Fatal Wound

January 20, 2009
By Ethan Meyer, Macon, IL

Fatal Wound

It was early in the morning, dark and cold. I leaned up against the cold metal wall of the transport boat. I looked around at the rest of the squad; every one was quiet and appeared to be in serious thought. The Lieutenant turned toward us, “Alright men, we’ve got thirty seconds till landing!” I looked over at my buddy, Anderson. He was about three inches taller than me and stronger too. He grew up on the farm, your typical country boy, rough and tough, just like the BAR rifle he held. He glanced over nodding his head. His symbol for, “we got this.” I stood up and fixed my helmet.

My hands were shaking and my stomach was turning; I was scared. The Lieutenant looked back again and yelled, “Alright boys were in business!” A whistle pierced the morning air and the door in the front opened. The men in front scrambled out into the frigid water and moved up the beach. I was waiting to hear the response that most beach landing attackers get from the occupiers. But there was no gunfire; all was silent, except for the sounds of our own men. The men in front of me moved out, but I stood still. Anderson noticed and pulled on my gear which forced me to move. The frigid water was up to my ankles and started filling my boots. The cold water shot a chill up my body, and all warmth I had was gone.

I ran to where the rest of the squad had gathered, and the lieutenant was giving out orders. “Okay, the beach seems to be rather quiet, so that means we either own it or the Gerry’s are waiting to give us a surprise.” Surprise, what is that supposed to mean they were just watching us? I gripped my rifle tighter than before and scanned the surroundings. “Alright,” the Lieutenant started up again. “I need two volunteers to go with Sarge and scout out up ahead.” I looked around; no one was raising their hand. The Lieutenant looked in my direction and I heard a voice come from behind me. “Heck, I’ll go.” It was Sunderland, the best marksmen out of us all. The Lieutenant looked around, “Alright, I still need one more.” I saw a hand go up, but nothing was said. It was Johnson. Johnson was a very quiet person and kept to himself most of the time, except for in combat. He was fairly tall and very strong, he was a pretty nice person once you got to know him, but he always had the facial expression that seemed to be mad at the world. “Alright, you two go with the Sarge, he knows what he’s doing, now get to it.” The Three left over the small embankment that our Squad was crouched behind. “The rest of you spread out along the embankment and keep your senses clear.” Anderson and I moved along the embankment and found a spot crouching down.

I began to calm down; my hands were all sweaty, I set my rifle across my legs and wiped my hands on my jacket. Anderson broke the Silence. “I wonder where the heck we are.” I thought a second, “You mean on this beach?” I asked. “No, I mean what country are we in?” “Oh…I don’t know, what’s your guess?” I asked. “I haven’t the slightest idea that’s why I asked.” Anderson replied sounding annoyed. I thought again. “I don’t know, but why does it have to be cold, I mean they-” Gunfire in the distance made me stop talking. Anderson picked up his BAR rifle and held it waiting for an order to move out. I wasn’t so anxious to go anywhere; I was safe where I was at.

The soldier next to me tapped my helmet. “Hey, the scouts saw something, we’re moving out, pass the word along.” Anderson heard and told the next man down the line. Anderson got up quick and held his hand out to help me up; I grabbed my rifle and got up following the squad. The Sarge came by telling us the plan. There was a German machine gun nest up ahead; the Sarge and the Lieutenant were splitting the squad in to two groups. Anderson and I were in the Sergeant’s squad and our half was to flank on the right while they flank on the left. I started moving in my position with the squad; the shakes came back and my stomach was turning once again.

The sun hadn’t yet come up, so it was still a little dark; we were using this to our advantage. I looked around the grass was about knee high, and there were a few trees. The wind made the grass look like the waves of water; it was such a peaceful place. It reminded me of back home when I used to go out in the woods and just walk around; it was pretty much the same except for this time there was someone waiting to kill me at any time.

We were getting closer to the Krauts’ Machine gun nest, so we got down and moved slower so that we wouldn’t attract attention. The Kraut death trap came into view and my heart was pounding. The Sarge looked over and whispered loudly, “Anderson, Meyer, Johnson, you three move up on the right flank and get some grenades to give to the Gerry’s.” I followed Anderson and Johnson; we moved in slowly to get into a position behind a group of bushes. Something went wrong somewhere, the Kraut Nest Sprang to life, gunfire filled the quiet morning air. Johnson cursed and fired his Thompson Sub-machine gun at the nest. I jumped up and ran for cover behind the group of bushes. I made it just in time; the ground right behind me was torn up by the machine gun fire. I got a grenade out and pulled the pin, I counted and stood long enough to throw the grenade, then I crouched back down quickly and heard the explosive do its job.
Everyone was firing now. Anderson and Johnson made it to where I was and Johnson cursed at me grinning. “That was a close call for ya!” He reloaded his sub-machine gun. “Alright! Grenades, let’s go!” Johnson yelled. I reached for another grenade, but I stopped after seeing something out of the corner of my eye. It was a group of Krauts moving to flank us. “Krauts to the right!” I yelled to the two. Johnson dropped the grenade without pulling the pin and went for his gun. Anderson aimed his automatic rifle and fired. I aimed my rifle and fired twice. They ran for cover but Anderson stopped them from getting there. “You two worry ‘bout the nest- I got this covered!”, Anderson said quickly. “Right!” I replied. I got another grenade from my gear and pulled the pin. Johnson picked up the one he dropped and did the same. He motioned with his fingers three…two…one. We both bolted up and threw them toward the German bunker. We got down and we heard them go off, the other half of the squad was moving in closer.

Sarge yelled at us, “Give the Lieutenants squad covering fire!” Johnson and I stood and fired along with the rest of our squad. The Lieutenant and his men were moving up, the machine-gunner took his eyes off us and fired on the Lieutenant and his men. The Lieutenant went down with a twist. Blood splattered and two men by him went down, while the others got to cover. The rest of the Lieutenants squad moved to the back of the German death trap and threw a couple of grenades in. The nest went silent. The Sarge yelled for us to move up and take a position by the nest, while he went to see who was alive or dead.

Anderson, Johnson, and I went to a small group of trees that were about twenty yards behind the nest. I crouched down in a daze. “Not bad for first time in combat Meyer.” Johnson said patting me on the shoulder as he crouched down. Anderson joined us reloading his BAR. Another soldier came over to us and filled us in. “Lieutenant’s hurt pretty bad, they’re taking him back to the beach; they say there are some medics back here.” “What about the other two?” I asked. “Dead.” he answered, then continuing on, “Sarge says we’re going to stay here till we get our next objective, so you got a little bit of time to rest, just keep your eyes open for anything.” “Will do,” said Anderson. I leaned my head against the tree and shut my eyes, and took a deep breath. Anderson hit me in the stomach. “Hey! Didn’t you hear the man? Keep your eyes open!” he said messing around with a big grin on his face. I smiled and hit him on the shoulder lightly. I looked around. Everything was peaceful once again. The Sun was up but the overcast skies blocked its rays. It was still cool and the wind was cold. I put my hands in my pockets and set my head against the tree and shut my eyes dozing off.

I woke quickly to an arm in the stomach, that arm would be Anderson’s. “Hey! You awake yet?” Anderson asked. He hit me again. “Okay, okay enough I’m awake.” I said quickly. I looked around; it was lighter out, slightly warmer, and actually kind of nice. The breeze still had its coolness, but I didn’t mind much anymore. I noticed the Sarge was talking to someone I hadn’t seen before and it looked like he was gathering the unit.

Anderson helped me up and we walked over to where the Sarge was. “Is everyone over here?” Sarge asked. “Yes sir”, answered one of the men that was gathering us up. “Alright good. Men, we got our new objective, there’s a farm house up ahead that the Gerry’s have occupied and turned into a radio station and it also serves as a very good observation post. They got it heavily guarded, they have Mg-42’s in a lot of the windows and they are said to have a few good marksmen.” Sunderland suddenly showed more interest. “So how good are these Marksmen?” Sunderland asked with eyebrows raised. “They’re good enough to be called good.” Sarge said smiling. Sunderland smiled and started to wipe off his gun. “Anyway, the main objective is to take the farm house and disable any communication equipment. There’s a road that we can follow till we get close, then we’ll get into the how we’re going to take the farm house from there.” He told us to get into groups of four and keep our distance. It was Anderson, Johnson, Sunderland, and me.

The road wasn’t far from where we were; we got into the formations and walked on. The clouds were still hanging around, blocking the sun from us. There were less trees now, more short rolling hills and occasional brush, about like what the pasture looked like back home. Back home. Where life was easy and there wasn’t much to worry about. Anderson interrupted my thoughts. “Anyone hear that?” He said, as if he were trying to hear something faint. “What?” Johnson asked looking around squinting. There was a boom in the distance. “That!” Anderson said sharply looking toward the end of the road. “It’s just artillery fire.” Sunderland said casually, “Don’t worry, it’s too far away to worry about.” The booms seemed to get louder as we got closer to where we were going, you could actually see the smoke in the distance. But Sunderland was right; it was far enough away that it really wouldn’t matter too much for us.

We were getting closer to our objective and Sunderland was wiping off his rifle once again. Johnson kept checking his clips and ammunition. I looked over at Anderson; he was looking off in the distance like he was trying to make out something. We were finally to where we were supposed to be and we began to go over the plans. The Sarge got us split up and we were to sneak in along a creek bed that lead its way right past the farm.

Our group of four was in the front with Johnson leading. We got down in the creek bed and made our way over the final hill where the farm was. We stayed along the banks and tried to stay low, the muddy creek bed made for difficult goings, we were getting close and my heart beat began to pick up. Johnson held up a hand and we stopped and got as low as possible. A German Patrol was going over a bridge that we were supposed to go under. While we were stopped, I looked through the tall grass that was on the bank and saw the farm. The white house stood tall against the sky, there was also a silo that was partly destroyed on the top, most likely by artillery. I looked at the windows of the house; they were black, nothing was there for all I could see. The Kraut patrol had gone and Johnson started again. We got under the bridge and Sarge had a few of the men stay there while we moved on. Johnson started going once again, the fact of being so close and not being seen was quite an experience.

The mud was getting worse as we went along and made things move slower, and to add to the fun of being wet and muddy, I could hear the high pitched whine of mosquitoes. I heard a splash. I looked behind myself to see one of our men had slipped and lost his balance. Someone yelled in the distance, the German patrol started toward the Creek. I looked over to see four Germans walking right at us. One of them stopped and raised his rifle and a shot rang out. The German fell to the ground and held his neck squirming. The other three started firing on us, one with a sub-machinegun the other two with bolt action rifles. They started to run back but didn’t get too far as the men behind us fired on them. Anderson pulled my gear and told me to get going. We were moving as quickly as possible, the gun fire behind us died out. Johnson, Anderson, Sunderland, and I were almost in the clear. I looked over at the house and saw the glare on the windows move, the windows opened, and four of them were then occupied by Mg-42 machine guns. The four guns tore the bank behind us to pieces. Johnson got on the bank and sprinted to a small shed, and then Sunderland followed. Anderson and I moved a little closer, then we joined the other two. Our little sprint attracted the machine guns. Bullets whizzed over head and dirt was displaced and scattered. Anderson fell and slid behind the barn, as I barely made it behind the small cover. I looked over at Anderson and he lay still; the only thing that moved was the blood that dripped from the wounds in his back- I fell to my knees. Johnson immediately picked me up. “No time! Come on we need you! Grab his gun!” he added. I got up and picked up my fallen friend’s gun, I put my rifle on my back and held his. Sunderland was already working on getting a second gunner. “Two down!” Sunderland yelled.

I looked toward the creek and there were two more of our soldiers headed toward the shed. The first got out and started running and the second followed, suddenly a bullet hit the first through the chest and he began to fall and the second tripped on him. I got into a position and started firing on the house. I looked over to see the second guy had got up and made it to where we were. The first man who was shot tried to get up but, when he got to his knees a bullet hit him in the head. I turned my head in disgust, I looked back to see him just sit there on his knees for a second then fall face forward onto the ground.

Sunderland was aiming on the third but couldn’t get a good shot. “I need a runner so the gunner will turn toward us!” Sunderland yelled. The soldier who had joined us volunteered. “I’m pretty quick, just as long as you get him.” The soldier said worried. “Don’t worry about that, you just run when I say go!” Sunderland ordered. “Got it!” The brave soul managed to say. The soldier set his rifle down and took off his gear. “Alright now!” Sunderland ordered. The runner started to go. It was working; the gunner took his eyes off the Sarge at the creek and focused on the runner. Everything was going good till I heard a shot like the one that killed the soldier coming from the creek. Sunderland suddenly fell back screaming, and holding his chest. The Runner was yelling “SHOOT ALREADY SHO-” He was cut off by the machine guns many bullets. I turned back to Sunderland and he was coughing and choking. Johnson bent down to help him but when he got down to him Sunderland finally laid still. Johnson looked at me and cursed loudly with anger in his eyes. Our marksman was dead, out done by a Kraut Sniper. I looked over toward the Sarge and saw his squad was making progress, they had moved closer to where we needed to be. Johnson got up and looked at me. “Okay on three we are running to the house, we gotta take the attention off the Sarge.” He said with a fire of vengeance in his eyes. I nodded. I took my rifle off my back, setting it against the shed wall, and held Andersons BAR. Johnson held up three fingers. My heart raced and my adrenaline was rushing. Three… Two… One… Johnson ran and I followed, we ran about five yards from each other. One of two last gunners noticed us and started firing. The bullets hitting nearby made me run faster, Johnson was just ahead of me, we were half way there and the machinegun fire that was being sent to us stopped. Sarge’s group must have got him.

Johnson made it and I stopped right behind him and fell to my knees, trying to catch my breath. “Come on.” Johnson said exasperated. I got up slowly and followed him. He went to the door on the side of the house, he tried it and it was locked. He used the only key he had, which happened to be his sub-machine gun. He fired his
Sub-machinegun on the door handle, then kicked the door in and entered the room; the sound of gun fire was going on just as before. We were in the kitchen, the shelves were barren for the most part and then I noticed some bottles on a small table, and I looked at the labels. It was champagne; I’d have to come back for that later.

The Germans were yelling to each other, Johnson walked quickly to the hallway and I followed. We found the stairs and went up them quickly. Johnson looked around the corner and was met by gunfire. Johnson cursed. “They’ve got themselves pretty dug in.” He said. He pulled out a grenade and handed it to me. I pulled the pin and he put his sub-machinegun around the corner firing while I threw the explosive around the corner. There was more yelling in German then the grenade went off. Johnson then sprang around the corner lighting up the table that the Kraut was behind. I followed him; we could hear the last machinegun firing. Johnson opened the door slightly then kicked it in and fired in the room. He fired maybe four shots then the gun just clicked. Fire was returned and Johnson fell back. I turned the corner gun blazing on fast auto. The Gerry who had shot Johnson flew back and hit the wall falling immediately to the floor. The Kraut on the machinegun looked back and stood up and received bullets to his torso from our guys outside. I finished him off with the powerful automatic rifle. I looked back at Johnson and he just sat there, back against the wall staring past me. I looked behind myself and the German that killed him was slumped along the wall. Pools of blood started to cover the floor. There was still fire outside. I reloaded and went into the hall and was met by a German with a scoped rifle, he fired as soon as he saw me. I felt a burning pain go through my left shoulder. I twisted against the wall, and then I swung the BAR with all my strength and fired. The Kraut fell back dropping his rifle, I hit his legs. He screamed and went for his pistol. I raised the heavy rifle once more and fired. This time the Kraut jerked back and lay still. I tried to move my left arm. Nothing. The pain was intense and the wound was bleeding pretty badly. I walked over to the Kraut sniper and dropped the automatic rifle.

I got the pistol out of the Krauts holster, and stood up. It was already cocked and the safety was off, it was quite a transition from the BAR in weight and power. I went to the last room and turned the door handle and kicked it open aiming my new possession. Nothing. I turned back and walked to where I left Anderson’s BAR. I put my pistol in my belt and shouldered the heavy Rifle. I heard the Sarge and the rest of the squad down stairs. “Up here!” I yelled. I held my shoulder the blood was warm against my hands.
I thought about my four comrades. Dead. Just lying out there. I was disenchanted, condemned forever with the fatal wound of seeing four people I knew die in a horrible way. I looked at the Kraut Sniper who failed to kill me, the blood was still adding to a pool next to his body. So much blood. So much pain. And over what? A farm house on a hill.

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