Blood and sweat seeped into the pours of my left cheekbone as I sprinted, almost seamlessly placing each step staggered in front of the other, firearm in hand. My helmet was heavy on my forehead, but even heavier were the lifeless, pieced apart bodies I dodged before tumbling my own into the nearest dugout trench. My mission—one that was originally assigned to two men before me—was to carry a gas filled chamber to throw in the crack of the Jap’s shooting room, all for my commander to aim, fire, and send maybe ten or so onto the grounds that surround me.
Everything was heavy, yet completely unnoticeable—my breathing, the pack that weighed down on my spine, thoughts of my wife, who must be sitting at home awaiting my return, the rifle that I would soon aim at another man, who’s wife sits at home awaiting his return.
What is it you want of me? I don’t understand. I can’t hear you.
“Help me!” I heard from a distance. Alright.
I ran into the smoke that filled every space beyond 5 meters from me. Broken trees scattered the land, and more so, were the bodies of American men, blood-soaked, crying—each missing something that would have enabled them the ability to get back to the camp that day. I found the man who would be my God-voice. His clothes—red soaked and torn—I grabbed him by the arms like a child and swung him over my shoulder. The weight of him was far less than the weight of holding a steady eye on any of the brothers sprinkled on the dirt around me.
There was more of me to be challenged. We came to where we’d entered the arena that day—a tall overpass with nothing but a cargo net to climb down. I did what I knew I could do. I roped up poor Daniel, wrapped the rope around the thickest stump nearest the fall and belayed him down to the others. My hands burned like fire beneath the speeding rope—the Japanese were catching my tail. I could hear their rifles behind me and swung my body side to side in avoidance.
I felt the release of Daniel’s body hitting the ground just as a sharp pressure pierced through my abdomen and my knees burrowed beneath me.
“The Japanese fought to win – it was a savage, brutal, inhumane, exhausting and dirty business. Our commanders knew that if we were to win and survive, we must be trained realistically for it whether we liked it or not. In the post-war years, the U.S. Marine Corps came in for a great deal of undeserved criticism in my opinion, from well-meaning persons who did not comprehend the magnitude of stress and horror that combat can be. The technology that developed the rifle barrel, the machine gun and high explosive shells has turned war into prolonged, subhuman slaughter. Men must be trained realistically if they are to survive it without breaking, mentally and physically.” ― Eugene B. Sledge,