As I sat by the rail of the ship, I watched the four foot waves crash against the side. My helmet lay in my lap, full of my breakfast. I now found the waves oddly calming. My stomach churned, but I knew nothing would come back up. Afraid of getting sea sick, I did not want to board the ship heading across the English Channel.
Last night we were briefed on our mission: Conquer Normandy. For at least a year now, we had been training for this day. The soldiers on my ship were headed for Omaha Beach, and we were a part of the first wave. We were told two out of three men would die today. That is what scared me. Dying. Not the machine guns and the grenades the Germans had. It was dying. I might not see my buddies again or my wife and young daughter.
Tears in my eyes, I dumped my breakfast overboard and cleaned out my helmet the best I could. I strapped it on my head and watched the waves bombard the side. My nerves slowly disappeared with each wave. I could faintly make out the ships in the distance. A few of my buddies were on those ships, destined to die along with me and many others.
The thought of it made me want to cry but I could not. Not in front of the generals and commanders. I watched and listened to the waves, seeking comfort.
"Up and at 'em, boys," a general said, walking in between the rows of men. Just ahead of me, a few soldiers were given a sharp rap on their helmets to wake them.
"Everyone onto the loading crafts!" another general shouted over the rough wind. Sighing, I stood up and stiffly walked over to the rope ladder, my legs sore from sitting still for over a day. Everyone's face was calm, but they were nervous. Quite a few were pale from puking; a lot of them cursing the rough sea and bad weather.
One of the first soldiers in, I was told to head to the back of the craft. Soon, everyone was packed in. The rope ladders were pulled up from the side, and we detached from the ship. Again, I felt as if I was going to puke. I listened for the waves, who calmed my nerves instantly. Soldiers could be seen throwing up into their helmets.
I looked up to see gray clouds ahead. There was a few seagulls flying in the windy weather, but most of them stayed away, as if they knew what was going to happen.
Unable to see over the sides of the craft, I tried to picture Omaha Beach. The beach we trained at was supposed to resemble the beaches on the northern coast of France. Though in my head, the cliffs seemed twice as high and the beach miles wide. A string of German machine guns were lined up on the edge of the cliff and each of them were ready to kill.
I shook my head to rid my brain of these images. Again I listened for the waves, searching for some peace in this awful war. The guy next to me tore off his helmet and proceeded to retch in it. Grimacing, I turned away to watch the cold, metal wall. It was a struggle to keep anything down, especially in this rotten weather and circumstances.
"May be I should just jump out of this hunk of junk," the man beside me said, strapping his helmet back on.
"Why is that?" a young soldier asked curiously.
"Gonna die anyway," he muttered in reply.
Not long after the man spoke, the front of the craft began to open. I was able to hear the gears turn between each crash of a wave. In the distance I could spot the cliff, which did appear to be taller than the one in Scotland.
The gate made a giant splash as it came into contact with the water. Soldiers shouted, "Go! Go! Go!" from the back of the craft just behind me. Almost too quickly, it was my turn to jump into the shallow water. For one second, I paused as if to turn back, but was forced in as the last row of soldiers rushed out of the boat.
Chilly water seeped into the material of my uniform, clinging to my skin. The equipment on my body weighed me down so much, the water seemed like jello. Still I trudged on and kept my eyes on the beach ahead of me.
Not even ten seconds after I entered the water, the sound of guns water, the sound of guns shooting ripped through the air. The soldiers before me sunk into the water just a few feet from the beach. Determined to reach the sandy beach before I died, my legs moved faster and I soon stood on the beach.
But I could not rejoice for I had to keep moving. My feet sunk into the wet sand, making it difficult to move. I forced my not to watch my fellow soldiers fall to the ground and kept my gaze on the rocky cliff ahead of me. Another round of bullets flew through the air, with me as their intended target. They struck their target, me, across the chest.
I stumbled but the adrenaline pumping through my veins kept me moving. A third round of bullets soared through the air and finished me off, a couple hitting me in the face. My uniform permanently dyed blood red, face first I fell into the sand.