First Squad, First Platoon

[May 21, 2024]  I’m not sure when I first saw the drama series “The Twilight Zone” by Ron Serling, but I was a huge fan.  While I was rarely scared, my brother often hid behind the couch whenever the show was on.  One of Serling’s episodes was about a bloodthirsty American World War II commander who finds himself transported into the body of a Japanese lieutenant and, to his horror, is expected to help kill an American platoon that is trapped behind enemy lines.  First Squad, First Platoon.

In an article by Hillel Italie of the AP, she outlines part of the dialogue and sets the tone for this episode.  “What you do to those men in the cave, will it shorten the war by a week, by a day, by an hour?” he pleads to a Japanese officer.  ”How many must die before (we) are satisfied?”  The internal struggle is obvious, but we don’t see how often difficult decisions are made and how often we are under the most unimaginable stress.

For Ron Serling, WWII brought back many traumatic memories.  He would write about them in fictional accounts.  He served in the Philippines while in the U.S. Army’s 11th Airborne Division.  For bravery, he received the Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart for wounds he received.  Like other writers of his time, they found the words to describe their fears.

Serling wrote one episode where an Army lieutenant could predict who would die next by looking at his soldier’s faces.  Imagine the horror to everyone involved.  Of course, these are fictional, but they shadow our fantasies about war, injury, and death.

Ron Serling’s “First Squad, First Platoon,” a fictional account of the war he worked on at Antioch College, has been published for the first time.  The Strand Magazine has the article.  You can only read back issues for free, but you must subscribe to read this article.

Serling’s “First Squad, First Platoon” is laid out in five vignettes, each dedicated to a fallen soldier.

“It’s a powerful, unvarnished look at war in all its brutality — an unforgettable study of ordinary people in an extraordinarily hellish situation.” – Andrew Gulli, The Strand Magazine managing editor

Ron Serling’s daughter, Anne, said that “First Squad, First Platoon” reminded her of her dad’s innocence when he first joined the Army.  She had recently read many of his letters from training camp before he was sent to war.  “He was just barely 18 when he enlisted and sounded like a kid at summer camp in his letters to his parents.”

Amy Boyle Johnson found the story while looking through Serling’s papers at the University of Wisconsin.  Serling died in 1975.  But when writing this episode, he had yet to start a family.  Still, he included a dedication to his yet-unborn children, urging them to remember that “a semblance of the feeling of a torn limb, a burnt patch of flesh” and “the hopeless emptiness of fatigue” were as much part of the war as “uniforms and flags, honor and patriotism.”

I highly recommend Italie’s article, which can be found here (see link).


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

18 thoughts on “First Squad, First Platoon

  1. Navy Vet

    Gen. Satterfield, there are many here on your site that are over 30 years of age and might be familiar with Ron Serling and his series “The Twilight Zone.” Many, however, are not. How to appeal to them is a challenge I must admit. Recommending they watch a few of the episodes which are free, is a great start. Ron Serling surely had a lot going for him, and we are lucky that he was a good writer. This particular story “First Squad, First Platoon” and its discovery is just an example of how lucky we are to have had him with us.

  2. Unwoke Dude

    I went back years ago to watch this series. Haunting.

    1. Melo in Chicgo

      I also recommend watching these. Some are haunting. They also make you think.

      1. Sally Anne

        Yeah, I did the same. Watching many ofthese videos gave me the willies. Ha Ha Ha. But they were often spooky.

  3. Ron C.

    Another excellent article, thanks!

  4. Valkerie

    General Satterfield is doing us all a big favor when he highlights men and women who have succeeded. And, in this case, where Rod Serling’s combat service in the Pacific against the Japanese actually influenced his ability to write. But if you read more on him, you will find that Serling had many talents and was a boxer in the army, and very good at it too. He was a man who loved his country and his family. That is one of the reasons he joined the army the day after graduating high school and following his brother. The more we learn about folks and what they were thinking, the more we can appreciate how to achieve success in life. That is why I’m so interested in reading Gen. Satterfield’s letters to his granddaughter. If you are new here, then read them all at this link:

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Exactly, Valkerie. The more we learn about the way successful people think and work, that gives us an opportunity to do the same. 👍

  5. British Citizen

    Nice. Ron Serling’s daughter, Anne, said that “First Squad, First Platoon” reminded her of her dad’s innocence when he first joined the Army. She had recently read many of his letters from training camp before he was sent to war. “He was just barely 18 when he enlisted and sounded like a kid at summer camp in his letters to his parents.”

  6. Tony Cappalo

    Rod Serling, the Twilight Zone. Wow, memories of old.

    1. The Kid

      Hey, thanks Scotty. I didn’t know. Now, I have to binge watch a few.

  7. Army Vet

    Rod Serling, my man!!!!! In November 1944, his division first saw combat, landing in the Philippines. The 11th Airborne Division would not be used as paratroopers, however, but as light infantry during the Battle of Leyte. The division helped secure the area after the five divisions that had gone ashore earlier.

      1. Xerces II

        I read the book and I am reading it now for the second time. Amazing how much I missed the first read. This is why I tell my brother that he better get his act together and learn to read and like it, or else. Like you article yesterday on Elon Musk, reading is the beginning of thinking. 📚📚📚📚📚

        1. Janice Williamson

          You got that right, Xerces II. Loving this blog too. ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

      2. Wilson Cox

        Great book!
        “55 Rules for a Good Life”
        “Our Longest Year in Iraq”
        Get these books today and read them and give them away as gifts. You will not regret it.


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