• The smell of freshcut grass and dew in the morning, along with the warmth from the rising sun would be enough of a setting to put anyone in the mood. But today just wasnt a day to enjoy that. As the gray bus sped down the road towards the upcoming compound, all we could think of was what we possibly had gotten ourselves into. As the bus slowed down in front of the gates, the doors opened and a man wearing a khaki brown hat stepped onto the bus and yelled "You've got 30 seconds to get your sorry asses off this bus and into the barracks where you'll have 50 seconds to change into your uniforms! GET MOVING LADIES!" Drill Sergeant Kaiser was known to be one of the toughest in the business, most DS's gave us 1 minute and then 2... but he also had the highest survival probabilities for those men that he trained. Those were our choices, get in easier or have a better chance of dying, but then again, we didnt get to choose our instructor. The training lasted 8 weeks, and at the end was the Crucible. A much enjoyable, final test for us Leathernecks. It's a rigorous, 72-hour field training course, including 48 miles of marching and only 3 MREs as rations. At the end we were shipped straight off to the east coast to be prepared for the imminent war. Why any of us signed on with this threat looming in front of us was different from man to man and not understandable to the most of the rest of the world. The women at home blamed it on trying to be macho and prove themselves, along with hormones. The men and veterans said it was natural instinct to protect their home (and as some of the older veterans stated quite bluntly, any who didnt have that instinct were either gay or Jews). But when the alarm sounded on that fateful morning for us to get geared up and to board the boats, the only thing going through our heads was "Welcome to Hell." And even though the boat ride was boring and without fear, that just made us even more scared and the situation seem even more hellish. We had entertainment, but not much, we played cards endlessly, Playboys and pinups were shared with just about everyone, and with the lack of women, masturbation became ok, for all we knew we would never see another person in a social situation. But not our training or worst imagined scenarios could have prepared us for June 6th. The sirens started blaring and we were already geared up to go. As everyone boarded the LCVP or Higgins boats, we all made sure the guys with the weakest stomachs were at the outside edges. Sea foam sprayed our faces as we drove towards the shore, not making it any easier to keep the few crackers we had for breakfast down. As the boats neared the beach, we were immediately aware of the bullets cracking past our faces. You could tell how close the bullets were by the sound they made, it was a crack and a pop when they were close to your face, hearing the tiny sonic booms they made. It sounded more like whizzing the farther they got. We heard a distant, quiet thunk, and looked at each other in fear, knowing what it was. It passed through our eyes to one another. Mortars. No sooner had we figured that out then the boat to the left of us was vaulted in the air and the ocean under it erupted in sea foam and light. A blackened hole was in the center of the floorboards and it became visible as it flipped, sending the bodies flying. One hurtled towards us, giving me the time to read his nametag before his chin hit the side, making a crack as his neck broke and he slid into the water. It wasnt the only boat, we saw others explode farther down the beach, but it was the only one from our regiment. The smell of urine became noticeable, but no one cared, we were all close to doing the same thing. We were within 50 feet of the beach and heard the clanking as the bullets from the MG42s in the bunkers hit the LCVP. Our squad leader, Lieutenant Reid, grabbed the handle on the door and turned to adress us. "This is it! What we've been training for. Stick together, use the tank traps, and keep your heads DOWN." With that, the LCVP shook and Reid threw the door up off the latch and let it swing down onto the sand. Immediately, Private First Class Charleson was hit in the right cheek and fell. The beach was barren. There was no cover but for the small armor stoppers made by three steel beams bound together. Already there were bodies strewn down the length of the sand. "What are we supposed to do sarge?" yelled someone in a squad near us. "Just keep moving!"
    "Uh-uh," said another. "I'm stayin right here."
    The sarge crawled over to him.
    "You either stay here and die, or die up there doing yourself and your country proud."
    There wasnt much we could do except move as fast as we could to the nearest trap ahead of us and then throw ourselves into the sand as the bullets whistled above us. When there was enough of us that had reached the barbed wire hill that ran the whole length of the coast, the engineer squad detonated the bangdolas, a small type of dynamite. As they yelled to clear the area we rolled over, our face in the sand and our hands holding our helmets against our heads to feel a shockwave rack our organs and heat scorch whatever parts of us werent covered in clothing. With a hole made for us to get through, we jumped up and ran like we had never ran before. But the Jerrys' guns were faster. Half of those who even made it over the hill didnt make it to the bunker wall, and I watched as a man I had talked to at breakfast was torn apart by a string of lead. Reid gathered those of us who had made it together. "Stevens and Morris, provide cover fire while Wolfe and I take care of this bunker!" I reloaded my BAR and readied a grenade. If Reid and Wolfe went down, we were practically screwed. I chunked the grenade and ran for the other bunker as I sprayed wildly. One of the gunners fell with a scream, the other, started aiming right for me. The sand started erupting in a trail behind me, the little spurts slowing catching up to me. At first I felt nothing, but as I took another step, my right leg suddenly couldnt support my weight and I collapsed. I immediately rolled into a crater to get out of sight of the machine gun and hope he would think he had killed me. As I heard the focus being changed from my position to another spot, I pulled myself into the nearby concrete trench leading into the bunker. I slipped over the edge, landing hard on my back. A German soldier came running around the corner, MP40 in hand. He fell face first as I shot him in the side of the leg with my Colt M1911/A1 pistol. As he rolled to his side I shot him in the face, leaving a hole where his nose used to be. Pain spiked through my leg, harder with each beat of my heart, not much less in between. I realized the bullet must have pierced a femoral artery, and if I didnt stop the bleeding I soon wouldnt have to. But there was no medic kit around, and the vein would have to be clamped. I prepared myself as I spread the wound with my fingers and reached my pointer finger and thumb in. I felt the two flimsy tube ends and grabbed them, bellowing in pain. I took the barrel of my Colt, still hot, and fused them together. It hurt like f***ing hell, but it was better than dead. I pulled myself up onto my one good leg, using my BAR as a crutch, holding my pistol in my left hand. As I approached a turn in the trenches, I saw the bodies of fallen soldiers cluttered at the corner.I recognized the body of one of my friends and a haunting quote echoed through my head, saying "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he who bleeds and dies beside me is my brother. And if one of us should not be willing to die for the other, let us give him the provisions he needs, so he may depart from here as quickly as he can." The thought still clouding my mind, I rounded the corner and came face to face with an MG42. I didnt have a chance for another thought.