August 15, 1945. While still recovering from his wounds at a stateside hospital, Leckie learns that the Japanese have surrendered. Back on Okinawa, Sledge, Snafu, and Burgin receive word as well and share a bottle of Scotch in celebration and wonder about their respective futures. Leckie returns home, where he is greeted somewhat distantly by his mother, Marion Leckie, and father, John Leckie.
Now back in the U.S., Sledge, Snafu, and Burgin cross the country in a train bound for home. Snafu and Burgin have mapped out their plans, but so far Sledge is undecided. Meanwhile, Lena meets the Basilone family for the first time and, in an emotional gesture, hands Basilone's Medal of Honor to his mother and father. Leckie retrieves his old job covering high school sports for the local paper. That night, while writing a story, Leckie sees Vera for the first time since returning from the war. Determined, Leckie elbows aside another suitor and persuades Vera to join him for dinner.
Back in Mobile, Sledge is met by Phillips at the train station. An obviously happy Phillips asks Sledge to be the best man in his upcoming wedding. Sledge has a tearful reunion with his parents, but tells his brother Edward that he will never wear his Marine uniform again. At a society ball, Sledge's discomfort and uncertainty as to why he survived when so many others didn't is assuaged, but only slightly, by his oldest and dearest friend, Phillips, who experienced similar emotions when he returned. Vera joins Leckie and his family for dinner, and despite Leckie's fractious family, it's clear that they are falling in love. Under increasing pressure from his mother to get on with his life, Sledge attempts to enroll in college. When trying to determine what field of study Sledge should pursue, the registrar asks what he learned in the Marine Corps. Sledge's curt reply: "I learned to kill Japs." His future remains uncertain.
Hoping to help Sledge return to life as it was, Dr. Sledge takes his son hunting as they'd done so many times before the war. But Sledge will never be the same, and the idea of killing is unfathomable. Sledge looks within to find the strength and inner peace to lead a normal life after everything he's experienced.