1942: I’ll Always Miss You

I could hear the rumble of the Japanese Zeros getting closer by the second. William and I began to say our prayer before the fighting commenced. Praying became a regular activity for us since we joined the army, but we prayed extra hard before this attack. Midway Island, “It was a location of strategic importance for both sides – and a testament to the power of presence” and it was vital for the Japanese army; we all knew that they would do anything to take it out of our hands (Battle).
“Hey Oliver when we make it back home we should take the girls to that new Disney movie called Bambi.”
His voice pierced the tense silence like a warm knife going through a cold pad of butter. William was always a talker even when he did not need to be.
“Ya man, we should!” I exclaimed almost as if it were another Saturday night back in our small town in Kentucky.
William had been my best friend since the third grade. Growing up we did absolutely everything together. We were always goofing off around and getting ourselves into trouble. When the war broke out we were both seventeen and being the good friend I was I convinced him that when our birthdays came around we needed to sign up for the army. Our girlfriends did not take a liking to this idea but our hearts were set on defending our country’s honor.
“Any minute now boys, make sure you are locked and loaded, ” barked Captain Sanders.
We all prepared ourselves for the worst as the ominous drone of the zeros became almost unbearable. The noise sent a shiver down my spine. William and I were assigned to operate an anti-aircraft gun on the beachfront to try and shoot down as many planes as possible. We both knew we would be a targeted by the Japanese pilots so we attempted to camouflage our gun with the surrounding foliage. In reality this offered no help at all but we were willing to try anything to ease our nerves. We loaded up our gun and waited for our orders to fire.
“If I do not make it through this can you tell Carol I love her for me” I asked as I pulled out the tattered picture of her from my pant pocket. I loved that girl and couldn’t bear the idea of not returning home to her.
“Oliver, don’t you be talking like that, we are both making it back home because I have to see this new Bambi movie that’s coming out.”
I laughed, he always knew how to put a smile on my face no matter the circumstances.
“You just want to see it because of Shirley”
“Alright you got me but that is a pretty good reason if I don’t say so myself!”
I laughed and shook my head then refocused my attention to the task at hand, shooting down these Japs! The Japanese were now in sight; I could feel the tension rising around me as my fellow gunners prepared themselves for the inevitable. I was the gunner and William would feed the ammunition. He was a better shot but insisted that I got the honor of operating the beast. I reluctantly accepted and began to re-familiarize myself with the gun. It was substantially different then our standard issue M1 Garand’s.
Explosions were going off all around me. I could feel the shockwaves from the Japanese bombs ricocheted off my body. Then out of nowhere a bomb landed on the gunners beside William and I. The blast was so close that I was knocked off of my feet. I felt a sharp pain deep within my ear and the heat from the flames was so intense that I had to look away to spare the burning of my face. I could faintly hear the screams of over the ringing in my ears. It was a gut wrenching sound that no man or woman should ever have to hear. A sound of true helplessness and despair. Then I realized that the sound was not coming from the gunners beside me but from my best friend William. He had taken a piece of shrapnel to the chest and was loosing blood fast. I acted quickly and started to drag him away from the front lines but his body was limp and his breathing was faint.
“Stay with me bud stay with me!” I screamed as William began to fade.
Another explosion knocked me off my feet so I crawled back next him. As I laid beside William he spoke his last words.
“Oliver will you promise me that you will take the girls to see that movie?”
“Yes buddy I will I promise” I said with tears running down my face.
Then I saw my best friend since third grade take his last breath. Memories began racing through my head about all the great times we had together. I became enraged at the Japs. I hurled myself back to my machine gun and began taking out my anger on the swarming zeros above me. They reminded me of when I threw a rock at a hornets nest and they began to swarm me. My heart was racing and my emotions were going up and down like the roller coaster back at the county fair. Somehow I managed to shoot down three planes but then another explosion went off and the lights went out.
* * *
“What happened” I groaned as I opened my eyes for what felt like the first time in years.
I heard a U.S. radio station being broadcasted in the background. It was something about a highway being completed all the way through Canada to Alaska. I was too dazed to fully comprehend it though.
“Be careful Sweetie don’t you try and stand up, now just lye down and relax” said a young woman about the same age as mine.
I looked down to see that shrapnel had torn into my left thigh and the ringing in my left ear was so excruciating that I could hardly hear what was around me.
“You are lucky they got you here in time, you almost bled out.”
“Where am I?” I asked.
“ You are in the medical ward on a ship headed back to Hawaii so we can send you back home along with all these other injured cronies.”
Then my thoughts began to return; William was dead. I felt so alone like I had lost it all. I began to recall all the great times we had together. This was the end of his life on earth but I knew I would see him in heaven one day.

Then the radio caught my attention.
“The United States pulls through once again with an outstanding victory at Midway Island.”
* * *
Breaking the news to to William’s family and was the hardest thing I had ever done. Shirley was devastated about his passing but knew she would see him again. Every year after on the anniversary of William’s death we would all come together and watch Bambi together in honor of the hero we all lost.

Works Cited
“Battle of Midway 75th,” navy.com, n.d. web. Jan 24, 2018.
Cowley Robert and Geoffrey Parker, “Battle of Midway,”, history.com, n.d. web. Jan. 23, 2018.
“Battle of Midway,” historylearningsite.co.uk, n.d. web. Jan 22, 2018.
Editors of encyclopedia Britannica, “Battle of Midway WWII,” britannica.com, Feb. 21, 2017. web. Jan. 29, 2018.
Symonds, Craig L. The Battle of Midway. Oxford University Press, Inc., 2011, Print
“What Happened in 1942,” ThePeopleHistory.com, n.d. web. Jan. 24, 2018.