From: Chehalis, WA
I see multiple references to Sid Phillips being the source of the heart condition story. Memories that old can fade, but Phillips was a doctor after the war and should understand murmurs. Sledge might have not wanted to mention it in his own book for personal reasons. I don't know who is right, but HBO didn't make it up from what I can tell.
Sledge's father was also a physician and would understand murmers as well. And we have to remember that Philips graduated high school a year before Eugene and enlisted right after Pearl Harbor.
Sledge graduated high school in May 1942. He then attended the Marion Military Institute until May 1943 and while there, signed up for the Georgia Tech V12 officer training program. He started this training on 1 July 1943. According to his book, he purposely did poorly on his first semester exams so that he could become an enlisted Marine. He stated in his book that he was afraid that he would miss the war if he stayed in college.
Philips states that Sledge had rheumatic fever as a child yet Sledge makes no mention of this anywhere. It is not found in any of Sledge's books or the many biographies that aren't based on Philips' statements. It is possible that Sledge did have rheumatic fever that resulted in a heart murmer but if that were the case, he would either have not had the mumer upon graduation from high school and would have been eligible to enlist then - or - he still had the murmer in which case he would not been eligible for the military instutute or GT officer training programs.
Most of Philip's comments regarding Sledge were made to the producers of the HBO series. I'm inclined to believe Sledge's book more so than Philip's recollection 60+ years later. That is not to say his statements are false, just possibly distorted by the passage of time. I willing to bet that Sledge did have the murmer but at an early enough age that it was gone by the time he was in high school.
Ret Navy AWCS (1972-1998)
VP-5, Jacksonville, Fl 1973-78
ASW Ops Center, Rota, Spain 1978-81
VP-40, Mt View, Ca 1981-87
Patrol Wing 10, Mt View, CA 1987-90
ASW Ops Center, Adak, Ak 1990-92
NRD Seattle 1992-96
VP-46, Whidbey Isl, Wa 1996-98