uncle sam needs you

They told us it was going to be a great big adventure. We believed them. They told us it was a fantastic career opportunity.

We believed that too. The also told us we would be performing the ultimate duty for our country, our belief growing all the time.
They said that joining the Army would change our lives forever. They didn’t lie.

“That one was close!” said Jones, as another explosion lit up the evening sky.Jones was a nice kid, but I could without the commentary on the seemingly endless barrage of artillery fire arriving in our vicinity.“Don’t worry Jonesy, those amateurs couldn’t hit the side of a house with a burnin’ pig!” That was Tom Wells, apart from the Sarge,the oldest in our platoon and self-appointed group leader. None of us minded though, he was a funny guy who always knew what to say whensomeone needed a friendly word.“Why would you want to throw a burning pig at a house?” asked Parsons, who was a bit too logical for an army full of dumb kids.“Because it’s fun!” replied Wells.

We all laughed at this. We laughed a lot that night, Well’s keeping our spirits high with his Texas sense of humour. The laughter took our minds,
if only for a short while, off the gravity of the situation we were in.

I knew that it was nineteen forty four, the middle of December, and we were somewhere in Belgium. After that I wasn’t too sure of anything.Since early morning fog and low cloud had kept visibility from the trench down to a minimum, not that too many of us had any desire topop our heads up for a look.The bombardment began around midday and had continued ceaselessly until the sound or exploding mortars became a rhythmic drumbeat

dancing around in the back of my head. It was only in the last hour that the detonations had been getting louder, their accompanying destruction
getting uncomfortably closer.
“Mike?” said a timid voice from my left. It was Bryan Benson, a kid from Arkansas, who looked like he should still be squeezing zits before
a high school dance.
“What is it?”
“What you gonna do with yourself if we ever get out of here?
“Don’t ya mean ‘when’ we get out of here!”
Benson’s nod and little smile showed that he knew what everybody in this godforsaken hole in the ground knew.
“Well, when I get back home first thing I’m gonna do is get me a good nights sleep,” I answered. “After that, who knows, I always fancied
myself as a bit of a dab hand with the horses. Maybe I’ll train horses or something…”
My thoughts turned to long balmy summer evenings on my daddy’s farm, before the bank took it, riding for hours until my ass was raw.
“Know what I’d do?” said Benson.
“I’d build furniture out a’ wood!”
“Nice,” I replied, knowing that the last tool his hands would ever hold would be the Garand rifle that was slung over his shoulder.
“Yeah, my father was a ………..”

A Shell exploded not more than thirty yards away, the sound like a clap of thunder that manifested inside my head, dirt raining down all around us.Suddenly there was lots of shouting and running, the long trench abruptly springing to life, bodies moving everywhere, officers shouting, tryingto restore order. A few guys were firing in the direction of the explosion, ridiculous since the shells were being fired from a few miles away.“EVERYBODY GET DOWN!” shouted the sarge, even though most of us were as down as was humanly possible.Another explosion, possibly even closer, then another. They were beginning to find their range.Glancing at the scared young faces surrounding me, knowing there was nothing I could do to alleviate their worry, I closed my eyes and triedto think of happier times, times when the chances of getting my head blown off were a lot slimmer. All of a sudden the sarge was beside me.“Mike, the radio’s shot to shit, I want you, Jones and Baker to fall back to the camp, get hold of Captain King, tell him those Gerry bastardsare getting very accurate and we need air support here right away or we ain’t gonna survive the night.”“Yes sir! Right away sir!”I gathered my rifle and my field kit and joined Jonesy and Baker by the ladder at the back of the trench. The bombing had subsided temporarily,no doubt just a short respite before the next onslaught“You ready to roll guys?” I asked the two soldiers assuming command of this minute platoon. The fact the sarge had given me the order gaveme the right to lead the mission.

With a nod of their heads the two men were following me up the ladder en-route to the advanced camp located about two clicks behind us.

The frozen grass crunched beneath our feet as we made our way through the darkness towards the dim glow of the camp. Once there we

would hopefully find Captain King and relay the Sergeant’s message.
Twenty minutes later the camp emerged from the gloom. We were brought to the Captain by the two grunts on lookout duty.
“What is it private?”
“Sir, private Mike Laruse, Sergeant O Donnell sent me back from the forward trench. Sir we’re encountering very heavy fire and our radio
is bust. He’s requested that you call in an air strike as soon as possible.”
“Son, all this low cloud and fog will make it very hard for the flyers. I’ll get them on the radio and see what I can do. You guys can stay
here and take a breather. I’ll send a party to the trench to tell your sergeant the news.”
“Sir, If it’s all the same to you I’d like to return to the platoon with the news myself.”
“Very well private. What about you two?” He gestured towards Baker and Jones.
After looking at each other with some kind of unspoken telepathy Jones said “ Sir, we’re with Mike sir.”
“Very well. Good luck soldiers. Tell your sergeant to hang in there, I’ll get help there as soon as I can.”

With that, me, Jonesy and Baker started the short but perilous trip back to the advance bunker, three tired, scared, young men, thousands of

miles from home with about as much chance of survival as a lame rabbit in a field full of foxes.

We were only about fifty yards from the trench when it happened. Hitler’s horde scored a direct hit. The blast from the explosion knocked usoff our feet, intense heat rushing over me, my body numb from the impact.By the time I got to my feet again the whole area was engulfed in flames, the inferno growing ever higher into the misty sky. Amongst therattle of pointless return gunfire I could hear the anguished cries of my fallen brothers. The sound of their despair started my legs pumping.The smoke was thick and heavy, and with no breeze to help it dissipate,finding the ladder was hard work. My eyes adjusting to the smokey gloom, I managed to get a foothold on the ladder and made my way to thescorched earth below. The epicentre of the detonation was at the north end of our subterranean refuge, which was about two hundred yards wideand it’s entire population were now in full panic mode.“SARGE?” I shouted, the smoke still clearing. Looking around me I could see the devastation caused. Limbs severed from their hosts, a riverof blood flowing between my legs, sailing on it an upturned helmet containing the remains of someone’s head.“SARGE?” I shouted again, soldiers rushing past me left and right, rifles at the ready, shouting, looking for direction.Making my way along the trench, climbing over dead bodies, getting buffered by panicked privates, I came across the Sarge, or what was leftof him.I only recognised him by the stripes on the left shoulder of his fatigues, the entire right side of his body was nowhere to be seen.Another explosion shook the ground around me and cut short my grieving process. I jumped into action, checking the mangled bodies litteredaround the crimson soil for survivors. Anyone alive ran, or hobbled, towards the only remaining ladder and to relative safety. Their numbers were few.After spending a few minutes checking through the smoke for signs of lifeI convinced myself that my search was futile. I decided not to tempt fate and get the hell out of there. While approaching the only exit point, Iheard a low moan. There was a soldier on his stomach clawing his way towards the ladder, his lower legs missing in action.I thought I recognised his face as I reached down to help him but it was hard to tell with his features badly burned. Grabbing him underthe arms I dragged him to the ladder.Another explosion, close, sent another hail of shrapnel raining down on us. I felt a sharp pain in my thigh. Pushing the injured soldier tothe top of the ladder I saw a friendly face looking down at me, it was Jonesy. He grabbed hold of the man’s hands and pulled him out of therapidly disintegrating trench. After I climbed out myself I felt my thigh. There was what looked like part of a helmet embedded to the bone. Iremoved it and swallowed down the pain.“You okay Mike?” shouted Jonesy.“Yeah, I’m okay, you just help him!”“He’s dead Mike!”“Shit!”Jonesy then helped me to my feet, put his arms around my waist and we started walking back in the direction of the camp.Another explosion. We were blown off our feet, through the air, landing hard on the frozen ground.I opened my eyes, unaware that I had closed them, and looked around for Jonesy. He was a few yards away from me. I called his name.No answer. I called it again, louder this time, still nothing. My body was getting very numb and I could feel nothing from my chest down.I tried to sit up but nothing was working. I called to Jonesy again, still no reply.Lying there on the rock hard ground, somewhere in Belgium, just before Christmas, I realised that I was about to die. As my eyelids gotheavier, and the sound of exploding bombs subsided, I thought about Montana and the horsesThe End

uncle sam needs you

gracie16

Joined January 2008

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Artist's Description

a story set during world war two

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story war

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