Under My Fathers Watchful Eyes.

A story of a marine whose only focus is to stay alive through the war in the pacific.

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1. Into the fray.

Under My Father’s Watchful Eyes

By Edward Laurel

(All names in this work are purely fictional, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.  Usage of language chosen by the author is portraying the thoughts and feelings of an American Marine in WW2.)

As our Amtrack clanks out of the ship, the light is blinding.   Salty water sprays our HBTs and 782s, thin coverings protecting the M1 I hold tight to my chest.   Two Corsairs dazzle the airways above, streaking toward the small island of Pelileu to deliver a payload of napalm onto those damn japs.  HQ says this should be an easy mission, just like they said about the channel.  A shell hits the water and dowses us with cold water.  I’m shivering, although the temperature must be around ninety.

“Two minutes!” the sarge is shouting.

I look back to him, some men are vomiting, and some are crying, others are holding Rosary Beads, and stars of David.   Another shell hits the water. The Amtrack in front of ours is hit.  I can hear the screams of those that survived, only to burn to death in the fiery wreckage.   The fifty and thirty cal gunners begin the long song of bullets.  I stick my head up and see the tracers ripping into the brush, or what’s left of it, that is.  I see first wave, already pinned down, unable to move inland.   A voice inside me head tells me to get my head back down.

“Get ready!” Sarge’s booming voice calls over the fray.

I rip the cover off my rifle, pull the bolt back -- clear, I let it forward.  The water gives way to coral, and then the order comes for us get our asses over the side.  I grip the slimy steel with one hand, and then sling my leg up and over the side. I let myself fall into the cool waters.  I begin making my way up the beach, at first prone, then at a low run.  I pass a man whose guts had been ripped out, and another sitting over what was probably once his friend. I grab his pack straps and his head rolls back to reveal a horrible twisted mess:  blood, eye jelly, and brain all seeping out of this hole in his face.  This grisly sight makes me stumble back, not so much in terror, but in the sheer awe of seeing someone’s face inside out.  Another marine tries to get me up, but is hit repeatedly in the chest.  The voice inside me starts to manifest outside me, I began mumbling “oh shit, oh shit!”

Then it grows to a shout:  “Oh SHIT!”

Suddenly , I’m thrown onto my face.  I struggle to get my helmet off, and regain my ability to breath.  The world is a blur, a loud ringing pierces my eardrums.  I get my helmet back on, and start to find my way up to the grove.  I had my rifle, and a sulfa pill.  I took the sulfa pill and had some water.

The men still stream off the Amtraks, one by one being ripped apart.  The sight is enough to make even the strongest man vomit.  I see a man whose left, and right, arms have been desecrated.  His arms are now little more than stubs that stream blood as he stumbles forward. Another is just sitting hunched over with his Rosary Beads, praying.   One minute he’s there, another all over the place. Shells were ripping us up as bad as the Nipps bullets.  As far as I know I’m not dead.  Not yet.

When my vision starts to clear, I look around; I’ve made it off the beach.  I look out to see men being slaughtered, bodies floating in red-stained water, the white sand turned dark red.  I follow the men who have also made it off, over the felled palms, and into a ditch.   I hear Sarge’s voice.  Then he appears above us, yelling  “Get out of that god-damn hole!  Move!”

At first I don’t follow, but then he kneels down, stretches out a hand, and says in a calm voice “Get the hell out of that hole, or I’ll shoot you myself”.  I take hold of his hand, and get my feet onto the crumbing sand.   I’m now out in the danger; the japs are all around us.  Men are cut down by invisible enemies, shells pound against my eardrums the constant scream of the dying, the seemingly endless stream of fire bouncing and striking all around us.  This must be hell.

 

We meet up with K Company.  Together we begin our push to the airfield, about a mile away.   A shot rings out from above us, and hits the palm trunk behind me.  “They’re in the trees!” someone shouts.

A flamethrower unit starts hitting tree tops with burning napalm. Screams and cursing in Japanese can be heard as the bodies hit the ground. Then out of the brush:  “Hirohito, bonsai!”

They’re everywhere!  I’m hip-firing my M1:  no use in aiming.  Some have swords, some have rifles, but the long bayonets are the worst.  If they get it into you, they shoot you.  I get knocked to the ground and one jumps on me; I wrestle with him, his face covered in sweat and dirt, saying words like “pig,” and “dog.”  No doubt trying to insult me.  I’m about to be strangled by a crazed Jap; not how I thought it would end.  But at the last second the firefight dies down.  At the same time, the nip goes limp.  I throw him off me and look to my left to see a shaken look on Robert’s face, The end of his rifle shaking.

“Thanks.” I muttered, and get to my feet; I adjust my pack and pick up my rifle.

“No problem.”

“If you two are done gossiping over there, we have an airfield to take.” Sarge is as cold as ever.

Finally, accompanied by two Shermans, we get to our objective.   The airfield had been shelled for three days now, and the Jap 1-5-5s didn’t help either.  We make our temporary home in the craters and holes left by this heavy shelling.  I settle down with Duce, and Private Evans.   Not much else happens other than a few Navy planes flying overhead.  That night Duce has a treat for us: canned peaches.  What heavenly delight it is.  If only we had water to enjoy it with.

Suddenly,  Japs are charging at us from across the airfield, after a minute of panicked scrambling, we open up on them.  The thirties, 60mm mortars and the BARs go crazy, tracers everywhere.  We fire into the dark, only seeing when a flare or mortar goes off.  But when we see their faces, contorted in rage, we fire everything we have.  When the fire lets up, I look over the edge, and see nothing but endless darkness.

My turn to keep watch.  I look at my wristwatch:  03:00 hours. The wounded on the field are moaning and crying.  Every once in a while shot will go off, and then no more moans and cries; someone is making sport out of it.  I settle down against the cold. Everyone is asleep except for those on guard. It’s going to be a long day tomorrow.

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