“The Fighting Redhead,” featured in The United States Marines, No. 4, was among the most extreme and over-the-top examples of fearlessness and aggression in the face of danger. The comic’s protagonist was PFC “Red” Shelton, a Marine who was unwilling to stop fighting. The introductory panel shows Red, looking rugged with a thick red beard, running into a Japanese gunner nest, shooting several Japanese and leaving the others cowering in fear.[^] The story unfolds with a Marine landing, where soldiers are raving about Red’s reputation as a tireless fighter, and Red is the first to depart the boat, despite warnings of heavy fire from the Japanese defense force.[^] After securing communications on the island, Red disobeys order to teak a break, and heads out go “Jap hunting.”[^] After capturing a prisoner and dispensing of several gun nests, Red is hit by a sniper’s bullet, but continues to take the lead and saves a man’s life by helping him to the first aid station.[^] Although the Marines are “badly outnumbered,” the Marines forge on, led by Red, who destroys another nest of snipers while incurring second wound.[^] Following this, Red is seen taking out another “Jap nest” that was stalling the advance. The summary narration at the end goes on to say, “This gallant but unsung Marine hero was wounded four times before being put out of action,” and adds that he is back in the Pacific “killing Japs.”[^]
The comic hints that heroic efforts are rather common, or are at least not limited to those who are formally decorated and widely celebrated. The introduction to the story reads, “Not all the heroes wind up with honors and decorations. In the heat of battle, some are overlooked. So it was in the case of PFC “Red” Shelton…”[^] This extreme example of aggression and selflessness, depicted in a valorous manner, thus set a precedent for action not only for Marines, but all men. It forwarded the notion that Marines commonly acted in such a manner, increasing the expectations for men everywhere.