Look back at D-Day. Hundreds of our brave men stormed the Normandy Beaches, to be met with ferocious firepower
My name is Private J.R. Baker, I’m a grunt of the United States Army. Hell, I ain’t a grunt no more, I’m a dead man. But that doesn’t really matter. I’m one of thousands of dead men wandering around this forsaken beach. I ain’t one in a million, I’m just one among ‘em.
I stormed Omaha beach, my friends standing beside me. Hell in front, and Hell behind. I wasn’t one of dem, volunteers. None of us were. We just wanted to get this war done with, and all we got was a damned beach and a load of lead.
Our LCP was rolling with the waves, a motor in the back. Even that was drowned out by the roar around me. The platoon commander was new, and none of us could hear what he was sayin’. Our ears were all perked up, straining to get the little information that we could. We were growing closer to that damned beach though, I think that was the only thing that we really cared about. There was one kid in the corner rubbing a rosary in his hands, prayin’ to his God.
Our commander wasn’t even done talkin’ when we hit that beach, but that boat driver dropped that door and yelled at us to go, and so we went. I was in the front, and so I was the first one to get out, and when I did, I was shoved to the water hard. One of them artillery shells dropped right behind us, and killed that driver. But I just picked myself up, rifle above my head, and started to push ashore. When I was about waist deep, these little spikes of water started to pick up around me. I knew what it was right away, and I ducked down again. But the people behind me weren’t that lucky, and the first couple in the front had to go down afore the rest realized what the hell was happinin’.
The first to go was that kid with the rosary, got hit two or three times before he fell down. Musta saved someone behind him. But after that, we were all staying down low, keeping our heads barely above the water. But we still weren’t safe. Another one of them shells hit the water right in the middle of us and killed our leader. No one really panicked though.
The plan wasn’t all that complicated, run up the beach, and don’t die. Not much else to it, it seemed. And so, with my best pal Arthur next to me, I ran walked right through that water, and right up to one of those tank barrier things. But I don’t talk much ‘bout him, because he never made it to that barrier. Right before we got there, his chest opened up from one of those sniper bullets.
I had stared at that man, choking on his own blood. And I regret that there was no feeling of sadness right then, just a little shock. It was all chance, and he had just not made it. That’s what war does to a man, makes him think about just him. But, now though, I… I just don’t know what to do. But I ain’t supposed to be talking about the personal side of this am I? Just that day.
You didn’t want to be a hero, it was just a fact. You wanted to be that guy who lived, maybe with a tale or two, but being a hero meant that you were gonna be in more danger, less of a chance to go back to your beautiful wife and son. Back to Georgia, back to your home where you could go fishin’ and huntin’. Where you could use a gun, to shoot deer and not people. Where you weren’t gonna be shot at yourself. Huh, now that I think about it, I was the deer wasn’t I? Nah, I wasn’t no deer, I was runnin’ towards them guns weren’t I?
Deer weren’t running up those beaches, no we were giant bulls with M1’s held in our hands, ready to kill those damned jerries. But we didn’t see any of them on that beach, no they were hiding up in huge concrete bunkers way behind the beach, huge guns protruding from small slits in the front. Our planes were s’posed to have knocked them all out, but only a few weren’t rainin’ death on us.
In some of those bunkers, there were these big ol’ machine guns, spurting fire from their business ends. In others were snipers, German rifles hanging on the edge, giving precise fire, gunning down the commanders and leaders of other groups of men.
Still, in others were German foot soldiers, ready to run out from their positions to strike us up close. But they weren’t a problem just yet, no they were something to be dealt with later on. As I looked around from where I was, I could see the remnants of my platoon. One guy, Bill, he was hidin’ behind one of the barriers like I was. He saw me too, and nodded his head. In some weird way, I knew that he meant that we should be moving forwards with the rest.
It was almost like there was a connection between us all, and in one giant leap, many of the men around us moved with us. The only cover that could be exploited were tank barriers and a few scattered pieces of debris. The bunkers were lined up all in a row, and when we moved, they all seemed to burst out in that same uniform way they were set up. Many of those who had tried to charge were either killed or found themselves behind cover again.
But me and old Bill, we kept running, running and charging. We ran towards one bunker, and dropped to the ground a dozen yards out. In one chance throw, Bill tossed a grenade into the cut in the concrete, and when it blew, the machine gun stopped shooting. We both started to run up to the bunker, to get out of view of the others, and when we did this bloodied German crawled out and started to yell at us. Neither of us knew German and so we couldn’t understand him.
He gave us this cold stare that I will remember for eternity, but that wasn’t the worst part. He pulled out his pistol, and I was paralyzed, trying to comprehend what this man was doing. But before he was able to even point it, Bill had blown a hole through his head. At that moment, I was in a state of disbelief that I was about to die. And just like so many other dead soldiers, I had frozen up when combat stared at me. It was strange you see, I was just at the head of the beach being shot at by a dozen different machine guns, and many more artillery pieces, yet, it was when I saw my death, that I stopped and couldn’t counter, couldn’t try to move out of the way. I think that is how many other soldiers die, they look down the barrel of the gun, they see the incoming shell, and their body decides that it doesn’t want to keep movin’. Just the way it is.
But I pushed past that, as I was still gettin’ shot at. Bunkers behind us, saw what was happening and tried to stop us, but both me and Bill huddled beneath the cover of the structure, and didn’t have any real chance of being hit. Or so I thought.
I was just about to run around and try an’ get another one of dem’ bunkers when I heared this big ol’ screeching sound. And I looked up and there she was. At first, it was just a lil’ do tin the sky, but it got bigger real fast, and my body was just tellin’ me: I ain’t movin no more. I’d just be dyin somewhere else.
And so I didn’t. I just stood there, waitin’ to die. It musta only been half a second, or so, but it felt like hours. You know what hours of knowin’ your gonna die feels like? It feels calm. It feels real calm. Almost like you’re just sitting back in a chair relaxin’, a fishin’ rod in your hands, line in the wata’, waitin for that fish to bight.
And then it happened. There was this big blast, and a loud sound. And light. Just this darkness with a light at the end. Some people I know say that it was a tunnel, but I don’t think so, to me it was just this darkness with this little light comin’ closer. And I closed my eyes and said to myself: I ain’t gonna see no more Bill. No more sergeants, no more Arthur. No one but me.
Then I felt like I was stoppin’. When I looked up, there was this big man, this big man. And he bent down and looked at me. In this thunderin’ voice, he spoke to me.
“You never believed in me and now I know that you are not worthy of my palace. Go back to earth and spend your time. You will come back to me when you are worthy. I will call you then. Tell your story to the other men of earth, find your path, find your way to the light.”
And then I fell back to here, here to stay ‘till I can tell my story, tell my story to the rest of the world. And now that I have… there’s another story I gotta write.