His life changed forever at a place in the Pacific dubbed "Suicide Creek." A Marine in World War II, he went on to be one of the most respected historians and sought-after battlefield guides in the nation. He is credited with locating and helping to raise one of the most significant artifacts of the Civil War, the ironclad gunboat Cairo. Referred to by many as a national treasure and acclaimed as one of the stars of Ken Burns's award-winning PBS series, The Civil War, the historian emeritus of the National Park Service talked recently with Naval History Editor Fred L. Schultz at his office in Washington, D.C.
Naval History: We'll get around to some Civil War questions, but first, let's talk about World War II. What made you decide to join the Marine Corps?