Anticipation built up inside me; I knew of the hell that was about to unfold. For three years I had been fighting. For three years I had survived battle after battle along with my brother Anthony Russel. The year was 1944 at the height of World War II, the allies had been fighting the war for three years. During this year the allies had begun “Operation Carpetbagger” which “begins aerial dropping of supplies and weapons to resistance fighters in Europe”(Historical). We then began our assault on Italy as well as the Marshall Islands(Historical). And we were finally about to begin their assault on Normandy beach, and I, Master Sergeant John Russel, was in the midst of rushing the beach with my squad, When Anthony said, “You never lose that gut quenching fear before a battle, do you.”
“Nope it’s always there,” I replied. While feeling the scar on my right leg, the scar always itched before a battle.
“Don’t you dare die on me brother. Your wife will kill me if you do.”
“Either that or make you take care of my child.”
Our banter seemed to ease our squad a bit. Private Bruce, the company’s newest member, seemed to be sweating through even his helmet.
“Thanks to Lieutenant Clarke the Nazis don’t even know where we are coming from, getting through Rommel’s wall will be a peace of cake”, I said to ease the private, “Look the doors opening, we made it to the beach easily,”
But something was off. I had been on many battlefields before and they were never so silent. Usually one was greeted with soldiers screaming in pain and bombs bursting everywhere. But this one was completely silent. Had Lieutenant Clarke really done that good of a job? I hesitated to exit the landing craft, and my hesitation saved me and my entire unit’s life. Just as I looked out I saw thousands of Germans screaming and preparing their guns.
“Those damn British sent us first and didn’t even brief me about it!” I screamed.
We took cover inside the craft and started to spray at the beach. It was not long before a grenade entered the boat. Anthony caught it and threw it out right before it could detonate. That moment of glory did not last long because we heard the distinct sound of a rocket being fired. I instinctively knew that we had to exit that boat immediately.
“EXIT THE BOAT!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
About five of us made it out before an anti-vehicle rocket blasted our landing craft to smithirines. A nearby rock became our greatest ally, and we scurried over to it, losing Private Bruce in the process. We loaded up the only RPG in our inventory and shot indiscriminately at the beach. After that we blind fired over our cover for what seemed like an eternity. Finally we were saved by an artillery strike, and the rest of the Allies arrived on Normandy.
Three hours have passed since we landed on this beach. Of the group of twenty soldiers that landed on the beach with me, only three remained. My brother, Corporal Richard, and I managed to secure a position on the beach, dig our trench, and shoot mortar after mortar on the enemy to soften their defenses. Most of the allies had landed on the beach by this point. However, we were stuck. A squadron that had lost their leader was placed under my command, but we were not allowed to make any headway.
“Sir, the Nazis to our right seem to be getting closer.”
“Just keep on shooting. Until command gives us the order to advance, we have to hold our position and keep firing.”
Something was definitely off; command should have told us to continue the assault, but the orders were to stay and hold our ground. I should have disobeyed command. Maybe things would have turned out differently.
Night time approached and we all went to sleep except for Private Douglas.
“HELP, HELP, THE NAZIS ARE ATTACKING!”
I woke up with a jolt and reached for my Thompson submachine gun.
“Take cover!” I screamed to my unit.
We quickly sprinted to one side of the trench and looked out in dismay. About 500 Nazi soldiers, armed to the teeth, were rushing our trench.
“It’s over,” I heard to my left.
“No, it isn’t over until we stop fighting!”
I was wrong. Three grenades immediately landed inside our trench, and only two were thrown out. BOOM! Two soldiers immediately disintegrated to my right. If they had not taken the brunt of the attack I would be dead. We volleyed grenade after grenade at them, but their numbers did not seem to be dwindling. After a couple of seconds they overwhelmed us and started firing into our foxhole. That is when it happened. POP POP one down. POP POP two down. My men started dropping like flies. I felt like it was over when suddenly Anthony started shooting back and was actually pushing them back. I felt like there was hope when POP POP he dropped like a sack of potatoes, and I lost it. I started shooting like a madman. I jumped on top of the trench and mowed down enemy after enemy. Unfortunately, I felt the familiar feeling of a bullet entering my body, but I continued to fire. That rage did not last long as I also fell and everything went black.
I woke up to an incredible amount of pain and the world went dark.
I awoke once again, but this time in the hospital.
“Where am I,” I mumble to myself.
To my surprise someone actually answered,
“You’re in the hospital, you were injured while attacking Normandy.”
I did not remember any of this, but it all seemed strangely familiar.
“Who won the World Series?”
“Well, I believe it was the St Louis Cardinals”
I continued to quiz her on modern trivia until I finally remembered. Oh how I wish I had not. All the pain and loss suddenly rushed to me at once and I broke down into tears. I needed to know what happened. Had Anthony survived? Did we take Normandy? How long was I out for? I had all these questions, but no one to answer. It was miserable; my choleric nature took over and I began to scream at the nurse.
“Get me out of here, get me out of here!”
Either she had gains or my injury left me weak, but she injected a needle in me and I was out.
I once again awoke in the hospital. I immediately remembered everything, but my mind seemed to deal with the shock several times better. The nurse said.
“How are you feeling, Mr. Russel?”
“Much better, Mrs . . . ”
“Nice to meet you Mrs. Hoftiezer.”
“You probably can’t tell but you have eight bullet wounds that need recovering, so you should rest. In three days we are going to ship you back home; you have been out for four months.”
“Four months? Are you serious? Did we win? What all has happened?
“I’m sure your wife will answer all these questions when you get home goodnight”.
My intense exhaustion suddenly caught up to me, and I was out once again.
I stepped out of my plane and onto solid land. I looked outside, and there she was. Linda Joyce, the love of my life. The most beautiful woman I had ever laid my eyes on. She ran over to me and in her hands was a toddler. She shyly looked at me from behind her mother’s skirt.
“What is your name?”
“You speak quite clearly, your mother taught you well”.
“I’m a fwast wearner”
” Ha ha ha, I’m sure you are.”
“Honey, I’m going to need you to fill me in for the last five months. Apparently I have been in a coma for months.
” Oh there’s a lot I must tell you”.
I finally felt whole. I would see where life took me from there.
Levine, Joshua. Operation Fortitude. Collins, 2011. Print.
Historical Events in 1944. www.onthisday.com/events/date/1944. 7 Apr. 2017.
Bliven, Bruce.Invasion: The Story of D-Day. Sterling, 1956. Print.
Lord, Walter. The Miracle of Dunkirk. The Viking Press, 1982. Print.
Taylor, Alan. World War II: The Allied Invasion of Europe. https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2011/10/world-war-ii-the-allied-invasion-of-europe/100160/. 4/6/17.