As Julio Arrieta recently wrote in El Correo, “The adventure of the Marines of Basque origin in World War II [WWII] is a story that has come to light in an unsuspected way. It was done through the denial of a legend, that of the Basque soldiers to whom the United States Army had entrusted the transmission of crucial messages for the development of the Battle of Guadalcanal”. During the summer of 1942, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) began to return the blow after a series of irrefutable victories of the Japanese empire. From that moment on they acquired a mythical aura in a terrible campaign from island to island, until the final victory in August 1945. For the Basque historiography, the alleged existence of one hundred Basque Marines was practically the only connection with that military branch. However, this was no more than an epic myth that Pedro J. Oiarzabal and Guillermo Tabernilla finally deconstructed in 2017 (“Saibigain”, No. 3).

By doing so, Oiarzabal and Tabernilla have been able to identify (so far) about 30 Marines of Basque origin; real heroes that were in every single combat in the Pacific Campaign. This is just a small part of the more than 1,000 1st and 2nd generation Basque Americans who participated in the United States’ war effort in all theatres of operations. It is an unknown memory that is incardinated, in turn, in a larger one that reaches the main belligerent countries in the greatest conflict of all time. For the last few years, the Sancho de Beurko Association’s “Fighting Basques Project” have studied the military involvement of Basques in WWII from a global perspective. Oiarzabal and Tabernilla are the project’s Principal Researchers.

After a general introduction on the Basques in the US and the Marine Corps, the documentary will recreate by dramatizations made by specialists in Historical Reenactment the decisive moments of the lives of half a dozen Basque Marines selected from a total of 30, following the way of productions such as 'The Pacific" (produced by Spielberg and Hanks in 2010), although its ultimate goal is to show Basque culture materials, in this case biographical. All this will take us to an inhospitable and wild scenario before an implacable and determined enemy to die fighting in a moment of the history that was key in the evolution of the geopolitical situation of our days. In that global context, a small migrant community of the American West such as of the Basque, can by right vindicate its active role in the so-called greatest generation, which emerged as the winner of WWII.

  • Basques in the US Marine Corps

  • Iwo Jima mount Suribachi

  • Fighting Basques