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HBO series, new books highlight Basilone

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Last night, HBO's new 10-part mini-series "The Pacific" premiered, highlighting the true stories of three Marines serving in World War II. One of those men was Sgt. John Basilone, an Italian American who was killed in Iwo Jima after fighting his way through the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal.

Played by Jon Seda in "The Pacific," Basilone was the only enlisted Marine in World War II to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart. A native of Raritan, N.J., Basilone is immortalized in a bronze monument in the borough. Additionally, Raritan observes Basilone Day every September with a parade and concert.

Much has been written about Basilone's service to his country, and now two new books are delving into his history in time for the renewed interest that "The Pacific" is sure to generate. Both released in the first months of this year, "Hero of the Pacific: The Life of Marine Legend John Basilone" by James Brady and "I'm Staying With My Boys: The Heroic Life of Sgt. John Basilone, USMC" by Jim Proser with Jerry Cutter offer a closer look at Basilone's story. An added bonus: Proser's biography is authorized by the Basilones and featurs a collection of family photographs.