from Hunter Leath
The year was 1944, and the war raged all around us. I had been pressured to join the army by the societal norm that was patriotism, despite my lack of it. My Father insisted that I join, as he did and his Father before him. I cared little for family traditions but either way here I was. My mother seemed comfortable enough with it. My Mother and I were much closer than my Father and me, but as she put it, I seemed to be going through a phase and some discipline would be good for me. Despite my family's pressures, I did not go for them. It was almost as if I had a pattern of self destructive behavior. So I decided to hell with it, and now here I am. I was a part of D Company, who was dropped in Northern France during the attack on Normandy. We were called easy company by many of the other branches, mainly because we seemed to be the, as the General's put it, "They don't give a fuck company." This truly seemed to fit me well given that my very attitude was shared by the entire company. In an easy way to put it, we were the company that did all the shit nobody else wanted to do. So naturally our "we don't care" attitude reflected on the types of jobs we were given. Now I have to think of where to begin my stories of what happened during the war. I wanted to tell you of the time that the rebels in Gaul almost blew up our entire platoon, but maybe I will start from the beginning. I'll tell you of the night I was dropped in Northern France. Now despite the fact that I am a very laid back kind of person who hardly cares about anything these days, I have found that I am exceptionally effective at killing. This surprised me, but hey that's life right. Always learning new things.
Naturally the night was dark as we flew over the mainland of France. The attack was going to begin the next morning, so naturally command thought it would be a good idea to send us in. It's not like they cared whether we lived or died, but hey neither did we so the fit was a match made in heaven. As we flew over the grasslands, the Germans began to fire aimlessly into the air. This would usually be a point of concern but hey I figured their gunmen would probably be too tired to hit us. Others in my squad rebutted with the fact that they might get lucky. I couldn't really respond to that one, it stumped me. As the gunfire became more and more intense, the pilot figured now was as good of time as any to drop us. I had to agree, I wasn't at all crazy about flying. I looked around the interior of the plane as the back gate began to lower. These boys around me were the only family I had, or even cared about anymore. Yeah sure I have my actual family, but they have never really been too much of a family to me.
"Alright boys, let's get this show on the road. We've been over the game plan so don't fuck this up." said our commanding officer. His name was Thomas Coldwell, which to me resembled a slimy business man. I respected him well enough I suppose. As much as I could actually respect any one. We all started to prepare for the drop. I never was too comfortable with this part of the job. Like I said before, I wasn't a fan of flying. I feel as if it isn't as much a problem with flying but more the height. It all comes down to a control thing. I enjoy being in control of things, which explains why I was always getting in trouble in school I suppose.
The light on the inside of the plane flashed from red to green. This was our cue. Show time. I always found small things like that amusing. Comparing what we were about to do as a show almost made me begin to start laughing out loud, but I held it in to keep from appearing insane. "Go, go, go" yelled Captain Coldwell. Following the line of troops, I jumped from the plane and began to freefall. My stomach jumped as the G force began to have its way with me. This feeling, although it induced fear, also seemed to make me laugh at the strangeness of the entire situation. The idea of plummeting to earth like one of God's fallen angels. Hmm maybe we should be called that.
As we fell from the heights of the earth, I was able to look over the dark country side. The guns continued to fire at our planes, praying to bring them down. One sight way above me, or whatever ahead of me, I could see the troops scrambling around. They reminded me of ants, which amused me. I'll see you boys soon, I thought to myself. As I neared the surface, I held my strap tight and allowed my shoot to shoot out. It tugged at me as the resistance of the shoot pulled me to a slow and steady pace. I looked around to see a multitude of other parachutes being opened and sailing to the ground below. I looked to the ground and began to try and find a good place to land. The ground was scattered with grasslands and fields, so I figured that would be as good of a place as any to land. I made my way towards it.
Now this is not something I am not too entirely proud of. Despite this, it wasn't exactly my fault yet I still feel somewhat foolish for this. As I neared the ground, expecting to hit the ground running, instead of grass I fell through the ground and into water. I know right, who would have thought. I later found out that the Germans suspected us to air drop in and flooded most of the fields. Those bastards right? Either way, back to me drowning. I landed into the water, taking a couple seconds to fully realize what had happened and where I even was. My parachute landed on the surface above me and covered my escape, so I had to move quickly. I know what you are thinking, for someone who doesn't care about anything, why this? And no it has nothing to do with self preservation, I simply thought of the idea of dying in some flooded field in France and figured that was a shitty way to go out.
I pulled my knife out of my boot and began to cut my way out of my straps. All the while my parachute was slowly surrounding me which was not good. It took me a few seconds, but I freed myself of my straps and swam down and out, then back up. I reached the surface and let out a gasp of air. I never thought that I could hold my breath for that long, but I was a little proud of myself to be honest. Like I said earlier, I make myself laugh. You know those small thoughts of encouragement you have like 'I'm a badass' just seemed to make me laugh. This was one of those times. I swear I'm insane and luckily no one saw me there or they would have been confused as to why a man who almost drowned was smiling and laughing. As I waded in the water, I couldn't really see all too well, so I started to swim in a random direction. I figured I would eventually find land.
It took me some time but I finally did reach the shore. After I got out of the water, I was mad. I finally realized that now I was soaking wet because of the Germans. It was strange because it was almost the kind of mad that you would expect if a buddy of yours just pulled a prank on you and dumped you with water. You know like mad but hey it was a good one. This made me laugh even more because I just compared the Germans to say like a college roommate or something.
After trying to dry off my weapon and making sure it was working effectively, I started to make my way around the 'lake'. They gave me an M1 Grand and an M1911 Colt .45. I wanted the Thompson but for some reason those are not simply just handed out. Whatever right? I continued to make my way through the brush, surrounded by water on both sides. The game plan that Coldwell was talking about earlier was that we were all going to meet in some small town that for the life of me I cannot remember what it was called. I knew that it was going to be south of where we were, so I figured I would head that way. Don't worry I had a compass and a flashlight so I knew which way to go.
Forgive me that this part of the story is a tad boring, but hey it's what happened. I always think it is funny that whenever anyone asks me what France was like, I just think of this night and say it was dark and wet. Their reaction is priceless. So skipping forward sometime, I met up with a couple other guys from easy company. I almost killed them to be honest, luckily that did not happen. But yeah I met up with Daniel Tucker from Tennessee and Garret Rose from Detroit. He insists he is from Detroit not Michigan so yeah. As usual for me, I found it funny that the two most backwards people that I could have met up with, one a backwoods mountain man who looked more like a scrawny library jockey, and a black man from Detroit who took shit from no man were now along with me. I guess I have some leadership qualities, because I bull shit so much that I seem to know what I am doing and people follow me, because that is what happened here.
We finally made it to that small town whose name still eludes me. I swear it is going to drive me insane. Naturally the Germans had occupied it. How I knew this, I have binoculars of course. All of you really need to stop trying to find loopholes. If there are any I promise I will try and address them. So I figured that we would try and follow through with what we were sent here to do. Apparently there was some weapons cache that was here along with one armor division that we were supposed to take out. For starters, I had no idea where Coldwell and the others were, but I knew we had an objective. So to hell with it. We decided we were going to go in and try and blow up the tanks with some explosives. We figured that the weapons cache would have some, so that was our plan. Not very well thought out, but yeah thought out enough to satisfy me. Besides, I was confident Coldwell would be along shortly.
So we made our way towards the town, it really was small. What something like four blocks total. Well we just so happened to be on the side that the tanks weren't, lucky right? We snuck up, using the cover of darkness to keep us hidden from the German sentries posted in some of the houses. We figured that we would take our time and slowly move through house to house until we found the cache to destroy the tanks. The first house, which reminded me a lot of my flat back in downtown New York, only had a couple guys in it. I am going to warn you, I may get a bit graphic but this is simply what happened. There was one downstairs and another upstairs. Rose walked up behind one while he was in the kitchen and stuck his knife into his spine while holding his hand over the German's mouth. Poor bastard, but hey he got me wet.
I snuck up the stairs, remaining as quiet as I could be. Light from one of the rooms leaked out, also revealing to me where the other was. I slowly opened the door, hoping to God that it would not crack or anything. To my luck, it did. At this point the door was already open for the most part, to be honest it might have actually been the floor that creaked. Either way, I saw him begin to turn. Pulling out my knife, I rushed him. He saw me all too late. I pushed him into the wall, plunging my knife into his gut and placing my hand over his mouth, to keep him from screaming. As terrible as I am, it always freaked me out to have to watch the lights slowly fade from their eyes. I know I act like I don't care about anything really, but I always feel slightly bad after I kill someone. Not too bad but just enough to make me remorseful. But hey it was my job right.
Rose, Tucker, and I followed a similar pattern through a few more houses. Not all of them were filled with troops, but we killed our fair share. I was quite proud of how quiet we were actually being. We almost were spotted one time, luckily he seemed to have been hitting the bottle lately so our presence eluded him. The damn drunk. Either way, we finally found the weapons cache, not yet but we could see the building in the center of town, because it was the most lit and had the most guys walking around it. I truly was stumped at this point. I really didn't know how to handle this situation as there were so many guys. Now that takes a lot of humility for me to say that I didn't know what to do, just remember that. There was no way we could sneak through this time. Rose had an idea, that I wasn't too fond of, but he was confident that he could do it.
His plan was that, with the guns we had 'found', we would cover Rose into the house where he would find the explosives and plant them on the tanks that were sitting right outside of the house. There were three of them. They were super ominous and stuff. I didn't like this idea, but he insisted so hell. Tucker set up one of the German's heavy MGs, which by the way will make you go deaf if you stand right next to it. I stuck with my rifle, but I did have an MP40 just in case. I swear you should have seen how ridiculous Rose looked walking across that street right into the German infested house.
He ran up to one guy and rang his neck. Tucker, for the life of me I know not why, thought that meant it was time to go loud. So he did. In an instant he was filling the house with shrapnel. There was no need for an alarm, his gun was loud enough for that. I tried to yell at him and call him a stupid ass for waking up all of Northern France but of course he couldn't hear me. So I started to pick targets that filed out of the house. Meanwhile, Rose made his way around the back and in. Rose told me later that he killed at least ten Germans while he was in there. I don't believe his shit but I'm sure he killed his fair share. Oh yeah spoiler, he made it.
So while Tucker was busy playing with his new toy and alerting everyone in France to our presence, I noticed the tanks begin to move. I tried to keep guys off of them but apparently I failed to do that. The one closest to us began to turn its gun. That was our cue to leave. I grabbed Tucker and pointed towards the tank. He dropped the MG, and I swear I have never seen someone run that fast down a flight of stairs. We both made it to the street, not before the entire second floor of the house burst into shrapnel. I'm telling you, I thought that MG was loud before I heard that cannon. At this point it was an everyman for themselves situation, so I booked it towards the house and threw my shoulder into one of the windows, landing super hard and stuff onto the floor of the house. I'll be honest it wasn't one of my smartest decisions. Apparently there was a door, because shortly after I saw Tucker walk in. Boy I'll tell you I felt pretty stupid at that point.
Just to clarify, this wasn't the house with all the weapons where Rose was this was another house that was about to become a pile of ash and tank food. Tucker continued to run through the house and out the other side. I got up and stayed on his ass. I'll tell you right now though my shoulder hurt like hell from that window. We made it outside, right before the tank fired again. This time I was sent to my ass. Now my shoulder and ass hurt, it was a bad day for me. As I whined about my poor behind, I saw Tucker dancing around like a madman. I had no idea why. He was trying to tell me something but my ears must have been dead at this point. I followed his finger and saw the planes come in. They left an incredible shock wave after they passed. But hey they did the job right. The Wildcats took care of the tanks for us, and apparently this was when Coldwell and the rest of the guys were riding in.
Tucker started to pull at me to get up. My ears slowly started to work again. "Come on let's go see if Rose is alright." he said. I got up, feeling like an old man, and followed Tucker into the house. We found the weapons cache in the living room. Rose was standing there, I'll be honest he looked pretty badass. Bodies were lying at his feet and blood streaked his face. Again sorry for all the gore but this is what happened. Rose simply nodded at us, again like a badass. Tucker wouldn't shut up about how awesome he was either. Rose just took it and accepted it because, to be honest, he knew he was awesome. His shit plan worked, well yeah if it weren't for the planes and Coldwell, but still he survived right?
Coldwell chewed us out for being, as he put it "the Dumbest shit for brains soldiers he has ever had under his command." After this, off to the side, he congratulated us for what we did. Apparently he just wanted to keep up appearances for us going in without him. Either way we had just earned a reputation. Some called us the three musketeers, which kind of pissed me off. I don't like the French, I think they are weak. What?! If they weren't we wouldn't have been there, come on. Look we have stereotypes for a reason, all I am saying is that I embrace it.
In all honesty we had started something that first night in Northern France. Daniel Tucker, Garret Rose, and myself stared a very interesting companionship. Some up at headquarters caught wind of what we did and we became a sort of joke, the three guys who ran into a village infested with Germans and tanks by themselves. This was kind of our speed. You now sometimes stupidity can achieve great things. Besides, as always, I knew exactly what I was doing.