One Day Down, One Thousand to Go
I gazed up into the bleak morning sky and viewed the wafts of smoke, anything to take my mind off what was to come. The sound of the landing craft’s engines revved up indicating we were on our final approach. I gripped my Thompson and carefully glanced over it. The functionality of this gun could mean life or death for me and so it received my dearest attention. Suddenly the ear shattering sound of the big .50 caliber machine gun opened up on our boat. Immediately thereafter, the screech of a whistle permeated the air, and the front of the boat began lowering. What was slowly revealed to us was horrifying; barbed wire and anti-vehicle obstacles dotted the beach. Before I could take it all in, the enemy’s machine guns began finding their targets. Deep thuds mixed with sharp pings as the bullets struck my comrades, as well as the boat. Lieutenant Jamison called for us to reach cover, another useless command from him seeing that we were trapped in the boat. Sargent Talbert shouted “Get out of the boat now!” however; our fallen comrades and the German fire stopped us from getting out the front. I stooped down and boosted Private Vincent out of the boat as fast as I could. Sgt. Randleman launched me from the boat with such force I nearly dropped my gun as I flew over the high steel walls. Along with the other survivors I began plodding along through the water heavily weighted down by supplies. The German machine guns were relentless; they hounded us as we struggled forward. Finally we reached the dark sand, and I ceased to care how much sand covered me as I lay behind metal obstacles. None of the amphibious tanks had made it ashore leaving us helplessly stranded on the unforgiving beach without any hope of support. I dashed from cover to cover, slowly working my way up. As soon as I reached a new place of cover, a German shell exploded next to me sending sand and Pfc. Johnson careening through the air. When he came to rest on the black sand he wriggled around vainly trying to stand as his legs had disappeared in the blast. As I huddled against the metal protrusion, I observed the desolate situation. Men lay in the grip of death all across the vast expanse of beach, and wave after wave of landing craft disgorged their cargo of men, adding to the fray. My best friend Pfc. Vincent crouched next to me screaming furiously into the radio about our dire need for support. Sgt. Randleman charged forward, and arrived at our hiding place a mere instant before another shell engulfed Lt. Jamison who was directly behind him. He appeared stunned as he looked upon the crater where our commanding officer had stood moments before. He quickly snapped back to reality and ordered us to move forward as fast as possible, and to regroup at the bluff a hundred yards inland. With this he dashed forward to other soldiers crouching like Vincent and I. Vincent and I quickly exchanged glances, and then drove forward weaving to avoid enemy fire. The thud of shells and the rattling machinegun fire tore about us blocking out all sounds but that of our pounding pulses. I dove outstretched behind the small bluff staying out of sight of the machine gun emplacement. Randleman suddenly appeared, and his presence calmed us because we knew we could trust his command. He gathered as many of us as he could and told us to take only weapons and ammo over the bluff when the time came. Only about 70 of the 160 men in our company were gathered along the bluff. There was a huge whump as a navy vessel’s round decimated the machinegun emplacement, Vincent’s radio calls had paid off. With that, Randleman yelled for us to go over the bluff and sprint to the destroyed German fortification. As we reached the ruins, a few surviving Germans crawled from the rubble, and Vincent and I dispatched them with impunity. We once...
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