I see you standing there, trying to stay on your feet as the landing craft pitches in the shallow water near the shore of Juno beach. Who comes up with those names anyway? You’re so young, too young to be here. Your face is getting whiter by the minute. Is it from being sea sick, or is it from the fear?
Maybe it’s a bit of both. You’re trying not to vomit, like a lot of the other men. I see you swallowing hard, trying to keep it down. Your hands are shaking. The safety’s off now on your rifle, so if you’re not careful, you’ll pull the trigger. It would be a shame to accidentally shoot one of your comrades. You look up, over the front, but you can’t see anything yet. The LCA is still too far from shore. Don’t worry, it’ll only be a few minutes, before all hell breaks loose. All you can hear is the canon fire from the support ships, shells whooshing overhead, and explosions somewhere up ahead. You duck to hide from stray machine-gun fire from the ridge above the beach. Your gut is churning; maybe you shouldn’t have had that good breakfast, after all. You wonder when the wait will end; and you wish it never would; because the last thing you want to do, is run out of the LCA onto the beach—unprotected. At least now, you have that big bow ramp in front of you. You can see the tops of the taller buildings on the beach as the LCA approaches. It’s slowing down, so you know it won’t be much longer. Suddenly, you duck as bullets come whizzing down from above. You see four of your friends get hit. The blood from one of them spatters you. You’re in shock! You know you have to run like hell, when the time comes. You hear the LCA hit bottom; the order is given; the bow ramp drops. You’re near the back of the group, so your buddies will take the flack first. Finally, it’s your turn to run, you feel the squish as you step on a fallen comrade in the water. You can’t think about that—just keep running. You want to shoot, but can’t find a target. Then you feel it—a hot flash in your right shoulder; then another in the chest. Everything goes into slow motion—seems strange. You drop your gun into the water, then fall in, face first. You see your mom, sending you off when you deployed; your dad is there too. You remember your dog, Scruffy, running in the field, chasing the red Frisby you just threw as hard as you could. But everything is fading, going black. Someone steps on your back. You don’t care, can’t feel anything; don’t even know you were stepped on. It’s war! You died! You became a statistic. It’s another two days before they recover your body, and lay it out on the beach. It’ll be another two days before they bury you. You’re in good company, though, another 437 fell with you. It’s too bad you’ll never know what life is all about; nor the tears shed by those you left behind.