UM to honor WWII vet E.B. Sledge with sculpture, scholarships

Published 3:10 pm Thursday, January 3, 2013


MONTEVALLO – The University of Montevallo plans to honor a nationally known World War II veteran with a strong connection to the university.

Dr. Eugene Bondurant “E.B.” Sledge volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps in 1942. Sledge served on the Pacific island of Peleliu and at Okinawa, Japan.

After the war, he wrote his memoir, “With the Old Breed: at Peleliu and Okinawa,” which is “widely regarded as the most historically significant memoir of combat during World War II,” according to UM Assistant History Professor Dr. John Bawden.

E.B. Sledge during his time in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII. (Contributed)

The HBO mini-series “The Pacific” was based on Sledge’s memoir, and actor Joseph Mazzello, who portrays Sledge in the series, is one of the main characters.

Sledge went on to earn his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Alabama Polytechnic Institute, which is now Auburn University, and his doctorate from the University of Florida. He began teaching at Alabama College, now the University of Montevallo, in 1962 as an assistant professor of biology. Sledge became a full professor in 1970 and taught until he retired in 1990. Sledge passed away in March 2001.

The UM Office of University of Advancement recently developed the Dr. Eugene B. Sledge Memorial Fund to raise money for a commissioned sculpture of Sledge for the campus.

“Because Dr. Sledge is arguably one of the most famous Montevallo figures, we want to do something that really memorializes his military career, but also his service to the university. He was a very well loved and well liked professor for many years here,” said Jeremy Ward, director of annual and special giving for the university.

In addition to a sculpture, which Ward estimated would cost roughly $100,000, the fund would provide academic scholarships for biology majors. Lastly, if funding provides, Ward said the fund would employ two endowed chairs in both the biology and history departments.

UM Biology Professor Dr. E.B. Sledge (Contributed)

The project is in the “very early stages,” Ward said. The memorial fund needs about $15,000 of “seed money” for the sculpture project.

“With that, we’ll put our vision and idea out to bid, and artists can bid on what they’d like their vision for the project to be,” Ward said. “The only criteria we want to see is we want something that not only honors his military career, because that in itself is worth honoring, but also see reflected in the sculpture the scholar.”