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Gun fire. Gun fire, the sound of frag grenades, and men crying out in agony. That was all that could be heard. I looked to my left. Rick, my best friend since I joined the military, was huddled down in the sand next to me.
“What do you want us to do Sargent Westphal?” cried Rick over the sound of machine gun fire.
Sticking my head slightly over a sand dune I turned back to Rick.
“Alright boys! Listen up!” I shouted to my platoon, who were all hunkered down in the same position as Rick and I.
“We have to keep them damned Germans from taking this beach! We have got to do this! Now you three follow me and the rest of ya go to the right, up that hill, and try to take out that machine gunner in that bunker! Now move!”
Getting up and moving as fast as my feet could carry me I darted across the beach hoping to reach the other side. All around me my comrades were being mowed down. I couldn't even tell where all the bullets were coming from. Getting across the beach I finally reached the bottom of a low lying hill. Looking around I saw the men I had sent earlier making their way slowly to the bunker where the machine gunner was. I then turned to make sure my part of the platoon was with me. Three. Three people including myself. Someone was missing.
“Where’s Rick?” I murmured.
My eyes went darting to the beach. Looking at all the forms lying sprawled on the beach it was hard to tell if any of them were Rick. Looking at all those dark masses and almost feeling sick.`` I knew they were bodies…the bodies of my comrades. Suddenly, I spotted him. Rick was lying on the ground about 20 feet away from where I was standing. Blood was gushing from a wound in his neck. Running over, I placed my fingers across his neck trying to staunch the flow of blood.
Propping Rick up on my knees I cradled him. His eyes were glazed over. I could see the life leaving his body. I was holding his hand so tightly. Why was his hand becoming so cold? Why wasn't he responding when I called his name?
Rick’s hand went limp and fell from mine. As his hand hit the sand I realized there was nothing I could do. I had men I needed to lead. I had to make sure they got home to their families. I got up and started running back to my other platoon members.
A grenade had just gone off right next to me. I felt a sharp pain in my face and my leg. My leg felt like it was on fire. Bringing my hand to my face I felt a sharp object embedded in my skin. Pulling it out and looking at the bloodied piece of metal I realized that shrapnel had hit my face. I then looked down at my leg. I could see bone sticking out of the flesh in my thigh. Is that really my bone? I asked myself. Then I passed out.
I woke up suddenly to find myself in my bed, in my house. My body was covered in sweat but I noticed something. My skin was the skin of an older man. Not a young 18 year old who never finished high school and was drafted into a war. “Huh, another nightmare,” I whispered to myself. Getting up out of my bed I walked over to the fridge. I did not want to think about how over half of my platoon was lost that day or the haunted faces of all the people I let die and all the people I killed. Opening the fridge door I looked inside and grabbed a can of beer. Popping the tab on the can open I took a long drink and sat down in my recliner where I proceeded to drift off into a slumber that wasn't haunted with nightmares.