I can hear the gunfire on the beach.
I’ve got an M2 Carbine in my hands, and it’s shaking because they’re shaking. Thirty-five men crammed into this Higgins with me, jutting over the water for the beach, and I’m one of the closest to the ramp. I hope they’re all as scared as I am. They have to be.
Sheer curiosity outweighs my fear for a moment and I look over the barrier. There are six other boats heading for the beach ahead of me, don’t know how many more behind. The beach is dotted with dead men, all wearing the same uniform as I am.
There are others hiding where they can, or scrambling to do so. A few look like they’re pushing through though. I pull my head back down.
It’s getting too close too quick.
I don’t want to die here. What the hell am I doing? I’m not cut out for war, I’m no hero. That guy across from me, he’s a hero. Look at him: chewing gum, stubble, dead stare. Why can’t I be like that?
This damn gun gets so heavy. Who am I fighting? Those evil Germans they’ve been putting in the comics lately? Who am I fighting for? My country. But why am I fighting for a country that didn’t give me the choice not to?
I can feel my legs trembling. My nervous hands don’t know how to hold the rifle. Am I seasick or is this just pre-war nausea? I don’t know, but it feels like it could come up at any second.
Damn, why am I thinking so much? The more I think, the longer it’ll take. Okay. No, that doesn’t make sense!
Come on, who am I fighting for?
It’s been so long since I’ve seen her.
Longest it’s ever been since we were born. I can feel the ring hanging around my neck. I wanted it close to my heart, incase I lost my hand. Most other guys are wearing crosses. I’ll bet a lot of those bodies on the beach are wearing crosses too.
Yeah, this was the right choice. I love you bunny; I’m fighting for you. No, I’m surviving for you, so I can hold you again. Wish I could have given you a kid. Some little runt with my eyes and your laugh.
The gunfire is getting so loud, like an exchange of thunder.
Hero boy opposite me vomits. It makes me vomit. The water is getting choppier; we must be so close.
Bullets are flying overhead, I can hear them cutting through the air. They’re hitting the boat. I hear someone get hit behind me, can’t look, can’t move, got to stay low. I lean into the ramp, knowing it’s going to go down at any moment. Both hands squeeze the gun. I need to run. When this ramp falls I need to run and jump for the nearest cover. I’m so scared.
I love you so much baby. Someone starts screaming, but not out of fear. He’s preparing, he’s a lion frothing at the mouth. I need that. I need to be brave, that’s the only way I can survive.
The bullets pelleting us and skimming our heads crescendos. The boat rocks violently. The man yells, “let’s kill’em boys!”
The ramp falls down onto the beach and I leap out onto the–