WWII Response:

The Glorious War!

Omaha Beach: June 6th, 1944
The great concrete bunkers rise up like giant mountains on the beach. I know they house the enemy. An enemy that is willing to slaughter us. The evil Nazi Reich has already taken over Europe, now it is our turn to take it from them, starting with France. When we had received our orders to liberate Normandy, we are all too willing to join the fight our comrades are fighting.
I am Corporal Nick Hayes, an American soldier from a small town in Minnesota known as Georgetown. I enlisted 7 months ago and I never saw combat. I am not even of legal age to serve in the army. I lied about my age when I enlisted. I am actually 17 years old but I said I was 20. The recruiter was wary at first, considering I don’t look like I am 20 but America was in desperate need of soldiers. I joined because all of my friends wanted to be heroes and have all the glory to win over the hearts of all the girls back home. I have been promoted to the rank of corporal during training back in England due to good leadership qualities although I didn’t have enough to become a sergeant. I am hoping that I can prove myself in combat today in this invasion that is known as Operation Overlord.
The boat we were in rocked and crashed through the salty waves as we headed toward the beach. I didn’t think I had ever been so nervous a day in my life. We were crammed elbow to elbow in the boat. I was wondering when the ramp dropped, if we could actually run onto the beach without trampling anyone underfoot. The driver of the boat kept hollering out the estimated time until we arrived on shore. Men all around me were shaking with fear. Some were praying and others were vomiting due to seasickness. The salty air made me thirsty so I decided to take a drink from my metal canteen. I realized that when I was holding my canteen my hand was shaking because of my own fear. So far, war was not the way I thought it was. Waves splashed over the sides of the boat which soaked us and chilled us to the bone. I couldn’t count how many men in the boat vomited. Worst of all, since we were soaked, we were also very cold. I took of my helmet and looked inside. I had a picture of my girlfriend, Anne taped to the inside. She has long blonde hair and the nicest blue eyes you could ever see. Just then, I heard a familiar voice come from behind me. “Nice girl. Does she have a sister?”
I looked back and realized it was my good buddy from training, Private First Class Lenny Thomas. He was my best friend in training and we always had stories to share. He enlisted so he could win the hearts of all the French girls when we liberated them. He too was underage. He was only 16 years old.
“Actually yes she does.” I replied. This was the first conversation we had. He asked the very same question back in England when we were at the mess hall for breakfast. I was reading a letter I had received from her and looking at the picture.
“Hayes! The helmet stays on your head unless you want it blown off!”Staff Sergeant Dunn was our platoon sergeant and he was the only one in the platoon that was not an officer that had combat experience. He always told us that war is not a game and that we should not be looking forward to combat. He was a great leader but he was always brought out the bad sides of combat whenever we mentioned it. He always mentioned how most of his squad had been killed in the Pacific Campaign.
“Clear the ramp! 30 seconds!” the boat driver continued his countdown until we hit the shoreline.
“Alright men! When we hit the shore keep your heads down and keep moving! Do not freeze up! Remember your training!” Captain Shaw was the commander of our unit and he was a good officer. He was considered a hero in the Pacific.
We were less than 100 feet from the beach and we could see the Germans in their bunkers, the barbed wire that blocked access to the bunkers, and we could also see large pieces of metal in a cross shape taking up most of the beach. They were known as tank traps because they prevented the amphibious tanks from coming ashore.
“Use the tank traps as cover!” Staff Sergeant Dunn seemed worried.
“Ten seconds!” the driver started to lower the large ramp. I gripped my M1 Garand rifle and waited for the ramp to drop.
As soon as the ramp hit the ground the world exploded to life. The awkward silence on the beach was short lived when the machine guns came to life. The stuttering machine guns were aiming right at our boats. I tried to move forward but the first two rows of soldiers took fire. I could barely hear the waves outside of the boat, all I could hear were the loud tinging sounds from the bullets hitting the boat and the screams of men. They were torn apart by the machine gun fire. Blood was flying through the air and covering the men behind them. I found myself covered with blood from the man in front of me when he took a direct hit right between his eyes. The bullet passed through his helmet and barely missed me. More men in front of me were falling and blood was spattering through the air. I tried to move but my world went red. It took me what felt like a long time to realize that I couldn’t see because blood had covered my face and entered my eyes.
I don’t know how I did it but I somehow managed to pull myself over the side of the boat and plunge into the icy water. When I was submerged my equipment dragged me to the bottom. I found the temperature of the water unbearable. It felt like a million needles were plunged into every inch of my body. My lungs started to burn when I found out I wouldn’t be able to hold my breath any longer. After what seemed like an hour I struggled to get my pack free and I started to swim toward the shore. As I swam, I saw many men jumping in the water and I heard the hissing sound of bullets entering the water. I saw them tear through one man’s chest and another man’s leg. Clouds of blood bellowed from their wounds. My lungs felt like they were going to explode when I finally emerged from the icy hell and entered a new hell. Men were scrambling up to the tank traps and hiding from the gunfire. I looked to my left and more landing craft had made it ashore. Men were scrambling up the shore and many fell to the machine gun fire. I ran and took cover behind one tank trap. Staff Sergeant Dunn was giving orders to all of the men behind the cover.
“Where the hell is that goddamn armour?” he cried out horrified.
“None of the tanks made it ashore Sarge! We are sitting ducks here!” one of the radiomen replied.
“Alright! Hayes cover us and put some fire on that damn bunker or we will get torn to shreds when we advance!” Sarge was somehow able to function under all the pressure.
I glanced around and my world went into slow motion. One man next two me was crying in fear and calling for God to help him. I tried to assure he was going to be fine when a bullet slammed into his neck. It must have split his carotid artery because blood was shooting out like a geyser. He tried to speak but all he could manage was a low gurgling sound. He was clawing at his neck and he tried to hold the blood in but his attempts were no use. His body went limp and the gurgling sound stopped and a river of blood was running through the sand toward the icy water. I looked to my left and saw a man with a flamethrower taking cover with four others behind another tank trap. The bullets made sparks as they collided with the metal. He was about to move when a bullet slammed into the tank on his back. It exploded into flames and all the men around him including himself were burning alive. I could smell the rancid scent of burning flesh rise into the air. They were all letting out high pitched screams of agony that could pierce any soul. Dunn pulled out his Thompson sub-machine gun and opened fire on them. I closed my eyes and their screaming came to a halt. The smell of burning hair and flesh was still in the air. I then vomited all over my uniform.
“Hayes! Fire on that damn bunker and cover us!” Dunn was getting furious now.
I followed his order and aimed my M1 at the bunker and fired three shots at the orange flashes from the machine guns. Dunn took two soldiers and moved forward. At that moment the mortars started. Explosions hammered the beach and bodies flew through the air. I got much dirt in my eyes but I wiped it away. I looked for Dunn but I couldn’t find him or the other soldiers he was with. I heard screaming behind me and I turned to find Dunn on the ground clutching his thighs. I glanced at his legs and found out that they were severed at knees. All that was there were a mangled mass of flesh and geysers of blood.
 “KKK...Kill me! Shoot me! Hayes! Listen to me! Shoot me!” I couldn’t bear his screaming any longer so I took my M1911 pistol out and pointed at his head.
“Do...it Hayes” He was no longer commanding me, he was begging.
I followed his order and pulled the trigger. The stumps of his legs stopped twitching and his pleading ended. Tears streamed down my face as I cried out in agony. The pain in my heart told me that I was a murderer. I put the pistol up to my temple and was about to pull the trigger until I heard that familiar voice yet again.
“Nick! Don’t do it!” Lenny screamed into the air. “What would Anne think if her boy never came home?”
Lenny’s voice convinced me to lower the pistol and put it into the holster. I picked up Sarge’s Thompson and ran toward the next tank trap. Lenny and seven other soldiers followed. That is when I realized that I was the most senior rank in the area. Captain Shaw was over by the barbed wire waiting for more men to show up and support the rest of the soldiers.
“Corporal what do we do now?” a worried private asked in a state of anxiety. He must have been in his late twenties because I heard him mention his children the day before.
“I...I...I...I don’t know! I am not even of legal age to be here! I am only 17!” they must not have cared about age because another man spoke and said,
“You are doing a good job kid. You have got this far, you only need to get to the barbed wire! I trust you!”
I pulled myself together after he said that and swallowed my fear but I am sure the adrenaline rush had helped me the most.
“Private Smith you cover us until we get to the barbed wire!” I must have been crazy because the barbed wire must have been at least one hundred feet away but here, one hundred feet was the same as running a mile.
Smith fired his Browning Automatic Rifle at the bunkers and we ran to the barbed wire. Smith followed soon after we reached the wire but he never made it. A mortar came down and exploded right on top of him. His arms, legs, intestines, and whatever else was not shredded by the shrapnel rained down on us. He was simply obliterated; he never felt a thing.
“We’re blowing the wire! Take cover!” Captain Shaw warned us and he destroyed the barbed wire. As the explosive charges went off mud rained down on us. The explosion made my ears pop and they started to ring. It was drove me crazy!
“Everyone, over the wire now!” Captain Shaw was shouting for the little mini victory he had accomplished.
We leaped over the remnants of the wire, ran and took cover along the base of the bunker. We were so close to the enemy we could hear them speaking in German, yelling orders and trying to stop the Americans from crossing the barbed wire.
“Hayes! Take some of your men across into that trench by the bunker! Now!”
I gathered four soldiers and Captain Shaw covered us as we ran toward the trench. One soldier fell behind and his head was blown off by a sniper. Lenny jumped over his lifeless body and he joined us when we reached the trench. We could hear the Germans right around the corner.
“Friedrich! Nein!” from the sounds of it some of the Germans were running toward us. As soon as I thought that three mouse-grey informs ran out of one of the doors to the bunkers. They were screaming in German and they took cover behind some old wooden crates. They started firing at us and we were forced to take cover. I hid behind another crate and someone followed me. I turned to see if it was Lenny but it was a soldier I never met before. The Germans started firing at our position and the unknown soldier took a round right to his eye. His lifeless body fell to the ground and blood oozed out of the socket. I slightly shuddered at the sight of his corpse but I never paid too much attention because the Germans were still firing at me. I pulled out a grenade and pulled the icy cold pin from it with my teeth and tossed it toward the crates. I heard one German yell the word “grenate” but his warning was too late. It gave off a violent vibration as it went off.
 I walked over to find three of the Germans on the ground missing arms or legs. I wondered where the other one was when I felt the muzzle of a rifle press into my back. I slowly turned and I was staring into the enemy’s blonde eyes. My heart was racing because I did not know if he was going to either shoot me or of he was going to take me prisoner. I dropped my Thompson that I acquired from the late Staff Sergeant Dunn. The German was saying something to me but I didn’t understand what he wanted. I slowly stepped back while staring into his eyes when suddenly he fired. My heart skipped a beat and I gave out a shout before I was about to die but nothing happened. I looked down and found out that no bullet hit me. The German was staring at his rifle yelling and cursing. It turned out that his rifle jammed and he threw it to the ground. He slowly raised his arms as I drew my pistol. However, he brought his left hand down fast and drew his pistol but he was too late as I fired two shots into his right breast pocket. He fell to the ground and attempted to scream but all that he managed to produce was a low gurgling sound as blood filled his lung. I could see the tears in his envious eyes as he was clutching the wound. Out of mercy, I brought up my pistol and fired one shot into his forehead. The gurgling sound stopped as soon as the shot rang out.  

The morning finally ended with victory for the Allies on Omaha beach. The bunkers and machine gun positions have been overrun by American forces and the Germans retreated. I took a hard long look at the beach and studied the thousands of soldiers arriving and the hundreds of dead ones that littered the beach and bobbed in the red water on the shoreline. I spent the next ten minutes looking for Lenny but I could not find him. I walked back to the battered bunker and found out that my worst nightmare had come true. Lenny was lying in a heap on the ground next to a dead Nazi soldier. Lenny had a Hitler Youth knife lodged in his ribs. I walked up to him and turned him over. His face was surprisingly calm, as if he was asleep. Tears started to fill my eyes and my heart burned as I stared at this dead soldier who was not even 17 years old. I bent down, grabbed his dog tags and left one of them with his corpse while I put the other one in my breast pocket. As I turned away I asked myself this question: Was the war glorious at all?  Ask the young boy lying behind me who will never see sunset again.
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