6. ^ Phillips page 198.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Phillips, Sidney (March 2010). You'll be Sor-ree. Valor Studios. ISBN 0-615-33683-3.
  9. ^ Chen, Sandie A (March 19, 2010). "WWII Veteran Dr. Sidney Phillips Reacts to HBO's 'The Pacific'". AOL TV. Celebrity Interviews. Archived from the original on March 24, 2010. Retrieved March 20, 2010.
  10. ^ Mobile man in HBO WWII miniseries ( Archived July 16, 2011, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]