Pogiebait's War

A Son's Quest for His Father's Wartime Life, Second Edition

  • Author(s): McCall, Jr., Jack H.
  • Series: Legacies of War
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2022-12-27
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $34.95 | Buy Now
  • Available in PDF: Price $34.95 | Buy Now


“The death of Jack McCall’s father in 1997 launched him on a journey to discover his wartime legacy, which he beautifully chronicles in Pogiebait’s WarArmed with family stories, archival records, and interviews with veterans, McCall follows his father’s path from a small town in Tennessee to the far Pacific, from Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands to New Georgia and the Marianas. The end result 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 of Target Tokyo and Rampage

“More than a family memoir or nostalgic wartime reminiscence, Pogiebait’s War is a colorful, poignant and personal tribute to a tough, patriotic Leatherneck.  From Parris Island to the Pacific and back home to Tennessee, we follow the author’s meticulous exploration of his father’s wartime experiences. Whether you are an avid World War Two enthusiast, historian, veteran, or general reader, McCall will have you on the edge of your seat.”—Lisa M. Budreau, PhD, military, cultural historian and author

“More than a tale of heroism in wartime, McCall gives us a thoughtful and eloquent tribute from a son to his father. 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

“A riveting, moving account of the Pacific theater. Pogiebait’s War is in equal parts a biography, a history and, ultimately, a sheer labor of love by a son for his father. Highly recommended.”—John C. McManus, Ph.D., Curators’ Distinguished Professor, Missouri University of Science and Technology, author of Island Infernos: The U.S. Army’s Pacific War Odyssey, 1944

“Begun as a labor of love to better understand the World War II experiences of his father who served with the U.S. Marines in the Pacific, Jack H. (Nick) McCall, Jr. has crafted an impeccably researched and engaging work that deserves a wide audience. Part biography, part operational history of the Ninth Marine Defense Battalion at Guadalcanal, Rendova, New Georgia, and Guam, McCall tell a story of valor and courage.  But McCall, an attorney by profession, avoids hagiography and is unflinchingly honest about the racism endemic among the Marines who fought with his father and the other brutalities of the Pacific War.  We will always be indebted to 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 teaches at Florida State University and is author of A Religious History of the American GI in World War II


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 in 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.

JACK H. MCCALL JR. 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.