1st to Fight: Pacific War Marines

1942 | War in Pacific

THE FILM: Narrated by Jon Seda. 1st to Fight: Pacific War Marines follows several Americans of the famed 1st Marine Division who took part in the United States’ first significant land offensive of World War II on the Pacific island of Guadalcanal. These same Marines then went on to fight in bloody battles at Cape Gloucester and Peleliu. This documentary, narrated by actor Jon Seda (John Basilone in HBO’s The Pacific), features impressive drone footage of Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands, as well as the remote island of Peleliu, one of the most horrific and least known battles of World War II. Peleliu cost the 1st Marine Division and the United States Army some 10,000 causalities. Peleliu was also a fight that should have been avoided, “a tragic mistake,” according to many historians. In this “then and now” film, viewers get a feel for what the battle sites look like today, comparable on-screen to some of the most incredible combat videos taken in the Pacific in 1942, 1943, and 1944. Also included are interviews with those responsible today for cleaning up the hazardous tools of war that still exist on these once war-ravaged islands and with a young woman still searching for the remains of her great uncle, a Japanese soldier, killed on day two of the fight on Peleliu.


Each of our documentary films has a corresponding quiz or essay question for use in the classroom by teachers and educators.

We encourage you to choose one of the PDFs below that is the best match for your students. It’s up to each educator if you would like to offer either the exam or the one-question essay. An answer sheet corresponds with each quiz.  Our goal is not to overwhelm students with dates, treaties, and strategies. Instead, we would rather focus their attention on the individual stories of the subjects of our documentaries. We find these visual stories to be inspiring, impactful, and educational.

We hope that after viewing one of our films, students will want to learn more about the personal stories of the World War II generation. Maybe they do this by reading a book, watching another documentary, or perhaps a full-length film.  Maybe our films will inspire your students to ask an older family member about their role, or inquire about another relative’s story, in World War II.

We recommend the below curriculum for grades 7-12 and college.


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